Movie review / One Piece: Red movie

Note: This movie is available in “Subbed” (Japanese spoken with English subtitles) and “Dubbed” (English spoken without subtitles). This review is based on the subtitle.

This past weekend was a slow and confusing one at the domestic box office. With “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opening to smash hit next weekend, many of the new releases weren’t eager to step up and do well in exactly one weekend before being wiped out. “Black Adam” continued its run at No. 1, while horror movies fell like boulders into Charlie Brown’s trick-or-treat bag after Halloween came to a close. Things were so bad that the niche anime “One Piece Film: Red” was able to reach a relatively strong second place. Unlike the Dragon Ball movie that was released a few months ago, I hadn’t heard of this franchise before knowing that its movie had a wide release. And unlike the “Jujutsu Kaisen” that was made earlier this year, I’m not particularly happy I got to know it.

The movie takes place in a world overrun by pirates. The government and military vow to wipe out the pirates, but otherwise do nothing to help the civilian victims. Pop star Ohta heard the crowd’s pleas and agreed to perform a free concert to give everyone a respite from the pirates and misery. The good pirate Luffy and his crew come to the concert, and it turns out that Ota and Luffy grew up together, under the guidance of the wise pirate Shanks “Red-Haired”. Yuta is happy to see Luffy again after all these years, but she is not happy that he is still a pirate, good or otherwise. On top of that, she has a plan to make sure everyone will enjoy the concert forever and never have to worry about pirates, corruption, work, school, or grief ever again. Of course, anyone who wanted to protect the world from such life would be evil.

Utah’s plan is basically to trap the residents in a kind of dream world while their unconscious bodies wither and die. It’s up to Luffy and his crew, and later Shanks, to stop her. The government might also get involved by blowing up the whole concert, but I hope it doesn’t go that far. Perhaps Ohta can be persuaded to unearth her confusion herself, as we learn more about her motivations and tragic past. One thing is for sure, whatever happens, we’ll get a lot of confusing anime-style combat where effects and damage are set seemingly at random.

There were things I liked about One Piece Film: Red. Yuta is a sympathetic person and her songs are beautiful. Wicked songs are usually my favorite in Disney musicals, and here we get at least two, maybe more if you retrospectively go back to the early songs before it was officially Uta’s turn. And some comedy, in a manic-anime-energy way.

But then there’s the film’s biggest disadvantage, which is that it’s just so confusing. The cast is heavy on the characters, Uta’s plan is convoluted, and the action is near impossible to follow. I couldn’t even tell if a certain character was alive or dead at the end. And I have no idea why the movie is called “One Piece Movie: Red.” I suppose “red” refers to Shanks and his hair, which is undoubtedly a movie, but otherwise I’m not the fussiest. Yes, I’d go into this movie without the slightest bit of knowledge about “One Piece Film” lore, and established fans will probably get more out of this movie than I did, but I can’t say I found this an effective entry point into the series. There is effort being made here, but for a non-fan like myself, it’s a headache the movie can never get rid of.

Grade: c
One Piece Film: Red is rated PG-13 for violence, suggestive material, and language. Its running time is 115 minutes.

Contact Bob Garver at [email protected]

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