This, the first Naruto Shippuden feature film, was typical Naruto movie fare, with some nice fights that would’ve been so much nicer if the baddies’ designs weren’t such a load of crap, a tsundere who gradually comes over to Naruto’s way of thinking, and a really daft climactic fight – oh, and an incredible artificial opening crisis featuring bad CG soldiers who march halfway to Konoha and then just decide to go back home after all.
For its flaws, though, Lee fighting with the gates open and drunk was pretty hilariously awesome, and I have to say that Neji appearing with his divination ready is quite spectacular – even if the enemies turned out to be total pushovers. I’d’ve been unimpressed, paying to see this in a cinema, but when it’s essentially an extended filler episode with some rather nice little bits of animation, as it is for me, it was worthwhile.
The plotline is simplistic but quite neatly-told. When a sealed demon is unleashed, only one person can banish him again, a wilful priestess called Shion. Shion can see visions of the future, and upon meeting Naruto proclaims him about to die - something that probably would have meant more tension if not for the impossibility of such a movie as this, screened during the programme's main run and not written by the original author, killing off the main character. He argues he can change his fate and of course eventually proves it - but only once Shion has learned valuable lessons about herself, a little too late to save the people she's sacrificed.
It's flawed, but a little more ambitious and successful than the other Shippuden movies, and nice on the eyes, too. The fact that it ended on a sex joke was a bit of a surprise, but I have to say that it made me laugh.
(expanded from impressions, 3.5.08)