Friday October 6, 2000
Like goblins in the forest or the Man in the Moon, the TV-generated phenomenon of "Digimon"--a.k.a. Digital Monsters--makes a certain amount of sense. The mythologizing of the unknown is a timeless human impulse, whether the content involves sea monsters, Martians or, now, cuddly bomb-breathing creatures spawned by the Internet.
If a fairy tale, however high-tech or improbable, can help kids wrap their heads around the vastness of cyberspace, it hardly seems either insidious or particularly novel.
On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Homer, the Grimm brothers or Jules Verne had a line of action figures to promote. "Digimon: The Movie," of course, does. And the only unknown that seems of any concern to 20th Century Fox is how many millions can be tempted out of its 5-to-10-year-old audience before this particular fad expires.
A few, we expect. Add what they saved on the lackluster animation and it should amount to a tidy profit. Granted, "Digimon: The Movie" is, and should be, of interest only to those who love the show; rather than watch, parents might want to take up smoking, so they'll have an excuse to wait outside. At any rate, the filmmakers could have made it look a little better than this.
The story begins by flashing back eight years, to the virtual infancy of both the World Wide Web and Tai, the leader of the "DigiDestined," the group of kids including Sora, Matt, Izzy and Joe who are attuned to the evil potential of the DigiWorld. "Sometimes," one says, "you've got to save the world." (If you smell a little "Paradise Lost" in all this, you're not far off.)
The gist of the story line is the birth on the Internet of a new, dangerous digimon, which consumes computer data at an alarming rate and even manages to launch U.S. nuclear warheads and aim them at Japan. (The fact that this is a mostly Japanese production shouldn't be lost on anyone.) Viruses are involved. So are Tai's mother's health-food concoctions (liver sticks, beef jerky shakes, potato juice).
Do justice and virtue prevail? Duh. It's an awfully confusing journey, unless you're of pro-Digi-ous intelligence. Or a digimaniac. Or just 6.
A word of caution: The "prelude" that runs before "Digimon: The Movie"--in essence, a commercial for the movie you've already paid to see--is thoroughly obnoxious, promoting elitist, consumerist and anti-intellectual behavior among children who, considering all of their other influences, don't need any help. In other words, if you're late for the show, don't sweat it.
Digimon: The Movie, 2000. G. Fox Kids presents a Saban Entertainment/Toei Animation Co. production, released by 20th Century Fox. Animation directors Takaaki Yamashita, Hisashi Nakayama and Masahiro Aizawa. Voice directors Jeff Nimoy and Bob Bucholz. Producer Terri-Lei O'Malley. Screenplay by Jeff Nimoy & Bob Bucholz. Editors Douglas Purgason, Gary A. Friedman. Music Udi Harpaz & Amotz Plessner. Original concept and character design Akiyoshi Hongo. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. Joshua Seth as Tai. Colleen O'Shaughnessy as Sora. Michael Reisz as Matt. Doug Erholtz as TK.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times