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Review: Flashy monster battles in ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions’ will delight fans

"Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions" marks the 20th anniversary of the franchise.
(Kazuki Takahashi / Yu-Gi-Oh! DDMC)

When Kazuki Takahashi’s manga “Yu-Gi-Oh” debuted in 1996, it spawned a mammoth franchise that includes the iconic Duel Monsters card game, TV shows, video games and character merchandise. The fourth feature, “Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions,” was released in Japan in 2016 to mark its 20th anniversary.

Takahashi wrote the script, which pits teenaged gaming champion Yugi Muto (Dan Green) and his pals against their old nemesis Seto Kaiba (Eric Stuart), who’s seeking revenge for his previous defeat. Kaiba has stolen the pieces of the golden Millennium Puzzle that once linked Yugi to the spirit of the ancient Pharaoh who helped him become champion. Complicating the tale is the mysterious Aigami (Daniel J. Edwards) who has hidden two pieces of the Puzzle.

“Dark Side” suffers from both too much story and too little. How Aigami acquired formidable supernatural powers is only explained in fragmentary flashbacks, and there’s no reason for him to attack Yugi’s pal Joey Wheeler (Wayne Grayson). Seto disappears for long stretches, then conveniently reappears. He also switches from being Yugi’s sworn enemy to his dedicated ally a little too quickly.

But the plot of “Dark Side” is just a matrix for the monster duels involving bizarre but formidable CG creatures. When a character plays a card, he announces the monster’s powers and how it fits into his strategy. The flashy battle sequences will delight “Yu-Gi-Oh” fans. Viewers not familiar with the game will themselves be hopelessly lost.

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‘Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions ’

Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Rating: PG, for sequences of fantasy action and some suggestive material

Playing: In limited release

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