Digimon: The Movie

When the Pokémon cartoon, toy, video game, and role-playing-game franchise hit the big screens last year, it did so under the title Pokémon: The First Movie. The subtitle to its downscale competition's theatrical debut betrays no such optimism. Clearly patched together, and then just barely, from different sources, Digimon: The Movie arrives to milk a few more dollars from the fighting-monsters craze and actually makes it possible to appreciate the minimal care and craftsmanship of Pokémon. A flashback of eight years, for instance, is followed by a segment labeled "Four Years Later," but featuring characters sitting in front of a calendar clearly belonging to the year 2000. In the first part, two Japanese youngsters befriend a bubble-blowing furball "digimon" that eventually "digivolves" into a disembodied rabbit head with the bad habit of digishitting on the floor. Matters don't improve much through two more segments that will likely be incomprehensible, not to mention irritating, for those not already immersed in the digiverse. Still, it's hard to imagine even hardcore kiddie fans thrilling to a sequence that consists almost entirely of characters tapping frantically on keyboards to defeat a rogue computer virus/digimon hybrid, making Digimon: The Movie a must to avoid for everyone not actively seeking jokes about potato juice or another film that uses Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank" as a montage-sequence crutch.

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