Beyblade: Fierce Battle DVD Review
<center><table border="0"><tr><td width="100" valign="top"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006SSR0Q/thehomeimprovemz"><img src="http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0006SSR0Q.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg" width="108" height="160" border="0" alt="Buy Beyblade: Fierce Battle on DVD from Amazon.com"></a></td>
<td width="600" valign="center">Beyblade: The Movie - Fierce Battle
Movie and DVD Details
Directors: Toshinon Fukushima, Itsuki Imazaki
Voice Cast: Marlowe Gardiner Heslin (Tyson), Alex Hood (Kenny), Daniel DeSanto (Ray), David Reale (Kai), Gage Knox (Max), Mary Long (Daichi), Caitriona Murphy (Hilary), Julie Lemeux (Ms. Kincaid), Chris Marron (Professor Tengai)
DVD Release: March 22, 2005 / Running Time: 71 minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99.
Inspiration for cinema has surely come from a wide variety of places, but the fact that <i><b>Beyblade: Fierce Battle</b></i> is a movie adapted from a series of spinning tops is not the most encouraging. For those of you not in the know, Hasbro has made a great deal of money from Beyblade spinning tops over the past four years. Like Pokémon, the Beyblade phenomenon originated in Japan and features new entries throughout the year. An animated "Beyblade" series occupies television airwaves each day and an astonishing 500,000 users are registered at Beyblade.com.
In the annals of pop culture, trivial things have caught on in great numbers. From Pet Rocks to Tamagotchis, simple inexpensive products have been embraced and then forgotten, save for "Remember those?" conversations and the obligatory mention on VH-1's "I Love the (insert decade here)" series. While I have never come across anyone who's mentioned Beyblade spinning tops before, they clearly hold some kind of appeal for a significant part of the world population. They may be the only ones to find any kind of value in this silly movie.
With a 2002 copyright date, it's not entirely clear if <i>Fierce Battle</i> is edited from the anime series or is simply a separate movie that has taken its time to come to America. In any event, it's somewhat self-contained, though the characters will be more familiar and the basic themes more lucid and meaningful to anyone who's come across this unpleasant world before.
At the start of the film, we see a stadium watching on a Beyblade competition, where two players duel it out. Or rather, they have their spinning tops fight it out for them. In unclear terms, we learn that a lad named Tyson has become Japan's champion, a title that an unwieldy fellow known as Daichi is consumed with getting. Meanwhile, a curmudgeonly professor and his students are discovering the long-hidden secret of a cave called Demon Rock.
After getting through the entire 71-minute film, I have trouble elaborating what else is exactly going on.
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade1.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade2.jpg"></center>
Basically any convention of the anime action series imported to America is on display here. Youthful characters, loud and flashy sequences, witless, awkward dialogue, and fantastic premises all figure largely in <i>Beyblade</i>. There are dragons, explosions, and highly stylized cartoon characters. Perhaps pointing this out is as unfair as writing off Western cinema for its reliance on romantic fulfillment or Disney animation on account of on its similar-looking characters and formulas. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not familiar with enough anime series that supposedly fit the "Beyblade"/"Pokemon"/"Dragonball Z" mode to declare they are worthy of being disregarded. But if this movie is any indication of what to expect, I'd rather not delve deeper into this class.
It's unclear who <i>Beyblade</i> is supposed to work for. The story is so unpolished that only the very young would be able to take it seriously at face value. At the same time, it's quite difficult to follow the course of events and offers a fair amount of (bloodless) cartoon violence. Still, American audiences have embraced fare like "Pokemon" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!", and on the surface, this inanity doesn't seem all that different.
The character animation is as limited as is the movie's appeal. Computers appear to have been employed to enhance the animation of spinning tops, and this stands out in contrast to the other mostly flat-looking visuals. The film makes a number of unnecessary contributions to the English vocabulary like the verb "beybattle" and the title "Beyblader." Though <i>Beyblade</i> never seems too inspired through my outsider's perspective, the more pensive fantasy-free moments held my interest more than the absurd action. (Of course, down-to-earth scenes are a rarity in the first half and practically missing altogether from the second.)
There have been great things imported from Japan, and in modern animation, one immediately thinks of Hayao Miyazaki. <i>Beyblade</i> is probably the polar opposite to output from Studio Ghibli. One struggles to find any artistic or narrative value in <i>Beyblade</i>, and on a site devoted to Disney's winning family entertainment, it's clear that there is no shortage of positive viewing material which challenges, teaches, and inspires children. As such, it's hard to view this loud, action-packed foolishness as a good choice for the kiddies.
<b>VIDEO and AUDIO</b>
While the content itself inspired plenty of complaints, the audio/video presentation of the film on DVD is first-class. <i>Beyblade</i> is seen in its apparently original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and video remained of a consistently high quality throughout the intensive, colorful action sequences and the minimally-animated domestic moments. No grain, artifacts, or any kind of problems turned up. In the sound department, I was pleasantly surprised by the dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It provided an active mix, with plenty of surround effects and a solid use of the soundfield.
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade3.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade4.jpg"></center>
The first of two bonus features is "<i>Beyblade</i>: Behind-the-Scenes" (6:40), a goofy but enlightening featurette on the American-based elements of production on the "Beyblade" TV series. Daniel De Santo, the voice of Ray on the "Beyblade" television series, takes us into the secret BBA (Beyblade Battle Association) headquarters. There he asks questions of "Jon", the BBA Director, and gets a demonstration of the sound-effects process. The last couple of minutes are devoted to members of the English voice cast recording their lines and discussing how their characters are similar or unlike their own personalities. This featurette employs slick editing and an always-moving camera to assure ADD-afflicted young viewers won't get bored.
Mr. De Santo enthusiastically returns to host the second featurette on "The Beyblade Championships" (13:20) where children face off with their little spinning tops. De Santo interviews competitors at the North American tournament held in the NASA Space Center in Houston. There's footage from the New York and California championships, and De Santo is at the airport to greet the two cool winners who are sure to be popular with the kids at school. The piece ends with a blow-by-blow account of the three-way final round robin. It's great to have a hobby, but many of those interviewed seem obnoxious or bratty. Along the way, De Santo gets schooled on new and upcoming products that the parents of these kids can spend their money on. Like the other featurette, this one is marked by loud rock music and shots that last no longer than a few seconds.
Before the menu loads, skippable trailers play for <i>Chicken Little</i> and <i>Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys</i>. The Sneak Peeks menu adds previews for <i>Spider-man: The Venom Saga</i>, <i>Power Rangers: DinoThunder</i>, <i>Tarzan II</i>, <i>Sacred Planet</i>, and that wildly-titled Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go! The provided "Play All" option enables you to view the seven promos in succession.
The 16x9 menus are silent and static. Inside the case, a double-sided insert lists the 12 scene selections and promotes this fall's <i>Bionicle 3</i> on the back.
<center><img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade5.jpg"> <img src="http://www.ultimatedisney.com/images/a-c/beyblade6.jpg"></center>
Anyone who's already immersed in the world of <i>Beyblade</i> might enjoy the film, its flawless digital presentation, and the two bonus featurettes on the TV show and champion spinners. Anyone who's not will be glad to stay away from this loud, unoriginal mess of a movie. There's very little appeal for those beyond a certain age, and with so many great Disney DVDs offered for families, parents can do much better for their children than <i>Fierce Battle</i>.
<center><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006SSR0Q/thehomeimprovemz">More on the DVD / Buy <b>Beyblade: Fierce Battle</b> from Amazon.com</a></center>
Pokemon: Destiny Deoxys
In Search of Santa