Young Duel Monsters card player Yugi Moto has become the top duelist in the sport, due in no small part to the spirit of an ancient pharaoh which dwells within the Millennium Puzzle, an ancient artefact he always carries. The pharaoh is a master at the game and his skills give Yugi the edge in most of his duels, Yugi has also assembled the three most powerful cards in the game - the Egyptian God Cards - and is now nigh on unbeatable. Not that there are a shortage of people who want to try to beat him. Jealous players the world over fancy a pop at winning the God Cards from him, none more so than rich kid Seto Kaiba, who is using all of the technology at his disposal to come up with a strategy to defeat his opponent. However, an ancient evil is stirring that has a grudge against Yugi's pharaoh, an Egyptian sorcerer whose world domination plans were defeated thousands of years previously has returned and can give Kaiba the power he needs, but at a huge cost...
Films based on TV series are often rubbish, and films based on epic kids shows are often even worse. But Yu-Gi-Oh! has always been a little darker and more hard edged than its peers, so surely it will translate to the big screen more successfully? Well, it does and it doesn't.
Fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! will love this film. It contains everything that the series does, but bigger and better. Most of the regular characters are there, including Yugi, Tristan, Joey, Téa, Kaiba and Pegasus and some awesomely powerful new cards - such as the Blue Eyes Shining Dragon - make their debut. The film itself has a decent enough plot and follows the structure of the series with a huge final duelling battle that will give fans plenty of ideas for their own card decks. However, whilst fans will lap it all up, newbies will have no idea what's going on.
Like many films of this type you are expected to know an awful lot about the series and characters before watching it. Nothing is really explained, you are expected to know how the card game is played and know who the characters are. This means that if you haven't seen Yu-Gi-Oh! before you will spend half the film looking nonplussed as each character shouts a lot about trap cards, special abilities and resurrecting defeated monsters. More importantly if you're not a fan then the fact that around half of the films is just one big card battle will probably put you off even further. The film does have some great elements, in particular when Yugi is trapped within the MC Escher inspired interior of the Millennium Puzzle (think the end of The Labyrinth, but with Egyptian Mummies!), but the simple fact is that if you don't like the series then this is not going to impress you either.
At the end of the day this is a film for fans and for casual viewers it holds little interest. It is not terrible, but it is pretty average and if you have not seen Yu-Gi-Oh! before you are unlikely to be impressed. However, for fans of the show it has everything you would expect and there is some enjoyment to be had even for casual fans. It is a little darker than the series, and the hilariously camp Pegasus is a little bit risqué than usual, but unless you're a fan you may want to look elsewhere.
Extras (DVD Only)