Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale – Review

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Last week I went and saw the new Japanese animated film ‘Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale‘.

This is a film based on the highly polarizing Japanese animated series ‘Sword Art Online‘ and is a continuation of the main series.

The film centers around a newly released AR (Augmented Reality) headset, the Augma, and the highly popular game released for it, Ordinal Scale. All is well, until the event bosses appearing in the game look to be taken straight from the original Sword Art Online game and mysterious things start to happen to those who encounter them.

Before we get into the meat of the review, I think I need to talk a bit about the series itself. I’m personally in the camp of people that actually enjoys the show, but I can see that the writing on the whole has some major flaws that mostly fall upon the author of the original light novels the series is based on, Reki Kawahara. A lot of the stories and set ups were hit-or-miss, but I enjoyed the characters and found most of them memorable. I overall enjoyed the series thus far and I am excited to see where it goes in the future.

But onto the movie, it carries on after the events of ‘Sword Art Online II‘ and therefore if you haven’t watched the series, you may be a bit lost, but the series likes to repeat itself a lot so you could probably piece together all of the important information if you really really wanted to see this without watching the series first.

Something I noticed almost immediately in this film was how they had definitely spent their budget well, this movie looks really good, without any of the odd looking 3D rotation scenes sen in the series. The animation was fluid, the colors worked well and all of the new costumes everyone has look fresh but familiar, as is the trend in ‘SAO‘. Something else I liked, though some of this can be attributed to seeing this in cinemas, was the sound. Every attack had an impact, a crashing, banging sound that would shake through the room, it seems minor, but I really liked the sound in this film, the music, the songs performed by the mysterious new character Yuna, the attack sounds, even the voices are clearly of a better quality.

In looking up information on the film I found something that I think perfectly describes the film, Isaac Akers of Crunchyroll said in his review “SAO being SAO, this was never going to be a perfectly crafted movie—but it captures so many of the charms of the franchise whilst also avoiding nearly all of its most aggravating faults.”, and to me, this couldn’t be more true. Yes, the movie isn’t perfect, but what movie really is? This movie revels in what makes ‘SAO‘ enjoyable, the characters, the fights with huge monsters and overpowered players, while leaving out a lot of the melodramatic, drawn out crap seen in other parts of the story.

It’s odd to try and talk about this film without giving anything away, since this is the first film I’ve talked about here that isn’t some kind of grand cinematic achievement with an impactful, emotional story. This movie was fun, and teases some of what may come next in the SAO series’ future.

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale‘ is still playing in some select cinemas and you can watch the trailer here.

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