"Cardcaptors: The Movie" (AKA "Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie) is an animated supernatural drama film based on the television series "Cardcaptors" (AKA Cardcaptor Sakura). The film starts off with Sakura (a girl who is in charge of capturing magical cards that she accidentally let loose) is up late at night trying to capture a card that is causing damage around town. After that battle she goes to bed and the next day she turns up to school in a very drowsy state from not getting enough sleep and talks to her friends about how she is going to spend her school holidays. Sakura is also having some strange dreams of water and a strange woman every time she closes her eyes. After school she goes to the shops to buy a bag with her friend named "Madison" only to be told that she is eligible to draw a ball from a box to win a prize. Sakura ends up pulling out a golden ball and ends up winning the grand prize that ends up being a free trip for four to Hong Kong. Sakura decides to take Tori (her brother), Julian (her brother's best friend and also Sakura's crush), and Madison. Sakura makes it to Hong Kong safely and runs into two more of her friends, Li and Meilin and has a great time with them. Her strange dreams have also started to become stronger to where a great evil magic can be felt. Is there some connection between Sakura's dreams and Hong Kong? (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this one starts off alright with some charming humor and nice feel-good drama scenes. There are also some exciting chase scenes that had a magical feeling to them. I did also like the action scene at the start but that is the only scene where you'll see Sakura capture a card and it does make sense as the cards are only scattered around Japan but it would've been interesting to see her capture cards all around the world... Then again the novelty would wear out fast. The second half of the film is where I start having problems and I'll say why very bluntly, it gets slow to the point of being boring. Now this problem could've easily been fixed as they could've edited the film a bit tighter as both dialogue and action scenes did drag on for much too long.
The characters also become less interesting toward the end also but to be fair the characters in this film are a little watered down in general compared to the television series. I did like some characters they introduced into this film and was surprised to hear that they weren't part of the manga or television series as they felt very natural being a part of the "Cardcaptor Sakura" universe. This film also felt a little bit like a horror movie at some points as there were some scenes that did make me feel a bit nervous like the scenes where Sakura was at a haunted well. It isn't anything that will scare you to the point of screaming or pooping your pants but it will give you an intense feeling nonetheless.
The art-work in this film is decent with some beautiful background and character designs. There are some scenes in this film that stick out much more than others and look simply spectacular. Not every scene looks great though as there are some average looking shots that look straight out of the television show and while that isn't a bad thing per-se it still shouldn't be like that as this is a movie and it should have better artwork throughout the whole film in general. Animation is 50-50 as half of the scenes are animated really well while the other scenes has rough looking animation.
The acting in the English dub is all over the place as in some scenes it is pretty good with voices that worked well with the characters and then there are some scenes when the acting is just plain awful and weird sounding. I wouldn't say it's un-listenable but it is best to watch this film with the Japanese dub on as it is much better with really great sounding characters and the acting that is more consistent. I did not like the soundtrack on this film as it had a very painful sounding pop-rock and euro-dance music but all the terrible tracks only appear in the English dub. On the Japanese dub the soundtrack is very beautiful with a very appropriate oriental themed sound and the occasional pop song here and there that also sounded good.
This DVD includes some very interesting special features including all of the Japanese and US theatrical trailers and Japanese television ads. That's not the interesting part though as what is interesting is that you get a physical item being a little bonus booklet full of profiles of the characters, art-work and sketches, and an interview with the director of the film, "Morio Asaka". The profiles were basic as you might expect, the artwork while basic it was pretty nice looking and was fun to look at. The interview was decent as you do get some nice information about what it was like working on this film while working on the television series all at the same time. Lastly this DVD release comes in a very beautiful looking slipcover that looks nice displayed on my shelf. This is only for the first edition of this DVD and the re-pressing will not have the slip-case nor the booklet.
Overall I am not going to recommend this film as the bad outweighed the good. In the end this felt like that I was watching a dull filler episode of the television show. Such a shame as this film would've been good if it was a bit tighter. Not recommended.
Title: Cardcaptor Sakura - The Movie
Animation/Production Studio: Madhouse
Genre: Animation/Anime, Action, Magical Girl, Supernatural, Lo-Horror, Drama, Romance, Comedy
Running Time: 82 minutes
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Rating: PG (Mild themes, animated violence)