Movie Review: Dragon Quest: Your Story (2020)

[Please note: there are some minor-ish spoilers here about a part of the movie. I do not go into any details about that part of the movie itself, but even perhaps knowing there is a spoiler warning needed might be too much. The short of it is: if you like the DQ series, or are into these video game adaptions, watch the movie first then come back and read this.]

A Netflix original animated movie based on the best-selling video game franchise, Dragon Quest, particularly adapting the plot of Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, is the 2020 release Dragon Quest: Your Story. Luca (veteran English voice actor Yuri Lowenthal) is the son of mighty warrior Pankraz, and a hero in his own right. Befriending Prince Harry, Princess Nera and Bianca the mage, Luca and his father attempt to rescue Luca’s mother from the evil Bishop Ladja (Jason Marnocha).

+ the voice work from Lowenthal is top quality, as you should come to expect. Marnocha as Bishop Ladja seems to be channelling his inner Mark Hammil as the Joker, but that suits his wall-eyed character’s persona. Yes, there is an iconic (to me, at least) Dragon Quest slime here, and he is as adorable and stupid looking as ever
+ gorgeous animation, perfectly comparable to the best on offer from a company like Dreamworks . One “character” especially, a large bear-dragon thing named Bjorn, is particularly impressive as it flies and lumbers in battle. The various spells used are gorgeous, and I would favourable compare them to the particle effects of Frozen II (which I actually watched after I watched this this)
+ in a similar way to how the animators of Wreck-it Ralph ‘unlearned’ 3D animation techniques to properly do the janky movement of old arcade games, the way this movie’s animation really makes you feel like it is a video game is admirable. Enemies ‘explode’ into dust or pixelated coins when defeated, and overall it really does feel like someone is just playing through Dragon Quest V. It’s often the case that video game movies feel like a movie ‘about‘ that video game, but this film avoids that pitfall

Luca, the Hero (Yuri Lowenthal)

– I know it is based on a video game, but this movie seems to gloss over a few things, including introducing two or three major characters in an opening montage of 8-bit, Dragon Quest V ‘scenes’. You’ll need to know of Nera and Bianca later, so it’s best to pay attention
– be careful Googling anything about this movie, because those final 10 minutes or so are incredibly divisive. I didn’t necessarily dislike the way the movie went, but I have to say it was a bold decision which not everyone will agree with

> I cannot stress enough how much I want a Chrono Trigger duology in this style, but truthfully any video games and/or animes could have a new life in this style; a Zelda Link to the Past CGI movie would be fantastic, as would a Dragon Ball adaption (read: not Dragon Ball Z)
> when I was just a little jimmy, watching my older sister play Final Fantasy VII, all I wanted was a proper, smoothly animated movie of the entire game’s story — eventually, un-narrated ‘Let’s Play’ videos came out on Youtube, and that’s not really the same thing, but whatever — and this movie is almost something like that

Should you see this film: I liked this a lot. I can admit that the first ten minutes are a bit slow, and the last ten minutes won’t be for everyone, but that middle stretch of 90 minutes is some wholesome, heart-wrenching,, genre-spanning and at times shocking stuff, well worth your time.


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