Type: Sasuke shirtless in 3,2,1….
Synopsis: Mission 5-Protect Doctor and Apprentice during Battle
Pros: The theme is pretty easy to figure out. It’s all about “bonds,” specifically between master and apprentice….and also about Naruto borderline obsession with Sasuke. But hey! Sasuke makes his return to the Naruto films from the very first movie. I mean, we got a weird cameo in the second movie, but that doesn’t count. He also doesn’t really factor into this movie until the last battle, but whatever, he’s shirtless most of the time. That’s fan service we can all get behind. The premise of the film is good and straightforward: a Ninja village holds an old grudge against the Leaf Village and attacks them. Naruto stories work best when they revolve around Ninja vs Ninja political conflict. The opening attack is beautifully ominous, and you get a real sense of the magnitude of the attack. The pacing is well done, with cuts from the Leaf’s counter attack to Naruto’s medical escort mission. We get a good mix of action and character work without overdoing either. And the themes of war and bonds are actually a pretty nifty allusion to the later parts of the Naruto story.
Cons: There are too many antagonists in this movie. The Sky Ninja was enough. They had ties to the Naruto cannon thanks to the Second Shinobi war, they attacked first, and their flying machines where made to look like a serious threat to the Leaf Village. Did we really need the inclusion of a “Zero Tailed” beast and a crazy old man? Speaking of crazy old man, or Shinno, we get yet another Naruto movie where the new Film only character is betrayed by an authority figure. To be fair, this twist wasn’t as telegraphed as the others in the franchise. But his plan is pretty dumb and convoluted. Shinno basically goes from kind doctor to insane dictator without any real explanations of his motives. The film lost a really good chance to tie the loose ends of the Sky Ninja story by exploring how war affects a community. But no, Shinno’s just crazy because LOL. Amaru’s romance subplot was also a bit icky, mostly because the whole teenage girl loving the over 50 old man/father figure/mentor is icky, but I wouldn’t have minded adding Amaru to the regular cast. The Sasuke stuff, though, does feel forced. Maybe if he had been shown more during the movie, his inclusion would have felt more organic. And, on a personal note, I forgot how much of an assh#le Sasuke is during this part of the story. Just a pretty, pretty ash#le.
Best Naruto movie?: Yes
Forgettable villain #5
Best Moments: The Sky Ninja attack (I think it ripped off Pearl Harbor)