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'Digimon: The Movie'

There's something very familiar about 'Digimon'

Friday, October 06, 2000

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

Funny, no one seems to complain anymore about program-length commercials, which is what we called animated children's TV shows in the 1980s, when they existed solely to sell action figures.

'Digimon: The Movie'

RATING: Rated PG for cartoon violence.

DIRECTOR: Terri-Lei O'Malley.


Critic's call: 2 stars.


Maybe that's because now we have commercials that run all day every day, otherwise known as home shopping networks. As for animated children's TV shows, they sell not just action figures but also collectible cards, fast-food meals, video games, lines of clothing and houseware and, oh yes, movies.

In keeping with the ever-changing times we have "Digimon: The Movie," which is not to be confused with "Pokemon: The Movie," although that won't stop the unsuspecting.

Both concepts originated in Japan and feature children having adventures with cute little monsters fighting not-so-cute bigger monsters. "Pokemon" and "Digimon" are competing shows, the latter cashing in on the success of the former.

Pokemon, or pocket monsters, are small enough to be carried in hollow balls. Digimon, or digital monsters, live in some kind of digital world that I would refer to as cyberspace if I didn't know any better -- not that I do.

If they are digital, then how can they exist outside of a computer, as they do in the movie? Why do they hatch from eggs? Why haven't they sent me an e-mail as I type this, explaining it all? Why haven't they fixed the Japanese economy -- oh, wait, that's what all the merchandising is for.

I'm sure the target audience for this movie, kids who watch "Digimon" on TV and the parents whom they drag along, will understand everything.

Let's see. First come the original Digimon, who fight and tear up a Japanese city (isn't that Godzilla's job?) while only the kids seem to notice. Then, four years later, there's the virus-infected Digimon who's gobbling up the Internet byte by byte and launching American nuclear missiles at Japan (OK, they're still mad at us).

Four years after that, another virus-infected Digimon (actually, I think it's the same one but I'm not sure) torments this American kid like he's responsible for the whole thing -- which, it turns out, he is. Figures. Maybe "Digimon" is just another instrument of revenge.

By my ancient eyes, the middle segment is the best because of the humor, the characterizations, the abstract drawings of cyberspace and for reasons of pure common sense -- the digital monsters are confined to a digital world.

They still go boom, though, firing weapons at each other and making explosions while no one gets hurt. Maybe that's why our hard drives keep crashing.

As you reboot, just remember that "Digimon: The Movie" is strictly for the already initiated. Then again, who else would want to go?

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