Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Kei Suezawa
Writer: Ukyo Kodachi
Voice Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Rie Takahashi, Maaya Sakamoto, Takahiro Mizushima, Miyuki Sawashiro, Ryotaro Okiayu, Koki Uchiyama, Satoshi Tsuruoka, and Minami Tanaka.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars
The wonderful thing about franchises comprising standalone stories, such as Fate/Grand Order, is that each story can be told as a self-contained component in different mediums, without requiring the viewer to know the entire backstory beforehand (such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The latest chapter of the Fate/Grand Order franchise is a movie, Fate/Grand Order The Movie — Divine Realm Of The Round Table: Camelot — Wandering; Agateram (what a mouthful!), that adapts the sixth chapter of the titular game, which features the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot.
In this adaptation from the Fate/Grand Order game, the two main protagonists arrive in a Singularity era where the Knights of the Round Table terrorise the Holy City of Camelot. As they try to figure out who are friends and foes, the crisis grows worse, and failing to resolve it could spell disaster for all of humanity. It will be followed by a second film, Fate/Grand Order The Movie — Divine Realm Of the Round Table: Camelot — Paladin; Agateram.
This is definitely a film for fans, because there is so much explanation required just to understand the premise of Fate/Grand Order that the movie completely does away with it. Here's a short explainer. The Fate/Grand Order franchise began with the game, one of the most popular mobile games in Japan. Humanity is threatened by disruptions to history, known as Singularities. The players are sent to resolve said Singularities by summoning monsters, known as Servants, to fight. Along the way, they learn that there are other agencies which are determined to interfere with the history of humanity. The game's storyline is divided into chapters, which each centre around a particular time period that has been disrupted by a Singularity.
Of course, if you're a fan, you'll know all this, and you'd be keen to just dive in to see how the anime realises the game world on the big screen, as well as seeing how Bedivere, Gawain and the like appear as characters on screen. The film does a good job of trying to include as many characters as possible from the Camelot chapter of the game, at the expense of character development and screen time. You'd probably get to see your favourite character, but not in a way that feels all that satisfying.
That's because the story is rather... lopsided. On one hand, it can be rather languid in how it progresses. On the other hand, it rushes through events just to get you to the final battle in the climax of the movie. It doesn't provide enough exposition, while having too many long drawn out conversations which don't get anywhere. You might see your favourite character, but you won't really feel you've met him or her, simply because it's so awkwardly put together. Understandably, the writer was trying to cram the events of an entire game's chapter into a pair of 90 minute movies. Nevertheless, there's a distinct lack of elegance or even subtlety in the storytelling. It feels like it's just plodding along a formulaic plot (which it is, given that it's based on the game), rather than organically pushing the characters forward in a good story.
If you're here for the fights... it gets better towards the end. The first half of the movie has some action, but they're mainly trying to get to the second half where the bigger, better fights take place. Unfortunately, this strategy means that you might lose interest in the first half of the film. If you already know the premise and all the characters, the first part of the film is not mandatory viewing.
The animation does a great job at evoking the grandeur and majesty of the various locations, as well as giving us fluid action when the film calls for it. The character designs are faithful to the game, although there are some details that were removed (for ease of animation) that might annoy more observant fans. Nevertheless, it still fits in with the style of the game's cutscenes.
The second half gets better, mainly when they've gotten all the exposition out of the way. It is definitely targetted at fans, given that very little of the premise is explained. As a movie based on a game, it hit most of the right notes. Be sure to stay to the end for a post-credits preview of the sequel, Paladin; Agateram.
Fate/Grand Order The Movie opens in cinemas:
- 11 March 2021 (Singapore). Sneaks are available on 6 March 2021.