What They Say:
In One Piece Film Gold, The Straw Hats are at it again in an all-new high-flying adventure! A gripping tale unfolds in the spectacular city of Gran Tesoro, where Luffy and his crew are drawn by dreams of hitting the jackpot. With so much luck, Luffy’s winning streak can’t possibly end. But behind the gilded curtains lies a powerful king whose deep pockets and deeper ambitions spell disaster for all.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and the English language dub, both of which are in 5.1 and encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The film is one that works some really big sequences along the way and the lossless mix really does a great job of bringing it to life across all quadrants. The clinking sound of money, the glam and glitter of it all with the music, and the action sequences itself just makes for a very lively and engrossing mix that hits the ground running and doesn’t really stop. The quiet moments have the right feeling to them and dialogue is well placed throughout with some fun moments of depth as well. The mix is one that works the best of the series in theatrical form and just has so much fun with it that you can easily get caught up in it. Both tracks come across very well here and are free of problems, resulting in an enjoyable experience.
Originally released in 2016, the transfer for the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The films in the One Piece series have been pretty good overall, though you can see the arc in quality of production from the early ones to where we are now, and this is a very slick and glossy high-end production that still retains the style and tone of the TV series itself. There’s a lot of gold in this one and it really comes across in a bold and vibrant way with a great solidity about it. I’ve seen this a couple of times prior to this release in standard definition and in the theaters and there is a whole lot to like here. It’s a high-end production with a crisp and clean encoding that really brings all of the detail out while handling the strong color design in the best way possible. Fans of the film will simply love what we get here with the high fluidity scenes and more.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The set also comes with a cardboard o-card that replicates the cover art but with a foil enhancement to it that gives the hold and other colors a lot more pop. It’s a very vibrant piece and you can definitely see the difference in the two covers in a big way as it uses the great key visual, even if it is a busy one. The back cover works a mostly black background with some nice gold elements to it while having a fun image of Luffy in his new duds along the right. The premise is well covered as is the breakdown of technical information for the two formats. While no show related information is included beyond the (ugh) UltraViolet digital copy information, we do get artwork on the reverse side of the cover. That comes in the form of a great two panel spread of the Straw Hats all in tight black outfits, thought Nami, of course, eschews a top for her blue bikini piece because she has to show off all her assets.
The extras for this release are limited to just one thing and it’s a totally geeky piece to be sure. Clocking in at about thirty minutes, we get eight of the main voice actors separated into two teams to play games and mostly just horse around and have fun joking and being playful while attempting to play some sort of game. It’s nonsensical for the most part but it’s just fun to watch these familiar actors and voices engaging in something silly.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Being a One Piece fan has its challenges and the biggest one in a lot of ways for me is the movie side of it. When we get a new feature film, always a welcome event for the attention it generates, the way it impacts the ongoing TV series can be frustrating. Amid an arc during the summer of 2016, the show took a break for a four-part side story that leads into the events of the film by providing some minor background material in an effort to redirect viewers to feel invested in the story. There was also a special that came out to add more context. With fans outside of Japan not able to see the movie at the same time, it’s difficult to connect with the material and you feel out of place with it when you finally do get to see the movie, usually a few years later. So, having Funimation bring out the film theatrically in January in both sub and dub forms is a fantastic thing since it’s the best that fans can get at this stage – and it’s in line with how it works with a lot of Hollywood movies going overseas. And now with the home video release, coming out at the same time as the Heart of Gold special, we can finally soak up the whole thing.
The premise of the film is straightforward overall with what it wants to do and it really does sprawl across the entire two-hour runtime. With the group making their way to a sprawling ship that’s over six miles long called Grand Tesoro, we’re introduced to this casino of the seas that operates as its own independent nation state as the World Government will give it leeway in order to achieve other goals with it. The place is more than just a casino as it’s like the expansive resort casinos and it’s just so garish, so full of spectacle, just in the opening section alone, that it’s overpowering. You can run parallels to a whole lot of things and while there’s appeal in the garishness to some degree, it’s so over the top that it’s almost oppressive.
The Straw Hats find themselves being welcomed as honored guests and even though they’re broke they’re extended credit to get in the game and have fun. Of course, the design of a casino is that it’s all just a trap as the house always wins in the end. The first half hour is all about the spectacle with so much going on and so many things to do that the gang, once properly attired, are just enthralled and living the big life. And honestly, you can’t blame them after the things they go through to blow off some steam like this. Of course, it has to go south sooner rather than later and they get taken for all their winnings – and Zorro! This is both amusing and problematic because he’s largely absent from the next hour of the film as they gang has to work out a way to get him back and get out of Grand Tesoro as they discover the darker sides of it.
What the film wants to do is to have a lot of fun across the board and it really just does that with a whole lot of enthusiasm. The exploration of Grand Tesoro brings a whole host of interesting characters that are likely one-offs but also just some neat locales and some of the tricks used to ensure that those that fall victim to the place are fully and truly ensnared by it. This is an area that One Piece has always done well, notably for me in the Impel Down storyline with all its layers, and this feels like a slightly abbreviated version of that – just covered in gold. The group naturally gets split up during their plan to deal with rescuing Zorro and that has them dealing with new areas, helping locals, and engaging in the way they do with every arc. It’s totally familiar but it plays out well.
Naturally, the film goes big in the final act as everyone gets on the same page and runs with the heist that’s underway. Part of what makes this appealing is that one of the new characters that they align themselves with is Carina, a woman that was actually a partner of sorts of Nami’s from their younger days. Their history goes back to how things played out that pushed Nami into the Fish-men and her being put into service to them so it’s a nice bit of backstory that fleshes things out a bit more overall. Carina’s fun here as she’s playful and it gives Nami something different to play against as opposed to the rest of the crew as she usually does. This is such a well-oiled machine at this point that you know the rhythms, and that’s a good thing, so a little adjustment to it all here is definitely nicely done and welcome.
Part of the appeal of this film is simply the fact that after a couple of years worth of Dressrosa material that kept a bunch of the Straw Hats out of the picture, we get to deal with them in a good way here, such as Nami, Zoro, Chopper, and Brook. This largely works well because I like seeing them all together and having fun. Especially when they get styling early on with their new costumes. Yes, the film goes big with the action at the end, but it’s the first hour that really got me engaged with it because these guys, as a group, are just a blast to watch. And it shows in this film as they simply go big with it, the kinds of smiles and laughter that has been hard to find in the TV series for quite some time when this came out toward the end of the Dressrosa arc.
One Piece Film: Gold was a project that I only paid a bit of attention to overall because I expected it to take at least another year until I could see it. Funimation’s bringing this out in theaters in both sub and dubbed form is definitely a treat for fans and I can only imagine that this must look fantastic on the big screen with its detail and color design. More importantly, however, this film is just incredibly fun. And with it being largely self-contained that makes it pretty accessible as well. There’s a lot to like here, even if I think they could excise about a good twenty minutes of it to make it tighter, and I can heartily and wholly recommend seeing it on the big screen because the production really made this a fantastic spectacle to be seen in that format.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Place Your Bets on the Straw Hats
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.