Date: 2023 August 25 18:34
Posted by Joe
The First Slam Dunk Movie is set to bounce into cinemas across the UK from Wednesday 30th August 2023. We were lucky enough to catch it at an advance press screening earlier. We're now able to publish what we think of the film. Is it worth watching? Is it worth watching if you've not encountered any Slam Dunk before? Well read on and out!
The First Slam Dunk is a new movie written and directed by Takehiko Inoue, who also created the original manga. At the time of writing this review it's currently the 5th highest grossing anime film worldwide. In the 1990's Slam Dunk was huge with 170 million copies in circulation, making it the 7th best-selling manga series in history. This puts it above even Demon Slayer in terms of manga sales! There was also a very popular anime series in the 1990's. This means Slam Dunk already has an established audience with fans of anime, manga and basketball.
Naturally with all this successes a Slam Dunk Movie made sense. Takehiko Inoue was approached around ten years ago about making a movie. He started off simply being involved but ended up writing the screenplay and directing the movie.
The first great thing about this new movie is you don't need to be familiar with any of Slam Dunk or even basketball to enjoy it. It's a completely self contained standalone story. You don't need to read 31 volumes of the manga or watch 101 episodes of anime to enjoy this. Enough basketball concepts and plays are explained, gently, without new viewers being overwhelmed.
The movie is cell shaded 3D CGI, with some scenes animated more traditionally 2D. Very few anime titles have pulled this technique off well, with Beastars and Dorohedoro springing to mind as good examples of it working. Often it looks lifeless and artificial but it is used to great effect in this title.
The movie gets off to a very slow start, so it's almost like watching moving manga. The scenes are still, movement is limited and feel almost completely static. This makes sense since the director is a manga artist and this is his directorial debut, but this is all very intentional. It then springs to life as the contrast of the basketball court action kicks in! There is frenetic action as the ball zooms around the court, passes, throws. The action is fast, but its framing is superb. You can follow the movement in the court, your eye is guided by the camera and framing of scene, you know where you need to look to follow the game.
They couldn't have done this easily using traditional 2D anime. Following 10 people around the court would have been nearly impossible, but the way the cell shaded 3D CGI is utilised is for best effect as action is captured realistically, it helps pull you in. Camera angles and panning are used really well along side how each image is framed, making it master class in how to demonstrate sports in action. All this makes it more immersive and captures the speed of a game.
On the face of it, Slam Dunk is a story about basketball, but there's so much more to it. It chronicles the focus and constant dedication you have to have to excel at the sport. The endless hours spent practicing are all acknowledged. It is also a story of loss and grief. Teamwork, friendship, sporting rivalry and comradery are important themes covered in this film. There's a welcome sprinkling of comic relief too. The supporting cast of characters all have enough depth and detail to make them feel like real individuals and not just shallow extras. The story is very simple, but the execution of it propels the movie into the exceptional.
This is more than just a movie, it's an experience. I'm not into sports or basketball in any way at all, but by the end of the movie I was at edge of my seat gripped and waiting to see the final outcome! It grabs you and pulls you. I watched the film in a cinema with others and you could cut the tension with a knife at certain key scenes.
Like most sporting events, rewatching it won't be the same as the first time, as now you know the outcome, but I think there is a lot of rewatch value in the film, you'll probably notice extra details you've missed first time or just enjoy it again.
If you're a fan of Slam Dunk already, the movie has a lot offer. While the original story was based around Sakuragi, this movie is more about Ryota, it's his story. Inoue wasn't interested in simply copying the original work and doing the same again, he wanted a new perspective and Ryota brought that to the movie.
Before I watched The First Slam Dunk I had concerns that it could have been overhyped, but in short, it's amazing.
If you can, I suggest you catch this movie in the cinemas to enjoy it fully on the big screen with a decent sound system. This is one not to miss.