The First Slam Dunk: Movie Review

The First Slam Dunk Movie Review: Sports Film at its Finest

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"The First Slam Dunk" offers a robust experience for long-time fans of the manga and anime series while also presenting a thrilling sports film to newcomers. This film is spectacular, presenting a solid character-driven story alongside one of the most thrilling and authentic basketball experiences ever depicted on film.

Ryota Miyagi (Shugo Nakamura), the small but speedy point guard of Shohoku's High School basketball team, lost his older brother at a young age. This sudden loss deeply affected him and his family, ultimately guiding Ryota to his current path. Now in his second year of high school, Ryota plays with Sakuragi (Subaru Kimura), Rukawa (Shinichiro Kamio), Akagi (Kenta Miyake), and Mitsui (Jun Kasama) as they take center stage at the Inter-High School National Championship, challenging the reigning champions, Sannoh Kogyo High School. Can Ryota and his teammates achieve their ultimate goal?

Having not revisited the "Slam Dunk" anime series in some time, and remembering only the main characters, we approached "The First Slam Dunk" with few expectations. What we encountered was an outstanding film that exceeded all expectations. Beyond a touch of childhood nostalgia, two aspects particularly stood out.

First was the decision to shift focus from Sakuragi to Ryota as the film's main character. The anime likely provided enough backstory for Sakuragi, so it was a brilliant move to change the game and focus on another character in the film. Ryota's backstory was well-crafted, and his journey from the loss of his brother to finding his place in Shohoku was emotionally resonant. However, given the film's two-hour runtime, some scenes felt rushed—a minor gripe in an otherwise near-perfect story.

Second was how the film portrayed and translated the game of basketball. The last half hour was intense, with some of Takehiko Inoue's presentation decisions catching us off guard. The animation's realism and creativity demonstrated that, in some cases, animation can surpass live-action in conveying the sport's dynamism and excitement. The soundtrack and the lack thereof in some scenes accentuated the intensity of what was transpiring on-screen. "The First Slam Dunk" knew when to push out the beats and when to be subdued in the best and perfect moments.

Overall, "The First Slam Dunk" was a deep and compelling watch. Whether you're a devoted long-time fan, a nostalgic viewer, or a newcomer, this film will provide intense sports drama like no other.

Rating: 4 and a half reels

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