This review is a written version of the video review that can be found here.
As a huge fan of the Bayonetta video game I was pretty skeptical for Bayonetta: Bloody Fate when it was first announced that the first trailer was shown. Now after taking the time to watch it, lo and behold, it certainly could have been better but to my surprise the end result wasn't nearly as abysmal as I had anticipated.
Was it moderately enjoyable to a certain extent? I'd say so, given the correct circumstances. Was it also it also a piece of shit? Well, let's dive right in and find out.
The very first words out of my mouth while watching Bloody Fate were something along the lines of "that's not how it happened in the game~." And then after a few more plot heavy sequences I realized, oh this really isn't how any of this happened in the game.
Well that's fine, I appreciate creative integrity and I acknowledge that this is supposed to be an alternative experience for the viewer when compared to the game in both its art style and the way key story elements are being incorporated and I look forward to your execution of Bayonetta's journey to defeat the last of the Lumen Sages and put an end the tyrannical Jubileus from creating new world order.
Let's get some of the more obvious distractions out of the way first, for a game as visually appealing as Bayonetta it's strange just how bland and dull the environments and settings are here in Bloody Fate. As much as I tried to deny it on my way in, I couldn't help but feel on my way out just how hastily this project had been thrown together. It's a shame because Bayonetta's story is an interesting one with lots of room for potential, so it's upsetting to know that a more capable team couldn't get their hands on the blueprints to the anime adaptation, not that Gonzo is a bad studio by any means, but...
This is some pretty hit or miss quality. During the hits the animation and direction looks pretty alright but at its lowest points you're left wondering how some scenes made it past quality assurance if such a thing even existed for this quickly thrown together piece of fan service. One such scene is in the very beginning of the movie, where as a director you are given the task of drawing the viewer in. It's like the opening paragraph of a book. It's your most important first impression.
Yet within the first two minutes of the movie we see Bayonetta in her nun outfit walk down an aisle of poorly constructed, hardly inhabited CG backdrops. Rule #1 of using CG in your feature film: You hide it as best you can. You don't use it for the backgrounds, silly. That is very distracting. And believe me when I say that this is not the only scene that does this. More often than not during the duration of this film, if two characters are talking, the backdrop is a computer generated still frame with some water color camouflage lazy splashed over it.
Also know that Bayonetta is a game noted for its soundtrack and the momentum that soundtrack is capable of producing while in combat, most notably during boss sequences. Many Hideki Kamiya and Platinum Games titles follow this same formula and execution and it is part of the reason why they are considered some of the most exhilarating experiences in action games.
Although many of the songs are reused here in Bloody Fate (haha, budget) which means that they obviously had licensing means to use most if not all of the video game's tracks, there are still scenes where something as over the top and action packed as Bayonetta riding on the back of a high-speed angel dragon manage to come off as downright boring with some of the strangest musical implementation I've ever seen.
The final battle fairs a bit better in terms of presentation but it's still nowhere near the Earth shattering, butthole blasting ultimatum of a climax that is Bayonetta the game's end boss fight. I'd like to further detail and compare the two endings, but the game's boss fight itself is just so good that I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to play it.
If you're watching the Bayonetta movie you are watching for 3 possible reasons.
Reason #1: Bayonetta. Bayonetta is awesome. If you're a fan of the game, then at this point in time while waiting for the release of the highly anticipated sequel you're like starving animal for more Bayonetta and you'll accept it in any form you can even if it's being squeezed through a budget cut tube of mediocrity.
You're like a filthy crack addict. You've been a bad boy and you need more of that naughty librarian/dominatrix look and style crammed into your fun hole and you can only replay Bayonetta with all upgrades and weapons unlocked on Infinite Climax mode so many times before your bleeding thumbs stop healing and you're forced to sit down and watch a crappy movie. Featuring Bayonetta.
Reason #2: You just wanna see something "cuhrazee" and that's all fine and good, now if only Bloody Fate could deliver on the cuhrazee that made the game so enjoyable. A daunting task for any team, considering you've now omitted one of the most gratifying aspects of Bayonetta's gameplay: The gameplay. And you're on a mission to translate that fun and excitement via 2D animation.
With this task comes new obstacles and new opportunities to be creative given the flexibility of Bayonetta's character and universe, and Bloody Fate manages to stumble over all of the aforementioned obstacles head on like a retarded child asked to navigate hedge maze littered with thumbtacks and completely ignores everything I said about creative flexibility.
Reason #3: You've never played Bayonetta but you've heard good things about it. Your poor misguided friend is a huge fan and tells you that the movie's out and you two are now watching it together. Things are starting to get awkward. You two are no longer friends.
You're probably sick of hearing me talk about the production value of this boner killer by this point but unfortunately when you're following up one of the flashiest games known to man you're going to catch a lot of heat for doing a poor job in replicating that pizzazz. There was never a moment in the game where I ever found myself thinking anything other than, "man, I would tongue every inch of this woman's body" yet in this film they almost manage to make Bayonetta come off as downright grotesque at certain moments.
In the video game Bayonetta's proportions were blown out of... proportion to meet a certain gameplay criteria. That's why when you take a moment to stop staring at her beautifully sculpted ass for two seconds you can see that her legs are actually freakishly elongated to give combat more reach and accessibility for the player. Because of this, Bayonetta appears to have a very slim, refined and elegant figure (like Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles. Mmm, Selvaria) and Platinum Games pulled this look off very well while keeping the combat fun and intuitive.
This illusion of elegance is lost when you attribute those very same freakishly long legs to an animated counterpart and then for whatever baffling reason, give it bigger boobs and a smaller face. It's weird and it bothers me that somewhere during the production of this movie someone didn't stop and go, "Ew, guys, like... what." Then again all of the other characters are pretty freaky looking as well, so, who knows what goes on over there at Gonzo during a bad day.
If there's one thing I appreciate it's all of the nods and references to the video game within movie. There's nothing wrong with fan service as a concept, and it's obvious that Bloody Fate never really had plans to be anything more than just that with all of the allusions to the game, and one liners and excessive boobage, but when there are so many foul ups in between the next good one liner from Bayonetta herself it becomes difficult to carry on, assuming you did make it past that horrible opening segment.
With all due respect to the character creation department over at Platinum Games, they have a tendency to make some of the most unbearable, annoying, frustratingly irritating characters in more recent gaming memory and to the movie's credit they actually made Luka and Enzo a bit more bearable than their video game counterparts. So, there's that. I have to sneak in some compliments here and there to justify my opening statement.
All in all I think what Bayonetta Bloody Fate suffers from is a lack of style and presentation that in all fairness is difficult to imitate when going up against such a juggernaut of personality. Still, you have the name in the title and people are going to expect a lot from that.
For the most part fights manage to feel plain boring and almost every other scene in between seems uneventful. Things that the game could get away with because it was a video game don't translate well due to lack of originality and proper direction. It's nice to see the Bayonetta IP getting more anything but honestly it feels almost insulting to see the character, musical composition and setting squandered in such a way.
If you happen to be a huge fan and know that you're a filthy little crack whore who needs more Bayoboobs in order to stay sustained then there certainly is a novelty to Bloody Fate that can be appreciated. But to just about anyone else, I'd recommend staying far, far away from this borderline travesty of an anime adaptation.