Blu-ray Review: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey

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The second installment into the Berserk Movie trilogy has arrived, but what do we think of this Kaze Blu-ray release? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Berserk: Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey.

Synopsis:

He trusts nothing but his own sword. He has no place to call home. The lone mercenary Guts travels a land ravaged by a hundred-year war. Moving from battlefield to battlefield, his skill and ferocity eventually attract the attention of Griffith, the leader of a group of mercenaries called The Band of the Hawk. Desiring Guts’s power to help him achieve his goals, Griffith succeeds in recruiting the distrustful Guts by challenging him to a duel and defeating him.

As the Band of the Hawk fight together and their bond as a unit grows stronger, Griffith and Guts’s bond deepens as well. With their continued success on the battlefield, Griffith achieves the first step toward his lofty goals: his band of mercenaries becomes recognized as a full-fledged army within the Midland Kingdom. Despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith’s dream, which, unbeknownst to Guts, is destined to bestow a monstrous fate on them both.

Our View:

Berserk: Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey continues the story where the first film left off, with the hawks continuing to win victories on the battlefield in order to get noticed by the nobles, which ultimately pays off when Griffith and his army are tasked with overthrowing the castle fortress, Doldrey. This, along with a raging battle and an awkward medical confrontation between two of the main characters, is the starting point of the second film. Unlike the first film, which followed closely to the original anime, this one takes a more ‘distinctive’ approach by focusing on Doldrey as well as the objective, with the film easily being split up into three segments.

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These segments can be seen as the introduction, the main fight, and the consequences with the introduction laying the foundations for the main fight, by which when the main fight ends Gut’s makes a decision that shakes Griffith to the core, so much so that he ends up getting himself and the Hawk’s into treacherous trouble with the nobles that leaves the hawks left for dead.

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What’s interesting with Berserk – The Battle of Doldrey is that you don’t need to watch the first film to enjoy it (though it does help), as the first 4 minutes of the film quickly shows the viewer what has previously happened with all the ‘key plot points’, such as Gut’s Assassination mission and Griffith’s conversation with the noble lady (Which Gut’s overhears), being explored. It’s nice for this to be included in a feature film because it means you that you get a nice reminder of what has happened before the story kicks off again, even though not a lot seems to happen in this film. For majority of this film it’s the same old, kill or be killed, routine however to spice it up a bit a background stories for characters are revealed, such as Casca’s rape scene and encounter with Griffith. This scene should be traumatic (which it is in some respects) but due to the length of it and the overuse of slow-motion it just becomes an annoying segment of the film.

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This scene is not the only Sexual Theme in the film either, as interestingly enough there are plenty of sexual themes throughout the film, most of which involve Casca but more importantly a full-fledged sex scene, which would beat most Hollywood sex scenes, with Griffith and his noble accquaintance. While sexual themes do make an appearance it’s the brutal fighting and combat that you’d come to expect from Berserk, and this film provides plenty of bloody fights, none more so than the explosive battle between Guts and a Purple Rhino Knight leader, who end up going head to head with each other. This part of the film is one of the few highlights you’ll experience as unlike previous fights, which featured just decapitation; this is real fighting with swords clashing at every turn and interveners getting sliced into bits – its gruelling, its bloody and its brilliant.

Extras:

Disappointingly this Blu-ray release of Berserk: Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey does not feature a single extra content, not even a Japanese (or English) trailer for the film, which is slightly surprising. Instead all we get is a simple disc menu with multiple chapter points as well as English or Japanese with English Subtitles audio.

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While there isn’t any extra features for the film itself there is a trailer for Bleach: Hell Verse which appears before the main menu. I’m not against having trailers for other products before the main menu but it would be nice to see different trailers added, especially seeing as this Bleach film has been out for several months now.

Specs:

Media: BD 25 x1
Region: B
Running Time: 1:32:58
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey is a 90 minute long film and provides a direct approach to storytelling with a variety of backstories and emotions being displayed, even when the main focus is the fortress Doldrey. As per with the previous film 2D animation (anime) is blended with 3D CGI animation and while it does offer a distinctive viewing experience the CGI character models still look nothing like their animated counterparts, and in some instances the 3D CGI models are used way too much, thus making it a distraction. When in battle the 3D CGI Models look fantastic, but when it comes to slow close-ups they look terrible, it’s a problem that occurred in the first film and it still remains here. Luckily however these 3D CGI Models only cause a problem in the first half of the film, with the second half featuring mainly 2D Animation.

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Moving away from the film itself there is no other physical content on the disc other than the trailer for Bleach: Hell Verse, which appears before the disc menu, so those looking for bonus material on the film will have to look elsewhere. For me It’s a real shame not to see any included extras, especially even a Japanese Trailer, as it limits the amount of use the disc will receive. Extra features aside the inclusion of DTS-HD Master Audio (for both English & Japanese), combined with the superbly crisp HD Visuals creates a truly cinematic experience hwoever the overuse of CGI Animation (when not needed) does give the film a slight sloppy feel to it.

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Overall Berserk: Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey continues the story left off by the first film and further expending upon it, with character emotions and consequences being displayed on screen. For those looking to continue the story you’ll find ‘The Battle of Doldrey” an entertaining watch, but it still has flaws featured from the first film, newcomers can also watch the film thanks to the inclusion of a “previously” segment which fully depicts everything  important that happened in the previous film.

Score: review-stars-3

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II – The Battle for Doldrey will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from the 2nd September 2013.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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