There’s nothing particularly offensive or amazing about the Heavenly Sword movie. In other words, this is a run-of-the-mill and forgettable adaptation that you can totally do without.
If you could adapt any Sony video game property or franchise into a movie, which one would you choose? God of War? Jak & Daxter? Gran Turismo? Regardless of your answer, I’m going to assume that you didn’t say Heavenly Sword, a hack-and-slash game remembered for being one of the best PlayStation 3 launch titles. At the time of its release, the game stood out among the rest for its colorful visuals and compelling use of the Sixaxis controller. But there was nothing quite exceptional about Heavenly Sword and its film, unfortunately, suffers from the same curse. There’s nothing particularly offensive or amazing about it, this is just a run-of-the-mill and forgettable adaptation that you can totally do without.
Heavenly Sword follows the story of Nariko, a redheaded woman who belongs to an ancient tribe of fighters who are constantly being attacked by King Bohan and his men. For centuries, Nariko’s tribe has vowed to protect a legendary weapon known as the Heavenly Sword, since a prophecy states that the weapon should only be used by a destined wielder. As a way to protect the blade, the clan leader gives the Heavenly Sword to Nariko, since she’s one of the strongest warriors and the clan’s only chance to protect their heritage. As you can see, the story is merely serviceable and I find it hard to hard to keep track of because the characters keep talking but never say anything meaningful. But the missteps don’t end there.
The CGI ranges from spotty to mediocre and that’s unfortunate. At times, the characters and environments look good, but what was easy on the eyes a few seconds ago, can quickly become unconvincing and contrived-looking. The voice acting, despite having some actors you may recognize (Alfred Molina, Nolan North, Thomas Jane, Ashleigh Ball and Anna Torv,) is nothing to write home about and this might have something to do with the plain bad dialogue that plagues this animated movie.
There are also problems with the main protagonist, who’s far from being the strong female character that could inspire people to achieve great things. I felt like she was constantly put in danger so that she can fight random enemies. We don’t know anything about her, her motivations or what drives her to defeat enemies. I’m aware Heavenly Sword is based on a hack-and-slash video game, but that’s not excuse to release a film that’s an hour and a half of bad dialogue, random fights, poor animated sequences and merely serviceable voice acting that lacks conviction and pizzazz. Whatever charm the game had, it’s nowhere to be found in this mediocre adaptation. Even fans of the 2007 PlayStation 3 launch game will have problems watching this one.
There have been CGI video game movies before (The Spirits Within and Advent Children come to mind) and while they certainly had their problems, they at least succeeded in specific departments. The story in the Spirits Within, for instance, didn’t make a lot of sense, but its presentation was unparalleled. Heavenly Sword is mediocre and disappointing no matter how you look at it.
Ultimately, Heavenly Sword is hard to recommend even to diehard fans of Ninja Theory’s game. So if at any point, you see Heavenly Sword in a streaming service or a supermarket shelf, you should remember that this is an uninspired and vapid video game movie that doesn’t really excel in any department.