I've been replaying the Kingdom Hearts series in anticipation for Kingdom Hearts III. Thankfully, most of the games can be played on the PlayStation 4. Most of them. Two games originally released on the Nintendo DS have instead been converted into movies. So are they movies worth watching? I sat down and watched both Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded to find out.
The first of these films is 358/2 Days, and it's mostly there to tell the story of Roxas and Organization XIII. Generally, the plot bridges the gap between Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, with one of the last scenes of 358/2 Days being the first scenes of II. Most of the plot revolves around Xion, the new and mysterious fourteenth member of Organization XIII. When she displays the ability to wield a keyblade, Roxas and his best friend Axel begin to look into her and figure out what her deal is.
Generally, there's not too much to say about the plot of 358/2 Days. A lot of the plot exists to give character development to the members of Organization XIII, but it's hard to do that when half of them die in the first twenty minutes. Even of those left, it's clear that most of the focus is just going to go to the same few members that always get development in the games. Axel, Saïx, and Xemnas are the longtime favorites and they keep getting their love here. If you wanted to know more about Demyx (as everyone should, because he's fantastic) then you're not going to see it.
The other major focus of the plot is the mysterious Xion. Never heard of her before? Don't worry, because it doesn't matter at all. Xion literally retcons herself out of the story at the end of the movie. I'm not making this up either, as the movie ends with Xion erasing herself and all memories of her from history. At least this is starting to be mentioned in the games again, and it seems like Xion will still have a role to play in the overall plot, but I can't imagine it'll be that much considering that she, again, erased herself from history.
While Kingdom Hearts II is where the plots start to get convoluted, 358/2 Days is where it really gets lost in itself. Simply, a lot of the plot is just all over the place. I found myself rolling my eyes several times through the movie, wishing I was playing the game so at least the gameplay could save me from the convoluted plot. However, at least I felt like these were plot points that'd come up later. That's more than I can say for Re:Coded.
Re:Coded begins with Jiminy Cricket discovering a mysterious new entry in one of his journals. Trying to discover the origin of this message, Mickey has a computer built that lets him... hack into a journal. I'm not joking, the plot involves a paper journal being hacked by a computer (?). When they discover the journal is full of glitches (???) then they create a digital version of Sora to fight the glitches. At some point, the book hacks reality, and the journal comes to life as a new version of Riku (?????). None of it makes even a lick of sense.
If you ask me what on Earth this has to do with the ongoing narrative, I can't tell you. I have absolutely no clue where this fits with the timeline. I can't see how any of this leads into anything else, or if it matters. To be totally honest, my initial feeling is that you could skip Re:Coded entirely and miss nothing of value. The more research I do into the series' story, the more I confirm this theory. Of this movie, which is nearly three hours long, only the last ten minutes seems to have anything vaguely related to everything else.
What's worse, and applies to both movies, is how boring they are. Both are several hours long and contain little more than filler. Often the gameplay segments are described in blurbs of text, which is a poor substitute for actual gameplay. Neither were particularly special games, but at least they offered something unique. Every good part from the original games is missing and what remains dangles in front of you. You'll want to think that it all matters in the end, but it really just doesn't.
The truth is that both movies are terrible adaptions of their respective games. At least 358/2 Days has a few relevant plot points in there. Re:Coded is totally skippable. If you need to know absolutely everything about the Kingdom Hearts series then you'd be better just reading the Wikipedia pages on both games. Avoid these messes.