This is the fifth One Piece movie, theoretically taking place after the Navarone arc and before they go to Water 7. Yes, exactly, it takes place around the same time as the previous movie because the anime started to slow down considerably. The formula so far was to make one movie taking place after a new crew member joins (the first after Usopp, the second after Sanji, the third after Chopper, and the fourth after Robin) In this case, the anime took hundreds of episodes until the next member (Franky) was added, so they went for a tiny gimmick. They though “hey you guys, we started the movies after Usopp but we had no movie dedicated to the earlier ones. So why not make one about Zoro?” And thus we get this movie. This was perceived very positively by most fans, who consider Zoro to be the coolest, most serious, and second stronger next to Luffy, yet had no movie.
Beyond all that, just like all the OP movies, it is a filler mission with a good budget and a simplistic plot. And it definitely has a weak plot. The story is just about the Strawhat Pirates going to an island where a cursed sword is said to be able to awaken its demonic powers in a few nights. Zoro meets an old friend turned rival there, who plans to awaken the sword for vengeance and possible world domination plans. In order to do that, he needs to activate it by finding seven spheres that contain its powers. And no, they are not the Dragonballs.
The whole thing plays out slowly and mostly anti-climactically. There is very little going on in it up until the last part where Zoro and Luffy start to kick ass. The problem is that there aren’t any interesting mini-bosses around to keep the rest of the crew occupied with doing something and outside of a few simple internal disputes, the entire crew besides the main two are completely worthless to the plot. I felt like the movie would fit better to be taking place chronologically even before the first one, where at least there weren’t so many in the crew to be in need to be doing something. And there would’n be a plot hole considering how his rival drifted from East Blue several years ago, all the way inside the Grand Line and to that island without being killed by the hundreds of perils that await in every corner.
Of course most of the fans of Zoro didn’t care about that and were pleased to see him doing his cool three sword fighting techniques. The whole film was made just for him; hell, he is the one to deal with the big boss in the end instead of Luffy. But seriously, outside some fancy visual effects the action wasn’t than exciting since it was mostly magic than actual swordsmanship. Plus there was no interesting build-up to that moment to make you feel like it’s worth waiting one hour just for a piss-poor excuse of a showdown. The main rival, Saga, is completely uninteresting and there is nothing else besides Zoro acting all mysterious and serious to keep you looking forward to. Not recommended if you don’t want some generic excuse for Zoro to do some magic energy blasting.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 2/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 0/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 0/2, Story 0/3, Characters 0/4