Naruto Shippuden is one of my favorite shows, but the various Naruto movies never seem to exceed the quality of a filler arc. The second Naruto Shippuden movie is no exception.
Based on the title of the movie ("kizuna" means bonds) and the various advertisements showing only Sasuke and Naruto, one might expect some sort of badass fight between the two main characters. This is sadly not the case. Sasuke actually plays a relatively minor role in the plot, showing up briefly in the beginning and for about twenty minutes in the end. He is somewhat friendly in this installment (by his standards, anyway).
The plot actually revolves around a group of evil ninja that attack the Leaf Village, from the "Land of Sky." It seems that the powers of the enemy ninja get stranger and stranger with each passing movie. This bunch has a couple of aircraft carriers, machine-kunai guns, and little kite things that let them fly like fighter planes. The grunts aren't impressive by any means, and their guns couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
Of course, the Leaf ninja must deal with this new threat and a four-man team is sent out to pursue their aircraft carriers. This team, consisting of Kakashi, Shikamaru, Shino, and Sai, is essentially extraneous to the plot despite the few scenes they receive. Naruto, Sakura, and Hinata end up following a child named Amaru and her master, Doctor Shino, as they travel to an endangered village. Things move quickly from there and we are introduced to an odd creature called the "Zero Tails," that possesses dark chakra. The villain wishes to use this dark chakra to take over the world. Of course.
The plot is very clichéd and not up to par with the rest of the series. We end up with a giant floating fortress that is driven by weird, light-emitting magnets and a villain that looks like he went Super Saiyan. I couldn't help but nod when Sasuke said, "This is painful to watch." And when Naruto said "I know I'm going to sound a little cheesy here, but..." and proceeded to babble about the power of love, I had to agree with his first statement. The only real interaction between Naruto and Sasuke is some one-or-two line exchanges near the end of the film.
Since this a movie, the animation is naturally better than the normal series. The Land of Sky's battleships are a delightful mixture of metallic faces and odd projections. I found the character's faces to be much more expressive here, particularly Sakura's.
While the Land of Sky's grunts are quite generic, I liked the character designs of the Zero Tails, Amaru, and Doctor Shino. The Zero Tails reminded me a bit of No Face from Spirited Away, though less cool. The animators must have overlooked the fact that it does indeed have a tail. Amaru and Doctor Shino, meanwhile, looked rather exotic in appearance--and any differentiating feature is good in this sort of movie.
Though I normally watch Naruto Shippuden in Japanese, I was forced to view this film in English. It seems as though Naruto always sounds more idiotic in English. Much of what the characters said sounded cheesy, but I had to admire Doctor Shino's voice actor. His voice is satisfyingly deep and emotive.
The music consists of generic electric guitar with an Oriental feel, standard for the series. It failed to grab me.
One of the advantages of a shounen like Naruto is the vast number of episodes we get for character development. Fans of the series have probably already watched dozens of hours of Naruto's antics before reaching this movie. Unfortunately, this means that the new characters introduced here get a pittance for character development.
Everything about these new characters seems rushed. The villain--while I can't quite say he is one-sided--degenerates as the film goes on and ends up as an uninspired lump of evil. Amaru, the child, goes through a similarly rushed transformation.
Poor Hinata gets barely any screen time at all.
If you are looking for something to fill your time while waiting for a better series to arrive, go ahead and watch this movie. If you have more episodes of the regular Naruto Shippuden series to watch, though, I would say to skip this movie and view those instead.