“Whether it is right or wrong, I will do as she wishes.”
Friday saw the UK release of Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 on the Nintendo DS. So as I’m sure many Poké fans will want to rest their blister covered hands for an hour or two a day, over the next 2 weeks join THN as we take a look back over the entire series of Pokémon films.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Cast: Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Madeleine Blaustein, Ikue Ootani, Ted Lewis, Tara Sands, Stuart Zagnit, Amy Birnbaum, Dan Green, Lisa Ortiz
Plot: A Pokémon professor goes missing while investigating the legendary Pokémon Unown. His young daughter, Molly, is left all alone, but when the Unown visit her she is able to create her own reality, which encases her home in crystal.
Guess who’s back! Back again. Brock is back. Tell a friend. Yes that’s right, our ever reliable trio are reunited for this third outing. And Brock isn’t the only one returning to the franchise, but more on that later. POKEMON 3: THE MOVIE – SPELL OF THE UNOWN is the most bizarre and creative Pokémon film so far. It jumps off into its own dream world years before Christopher Nolan had even conceived INCEPTION. Perhaps this film performed an INCEPTION on him. Doubtful though, this film had awesome monsters.
POKEMON 3: THE MOVIE – SPELL OF THE UNOWN gives us many new and fantastic visuals that have previously escaped the Pokémon cinematic efforts. Probably because the last two entries were both set on islands and involved storms. Here we have a film that goes in the complete other direction thanks to its setting in the imagination of a young girl. Not only that, but there are other little visual treats throughout. We start in the bedroom of a young girl called Molly, who has many cool little toys shaped like Pokémon, such as a Teddiursa teddy bear and a Phanpy slide.
Molly and her father, Prof. Spencer, obviously have a very close relationship which makes it easier to make a connection with the audience. That is paramount here, as we have a very short amount of time to get to know these characters before our regular Pokémon pals show their faces. As Prof. Spencer goes investigating, the Unown reveal themselves to be the first fully CG Pokemon. This really causes them to stand out and seem otherworldly. They grab Prof. Spencer and take him away somewhere. Molly is left alone with just a box of her father’s last expedition. After she opens it, the Unown return and allow her to create her own dream world. She conjures up the legendary Pokémon Entei who becomes her ‘father’ and promises to grant her every wish.
Meanwhile Ash, Misty and Brock continue on their travels and come across Molly’s house, now surrounded in crystals and almost impossible to penetrate. Professor Oak and Ash’s mum show up, as it is revealed that Prof. Spencer was a student of Oak’s and a family friend of Ash and his mother. After Molly wishes for Entei to bring her a mummy, Entei kidnaps Ash’s mum, leading Ash and friends on a dangerous journey into a strange world.
The film begins with the mystery and mythical surprises that should be present in a franchise such as this. Once we are put in the company of Ash, the film kicks off just how it should, with a tremendous trainer battle. If you’re skipping on the series, Ash has left his Charizard at a training academy and Squirtle returned to his firefighting gang The Squirtle Squad. This makes room for the hyperactive Totodile and Chikorita, who is disturbingly obsessed with Ash in a very needy kind of way. Isla Fisher in THE WEDDING CRASHERS, that’s who Chikorita reminds me of. In terms of Pokémon battles, this film more than makes up for the lack of them in POKEMON: THE MOVIE 2000 – THE POWER OF ONE. Not only that, but everyone gets a go. Once inside the dream world of Molly, Brock and Misty have their own separate battles against unbeatable imagined Pokémon. Misty’s battle is especially memorable, as it takes place under water, but Misty is still able to breathe and talk. It makes for a different kind of Pokémon water battle, since we are usually above the water and the Pokémon just pop up and then swim back below.
The emotional crux of this story is between Molly and her imagined father Entei. Entei is simply a figment of Molly’s imagination, and as such she creates a father figure that would never say no. This of course leads to troublesome behaviour with Molly. The film clearly depicts the dangers of living in a dream world rather than pursuing your dreams in the real world. Molly gets everything she could ever desire, and as such, she reacts badly when she doesn’t get her way. She also fails to understand the pain she causes others. It’s understandable the way she acts, considering both her father and mother aren’t around, but when she takes on a hypnotised Ash’s mother as her own, it’s clear to see we need an intervention.
The final moments are some of the best in the series so far. Ash’s Charizard returns to rescue Ash in the nick of time after Ash falls from a tall cliff towards the sharp crystals that have formed below. The constant forming of crystals creates an eerie environment and each time they grow we get a score that certainly has hints of Jerry Goldsmith’s work on GREMLINS. If the film has a failing it’s the use of Unown. Not their CG look, but the lack of explanation that surrounds them. They are simply used as a plot device that becomes distracting from the emotional turmoil of Molly. The trainer who battles Ash in the beginning of the film also sticks around, for reasons unknown.
This is a wonderful story about loss, acceptance, dreams and reality, and how important it is not to confuse the two. Dreams and imagination are fun, but not as a substitute for real life. The film has plenty of emotional ties and character development for the humans, and some of the most engaging battles so far. Best of all, there isn’t a villain, making this a more difficult struggle as it isn’t a case of just stopping a single person up to no good.
Best Performance By A Pokémon: Entei is the clear winner here, even though his existence is highly questionable. Taking on a father role to Molly he becomes the great protector and the great provider that she sorely needs. His strength, both physical and emotional, is what makes his plight so understandable. There is also an element of tragedy that Entei captures when he is told that he isn’t even real. Being forced to question his own existence, and come to the realisation that Molly is not his daughter, means Entei steals the entire film.
Best Battle: As mentioned earlier we get a number of fantastic battles in this film. But the stand out has to be Charizard Vs. Entei. Charizard returns to save Ash from falling to an untimely death; is it still untimely if you never age? The battle sees Ash riding on Charizard’s back and the camaraderie between them is great to see. Knowing the past between these two characters and how Charizard never really listened to Ash, seeing them work as a team is a big deal for the fans. As Charizard flies, Entei gives pursuit by effortlessly climbing the crystal sculptures that surround them. Great shots, exciting action, and nice to see the return of old friends.
Come back tomorrow for our next PokéMovie Marathon article. Gotta read them all here.