It may be hard to believe but just over two weeks ago we saw the UK release of Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 on the Nintendo DS. So as I’m sure many Poké fans still need to rest their blister covered hands, we’ve been covering each and every Pokémon film in celebration. Check out past articles here.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Cast: Sarah Natochenny, Ikue Ootani, Jason Griffith, Eileen Stevens, Carter Cathcart, J. Michael Tatum, Leah Clark, Khristine Hvam, Lisa Ortiz,
Plot: Ash and his latest companions travel to the town of Eindoak, where they learn about the legend of Dragon Force. But as one man wishes to return the giant castle known as The Sword Of The Vale, to its rightful place, it could spell the end of the world.
Considering Pokémon has been around for such a long time now, and this the 14th theatrically released film, I’m surprised they didn’t try this little trick before. For this entry they released two films POKEMON THE MOVIE: WHITE – VICTINI AND ZEKROM and POKEMON THE MOVIE: BLACK – VICTINI AND RESHIRAM. Each is pretty much the same in terms of story and development, but has little differences which big Pokémon nerds will have fun spotting as they go. The games have always been released as pairs and had those minute differences, and it adds extra life to the product. After all, if you watch the same movie a multiple number of times, you may want something new to keep your focus, even if it is just the colour of Pokémon or something else other, less educated minds, would consider insignificant.
I was lucky enough to be in Japan at the time the films’ release. On the ground floor of the Tokyo Tower they had a special event which involved big inflatable Pokémon, card collecting, and a free Victini hat made from card. It also meant that the Pokémon Centre, unfortunately just a Pokémon merchandise store rather than a place to heal sick or wounded Pokémon, was filled with new, exciting, and exclusive merchandise. I didn’t get around to seeing the film at the time, and I wouldn’t have understood it anyway, but now when I watch either of these two films I am filled with joy and cheer. Hence, there may be a bit of bias from now on.
As the film begins, many will notice some big changes. Brock has left us and this is the first film in which he does not appear. Dawn has also gone her separate way, which is a shame as her and Piplup made a great team with Ash and Pikachu. Now we have Cilan and Iris, who I must say, I’m not too fond of. Cilan describes himself as a Pokémon connoisseur, which is strange because whenever he says the word ‘connoisseur’, I hear the word douche. I don’t know what it is, perhaps because he doesn’t reveal himself to be as knowledgeable as Brock, Max, or even Tracey, when it comes down to Pokémon. I do like his style though, as bowties and waistcoats are just awesome; nothing wrong with looking sharp when training those little beasts. He also makes macarons, which are DELICIOUS. The way they melt in your mouth, and the flavours…I digress. Iris is the real problem here, in that she really just seems quite weak and feeble. She has a whiny voice and wants to be a Dragon trainer, but other than that, nothing about her stands out. I doubt she’ll even get another mention in this review.
As the film starts Ash and co. come to a fork in the road. In once version they go right and in the other they go left. It’s tiny differences like this that don’t exactly make a difference, but are appreciated none the less. Of course, I may have sang a different tune had the films not been packaged together on DVD and sold separately. We are introduced to Damon, a man with the desire to bring his people back to their rightful place. In BLACK he commands the Pokémon Reshiram and in WHITE he is aided by Zekrom. With Reshiram, he protects a small tribe from a dust storm in the desert, while in the alternate version he protects a tribe in an icy part of the world from a, iceberg. The biggest difference between the two films is that Damon is helped by one Pokémon or the other. The variation between these two different locations shows the lengths to which Damon is willing to go to bring his people back together.
Ash and his chums arrive in Eindoak Town, and they soon learn about the legends surrounding the area, and most importantly the castle known as The Sword Of The Vale, which is built to look like a sword, but in an impressive act of design, it certainly looks like it could be a castle too. Cilan expresses his disbelief in the story and how it is only legend, to which you might expect Ash to jump in and beguile him with stories concerning his encounters with other legendary Pokémon, different dimensions, end of the world situations etc. But Ash doesn’t, some say it is due to his modesty, and cynics may see it as the writers not wishing to alienate new fans. I say it’s a bit of both. After Ash saves some Deerling, because he’s so unselfish and heroic, Victini, the victory Pokémon, helps save Ash, but later steals his macarons. Bastard! I don’t care whose life you save, you don’t steal a man’s macarons. Later when Victini fomally introduces himself, we discover he has been trapped in this town for thousands of years and can’t leave.
We are treated to a bit of history, involving the People Of The Vale and the twin princes who each controlled one of the two dragon Pokémon Zekrom and Reshiram. They represent the whole yin and yang philosophy, rather than race wars. Reshiram is white and resembles a bird, whilst Zekrom is black and looks spookily like the latest incarnation of. Both of them seem to have had some sort of mechanical rocket shoved up their backsides though. This enables them to fly through the air at astonishing speeds. The story of how the princes fell out and Reshiram and Zekrom turned to stone, is told through a nicely animated pop-up book segment, with a few flashbacks for the more action orientated scenes. Reshiram and Zekrom represent Truth and Ideals, which is a great battle to fight over and a huge philosophical responsibility for the Pokémon franchise. Unfortunately, they just seem to use these words interchangeably regarding which version you watch. This means that there’s never any real conflict between the two beliefs.
It’s soon revealed that Damon wishes to harness the power of Victini in order to move The Sword Of The Vale back to its original spot, but doesn’t realise that doing so will destroy the Earth as it will disrupt the Dragon Force. The Dragon Force is apparently something that runs through the planet, like some kind of force. I don’t know if this works in conjunction with Aura that was introduced in an earlier film. Damon isn’t the antagonist that he could have been, as he simply has a strong will behind his beliefs and this causes him to concentrate on just getting results. As Victini loses his life, Ash manages to find Reshiram/Zekrom (depending on which version you watch) to fight back against Damon and his Pokémon.
POKEMON THE MOVIE: WHITE/BLACK – VICTINI AND ZEKROM/RESHIRAM is a nice trip into a new world for Pokémon. After all even Ash has had some kind of operation to change the colour of his eyes from black to brown. There are new characters, and pretty much every single Pokémon is from the later generations. The animation is good, but it doesn’t impress as much as it has done before, perhaps because the budget was split between two productions. The Pokémon franchise continues to grow, and shows no real sign of slowing down. The latest film has already been released in Japan, and should be getting a dub and US release by December 2013. But so far, we’ve had an amazing journey with our Pokémon friends filled with fun and adventure. This effort is a little on the lighter side, and hopefully they’ll raise the stakes once again.
Best Performance By A Pokémon: Victini is like a trapped child. Not only that, but he represents the yin and yang of black and white quite clearly. He is brave enough to help save Ash, but is too shy to show his face. Victini doesn’t mind helping himself to some macarons and getting a little playful, but is then scared when things get a bit too energetic. The fact he is willing to help Ash’s Pokémon shows its selflessness but also that he doesn’t understand cheating or unfairness. We feel the pain of Victini when it is forced to use power, because it doesn’t understand what is going on. Victini is a Pokémon I would like to see grow in future films, but this is probably something that is not likely to happen.
Best Battle: A Golurk battles against Reshiram/Zekrom in the skies as The Sword Of The Vale floats towards its goal. Despite Reshiram/Zekrom’s legendary status, Golurk puts up a grand fight, and certainly buys some time for our heroes to pull their fingers out and get in touch with the opposing legendary. While Reshiram and Zekrom battle through the air, Pikachu and either Reuniclus or Gothitelle, battle as Ash tries to save Victini from excruciating pain.
This is the last of our next PokéMovie Marathon articles. But you just Gotta read them all here.