Hello my dear little subjects it is time to be right again, this time about the fourth pokémon movie in my monday movie review series. So far we have looked at three pokémon films, without their short and reviewed them including a spoiler heavy plot discussion. This time we will do things a bit differently. While I will talk about some plot elements , which you can see as minor spoilers, I will keep things a bit more suprising for those wanting to watch it for themselves. Reason for this is because I was ready to condemn this movie to a harsh grade when a surprise twist (I hate myself for for not noticing) saved this movie completely for me.
How does it Look and Sound
Technical stuff first let’s discuss the artwork and the sound first. This movie is about 70 minutes long, if we include end credits and if not lasts about 60 minutes. Visually we see some improvement of the last movie again and even the cg they used looks quite nice actually. It still has this … it doesn’t really belong their quality to it, but that actually works well in this movie. There is a theme of visual grandeur going on in this movie anyway, there are a lot of scenes in this movie that are meant to be beautiful and those moments shine at least in the visual sense. There are a lot of sparkles and mystical glows and the woods got some sense of life to them. We get introduced to six new human characters, including secondary protagonist Sam. Their designs are all very fitting to the pokémon world, they do feel like they belong, unlike some of the filler characters of the second movie. Their is just one exception. The main villain suffers majorly from overdesign and I mean like majorly. He looks waaaaay to edgy. He is a team rocket member, but wearing the traditional black outfit.. along with a metal vest that contains “dark balls” pokéballs that make pokémon evil. His face is always hidden behind a golden creepy face mask, that again makes him look as if he is wearing high level MMO armor. All in all the movie has some nice visuals, a great set piece in this forest but a way to edgy villain, who comes with his own whole set of edgy effects.
The sound design in this movie starts atrociously bad. At first I was thinking, something is wrong with my sound. Brock begins to narrate but it sounds like he is telling it through a tv or telephone as depicted in their world. After Brock has told everyone who Ash is , another narration track begins to play which does the exact same thing… clearly there must be something wrong with my soun…. oh no the characters just started talking and sound perfectly normal, i guess it’s a sort of weird style choice. All in all the english dub was done pretty well, Ash really carries some emotion in his voice this time which helps. Brock though… has some seriously stupid dialogue in this movie, and you can hear it in the preformance. He has zingers like ‘So maybe.. the lake of life.. is connected to life!….Wait! I get it restored Celebi back to life! ‘ You can just hear Eric Stuart shrugging in the recording studio going ‘dudes , what garbage is this dialogue?’ Unfortunately this is reflective for a large chunk of the dialogue that is not Ash or Sam. Oh and did I say that the villian sounds way to edgy as well?I have to give props though to the voicing of Celebi, you can really hear the emotion in that one. And it just says Bi all the time. Quite impressive how they managed two put so many emotions in two letter words each time.
The music is nothing special, it reuses a LOT of the best music. There is some good music here.. it just has been used before, the original pieces are all very iffy to me. A choir playing a remake of Jason Paige theme into a rap thing.. it is really a mixed bag.
How does it Feel
It is strange that this sixty minute movie still managed to feel to long, at least during it’s runtime. There are a lof of ‘fluff’ scenes that do not really seem to further the plot and even convolute things. Through the twist at the end those scenes are given weight to salvage things. However, except for the twist, which is both briljant and lazy at the same time , the movie doesn’t really gel that nicely together. It feels like a bunch of scenes lighty strung together through the story of Celebi. These scenes on their own feel entertaining enough but when you look at them all together, it makes things feel a bit ‘stupid’. For example the villain of the movie is chasing the heroes to get Celebi for himself, to make it evil with his dark balls. As he lays pursuit in a giant mechanical mecha, the group has to find some healing water to restore a battle damaged Celebi. They do not seem to notice a three meter high (10 foot) giant mechanical spider in the forest. It gets even more stupid when the Masked Brawler or ‘Masked Hunter’ as he does not have a consistent name lays chase to them. For some reason even though he is chasing them, Ash and Sammy manage to camp out for a night, play with celebi for almost an entire day, travel from point A to B with the man chasing them.. and then manage to travel from point B back to A again BEFORE he finally intercepts them. Still they are not noticing the 10 foot giant mechanical spider mecha.
Characters are fairly flat set-pieces here, they had to be careful with Sammy because he was from the past but his arc is kind of weird. In the past he is chased by a hunter who wanted to catch Celebi and because he tried to save it he gets thrown 40 years into the future. Initially he seems perfectly okay with that, he just wants to find and rescue Celebi. While I sorta get what they are aiming for in terms of his persona, as he cares for pokémon more then himself’ it feels odd to get no reaction at first. It is only after Celebi has fully recovered and might have the energy to send him back he begins to start worrying. It both makes sense and it doesn’t . Had they simply made him express these feelings before they found Celebi but made him say , let’s safe Celebi first though, we could have seen it’s a process. Then again.. home sickness can grow over time.. it just is not presented that well.
In this one Misty has been the one who is thoroughly sidelined. Most of her lines are “Hello I am Misty I am a water pokémon trainer’. As well as some jokes about Ash’s climbing skills. Brock at least gets a battle and is useful to the plot…sort of.
However easily the worst element of this movie is the villain. He is not as stupid as the one from the second movie but he is just this random evil dude who wants to use celebi of all pokémon to rule the world. Using Dark Balls to turn pokémon evil feels cringeworthy to me as well. It basically goes against the entire philosophy of pokémon and just feels needlessly ‘dark’ for kids. A pokéball that would prevent a pokémon from disobeying would have worked just as well and would have been less detrimental to the inevitable moment that the guy manages to catch Celebi (I do not consider this a spoiler since the entire movie is about movie trying to catch Celebi with Evil making balls, and each pokémon movie has Ash going up against a legendary.) Celebi as an antagonist doesn’t really work let alone under someone as edgy as the masked guy. The guy literally only yells words like “Destroy, Kill and Crush’ His goal is to ‘rule the world or at least take over Team Rocket and then maybe even the world’ He is so flat.. I asked him if I could get my bra back.
How is the plot
Celebi gets chased by a hunter and flees to another time while he takes young Sam with him.. who was trying to help him, 40 years later the masked Rocket guy finds that same hunter for discovering Celebi once and turns his pokémon evil. He uses those pokémon to go hunt for Celebi himself, but this time not only does he has to deal with Sam, Ash is there too. Heroes of the past and present unite to fight against the force of evil, to free Celebi from his clutches.’ This is in short the plot summary and it’s executed pretty decently in terms of the overall narrative. It feels like a good movie plot and it works well enough to carry the movie trough it’s runtime. All scenes that need to get addressed get checked off properly.
Predictable? Yes! Entertaining? For the most part. There isn’t that much wrong with it, it is just cheap. Remember those colour by number things you could buy? That tells you where to put what paint? It kinda feels like that. In the end you get a decent enough product , but it doesn’t feel very exciting to sit through this.
Like I said earlier every scene in itself is done solidly enough, the Celebi fight is entertaining but if you ever saw any hero turning into a villian, you know how this will go beat per beat. Cue the sad moment that is in all these movies right after that. Yep! It follows suit in that regard as well. Where the film really falters though is in the dialogue. Ash and Sam get off fairly well but the rest of the characters are all so throw-away. Their lines feel so wooden and often inappropriate. There is a scene where Misty twists her knee, while they are being chased, so you expect the villains to close the gap between them because of it. Nope.. it doesn’t effect the story at all. When Ash is nearly falling off a tree due to a psychic attack and he climbs back again ferociously Brock and Misty make a monkey joke about him rather than be concerned. This movie is about the blooming friendship between Ash and Sam and because of it , Brock and Misty could not have anything interesting to say. Even if Brock had a battle in this movie, if both of them weren’t there.. nothing would have changed in the course of the movie.
There are a lot of throwaway scenes there too. While it does show Ash and Sam becoming friends because they saw these scenes together, which works in the end, they could have bonded trough talks or trough fighting harder together, but now they see a bunch of Metapods evolve and they eat berries together. Sam gives Ash some bread when he gets hungry in the middle of the night, because he thinks of his mother’s cooking?!. It’s cute but do we really need to spend 5 minutes filled with that in a movie that is already kinda short. The scenes aren’t bad but they could have just been so much better. We see Sam use an old fashioned style pokéball and not knowing off the pokédex, tell us how things went in his time then! At least that would be interesting lore. We’ve seen metapod evolve into butterfree already so why this. There is a great playscene with Celebi which I love though, Sam and Ash play with Celebi and they bond over it.. which works very well but that one would have been enough to convey the message of blossoming friendship. All in all, without spoiling to much , the movie does what it needs to do but it feels like it is aiming to be passable rather than good. As a result it barely succeeds at being passable.
What is the verdict
The last pokémon movie had the title 3d and in fairness it had many dimensions. This one just has one. The villain has no layers at all, but at least he didn’t become a megalomaniac over a trading card. Celebi is super cute and it’s struggles are by far the most interesting thing in this movie, but they are repeated to many times. It is to predictable as well. Brock and Misty do very little in this movie other than maybe keep some additional animators employed. I was ready to give this the “full of smoke” verdict much like the second movie when a twist near the end saved this movie for me a bit. I realised it just before the big reveal and felt stupid, i could have known this, but somehow I was blinded by other obvious things.
The twist did not only impact the movie for me but the anime franchise as a whole. It made me think about things reflect on what I’ve seen before. It was purely from this moment of reflection of my childhood that this movie had gotten some additional value. It is overall very inoffensive just very lazy and while I am critical on that in the end it shown to have some value in the franchise for me , which I am glad about, because the movie felt to good for Flareon rating and those final minutes made me smile as I could now confidently put it in my espeon tier. I do not mind this movie ,it is okay and that last revelation made me feel I did not waste my time.
Question to my readers:
What is your favorite time travel movie?
So little subjects that concludes yet another factual review. Do note that the plot twist though is only interesting if you know something of the pokémon world. That being said the stupid diaglogue is also only stupid you know something about it either, so I guess it balances out. ‘So you really like Pokémon?’ is a really stupid question to ask to a pokémon trainer though regardless! So have a wine or something before watching this one. Maybe I should ask Irina for some tips to sit through the next 18 movies!
The Pinkest Poké Blogger is blasting off again