Review: Pokémon Heroes-Latias and Latios

*snif* Hey there little subjects *sniffle* it’s a Monday-Movie post again *snif*  and today we will be discussing the 5th pokémon movie. *Snif* This one is a fan favorite praised for the genuine feels *sob* and as you might be able to tell this movie hit me as well *sniffle*. Like always , I watched the original uncensored cut with English Dub and no shorts. Like in the fourth movie I will keep this post, relatively spoiler free. The movie was released in 2002 in Japan and got a limited 2003 western release.  While the movie was received very poorly with only a 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is among the highest ranked movies by pokémon fans. Possibly even THE best on average.

How does it Look and Sound

Let’s begin on a positive note and say that viewing deeply captivated me…. for the most part.  Where this movie really is a let down is in terms of visuals and sound design. The animation quality is incredibly inconsistent with some amazing visuals , mostly in the second half of the movie up to extremely lackluster animation with shots lingering on people waving while not having a face. Like in the earlier movies there has been a lot of computer animation, this time it is mostly free roaming through the streets of Alto-Mare , the city where this movie is set. Unfortunately these roamings , while looking somewhat compelling have no “animation” to them, it is just a gliding camera. Which works for when Latias or Latios is gliding through the street, but not when Ash is running or ‘wakeboarding’.  The Macguffin of this movie the Alto-Mare-Defence-Device is animated nicely and feels like genuine ancient technology even though it looks a bit to CGI’s I still have to take into account this movie is 17 years old. I could say that drawing a face in the distance has become easier over time with technology as well, but there is no reason to linger on shots where you cant even animate a face. Pick your battles and all that stuff. The Pokémon themselves are animated very nicely, even those who looked a bit “off’ from their regular renditions worked because they were corrupted and the thick outline on their bodies may have twisted their dimensions a bit, it really helped convey a menacing aura. The bad , alas , outweighs the good animation at least in quantity, which actively made me think, why isn’t the rest of the movie animated like this, more than once.

Soundwise it is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The opening scene begins with an animation, something you expect to see in a Zelda game, with crude depictions of history. In the japanese version , movie antagonists Annie and Oakley narrate this scene. In the dub they remain silent. We find out they are breaking into a museum so I actually find the american version more clever. HOWEVER , the music isn’t even mixed up  , its very soft background music that is meant to be talked over, now I barely hear anything and the movie starts of with a colossal miss. Right after that Annie and Oakley have to flee from the museum and they use all sort of spy-gadgets to escape while very James Bond’esque music plays. This nails who Annie and Oakley are so dead on, even in terms of character. Great sound design. We see the theme of Pokémon Master Quest being used during the opening credits, which feels lazy but right after that we see a tense moment where Ash runs down the streets with a girl and it plays the ‘tense moment’ music from the anime series with just a SLIGHT rework in there and that feels great. For some reason they replaced Latios dubtrack with that of Latias and that is where things really start to get annoying. When Latios and Latias are in danger together a cacophony of shrill shrikes play about every three to four seconds, and this goes on for 15 minutes. It kinda sounds like this:

How does it Feel

Now this may sound overly negative but I actually think this movie is pretty good. For a 70 minute movie it is pretty well paced and while not every scene works out,  I think it at least nails it in terms of pokémon mythos..aside from the pokemon containing hula hoops and slime traps and all that stuff. I mean I do get why Team Rocket uses nets, but Latios and Latias aren’t owned pokémon so why not just use some variation of a pokéball. (Not the evil ball that is just to edgy and non sensical). You could imagine paralyse balls, or even forcefield balls that even if the pokémon manages to break out of the ball is still contained.. why does it have to be Hula hoops?! Other than that I have very little complaints on the general feeling of the movie, though I do think Lorenzo looks immensely weird and as if he doesnt belong in the pokémon world. He looks more like he is Mr Clean’s jolly , slightly drug abusing uncle. 

The movie really makes an effort so makes us get to know Latias and too lesser extend Latios.  Latias is a people pokémon who loves to play and scenes are crafted to convey these qualities, when things happen to her, good or bad , we can already tell what kind of emotion she would feel because we actually get to know her. Latios we get to know less, but this helps sell the events that are to come in the movie as well. He seems like the much more clear headed, intelligent one of the two, with Latias being the compassionate. We see and feel the synergy between them.  This movie has VERY little action, at least in the term of pokémon battling. We get people defending themselves from Pokémon rather than your mandatory straight up battles. These battles are always a means to an end and feel sensical. Annie and Oakley are solid villains, who through the dub now belong to Team Rocket but in the orginal are a force by themselves. Either way works, I believe their technology is the same as that of Team Rocket and it gives Jessie and James more reason to chase them than just ruining ice-cream.  The two females try to obtain the “Soul Dew” and use it to control the Defence Device and hand the power to Giovanni. Since Alto-Mare , is based on Italy and Venice, that just makes so much more sense. They aren’t just evil for evil’s sake, nor are they especially powerful. They are petty and want a prettier world tricking themselves into thinking they are style icons and even they learn a few lessons throughout the movie.

Latias is basically the main protagonist , even outclassing Ash, he just happens to catch the spotlight again, although this time for slightly different reasons. Which may or may not be morally wrong.  Brock and Misty are basically throw-away characters again, which is a shame because this would be Misty’s last outing with Ash in terms of movies at least. Team Rocket once more strictly provides comedy but they are used in a way less intrusive manner, and the running joke they had throughout the movie actually made me chuckle.. it felt almost clever, if you know how things normally proceed. Yet even this I will not spoil. 

How is the Plot

While it is a lot more straightforward than Spell of the Unown, which is currently the best Pokémon movie in terms of quality (even though I rated movie 1 higher..due to sentiment.. which is a thing in my rating system) I really enjoyed the story of this movie.  It lacks some finesse and polish and basically  is the whole “Pokémon gets captured, Ash has to go save it .. or else’  kind of thing, there still is a bit more too it. It has some themes and morals in it. It shows us how sometimes your desires, no matter how pure and well intended can have consequences, it also shows that , that same desire can corrupt if you do not take others into account. We learn that power and greed can get to our head, but also how being too carefree can lead us into trouble. The movie doesn’t follow the same fairy-tale story telling the tv series does where everything will be fine and dandy in the end. Mistakes are made which will lead to lasting consequences for many characters in the movie.

The plot flows fairly well with little weird leaps in motivations.  Everyone reacts like how they should react, down to little details that just fit. The first incident leads to an unexpected friendship, but that friendship leads nicely to into the next incident. There is a natural flow where things happen for a reason, even the final encounter which consists out of multiple layers has rhyme and reason to it. ‘There is some sort of ‘this isn’t even my final form’ shenanigans where a seemingly solved encounter escalates but that is because of some character arcs that are not completed yet. The incident makes sense and there is a purpose to it all. Cleverly Ash this time is almost disconnected from the plot, making it about the new pokémon giving them the room to actually tell their story without making him some sort of chosen one.  He gets involved but it is clearly something bigger than him the device and the ancient prophecy is not on his scale. He simply is there because of who he is as a person which catches Latias attention. It helps humble him a bit more and this time he really is humbled. At a certain point Pikachu , fights Latios but where he could normally hold of a legendary pokémon, this time they decide to do it right and make sure Ash and his pokémon feel outclassed. His tears don’t resurrect, he doesn’t become smarter than he actually is, he is just a guy that makes a friend and this friendship sets in motion bigger events.

After Spell of the Unown , this is the only movie which nail the motivations of their characters and that doesn’t hyperinflate their meaning. In the third Movie Ash had a real goal, in this one he is just Ash, not a chosen one for his incredible skill or stricken by some incredible twist of fate. Latias takes a liking too Ash for seeing his character and why it does seems somewhat unlikely on how they encounter each other, it still seems like a hell of a lot better than a Celebi randomly jumping a certain amount in time, arriving at exactly that spot where Ash would be in time. The location of Alto-Mare (or basicly venice) is used cleverly as well which amplifies this story. The Da vinci like machinery makes sense in the setting wherein it is placed giving it all some credibility and the soul of a legendary pokémon working as a powersource for such an incredible machine works , because we have seen before what power the spirit of a pokémon can have. So all in all this movie  weaves a web of things we have seen before, sure, but it manages to connect the treads with enough credibility to enjoy this ride. It results in a meaningful but emotional ending that plays on emotions we have, that have been carefully placed by the plot and scene layout. 

What is the Verdict

Pokémon Heroes- Latias and Latios is not my favorite pokémon movie, but  it takes a good second place, as long as we take of the nostalgia goggles and look at their stand alone experience. It is a cleverly written movie, that manages to play into the viewers feelings.  It then is also so smart to USE those feelings to lift this movie to another level. That being said, not every scene lands. GIven how useless Brock and Misty are, scenes with them in it become a bit throwaway, the animation really brings down a few decent scenes as well. Not being able to read emotions of faces or them even completely missing an impact because you cringe to hard behind your screen. The dub tracks for the legendaries is a hard on the ears. Regretfully the best animated scene is one of the scenes with Brock and Misty alone where they send their pokémon to help Ash. It puts a blemish on what could have been the most amazing pokémon movie and I can pardon these flaws. I can not love this unconditionally, yet it kept invested in a positive way. So I have to conclude that this movie is quite cool.

Question to my Readers:

What is your favorite Misty memory?

And so we have reviewed 5 out of 23 movies. We have reached the end of the Misty movies and now enter the era of May and ………. Max *hurling sounds*. So be a good little subject and tell me your favorite memory you have of Misty.  She was the first Tsundere I knew. What is your favorite pokémon movie? Time for me to go, I have a Latias to catch now!

The Pinkest Poké Blogger is blasting off again.