Pokémon 3: The Movie
Directed by Kunohiko Yuyama; English translation directed by Michael Haigney.
Starring the voices of Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Addie Blaustein, and Phillip Bartlett.
I can tell the Pokémon fad is dying from two things that happened to me when I saw Pokémon 3. Firstly, I got the free Pokémon card they were giving out with admission. When I saw the first two (reviews here and here) they had already ran out. Secondly, on a weekday afternoon, if you go to see a top-10 animated movie, you expect to run into a lot of moms taking their under-5’s to a movie. Well, guess what? I had a whole theater at Silver City to myself. A very strange experience, but one making me feel very free to cheer loudly at the good parts.
As with our previous pokémovies, this was a double feature. Firstly, it kicks off with the short film Pikachu and Pichu. This follows Pikachu’s day of adventure in a big city as he meets up with a couple of Pichus (those are baby Pikachus for those out of the loop). Think Ferris Bueler’s Day Off with Pikachu instead of Matthew Broderick. Then, our main feature, Spell of the Unown. It starts when we are introduced to Molly. Molly’s father is renowned pokémon researcher who is investigating a thought-to-be-mythical breed of pokémon called Unown. When Molly’s father mysteriously disappears, the Unown adopt Molly and whip up another mythological pokémon, Entei, to be her new father. A side-effect of the Unown’s wish-granting power is turning the surroundings into a crystal wasteland. It’s not long before our heroes, Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu come across the town of Greenfield, which is about to be absorbed by this crystal wasteland. Did I mention that Ash’s mother, Professor Oak and Molly’s father happen to be life-long friends? So, when Professor Oak shows up with Ash’s mother to investigate these strange occurrences, Molly soon has another wish for Entei and the Unown to grant: a mother. So, Entei abducts the closest mother available: Ash’s mom. When this happens, Ash can sit by no longer, and he and his friends embark on a trek through the crystal wasteland to save Molly and Ash’s mom! It will mean voyaging through Molly’s dreamland, and even battling Entei himself. Will they succeed in their quest?
I do believe this was the best Pokemon movie to date! Firstly, Pikachu and Pichu has to be the funniest of all the Pokemon short films. It’s even got this great jazz soundtrack, a lot like the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Spell Of The Unown is truly the most action-packed of the films. Once Ash and pals start their quest, it just becomes pokémon battle after battle! Even the venerable comic relief of Team Rocket is reduced to nothing more than cameos so the focus can be on the action. And, as with The Movie 2000 a lot has happend in the pokémon universe since the last film, so cameos from characters who have since left the show are welcome surprises. Sure, it lacked originality. One scene did remind me a bit of Star Trek: First Contact, there was a subtle homage to Princess Mononoke, and I do believe the ending borrowed from The Care Bears Movie! I’m still curious, though, about the rumors of the original ending. Online rumor persists that the original Japanese ending featured the death of Pikachu(!), followed by his rebirth as Pichu. Either the editors did a really good job, or that’s an urban myth, because nothing felt missing and the ending wasn’t abrupt as some critics have said. But I digress. Pokemon fans should run out and see this because, if my day at Silver City was any indication, this is probably the last one. If you’re not a fan, well then, I’ll know why you weren’t there that Wednesday afternoon.