“Pokémon 3” is a Catch!
by Amber Berebitsky
The reason that most movies based on anime shows get panned by the critics is very simple. The movies are made under the assumption that you are already familiar with the characters represented therein. And after reading the (mostly deplorable) reviews of the previous two Pokémon features, I was determined to provide an honest review of these enjoyable movies. So here are the essentials of the Pokémon television series:
Pokémon are wondrous creatures of which there are 251 known species. Each type has its own special abilities, and can be tamed as pets. Ash Ketchum, accompanied by his friends Brock and Misty, and his Pokémon companion Pikachu
, sets off on a journey through the fantastic world these creatures inhabit. However, because of Pikachu
’s extraordinary power, the trio is followed by two members of the villainous Team Rocket, a sinister underground organization. But fear not--Jesse and James are hardly up to the syndicate’s standards, and have helped Ash and friends on many occasions.
Now that you are armed with a rough outline of the plot, you are ready to see “Spell of the Unown
,” the third cinematic offering of the series. And it is by far the best. Drawing from sources as diverse as “NeverEnding Story”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Peter Pan”, this is a delightful testament to the power of imagination.
It begins with Molly Hale, a little girl, listening to her father Spencer tell tales of legendary Pokémon. Molly is fascinated with Entei
, a lion-like creature which she likens to her father. But Spencer is called away on business, leaving Molly all alone. Cut to ruins in the Middle East. Spencer, a Pokémon researcher, joins his assistant Skyler in unraveling the mysteries of the Unown (unknown
), strange Pokémon with the shape of letters. When Spencer picks up a handful of Unown icons, he vanishes, just as Molly’s mother had a few years before.
Molly, now alone in the world, finds the icons among her father’s things, and uses the power of the Unown to summon Entei
, whom she, in her isolation, believes to be her father. Entei does as Molly wishes, and turns the Hale mansion into a solitary palace of crystal, cut off from the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Ash and his constant companions meet up with Lisa, an enthusiastic Pokémon trainer who is eager to show off her hometown. The friends race to the crest of a hill, eager to catch a glimpse of the town--and are met with a frightening sight. Entei’s magic has covered the land, turning it to crystal and preventing passage. The horrifying scene is broadcast on the news, where Ash’s mother Delia sees it. She and Spencer are longtime friends, so she rushes to the site.
Despite having her father with her (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), Molly’s life is still incomplete. Her mother is still absent, so she asks Entei for a mother. Entei sets off to the town, and captures Delia before her son’s eyes. Ash’s sorrow is very real, and so is his determination to rescue her.
So, with his friends and his Pokémon at his side, Ash sets off into the nightmarish Hale mansion to save his mother. But he must confront the power of the Unown, which have been feeding off Molly’s imagination and creating the dreamlike world found inside the mansion to suit her lonely dreams.
Through Molly’s imagination, and the horrible consequences it brings, “Spell of the Unown” has a happy, uplifting ending that stresses the importance of dreams and determination, and the necessity of reality.
“Spell of the Unown” is a remarkable film, and easily the best of the series. It avoids the usual pitfalls of children’s entertainment and treats the subject matter with sensitivity and intelligence. Even the most Poké-phobic of parents will enjoy the clever and insightful dialogue and the beautiful animation.
It is not a perfect movie. The Unown have annoying voices, Lisa and Skyler are important, but only appear briefly, and Team Rocket, the comic relief on the show, are simply tacked in and serve no real purpose here.
But my hat is off to the filmmakers, and especially to Veronica Taylor, who voices the dual roles of Ash and Delia. If they gave Oscars for voice acting, I would consider her the front-runner.
The film is preceded by a short, “Pikachu and Pichu
”. Unlike the other two shorts, “Pikachu’s Vacation” and “Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure”, this one is actually enjoyable. The moral of the shorts is always teamwork, and this tale relays that message without being preachy.
So, in short, go see “Spell of the Unown.” It’s a delightful film with likable characters and an intelligent plot. You gotta catch this movie.
--Amber Berebitsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been a Pokémon fan since 1998, and a writer since 1982.