IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! Pokémon 3: The Movie

This week's IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! brought to you by a generous donation by Rachel Kraft. Thank you for your support!

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I went into this knowing I'm probably not the right audience for the film. I'm not an adolescent and my brain is, as far as I can tell, relatively intact and undamaged. However, attempting to do criticism of any medium in which you get paid for it will mean that, from time to time, you have to undertake an endeavour that isn't up your alley. So me reviewing Pokémon 3: The Movie is a bit like seeing Yahtzee take on a real-time strategy game or JPRG for Zero Punctuation. It just isn't going to end well.

Courtesy Nintendo/KidsWB

I used to be a pretty big animé fan, but I never really got into the whole Pokémon scene. My tastes in the genre tend to lean more towards the artsy Miyazaki films and the rather adult escapism of series such as Cowboy Bebop, Rurouni Kenshin, Macross Plus, Record of Lodoss War and Death Note. So the art style of the film didn't bother me as much as it might some others. However, this film is meant to draw in and entertain youngsters fully enthralled by the Pokémon series of games, or those that are just distracted by bright colors and "catchy" tunes. Though I doubt most of them understand why Brock's so interested in getting laid.

Courtesy Nintendo/KidsWB

This exercise in adaptating the long-running Nintendo franchise in animé format opens with the short Pikachu & Pichu, in which the titular Pokémon get involved in a city-street caper. Surprisingly, at least to me, I found this wasn't half-bad once I got past the nature of the character designs and methods of communication. This little romp would be decent in exemplifying wordless storytelling if it weren't for the insipid narration. This is probably adaptation decay to make sure ignorant large American children understand what's going on since subtlety is likely lost on their squishy over-stimulated brains. The music and style seem to be something in keeping with Charlie Chaplain or Laurel & Hardy (if they were rather cute 'monsters') but the knowledge that the narrator's going to chime in to point out the obvious at any moment waters down any potential enjoyment for an American viewer over the age of 6. My favorite part was a little in-joke Brock makes on the unchanging nature of most animé characters' costumes.

Courtesy Nintendo/KidsWB

The movie proper begins by introducing us to Professor Spencer Hale and his daughter, Molly. They're shown as being happy which means that something awful's going to happen and, within about five minutes, Spencer's been sucked into a pocket dimension by a type of Pokémon known as the Unown. Molly, understandably upset by her dad's disappearance, stumbles onto the means to summon the Unown and they start granting her wishes, including creating a facsimile of a legendary Pokémon called Entei who basically serves Molly as a surrogate dad. Into this situation wander Ash, Brock and Misty who are joined by Professor Oak and Ash's mom, since Spencer was one of Oak's top students. Entei appears before the group and makes off with Ash's mother since Molly also wished for a mommy. Naturally, Ash doesn't take his mom's abduction lying down and heads off to rescue her. Upon seeing the trainers climing the crystal palace of dreams created by the Unown, two things happen. Molly decides she wants to be a Pokémon trainer too, setting off a series of matches with Brock and Misty; and Ash's mom snaps out of the hypnosis that yanked her into the dream in the first place. The confrontation escalates, more Pokémon battles are waged, and since this is a kid's movie everything resolves happily and plenty of Pokémon are seen so the kids who go home can spend more time pursuing them in whichever Pokémon game came out most recently.

Now, I can't pretend that I don't understand how this movie got made. Nor can I pretend that I don't get its appeal. Heck, seeing Ash riding Charizard around made me smile a little, because even at my age the idea of riding a fire-breathing dragon into battle is pretty damn cool. However, the thing that got to me about Pokémon 3: The Movie is how safe it felt. To me, at least, there was never really any sense of danger or tension. There was the knowledge in the back of my mind that even if Molly wished for a neutron bomb or to wipeout the firstborn or a new Dan Brown book - you know, some sort of apocalyptic event that'd destroy humanity - Ash and company would emerge on the other end unscathed because there are more episodes of their TV series to produce along with video games, action figures, plushies, bed dressings and toaster cozies. When you have a cute mascot of a lucrative franchise, you don't want to feed it to a wood chipper just to see if it's still the same color coming out the other end. Well, Nintendo doesn't, at least. But I'm somewhat curious.

Courtesy Nintendo/KidsWB

Anyway, my point is that this movie, for all of its various forms of what might be considered monsters, has no teeth. There might be some narrative nuance with Entei sacrificing itself to grant Molly's wishes for peace when the Unown spin out of control but I must again consider a form of adaptation decay at work because the voice acting just felt flat and uninteresting. None of the principle characters seemed all that concerned with what was going on outside of stock reaction noises. And if they don't care about what's going on, the audience won't either. A grown up audience, that is, won't care. Kids are far more likely to be invested in the characters since they're more focused on the pictures in motion than the writing or acting or motivation or passion behind the figures. This isn't really the fault of the writers or actors, though, more the fault of the material itself. There's only so much you can do with something this generic when aimed at a narrow age group. At least kids can see a cautionary tale with the moral "Never summon anything bigger than your head."

Imagine a peice of toast. Functional in that it will sustain you, but bland. It'd be livened up with some butter or jam or peanut butter or cinnamon or something. But it's possible to ruin toast, by burning it or dropping it butter-side down or having the dog snatch it from your plate when you're not looking. Pokémon 3: The Movie isn't ruined or burnt but it's not tasty or sweet, either. It exists mostly for its own sake and to further drive the sales of games and merchandise to impressionable young kids. If you do have young kids and they're into Pokémon, this is likely to get added to the Instant selections they can watch over and over again while you do important things like make dinner, tidy up the house, balance your budget or break out the gimp. If you're an adult without spawn, this animé will pass you by and be forgotten almost as soon as you finish watching it, meaning I really can't recommend it. In your case, may I humbly recommend something a bit more adult, especially if you can watch it in the original Japanese. Your mileage may vary, but for my money, a much better adult animé experience can be had watching a little 1995 flick called Ninja Scroll.

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

Ah, how I do so hate the Pokemon movies and anime. They're so utterly bland and insipid that they're almost unwatchable, just to the sheer designed by committee attitude running through it all. I haven't seen this, but I don't think I'm missing much. I saw 'Pokemon: The Movie' and what could have been an interesting morality story with the whole "Mewtwo' element, became totally insipid garbage. "YAY! Ash was dead, but the Pokemon somehow revived him with their tears, despite the fact that this never comes up again!"

Good review. This review made me want toast, and thus, it is a success.

Furburt:
I haven't seen this, but I don't think I'm missing much.

Nope, you're not. ;)

Furburt:
Good review. This review made me want toast, and thus, it is a success.

I'm definitely having some toast as soon as I'm sure I can chew without hurting myself.

I have said it before and I'll say it again!

I should have been the protagonist of Pokemon, not Ash. I'm far more interesting!

Man, I barely remember this film, except that I wanted that girl to die horribly. I wouldn't have spared her life if I was the protagonist! I would've painted that crystal castle red! That would've made the movie interesting!

Then I would kill Pikachu. Or at least cut out its tongue so it will shut up.

Loved the review, although the mic was bad. Does this have anything to do with the aforementioned surgery?

Hubilub:
Loved the review, although the mic was bad. Does this have anything to do with the aforementioned surgery?

That's part of it. I brought home a USB headset from my dayjob (which is what I usually use) but Windows XP threw a fit and nearly killed my home desktop. Likewise my home laptop encountered some problems that I'm still ironing out.

I stopped watching the Pokemon movies after this film. Partially becuase it was terrible and partially because I was officially a teenager by the time the next one came out.

The writing in the review was stellar as always, though the picture placement was a bit off. Still, great read.

How do you insert a sound bar into your review? I'm thinking of doing something similar.

Very nice review, I am now going to make myself a nice 'lively' piece of toast. mmmm

I was wondering why you were reviewing this, and now I do. You had me laughing a few times and yeah you're pretty much right. Nothing really big is in this movie. Hell, in my mind the series has been going downhill for a while, especially after the american version played down how the character of Dawn plays for the other team if you catch my drift. Then again, this is what I hear.

...I liked this film. At least, I did when I was younger...and considering I watched it when I was 16 or so, that still carries over a little.

I mean, granted, that's probably because I get immersed in things very easily (and I'm not easily shaken out by anything short of hideous stupidity or Baten Kaitos-level voice acting, or the like) and I'm not nearly as cynical as I let on. I never got the sense that things would inevitably continue after this plot; existing show and marketing never entered my mind at all, and I wound up not taking anything for granted.

Once that happened, I actually started to sympathize a lot with the little girl, trapped in an escapist fantasy that threatened to leave her control entirely, and with Entei, a product of that fantasy with enough sentience to realize what would happen if his friend/adopted daughter ever left, but loving and selfless enough to help her anyway. For some reason, the scene that I can still remember clearly is Entei winning his fight with Charizard and about to break the latter's neck (something that really shocked me at the time), before Molly stopped him in fear and realization.

Granted, the original cast felt simply like a means to an end in all this, and I can readily admit that you're right in calling them sadly underwhelming.

If that is what you wish.

You know, it's a shame that the animated series and movies are so bad, because the Pokemon games (and and the manga, or at least the 2 series that I've read) are actually pretty well crafted products.

I really think that Movie 1 had some really nice potential, but it was potential for something much darker than the Pokemon anime (or even the Pokemon Special manga, despite all the crime, betrayal, and death) could ever allow.

As for this one, I honestly don't remember my own personal experience of it that well aside of the phrase "IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WISH" getting repeated a lot.

Darth Rahu:
I was wondering why you were reviewing this, and now I do. You had me laughing a few times and yeah you're pretty much right. Nothing really big is in this movie. Hell, in my mind the series has been going downhill for a while, especially after the american version played down how the character of Dawn plays for the other team if you catch my drift. Then again, this is what I hear.

I have not played any of Gen 4, nor read any of the matching manga or anime for it, so I'm going to have to ask: is this reading into something to much, or is that actually implied?

Because it would sure explain the truckloads of images of Dawn and Cynthia that flood /v/ and /a/ threads.

Excellent Review!

I remember watching this a while back and feeling that it was bland.
it had some interesting ideas and some cool situations but....nothing special.

And like Hubilub i wanted to strangle Molly the entire time.
God i hated that kid.

Anyway, nice review.

Great review.

When I saw this thread I thought that this was one of the Pokemon movies which I hadn't seen, but I vaguely remember Entei and Ash riding Charizard into battle. I honestly can't say what I thought of the movie; I can't remember anything about it at all! Though that's probably a bad sign in itself.

Rodyle2:

Darth Rahu:
I was wondering why you were reviewing this, and now I do. You had me laughing a few times and yeah you're pretty much right. Nothing really big is in this movie. Hell, in my mind the series has been going downhill for a while, especially after the american version played down how the character of Dawn plays for the other team if you catch my drift. Then again, this is what I hear.

I have not played any of Gen 4, nor read any of the matching manga or anime for it, so I'm going to have to ask: is this reading into something to much, or is that actually implied?

Because it would sure explain the truckloads of images of Dawn and Cynthia that flood /v/ and /a/ threads.

I think its just reading into it to much.
Even in the Japanese version i never got that impression.
She is just very depressing and not very confident in herself.

In fact i got the impression she started to develop a crush on Ash.

Iv seen tons of Parings on /a/ with characters that don't even make any sense, and from completely different series so im guessing its /a/ and /v/s wishful thinking.

Besides, Cynthia has a crush on Brock, Believe it or not.

Gigaguy64:

Rodyle2:

Darth Rahu:
I was wondering why you were reviewing this, and now I do. You had me laughing a few times and yeah you're pretty much right. Nothing really big is in this movie. Hell, in my mind the series has been going downhill for a while, especially after the american version played down how the character of Dawn plays for the other team if you catch my drift. Then again, this is what I hear.

I have not played any of Gen 4, nor read any of the matching manga or anime for it, so I'm going to have to ask: is this reading into something to much, or is that actually implied?

Because it would sure explain the truckloads of images of Dawn and Cynthia that flood /v/ and /a/ threads.

I think its just reading into it to much.
Even in the Japanese version i never got that impression.
She is just very depressing and not very confident in herself.

In fact i got the impression she started to develop a crush on Ash.

Iv seen tons of Parings on /a/ with characters that don't even make any sense, and from completely different series so im guessing its /a/ and /v/s wishful thinking.

Besides, Cynthia has a crush on Brock, Believe it or not.

Well yes of course, pairings will be pairings, but this is just absurd.

Then again, if there's even the slightest chance of Cynthia being a lesbian child molester, I could see /a/, /v/, and the Japanese doujin community clinging to it for dear life.

Rodyle2:

Well yes of course, pairings will be pairings, but this is just absurd.

Then again, if there's even the slightest chance of Cynthia being a lesbian child molester, I could see /a/, /v/, and the Japanese doujin community clinging to it for dear life.

Yep, and /a/ and /v/ both have a massive obsession with Cynthia.

It makes me wonder if /a/ and /v/ will react the same way to the new Champion from
Black & White if it turns out to be a Girl as well.

Ninja Scroll. That was a good movie, but I saw it on comedy central and they had to censor out the good parts which was the somewhat mild nudity.

As for Pokemon 3, when I first saw it I was all, "Oh nice, a flying fire-breathing dragon and a fire-breathing lion with smoke flowing form it's back are fighting to the death. What fun!" Of course I was only...uhh, when did this movie come out again?
Anyway, I was still a kid. But now The only movies I'll watch these days are the ones that have more of a serious tone about them; basically every movie from Temple of the Sea on since in all those movies there was a real element of danger and death.

Gigaguy64:

Rodyle2:

Well yes of course, pairings will be pairings, but this is just absurd.

Then again, if there's even the slightest chance of Cynthia being a lesbian child molester, I could see /a/, /v/, and the Japanese doujin community clinging to it for dear life.

Yep, and /a/ and /v/ both have a massive obsession with Cynthia.

It makes me wonder if /a/ and /v/ will react the same way to the new Champion from
Black & White if it turns out to be a Girl as well.

What does /a/ and /v/ mean? Is it short-hand for something?

ssgt splatter:

Gigaguy64:

Rodyle2:

Well yes of course, pairings will be pairings, but this is just absurd.

Then again, if there's even the slightest chance of Cynthia being a lesbian child molester, I could see /a/, /v/, and the Japanese doujin community clinging to it for dear life.

Yep, and /a/ and /v/ both have a massive obsession with Cynthia.

It makes me wonder if /a/ and /v/ will react the same way to the new Champion from
Black & White if it turns out to be a Girl as well.

What does /a/ and /v/ mean? Is it short-hand for something?

Its 4chans Anime /a/, and Video Game /v/, Image Boards.

Most people just abbreviate them as /a/ and /v/ to save time.

ssgt splatter:
Ninja Scroll. That was a good movie, but I saw it on comedy central and they had to censor out the good parts which was the somewhat mild nudity.

Okay, that's cuss-worthy. What the fuck was Ninja Scroll doing on Comedy Central?

Gigaguy64:

Its 4chans Anime /a/, and Video Game /v/, Image Boards.

Most people just use /a/ and /v/ to save time.

And some people browse with /a/ and /tg/ open at the same time as a model of super-efficiency. Or insanity.

i love all pokemon movies, it stirs up a hidden ocean of nostalgia.

BlueInkAlchemist:

ssgt splatter:
Ninja Scroll. That was a good movie, but I saw it on comedy central and they had to censor out the good parts which was the somewhat mild nudity.

Okay, that's cuss-worthy. What the fuck was Ninja Scroll doing on Comedy Central?

Gigaguy64:

Its 4chans Anime /a/, and Video Game /v/, Image Boards.

Most people just use /a/ and /v/ to save time.

And some people browse with /a/ and /tg/ open at the same time as a model of super-efficiency. Or insanity.

Im pretty sure i was clinically insane the first week i started browsing /a/

Great Review.
*Pokes BlueInkalchemist in the head with a stick*
Yep,Yer good.

 

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