The next Pokemon film is finally upon us! This one introduces us to the World of Pokemon Kalos, but it fails to leave a grand impression like the previous films. It’s a fun watch, but it ends up being a very brief experience and you’ll be left wanting more. Pikachu finally gets his props here, which still makes it a must watch for all fans. Time to see what really went on here.
The plot involves a princess Pokemon by the name of Diancie. Her kingdom is falling into ruin because the jewel that brought harmony, peace, and life to everyone there has finally faded. Diancie is the only Pokemon in existence who can recreate the crystal, but she doesn’t have the power needed to do it. She must now search for Xerneas so that the legendary Pokemon can awaken her true power. Some hunters decide that they want to capture her so Ash and friends quickly get involved. They decide to escort her through this perilous journey, but are they really strong enough to accomplish such a feat? Looks like they’re about to find out!
I’d say that this was a pretty standard Pokemon film as far as they go. It was pretty light and fun, but the duration really hurt it. The film is barely over an hour and it really shows. It doesn’t help that the TV airing seemed to have to quickly end a few scenes as some just abruptly end in a rather awkward fashion. Most notable was the tournament scene where two trainers are about to face off and a scene where the main villain is talking to his daughter. By and large, it was really just the film’s fault here. Even for an animated film, 90 minutes should really be the bare minimum.
The animation is pretty good here, but it’s not exceptional. I would actually say that the animation in almost all of the other films was better. The fact that a large part of the story takes place underground doesn’t help since that naturally makes the animation worse, but the day scenes weren’t extraordinary. They lacked the depth that we have seen in titles like the Genesect film as well as the Entei installment. Pokemon’s strength has always been during the battle scenes and that continues to be the case here. The large energy blasts from Yveltal look very impressive and I like the universe effects that they use when a Pokemon is summoned as opposed to the classic stream of red light.
One thing that definitely works in this film’s favor is that the stakes may be the most personal yet. The body count in this film is incredibly die and there are several fatalities. A particularly emotional scene is where one of the main characters is taken out so the hero yells his name a few times before giving way to despair. It’s not something that you typically see in Pokemon and if not for a certain figure helping out..it may have been a pretty tragic ending.
Another positive that I give the film is the fact that I have not seen the Power Levels this realistic in a long time. Obviously, there are still some pretty iffy moments, but the film did a decent job. Pikachu finally looks like the pro that he is. He takes out one of the enemies in a single shot and he fights off two champion level Pokemon by himself. Topping this off is Pikachu’s masterful performance against Yveltal. Pikachu’s Thunderbolt is able to match up against a legendary Pokemon’s blast! You have to admit that this is pretty awesome and the writers have definitely come a long way.
The iffy part of the situation would be Diancie’s portrayal. She’s a decently powerful Pokemon and even without her crystal abilities, she should still be able to deal some damage to the villains. Unfortunately, she just spends most of the film running or getting kidnapped. It’s not a very accurate depiction of this fighter and her lack of speed is the most alarming part. No Pokemon should be that slow and the whole point of levitating is that you don’t have to hop. She hops on the air to get by and that’s not cool.
As for her personality, I was pretty mixed on it. On one hand, Diancie ends up being used as a plot point that I’ve never enjoyed. She is new to Earth customs so she doesn’t know what a friend is or how to engage in quality shopping while on the run. We’ve seen this with other shows and films like Starfire in Teen Titans or (to a lesser extent) Nia in Gurren Lagann. I’ve never found it to be amusing or entertaining since it just slows down the plot as the heroes have to explain basic fundamentals. I think a show should try to turn this trope around by having a character know all the basics, but being forced to ask a lot of questions because she lives in an inverted world where the laws of reality has changed. Now that would be interesting, but I don’t care for the current trope as it is.
On the other hand, Diancie definitely works as the picture perfect main character. She’s very polite and she loves to help others. This is sort of how I would picture the main characters from My Little Pony so it was pretty interesting to see how it was handled. If not for the naive part of Diancie’s character, this would have been able to shine even more. I do think that Diancie should have defended herself more, but at least she gives Pokemon a good name. There is one scene that does destroy most of her character development (Abandoning her kingdom for pleasure) but I’ll assume that this was just something that the writers forgot to take out of the script.
Yveltal was definitely very good and he’s one of the best new Pokemon to be introduced. He really means business and he lives to destroy all who oppose him. Just by being around others, he can drain their life force and one of his blasts will destroy his opponent. (By draining all of their life energy) The very concept of this Pokemon is very dark and while it’s all part of the natural cycle…you could say that he’s the closest thing to a villain. Even Ash doesn’t sympathize with this Pokemon as he rushes to the offensive. It was good to see a legendary Pokemon who could live up to his name and no human was going to capture him. I do wish that he could have continued to demolish everyone, but he’s technically not evil so the ending still makes sense. Yveltal has his own roar and what other Pokemon actually gets to smash a plane by jumping on it and blasting the pilots at point blank range? Yveltal’s scenes are some of the most epic scenes that we’ve ever seen in Pokemon! He’s definitely awesome.
Xerneas is the counterpart to Yveltal and while she may be more heroic….I can’t say that she’s extremely impressive. She’s more of a pacifist and we only get to see her fire off an attack or two. The attack does look powerful, but I was definitely hoping to see more of her abilities. Now that the ending has rendered her immobile for a little while, that chance may have slipped away. Xerneas isn’t a bad character, but she definitely can’t be considered to be Legendary level until she proves herself.
Ash Ketchum is already pretty established so I was confident that he would be as cool as always. Ash doesn’t disappoint as I dare say that he flies off the handle much quicker than he used to. As soon as he sees a threat, Ash charges in with his good ole Pikachu. He helps Diancie on her quest without a second’s hesitation and he even heroically decides to stay back to fight off one of the villains while the other heroes went off without him. Ash’s heart is always in the right place and his confidence is well placed since he has Pikachu.
Unfortunately, Ash’s Pokemon all look pretty bad except for Pikachu. He has a flying type Pokemon that I don’t really care for. It’s supposed to be some kind of superhero or wrestler, but it’s definitely not my favorite fighter. Ash also has a small water type frog Pokemon at his disposal, but it loses rather easily to a random opponent so I quickly lost my respect for it there. As expected, Pikachu is the only Pokemon who can really pull his own weight around here. Pikachu looks pretty impressive from the get go as he easily takes out an opponent’s Pokemon. He follows this up by taking on two Champion Level Pokemon on at once and then his best scenes were against Yveltal. Can Pikachu really take on a legendary? But of course! Pikachu trades blows with this monster and it’s a fairly even fight. Considering that Pikachu has the massive speed advantage, we know who would have won if the fight had kept going.
Ash had a few new friends here so let’s look at how well they performed. Bonnie is a little kid and she’s sort of like Max from Advanced. She’s here to remind us that she’s a great character and she helps Diancie realize that she is already pretty special. It may be heartwarming for some, but I still don’t care for kids being main characters. (In this case, Ash is not considered to be a kid because he’s not really portrayed as such) Bonnie just isn’t my kind of character and I didn’t enjoy any of her scenes.
Clemont isn’t much better. “The future is now!” isn’t the greatest catchphrase in the world and he could barely control the ladder. He also lost immediately when it came to a Pokemon battle, which was fairly disappointing. Cmon Clemont…we expect more from you. He’s probably the worst male sidekick to Ash yet since I actually prefer the food themes guy from Pokemon Black and White.
The main heroine is also the worst one yet (Passing Misty) as Selene just isn’t a fighter. Dawn and May had fun with their contests, but they were still A-S rank fighters. Selene gets a brief action scene and she doesn’t do very well in it. She’s not quite as obnoxious as Clemont or Bonnie, but she hasn’t really provided us with any reasons to really like her so far. I’ll definitely need some more convincing at any rate. If she had only scored a single hit against the villain, this paragraph probably would have been a lot more positive. Being a tough trainer is the bare minimum requirement for even being considered as a solid character in Pokemon.
The main villain of this film is basically a parody of himself. He wants to get rich and that’s really his only motivation as he eats a bunch of chocolates. (Snacks are a big thing in this film as Ash and friends even go to a dessert buffet) He barely appears at all and his screentime may be around 10 minutes total. You can imagine that things don’t go very well for him once Yveltal arrives. His daughter is also a minor villain who ends up betraying the heroes, but she had only appeared for a scene or two before the big twist so it wasn’t much of a surprise. She was fairly generic as far as villains go. There really isn’t anything to say about her. She’s not comic relief like Team Rocket, but she doesn’t even accomplish as much as those villains…which isn’t a good sign.
Team Rocket actually gets a bigger role than usual, (Keep in mind that it’s still a small role) but they ultimately do not accomplish a whole lot. They back off when the going gets tough and that was pretty sad for them since they could have made a name for themselves there. Finally, we had two new villains for this film as well. A pair of hunters by the name of Marilyn and Riot. Riot is the calm ninja who is always quiet as he unleashes deadly moves while Marilyn is basically Jessie with a fire motif. Neither of them end up being a match for Ash Ketchum, which was admittedly awesome. They just aren’t good characters and while I actually liked them for a while, the rushed ending completely wrecked their characters. They were ready to ditch their Pokemon and they basically panicked when the going got tough. That’s not what I expect from the big villains!
The soundtrack is pretty uninspired. You’re not going to find the next big battle theme here as there really isn’t a battle theme. The intro during the credits reuses music from the previous Pokemon films and there is nothing unique to be found. It’s sad since the action scenes would have been even better if we had gotten some good tunes to listen too. A good example of this is when Yveltal is dodging a lot of rockets and attacking an airplane. It’s pretty intense stuff, but there is no music to complement it.
Again, the main drawback with the film has got to be the length. Many of the film’s weakpoints could have been fixed had the film been longer. The uncut version would likely help to an extent, but we still need like 40 minutes of extra footage. Ash’s battles against the thieves are pretty short and some are off screen to save time. They should have all been shown and the battles should have been longer. The film ends up just ending since the film’s duration was about to expire so it wasn’t as glamorous as it could have been. The short length meant that we got to the meat of the plot pretty quickly, but everything was rushed. The whole film felt rushed and that really ended up hurting it. (The only positive of this is that the film never ends up dragging on as you get to have fun from start to finish)
Overall, This is definitely a solid Pokemon film, but it ends up feeling more like a 1 hour special than a full length movie. The fights are solid and the power levels were really accurately portrayed here. Ash Ketchum continues to light up the room with his presence and Pikachu is finally showing off his true power. Unfortunately, the film is too short to really contain the content within it so bits and pieces are filled with lost potential. This is definitely a good way to start your Pokemon career, but I’d sooner recommend checking out the previous film with Genesect. That’s still the best Pokemon film out there and I highly recommend it.