In the Dark: Pokemon 3 The Movie
Eric D. Snider
Remember how Pokemon used to be really popular? Remember how that was two years ago? Remember how they keep making these infernal full-length Pokemon cartoons to put in theaters and milk a few more dollars out of undiscriminating kids and their parents?
The last "Pokemon" film was so bad it made me sterile. The new one is a little better, though it makes as little sense as the others did. I swear I saw the movie actually stop half-way through and smoke some more marijuana before continuing.
Even the animation is better this time, which makes me hold out some hope for anime in general, which usually features nicely drawn pictures that hardly move at all, thus stretching the definition of the term "animation."
"Pokemon 3 The Movie," which is punctuated exactly the way I just punctuated it, begins with a short called "Pikachu and Pichu." In it, the two popular Pokemon go into the big city and have a lot of hijinks, plus a little tomfoolery and shenanigans. Their movements are supplemented with video-game sound effects, which is an unexpected treat, as I had NO IDEA you could go out and buy Pokemon video games. Perhaps I shall invest in one, though I'm certain that was not the movie's intention.
Once all the merriment of Pikachu and Pichu has ceased being entertaining, the short goes on for 20 more minutes. Then, after that, the real movie begins. It is called "Spell of the Unown." (Perhaps "Misspell of the Unknown" would be more accurate.) In it, there is a noted Pokemon researcher named Spencer Hale. I'm guessing he graduated from a university with a degree in Pokemonology. He has a mullett haircut, which even in Japan must make him look like a total cracker.
Anyway, Professor Mullett disappears while researching the Unown, which are a bunch of crazy letters that can make your imagination come to life, or something. He then either reappears as a new lion-esque Pokemon called Entei, or else he doesn't; the movie is not clear on this point. At any rate, Entei appears (and either is or isn't the reincarnation of Professor Mullett) and visits the professor's now-orphaned daughter, Molly, whose imagination combines with the Unown to turn her house into a crystal fortress much like Superman's, which draws the attention of the news media and a bunch of Pokemon-collecting kids.
I should explain what the kids do. They're called Pokemon "trainers," though I see little training going on. Once they've caught the various Pokemon, they keep them in little tiny jars in their pockets. When they meet other trainers, they'll have a friendly little game to see whose Pokemon can kick the other Pokemon's butts. It's cock-fighting, basically, except there's no gambling.
Why the Pokemon put up with this, I don't know. They all have powers, some of which involve electricity (in fact, most of which involve electricity); you'd think a rebellion against their masters would be easy. I think the first time I was forced to fight just because my owner wanted me to would be the moment I'd fry him.
But as I was saying, a bunch of Pokemon-oriented kids are there, and one of them is Ash Ketchum, the alleged hero of the movie. The kids are all standing around gawking at the crystal fortress when Entei emerges and runs off with Ash's mom. Seems Molly had declared she wanted a Mommy, so Entei went out to fetch one, much like Adam Pontipee in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Ms. Ketchum happened to be the first woman he saw, so bless her beautiful hide, she's the lucky wife of the monstrous Entei. (Be sure to send a gift; they're registered at the San Diego Zoo.)
So now Ash wants his mom back, the big baby, and heads into the fortress with his buddies and all their Pokemon. Then a lot of the Pokemon fight each other, and no one dies, and there's a winner, and I have a headache.
From a narrative standpoint, the film's biggest problem is that it doesn't make any sense. That's a pretty debilitating weakness for a movie, unless it's a Bergman film, in which case it's a strength. In fact, I wish Bergman had made "Pokemon 3 The Movie," as that would have prevented me from seeing it in the first place.