Directed by: Kunihiko Yuyama
Starring: Veronica Taylor, Eric Stuart, Addie Blaustein, Rachael Lillis
This movie has more alternate titles than Liz Taylor has last names: Pikachu Movie 5, Pokemon 5, Pokemon Heroes: Latias and Latios or (my favorite) Guardian Spirits of the Water Capital: Latias and Latios. By any name, though, it's another Pokemon movie. And I found it no better or worse than any of the others.
This one at least focuses more on the expected characters than Pokemon 3 did, and really the only genuinely appealing character in the entire Pokemon bestiary is the undeniably cute Pikachu, so a movie in which he (?) plays a major part is better than one that writes him out of the script. There are, alas, the requisite new characters (after all, the whole enterprise is mostly geared to sell Pokemon toys -- "Gotta catch 'em all" -- to the viewing audience); this round, it's a pair winged critters called Latios and Latias. They aren't terribly appealing to look at (though, as usual, the animators manage to give them sympathetic expressions). Worse still, they have these grating, high-pitched "voices" that sound most awfully like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live (80 minutes of this is really pushing the tolerance level). Unfortunately, they never meet Mr. Bill's invariable fate or run into Mr. Sluggo.
There's nothing really that wrong with the movie on the kiddie level. I admit that I had trouble not nodding off (something barely prevented by frequent outbursts of Latios and Latias screeching). There is some pretty nice animation, some striking visuals and even some elaborate uses of multi-plane animation work. All of this, unfortunately, sits frame by frame with halting animation that would have embarrassed Hanna-Barbera at their Saturday-morning worst.
I'm amazed to find that there are people in this world who have developed moral objections to these films, claiming the movies promote cruelty to animals (maybe these same people are connected to the fellow standing outside the Beaucatcher recently, objecting to Bruce Almighty with a sign assuring us that "Bruce is not God" -- another point I'm glad to have cleared up.)
I really don't know why Miramax released this film to theaters after Pokemon 4 went straight to video. For that matter, I'm not sure why I'm reviewing it, since in its first six showings, a grand total of six people have coughed up the price of a ticket. In other words, if you're a fan and you "gotta catch 'em all," it would be wise to get thee to the cinema with all possible haste. And if you have a choice between this and From Justin to Kelly, then certainly go with Pikachu and pals.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke