This is the only appearance of Generation V Pokémon prior to the Best Wishes series (seasons 14-16). See more »
[after Kodai traps them in a cage]
What do you think-?
[grabs the bars and gets electrocuted]
Are you okay?
[floats up on his hovercraft]
Not one of you has the power to resist me.
So why did you lock us up?
I don't who you are and I couldn't care less, but I'm certain I won't allow you to get in my way, and that you can depend on.
What do you mean?
[...] See more »
In an earlier review, I compared Pokémon to Minecraft in terms of quality. At the moment I feel "Star Trek" would be more apt, in that, for a while, the even-numbered films were substantially better than the odd. "Lucario and the Mystery of Mew", "The Rise of Darkrai", and "Arceus and the Jewel of Life" outshone respectively "Destiny Deoxys", "Pokémon Ranger: Castle in the Sea" (yes, I am going to keep calling it that), and certainly "Giratina and the Sky Warrior". "Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions" fits neatly into this pattern, because it is overtly bad. (Of course, since then every new Pokémon film has been bad, but let me have my simile.)
Let's begin on a positive note: I really like this film's setting. Crown City was based upon existing locations in Belgium and the Netherlands, where I happen to live, and looks very pleasant indeed. As Celebi flies through the narrow canals at the break of day, it seems we will be treated to atmosphere-building on par with the earlier films. But this notion is erroneous. Within minutes, the city is locked down by a villain, and the remainder of the film is spent running and fighting.
Oh dear, the paragraph I had reserved for the things I liked turned sour after only three sentences; what a discouraging sign. If these films keep worsening, I may do away with a synopsis altogether, and write no more than 'it's boring; don't watch.' But at the moment I'm still willing to determine *why* this film is boring and not worth watching.
Firstly, the set-up is some of the flimsiest in any of these films. Ash and Co. save the shape-shifting Pokémon Zorua from an assault, only to be insulted in return. (It seems Zorua has taken personality lessons from Shaymin.) As always, the idiots will nevertheless try to help the Pokémon, in this case to find its mother Zoroark, who has been taken prisoner by the evil magnate Kodai. Oh, and Zoroark can transform into legendary Pokémon, which is about the most desperate fanservice to still earn a G-rating. What follows comes almost down to a Battle Royale: Ash, Brock, Dawn, Kodai, Zorua, Zoroark, Celebi, some civilians and some henchmen are locked into the city, and hopefully only part of them will come out of it again.
Another thing that stands out is the strange pacing. Not only considering the plot structure -- that has been well-balanced in two or three of these films at best, -- but also in terms of dialogue. The writing is as asinine as usual, but the way in which it is delivered flows worse than usual. Conversations are plain uncomfortable to listing to, nor does a single joke land. I never found Dawn's clowning Piplup very entertaining before, but here it is the source of many an awkward silence.
Really, the entire film feels uneasy. Scenes that were supposed to be funny feel awkward; scenes that were supposed to be beautiful feel businesslike; scenes that were supposed to be exciting feel languid. When the city is locked down in the beginning it feels like a third-act climax; when the real capper occurs it is disappointingly small-scaled. How ironic that Zoroark is a shape-shifter, because the film she inhabits is an amoebic product; a formless mass that keeps moving indistinctly until it stops. On an unbearably happy note, I might add.
This is the first film since the first film that feels like it was made by people without any knowledge on how to make a film or how to structure a story, even though that simply isn't true. Kunihiko Yuyama and Hideki Sonoda have worked on virtually all of the films as director and screenwriter respectively. They have made many bad Pokémon films before this one, but never did it feel like they had given up trying. You better get used to it though, for this was the only the prelude to the Dark Age of Pokémon Films.
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