Arceus, creator of the world, comes to pass judgement on humanity for the theft of the Jewel of Life, but Ash Ketchum and his friends are sent back in time to discover and possible reverse the events that led to Arceus' vendetta.
An idyllic town is thrown into chaos when two powerful Pokémon, Dialga and Palkia, cross paths and battle, distorting the dimensions of time and space. The only hope comes from Darkrai, a shadowy Pokémon shunned by the townsfolk.
Our heroes must protect the Prince of the Sea, Manaphy, from the evil pirate Phantom, and return the young Pokémon to the Sea Temple with the help of the the People of the Water and Jackie the Pokémon Ranger.
When Pikachu is taken to the Tree of Beginnings by the playful Mew, Ash Ketchum and friends are guided to the tree by Lucario, a time-displaced Pokémon who seeks answers regarding the betrayal of his master.
When Ash, Pikachu, and their friends visit a desert city by the sea, they meet the Mythical Pokémon Hoopa, who has the ability to summon things-including people and Pokémon-through its ... See full summary »
Early trailers of the film showed Zoroark changing into an illusion of Ash--a much darker version of Ash. This is from an abandoned plot that had Zoroark working alongside Kodai instead of being under his control. See more »
[Zoroark has collapsed from its injuries]
Mema, wake up! Mema!
[starts whimpering. The others look on in sadness]
Please, Zoroark. Hang in there!
You have to. You finally found Zorua!
See more »
In an earlier review, I compared Pokémon to Minecraft in terms of quality, but at the moment I feel "Star Trek" would be more apt in that, for a while, the even-numbered films are substantially better than the odd ones -- to Pokémon standards, at least. "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" honours this tradition by being overtly bad before this became the trend and my simile starts falling apart.
Let's begin on a positive note: I love this film's setting. Crown City was based upon real locations in Belgium and the Netherlands, where I happen to live, and looks very pleasant. As a Celebi flies through the city with its narrow canals during the break of day, it seems we are in for some good atmosphere like in the earlier films. Unfortunately, this notion is erroneous, as the city is immediately locked down by a villain and the remainder of the film consists out of running and fighting.
Oh my, the paragraph I had reserved for the strong points turned sour after only two sentences; what a discouraging sign. If these films keep worsening, I may do away with a synopsis altogether, and write nothing more than 'it's boring; don't watch,' but let's for the moment determine *why* this film is boring.
Firstly, the set-up is some of the flimsiest in any of these films. Ash and Co. save the shape-shifting Pokémon Zuroa from an assault, only to be laughed at in return. It seems Zuroa has taken personality lessons from Shaymin. As always, the idiots will nevertheleess help the Pokémon to find its mother Zoroark, who is forced by the evil magnate Kodai to help find his MacGuffin. Also, Zoroark can also transform into legendary Pokémon, which is arguably the cinematic equivalent of click bait. What follows comes almost down to a Battle Royale: Ash, Brock, Dawn, Kodai, Zorua, Zoroark, Celebi, some villagers and some henchmen are thrown into the city, and hopefully only part of them will come out of it again.
One thing that immediately stands out is the strange pacing. Not only considering the plot structure (that has not been well-balanced in more than two or three films altogether), but also in terms of dialogue and humour. The writing is asinine, as could be expected, but the way in which it is delivered flows worse than usual. The slapstick is even more arduous. I never found Dawn's clowning Piplup very funny, but here it is the source of many an awkward silence.
This uneasy feeling is present throughout the film. Scenes that were intended to be beautiful feel businesslike; scenes that were supposed to be funny feel plain; scenes that were supposed to be exciting feel languid. When the city is locked down in the beginning it looks like a third-act climax, whereas the real climax is disappointingly small-scaled compared to the preceding. What is left is an amoebic film that keeps moving indistinctly until it stops. On an unbearably happy note, I might add.
This is the first film since the first film -- my, this sentence is going well -- 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 is simply not true. Kunihiko Yuyama and Hideki Sonoda have worked on respectively all and most of the films as director and screenwriter. They have made many bad Pokémon films before this one, but never did it feel like they had given up trying. It would be easy to blame their dispassion on fatigue or a lack of creativity, but they would make better films again later on without a change in schedule, so that doesn't seem to be true.
Whatever the cause, "Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions" is one of the most uninteresting instalments in the entire series: flimsy, dull and not even laughably bad. Prepare yourself, for this is only first entry in what is surely the Dark Age of Pokémon Films.
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