Sunday 6 February 2011

Movie REVIEW: Pokemon: Zoroark - Master of Illusions

Before I start I should probably mention this. Cartoon Network, for reasons unbeknownst to me, decided to not air the prologue sequence, instead going into the film straight at the opening credits. Having grown up with Pokemon in English and therefore vastly preferring it dubbed (even after the cast changed) I haven't seen the prologue, and probably won't now until the DVD is released (or I can be bothered to track down the Japanese version). While it was still quite easy to get up to speed with the story, the opening does seem a little confusing when you consider 15 minutes of the plot that features all the main characters has suddenly disappeared. It was a shame, because I always love the openings of Pokemon movies.

Moving along, the latest Pokemon movie sees Ash, Brock and Dawn arriving in Crown City for the annual Pokemon Baccer Tournament, only to find a lost Zorua with the ability to talk looking for its mother (or if you're watching the dub, it's Meema - which kind of makes it sound like the Pokemon equivalent of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory). Zorua's mother is a Zoroark being manipulated by business man Grings Kodai, who is searching for the time ripple - a mysterious energy caused by Celebi's time travelling. 20 years ago the ripple gave Kodai the ability to see the future, and now losing his power he intends to restore it. Its up to our heroes to save Zoroark and stop Kodai, with the aid of Celebi and Crown city's legendary protectors - shiny versions of Raikou, Entei and Suicune.

Okay so the plot is a little silly, but for some strange reason it seems to work in Master of Illusions. Perhaps its because its been a long while since a Pokemon movie has been this refreshing, not once dipping back on recycled clich├ęs from earlier Pokemon films (something the rest of the Sinnoh movies are notorious for) or epic legendary battles. Raikou, Entei and Suicune's role in the film is actually minimal, making the moments they do appear all the better (it's strange that absolutely no reference is made to them being a different colour though). Its a shame that it had to include a Pokemon that could speak English, especially since Zorua is an illusion Pokemon (and therefore the whole concept of it looking for its mother could have easily been told visually) but it's become such common practice with these movies that it should probably be expected from now on. On that note, Zorua's voice is incredibly annoying - not as bad as Arceus in the last film, but still pretty bad. Think Jirachi but worse. Digimon fans might recognise the voice as Sora from Digimon Adventure 01 and 02.

On the flip side, the Master of Illusions dub also has some pretty good talent too. Grings Kodai happens to be voiced by Sean Schemmel, voice of Goku in Dragonball Z/Kai who also appeared as Lucario in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew.

Master of Illusions is by no means a great film. In fact it's a decidedly average endeavour into the world of Pokemon. However it is most certainly a step up from the more recently Pokemon movies and the best effort since Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. With a story that hinges on characters more than legendary Pokemon, Master of Illusions is the perfect warm up to the release of Black & White on DS next month. Bring it on.

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