If you can believe it, we’re already at 11 Pokemon movies.
In a unique twist, the events of the previous movie have a direct effect on this one, and it looks to be setting up at least a trilogy. In Pokemon Trainer Satoshi’s previous 90-minute adventure, he was caught in the middle of a battle between Dialga, the Pokemon that controls time, and Palkia, the Pokemon that controls space. Unbeknownst to even these titans, their cataclysmic continuum clash (call me Stan Lee) had an unforeseen side effect.
There is a world connected to the real world, and actions in one effect the other. This Reversed World is the domain of the ghost/dragon pokemon Giratina. Just as Dialga rules time and Palkia rules space, Giratina is lord of the Reversed World, a disorienting dimension where is up is down 50% of the time and crystals are windows into the real world. Also, Giratina is pissed. Giratina, knowing full well that Dialga and Palkia are responsible for the extensive damage to its world, is looking for a fight. Giratina finds Dialga and drags the steel/dragon into the Reversed World for a one-on-one. Dialga, being the Time-ruling Pokemon that it is, creates a time loop which disables Giratina’s ability to travel freely between worlds. And through all this, the two pulled along an innocent bystander, the Pokemon Shaymin, who ends up escaping the Reversed World but is now very far from home.
Shaymin along with Manaphy (star of Movie 9) are like the Mews of this generation. Shaymin needs to get home, but unfortunately has a sense of direction on par with Yotsuba. Giratina wants Shaymin for unknown reasons (though Shaymin believes Giratina’s looking for a Shaymin Sandwich), and is still itching for a fight with Dialga. Satoshi and pals want to help Shaymin along. And also there’s a crazy scientist guy named Zero who has taken a page out of Gelarden’s handbook from Revelation Lugia and constructed a giant airship for the purpose of capturing Giratina. Also, the ship comes with a holographic girlfriend.
At some point the Pokemon franchise settled upon a rough formula for its movies, and this one is really no exception. I personally feel that this is one of the less good movies, certainly worse than its predecessor Dialga vs Palkia vs Darkrai. The villain’s motivations are vague, a lot of time is spent just promoting these new Pokemon and telling you to buy their toys, and I think about the only things I really enjoyed about the movie (other than its animation which is always solid) was that it leads into the 12th movie and part 3 of this series, some cameos by the male heroes of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald and Diamond/Pearl/Platinum whom we rarely see, and the appearance of a certain other “Canadian” Pokemon.
I am fully aware of how dumb it sounds for me to be complaining about merchandising in a kids’ movie, especially a Pokemon movie of all things, but I’m not really taking issue with the merchandising aspect, more that it feels like they didn’t try to come up with a good plot or characters to go along with it. I also don’t like how the movie didn’t really do a good job of conveying Giratina’s power. Giratina is supposed to be on par with Dialga and Palkia yet never really does anything big. The power disparity isn’t as apparent as it was with Mewtwo vs Everything Else, and Giratina even ends up being captured by Zero.
It’s not a bad movie really, it’s just that I’ve seen the Pokemon franchise realize its potential before. Mewtwo Strikes Back had a deeply conflicted antagonist in Mewtwo, and Lord of the “Unknown” Tower didn’t even really have a villain and instead focused on a lonely little girl. Writers are capable of creating Pokemon stories that are greater than cash grabs (while still being cash grabs), and I’d just like to see that return to form.
If you haven’t seen the preview for the next movie, go see it. Titled Towards the Dimension Beyond*looks like we’re finally going to see the Pokemon who is God, and I for one cannot wait.
*This is what I’m calling the twelfth movie because Towards the Overcome’s Space-Time for 『超克の時空へ』 is a terrible translation.
PS I changed my translation once just because the original one wasn’t sitting right with me. Towards the Dimension Beyond is less literal but conveys the idea better.