In this fourth installment of Pokemon feature films, Ash and his friends explore an enchanted forest and meet Celebi, a dove-like Pokemon with the power to move through time. They also make friends with a boy named Sammy who was catapulted 40 years into the present day when he tried to protect Celebi from being captured. But then Celebi is captured and turned into a supercharged evil force. Sammy, Ash, Pikachu, and their friends have to find a way to save Celebi and the forest. And Sammy has to go back to his own era.
This movie has more of a story than the previous Pokemon features, some surprisingly lovely background paintings, and a very impressive computer-animated monster made out of twigs and straw. I was a bit relieved to get away from the concept of possessing the pokemons and focus more on cooperation and friendship. But it is still a long slog for anyone but the most committed Pokemon fan, and parents may feel that the movie’s title is a reference to its running time.
Parents often wonder about the appeal of Pokemon. As I have written before, there are three reasons that children are drawn to characters like Pokemon. First is the perennial appeal of characters who appear to be weak but have hidden sources of power. Kids, who live in a world of powerful giants are drawn to stories of transformations and secret strength, from Clark Kent who is secretly Superman on through the Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and Power Rangers. Next, the many facts to memorize about Pokemon give children a chance to master something that is vastly beyond the ability of adults, giving them a sense of power and competence. Finally, as children start to develop social skills, fads like Pokemon provide a shared language that can help those conversations and imaginative games get started.
Parents should know that the movie has characters in peril and one apparent death that could be upsetting for younger children. There is one mildly crude joke that kids will find funny.
Families who see this movie should talk about how Ash and Sammy will continue to be close to each other, even though they will not be together. How did Celebi stop being violent? What is the difference between Jesse and James and the other member of Team Rocket they meet? What do you think Team Rocket is?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Pokemon movies.