Each of the previous Pokemon movies has seemed slightly better to me than the one before, but this lackluster fifth in the series is at least two steps back.
Pokemon master Ash and pals Brock and Misty visit the Venice-like city called Altomare, which is guarded by two legendary Pokemons named Latia and Latios. They are dolphin-shaped creatures who can make themselves invisible and disguise themselves as human and who communicate in annoying fingernails-on-blackboard screeches. Meanies Annie and Oakley, teen-age girls with midriff-baring outfits, steal the jewel that is the source of Altomare’s power.
There are some briefly lovely background paintings but other than that this below average for the Pokemon series, too violent and confusing for younger kids but not enough character, plot, or visual interest to engage older children.
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 this movie is violent for a G, including peril (electric shock waves are directed at characters, including children) and the death of a character who essentially sacrifices himself to save the community. There is one sweet kiss on the cheek.
Families should talk about why Annie and Oakley did not seem to care about anyone but themselves. Families might want to look at photographs of Venice, which inspired the imaginary city of Altomare.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the others in the Pokemon series as well as anime classics like “Spirited Away” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”