Even fervent fanatics are likely to find Pokémon Heroes overwhelmingly tedious, repetitive and dull as it adds absolutely nothing meaningful to an overused formula.
The last Pokémon films have followed pretty much the same recipe. People involved in these films have tried to avoid tinkering with this highly successful formula, mainly because it has worked so well with fans of the franchise. Regrettably, even fervent fanatics are likely to find Pokémon Heroes overwhelmingly tedious, repetitive and dull as it adds absolutely nothing meaningful to an overused formula.
As usual, at the beginning of the film several references to some of the most important events of the series are made. But even still, those unfamiliar with Ash Ketchum, Pallet Town, Pokémon masters or even pocket monsters themselves, should avoid watching this film. The world of Pokémon is a deceiving one as even when the introduction seems proper, obscure references will alienate those who have never played any of the games.
Nevertheless, the film’s premise is quite simple. Annie and Oakley, two new members of Team Rocket steal a copy of an ancient book that contains instructions to build a powerful weapon. The girls will try to use the aforementioned weapon to capture some of the rarest Pokémon in the world and hand them to Giovanni, evil leader of the Team Rocket. In this case, they will attempt to capture Latios and Latias, two mythical creatures that are supposed to be guardians of a coast city called Altomare.
Capturing Latios and Latias is said to be nigh impossible because the critters can take the form of anything or anyone they see, including human beings. As a consequence of this, local people think they are just an old legend and that the creatures don’t really exist. But not only is Team Rocket sure that they exist, but they also build the most technologically advanced radar they can to look for the exact location of the rare monsters.
Coincidentally, Ash and his friends (Misty, Brock, Pikachu and so on) just happen to be in Altomare to compete in a water chariot race. After being disqualified from the competition, Ash meets the human form of Latias and he is invited to the hidden garden where the Pokémon live. There, our hero and his loyal companion Pikachu, befriend the two guardians and the local family that has protected their sanctuary for generations.
In this secret place, an ancient jewel called Soul Dew is kept. Allegedly, the gem has the power to activate a device known as the Defense Mechanism of Altomare (DMA for short.) Legend has it that this mechanism can be used to revive evil versions of Aerodactyl and Kabutops to help capture both Latios and Latias and terrorize the local residents. The problem is that the jewel can only be used once and Altomare will be left in ruins after the DMA has been activated. Needless to say, Team Rocket wants the gem to activate the DMA and capture the Pokémon, so is up to Ash and company to save the day.
At the beginning of the movie and for the first time in a long while, I thought that even though this wasn’t going to save the movie franchise, Pokémon Heroes was at least going to revitalize it. After all, the new setting (heavily based on Venice, Italy,) protagonists, antagonists, Pokémon and short introduction seemed compelling enough. But soon enough, it became clear that the function of this film isn’t to be memorable. Its function is to offer a mildly entertaining experience that features some legendary Pokémon never before seen in the TV series. The dreariness of Pokémon Heroes is unrelenting.
The reasoning behind all the repetitiveness and tedium seems to be the fact that the audience is always renovating. There will always be children who are first introduced to the Pokémon franchise and if this happens to be the first movie they watch, they are likely to be immersed in a compelling experience that is new to them and overly dull to all of us.
It’s worth pointing out that while some of the video games have suffered similar problems, the developers have always been open to minor tweaks and changes. Unfortunately, the films have reached such an irreversible point of formulaic stagnation that those who have watched the first four can tell exactly what’s going to happen next in this one. I guess people heavily invested in the franchise already know if this movie is for them or not.
Undoubtedly, the Pokémon film franchise suffers from tedium, stagnation and monotony and unless somebody does something to change this, we’ll continue to watch the same generic and formulaic movies for as long as the director and producers can get away with it. Unlike certain reviewer who has committed himself to review every Pokémon film to warn others of their flaws, you do have a choice. And that humble reviewer is telling you not to watch Pokémon Heroes.