leave a comment --Angel Cohn
Just when the Pokemon phenomenon seemed to be waning, a fourth feature film arrives, introducing yet another new creature. Forty years ago: Young Sammy embarks on an adventure that brings him face to face with Celebi, a diminutive, onion-shaped creature (the resemblance to Dr. Seuss's Lorax is striking) that's also known as the "voice of the forest." Celebi's life is being threatened by a rogue Pokemon hunter, and as Sammy attempts to save the ailing creature from a life of enslavement, both are accidentally whisked into the future by Celebi's time-traveling abilities. The minute Sammy and Celebi set foot in modern day Japan, an even deadlier member of Team Rocket the series' longtime antagonists picks up their trail, hoping to use Celebi's strength to create a dangerous fighting machine. Famed Pokemon trainer Ash (voice of Veronica Taylor) and his pals Misty and Brock come to the overwhelmed Sammy's rescue, and together they gain the shaken Celebi's trust. But helping Celebi regain its health and faith in human nature is only half the battle: Ash and Sammy must face off against their Team Rocket foes, and get some welcome assistance from a mysterious and legendary Pokemon. While newcomer Celebi hogs the film's spotlight, the crowd-pleasing Pikachu has more than enough battle sequences and "pika" chattering scenes to appease his fan base. The story is a bit predictable and the characters given to restating the obvious (presumably for the benefit of very young viewers), but overall this third Pokemon sequel is surprisingly entertaining, and a mystery surrounding Sammy's identity provides an interesting twist. The film's flat, traditional anime aesthetic is perfectly suited to the look of the bold, cartoon-like creatures, though the animators switch to a more CGI-influenced look for portions of the final battle sequence. While well done, these scenes feel jarring and out of sync with the rest of the film. Quibbles aside, children and adults enamored of all things Pokemon won't be disappointed.