Pokemon 4Ever (4/5)
I was a big Pokemon fan back when it was initially popular. I've not had a fix for a while and I decided that this, the fourth Pokemon feature film, would be good enough. It exceeded my expectations.
Ash, eternal jailbate tease Misty, and Brock enter a mysterious forest in their ongoing travels which is inhabited by many rare Pokemon. Out of the blue a young boy appears with his newly befriended Celebi. He's time-traveled 40 years to escape a cruel Pokemon hunter but is soon on the run again when a new villain from Team Rocket turns up. The gang follow, keen to learn about Celebi and keep him safe. Jesse, James, and Meowth tag along in the background and provide the usual comic relief.
Pokemon 4Ever feels a lot like a Hayao Miyazaki film with it's environmental message, forest setting/imagery, and beautifully detailed animation. The plot is also clever and has a surprisingly touching twist. I was very impressed with this sequel and I highly recommend it.
The Western version of the film contains an extra scene at the end, explaining the twist with a little more clarity as it was originally only hinted at in the end credits, but not too many kids would hang around during the credits, so I can see why the Weinsteins would insist on it. But, for a change, it's not a Miramax alteration that voids the integrity of the film.
Pokemon Heroes (3.5/5)
The 5th Pokemon movie, is a step down from the previous entry in the series but is still better than a 5th movie ought to be. Ash, Misty, and Brock arrive in a Venice-type town called Altomare for a water Chariot race involving their Pokemon.
The town is protected by legendary Pokemon siblings Latios and Latias, who can assume human forms. Meanwhile, Annie and Oakley, a couple of cat burglars from Team Rocket (this affiliation is only in the Western dub) attempt to steal a special jewel called the Soul Dew, which powers the city.
It takes just a little too long to get going. Jesse, James, and Meowth are featured, but they don't really have much to do. However there are still some lovely moments, a bittersweet ending, and in the end they do add up to more than the sum of their parts. The animation and architecture of Altomare echoes the look and feel of Koriko from Kiki's Delivery Service. I just wish that Miramax didn't tamper with it before releasing it to Western audiences. There is about 5 minutes missing and its inclusion might have made the film a little bit stronger.
The movies are presented in lovely-looking 1.85:1 1080p with DTS HD-MA sound. There are many extras listed on the back but I insist that THERE ARE NO EXTRAS ON THIS DISC! Studio Canal tell me that there are...but there are none. Plain and simple.
I hope that more Pokemon come to Blu-ray. Warner own the rights to the first three movies, so it's a bit awkward getting 4 and 5 first, I guess all we can do is wait.