Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker may have gone direct to video, but that doesn't mean it's not as good as previous installments. In fact, in some ways this entry could very well be the best Pokemon movie so far, especially in the way the franchise seems to have grown up with it's original fans.
The basic premise of the movie is that Ash and company attend a festival for the Millenium Comet, which only comes to earth once every thousand years. They meet a magician named Butler and his assistant Diane, who have found Jirachi deep in an isolated forest and convince Max to befriend it. However, Butler has dark motives and it's not long before he is found out and it's up to Max, Ash and the others to save Jirachi.
The story is actually quite good, considering this is a direct release. This time, Ash takes a back seat to May and Max, and we get to see their characters really develop. The themes of the movie, such as the relationship between brother and sister, and having to say goodbye to friends, are subtle at first, but by the end of the movie you realize they've been around all the time. We even get some foreshadowing for Season Seven of the tv series... the only thing that disappointed me was the lack of a theme song during the opening credits, but the Pokemon Advanced theme really wouldn't have fit the action on screen, so it was probably the right decision to exclude it.
One thing I would like to add... this is a film for the older Pokemon fans. Parents would be advised that the movie might be a bit intense for their littlest Poke-fans, especially the creature Butler creates near the end. I'm a college grad, and it creeped even ME out! The accompaning Pikachu short, however, is perfect for all ages.
If I liked the film so much, why only four stars? Well, Miramax and 4Kids have done better with this release than the previous two. There are no color tint errors this time around (ie, Pikachu doesn't appear green in some scenes) and the production values are quite high. But some of their decisions are still baffling. The movie end credits, the Pikachu short, the music video, even the DVD menus are all presented in widescreen, but the main feature is not. It just doesn't make sense why they could not present the main feature in widescreen as well. The ending song includes Japanese lyrics, the music video is completely Japanese, the director's message is Japanese, yet there is no Japanese language option for the main feature. It's just very frustrating and odd. Perhaps they're planning on releasing special widescreen versions of the films down the road...
At any rate, despite the shortcomings, Pokemon fans will really dig this entry. It definately competes with Pokemon 3 and Pokemon Heroes as the best entry in the series.