Some Background Info
With so many strings to its bow, the Pokémon franchise seems to be the gift that keeps on giving to its millions of fans across the world. But for people that are more Pokemoff than Pokémon, the whole affair can be overly complex and utterly perplexing. You’ve got games, movies, cards, figurines, championships, comic books, and many more Pokémon-centric output hitting the world on a frequent basis. It’s quite remarkable that back in 2000 there were already 3 Pokémon movies in existence, and 2001 made the Pokémon movie effort a tetralogy with Pokémon 4Ever.
A movie heavily panned by critics, Pokémon 4Ever tells the tale of time travel and the usual good/evil divide in a time-travelling adventure perfect for fans but less so for those looking to break into the very niche genre. This is a short review of Pokémon 4Ever and its Celebei-centric, time-travelling ways.
If you’re new to the many Pokémon movies in existence, don’t go expecting a mind-blowing plot in this fourth venture into the Pokémon movie-verse. It was only a matter of time before the movies tinkered with time travel as a plot device, and it’s finally happened with Pokémon 4Ever. Cue an opening scene involving a boy named Sammy attempting to intervene as a rogue Pokémon hunter is attempting to net a Celebi (Pokémon fans will know this Pokémon that has an onion-shaped head and a somewhat humanoid appearance). In all of the fuss surrounding this intervention, Celebi goes ahead and transports itself and Sammy into the future in order to escape certain imprisonment at the hands of the Pokémon hunter.
The future that Sammy and Celebi are transported to happens to be modern-day Japan, a place and time in which Team Rocket are still able to operate; they soon formulate a clichéd plan that involves making a fighting machine out of Celebi’s colossal power. The battle between good and evil wouldn’t be complete without the good however, a role fulfilled by the usual culprits: Ash, Misty, and Brock. Cue the largely unimaginative fight sequences which, to be fair, do improve as the animation gets more creative later in the film. It really comes down to the good fighting the evil, as well as the good side also attempting to rebuild the shattered trust that Celebi once felt for humans.
Animation and Final Opinion
What has to be praised more than anything is the innovative animation, which starts off as standard but gets much better as the film progresses. The setting – a wonderfully lush forest that provides the backdrop for a majority of the film – obviously provided the animators with subject matter that they could experiment with, resulting in some beautifully animated trees and other surroundings. Everything just looks better than the animated TV shows, making it much easier on the eye and as a result more interesting, even if only by a small margin. The Pokémon themselves are also superior to their creature counterparts in series such as Digmon Fusion, and they have more of a history/backstory to support them as well.
The film itself, when taken in its entirety, is devoid of any truly impressive scenes or segments. It’s largely a disappointing tale of an already questionable set of moral statements where both good and evil sides are interesting in capturing Pokémon, but the bad side is bad because they look a bit more menacing and have slightly more damaging plans for the Pokémon than the supposed “good guys. Still, battle sequences will likely fulfil already-avid fans of the Pokémon games and films, with plenty of battles featuring the celebrity Pokémon of this feature, Celebi. You’ll also hear a lot of the “Pika Pika” utterances from Ash’s trusty sidekick as well.
It’s important not to expect massive things from Pokémon 4Ever. It’s questionable whether such a sequel was needed in the first place, but since it has existed for well over a decade now, we’re stuck with it. So the best thing to do is try to swallow the little gems of morality thrown in (loyalty, friendship, environmental concerns – basically common-sense stuff that no one can really disagree with) so that you can perhaps derive a little enjoyment from the increasingly delightful animation in lieu of an imaginative plot.