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[Pokemon Movie 4: Pokemon 4ever box art]
AKA: Celebi - Voice of the Forest, Celebi's Encounter Through Time, Legend of Celebi, Serebii Toki o Koeta Deai
Genre: Children's monster show
Length: Movie, 79 minutes
Distributor: R1 DVD and VHS from Miramax Home Video
Content Rating: G (fantasy violence)
Related Series: Pokemon (TV and movies)
Also Recommended: Digimon, Pokemon, Princess Mononoke
Notes: Unlike the first three Pokemon movies in America, this one is released by Miramax. Also, like the first three Pokemon movies, a 20-minute short ("Pikachu's Pika-Boo") comes before the movie, though it wasn't in the original American theatre run of Pokemon 4Ever (only on the video and DVD).
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Pokemon Movie 4: Pokemon 4Ever

Synopsis

An evil Pokemon collector, The Iron Masked Marauder, is corrupting Pokemon with his Dark Ball, which maximizes the power of a Pokemon to its highest, but also makes that Pokemon evil. Apparently he's been looking for a Pokemon named Celebi, a rare Pokemon said to be connected to the forest (it's even known as the "Voice of the Forest"). However, he doesn't know that Celebi is currently forty years in the past. An evil person was hunting it down, but the hurt Celebi was saved by a boy named Sammy, who suddenly went into the future (present time) with Celebi. Not too long after Celebi's arrival in present day with Sammy, the Iron Masked Marauder tries to capture it, and Ash and friends, once again, must save the day.


Review

Hmm, I was wondering how long it was going to take before the writers had to throw in an obligatory time-traveling scene in the Pokemon franchise. Well, with this, the fourth movie, I no longer have to wonder.

Much like the television series, our heroes end up in yet *another* forest, one they've even visited before! Fortunately, thanks to the lush productions of this movie, the forest looks very nice, instead of being bland like it always is in the series. Animation is much better than the series, and character designs are a notch up too, though computer animation is still as bland as it was in the very first movie (the cell-shaded Suicune is just *painful* to look at at times).

Pokemon 4Ever is different from the first three in that it is the first Pokemon movie in the series to actually have a villain in it. Too bad the Iron Masked Marauder isn't that interesting; he's your standard "I want to take over the world" type of villain. The fact that he, like so many other villains in the television series, is from Team Rocket also smells of laziness on the writers' part. And it's not really surprising that, at one point, he does take control of Celebi, makes it evil, and makes it control much of the forest around him, in a series of scenes that look VERY similar to Princess Mononoke. Later on, a rare Pokemon named Suicune purifies water to save everypme, much like the forest spirit from Princess Mononoke as well. In fact, there are a lot of references to Princess Mononoke, and these are only two examples I'm giving.

Unfortunately, unlike the other Pokemon movies' big, popular inserted Pokemon, Celebi doesn't have much of a personality, nor does it talk. Instead, you see it fly around being cute until the villain takes control of it later on. It's hard to feel sorry for a Pokemon that just flies around being cute, because the movie seems to make out Celebi to be more powerful than it really is (the only skills I've noticed it has is the ability to travel through time and flying), considering that it needs Suicune to save its butt at the end. Well, at least it's *cute* ... I guess that's all that matters in a movie based off a children's anime, right?

Ash and friends don't seem to be as active as in the last three movies, except in the last third of the movie. It made me think that the writers just didn't really care about what they do for seventy-nine minutes. The only dialogue Ash, Misty, and Brock seem to have in this movie is "Stop hurting the forest!" Sigh. Whatever happened to Pikachu actually doing stuff in the movies?. Like my sister Allison says on the THEM Boards, the whole "don't destroy the forest" message comes off as a EPA commercial. All that's missing is the logo somewhere in the ending credits. It didn't bother me, though, since compared to Pokemon the Movie 2000's cheesy "power of one" message (4Kids, apparently, was discouraging teamwork back in 2000), it's not so bad.

The other new character, Sammy, would be more interesting if the dub wasn't constantly telling you that he is the younger version of a character Ash and friends see practically every day. Why, 4Kids even got OLM (the animation team of this movie, as well as the Pokemon tv series) to make more animation for the American version, so they can dumb it down even further than the Japanese version. It's useless and insulting, considering I figured it out on my own less than halfway through the movie, though it's no different than the process of dumbing down 4Kids has been doing with the last three movies. Children are INTELLIGENT, 4Kids ... get it? The only interesting point to bring up in the dub is that they keep the Japanese music this time around. As a fan of the Japanese soundtrack, I'm a happy Pokemon fan.

I've noticed a trend in Pokemon movies. The odd-numbered movies (Mewtwo Strikes Back, Spell of the Unown, Heroes) seem to be a lot more interesting than the even-numbered ones (2000 / The Power of One and this). Maybe it's because I'm getting older and starting to break out slowly from Pokemon anime fandom, but Pokemon 4Ever seems like it tries too much to be like Princess Mononoke, and not enough like an actual Pokemon movie. However, it's still a vast improvement over the first two movies, and it's fun for what it is, especially for those still into Pokemon.

Dumbed down dialogue in the dub and less active roles for Ash and Pikachu can't stop the fourth Pokemon theatrical adventure from being fun. Those who will get annoyed by the Princess Mononoke vibes can subtract one or two stars. Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: The same slapstick violence as usual in the series. The villain looks kinda menacing, but he's more campy than anything else.



Version(s) Viewed: 35mm theatrical print, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Pokemon Movie 4: Pokemon 4Ever © 2001 Nintendo / Creatures / Game Freak / TV Tokyo / ShoPro / Jr Kikau / Pikachu Project '01
 
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