Two Tylenol and a pair of earplugs might be enough to get you through "Pokemon 3The Movie."
The movie is a 75-minute sensory assault. The animated world of Pokemon land crystallizes and morphs into one reality after another. The Pokemon themselves screech and roar as they do battle. Sure, it holds kids' attention. The noise alone prevents them from forming any other complete thought.
Which is just as well, because "Pokemon 3," subtitled "Spell of the Unown," doesn't hold up to much thinking, even by 8-year-olds. Like its predecessors, "Pokemon 3" was adapted from a preexisting Japanese film by producer Norman J. Grossfeld and American director Michael Haigney. But a lot seems to get lost in the translation.
Pokemon master Ash Ketchum (voiced by Veronica Taylor) and his pals this time face the aforementioned Unown, a swirling mess of glyphs that wreak havoc with reality. They seem to have tapped into the grief of 5-year-old Molly, whose father has been sucked into the Unown while doing research. Drawing on her imagination, they turn her hometown into an ice palace and give her a giant stylized lion named Entei as a surrogate father.
It's all an elaborate and nonsensical setup to get to a few Pokemon battles when Ash or one of his cohorts, Misty and Brock, pull out their pocket monsters like so many marbles and engage in their ritualized form of fighting. It's dark and scary stuff, and despite a G rating, could easily be too intense for younger kids.
For parents, the crystallized world at least makes the animation more interesting than the flat, uninspired TV landscape. The disadvantage is that as a battle rages between Entei and Ash's Pokemon, that world cracks and crashes. Loudly. Nonstop. People who have never given sound design a moment's thought will suddenly understand why people get Oscars for it.
The movie is preceded by the 22-minute short "Pikachu and Pichu," eye candy so dull that it makes the main feature seem intellectually stimulating.
For the hard-core Pokemon player, the movie introduces several gold- and silver-series characters--ones who were added in new versions of the video games.
There are more than 250 Pokemon so far. That means that--if, as the Pokemon theme song says, you gotta get 'em all--this franchise might last until 2035.
* MPAA rating: G. Times guidelines: Theme of disappearing parents, vicious battles are inappropriate for kids under 5.
'Pokemon 3 The Movie:
Spell of the Unown'
Veronica Taylor: Ash Ketchum
Rachael Lillis: Misty/Jesse
Eric Stuart: Brock/James
Maddie Blaustein: Molly
Ikue Otani: Pikachu
Kids' WB presents a 4Kids Entertainment production. Directors Kunihiko Yuyama (Japan) and Michael Haigney (U.S.). Producer Norman J. Grossfeld. Screenwriters Takeshi Shudo and Hideki Sonoda. Running time: 1 hour 14 minutes.
In general release.