Entei: I was created to be the father who could make you happy here. If you would be happier outside, in the real world, then I must go.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Every Pokemon movie has been a means to showcase a legendary or mythical Pokemon. These movies have often taken liberties with the power of these legendary Pokemon. One of the movies to do so was this one with Entei and the Unown. Though in its exaggeration, it easily turns out to be one of the best Pokemon movies out there.
The story involves scientist Spencer Hale in the town of Greenfield researching the Pokemon known as Unown. He discovers them but is ultimately sucked into their dimension leaving his young daughter Molly alone. Molly finds a box of tablets with images of the Unown who make Molly’s wishes come true including transforming her house into a crystal palace spreading across the town and cutting her off from the world and an illusionary Entei with the spirit of her father. Several people attempt to rescue Molly and take out the Unown including Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum. When Delia is hypnotized into thinking she is Molly’s mother and is abducted by Entei, Ash, Misty, and Brock set out to save her.
One of the things that stands out about this movie is that this time, the conflict is actually personal this time. He loses someone near and dear to him and has to get her back. But that is a mere part of what makes this movie what it is.
The emotional core of this movie is our main villain Molly. She’s just a little girl who’s been given so much power in the palm of her hand and is harming many people (including herself) without even realizing it. But her actions aren’t out of malice but more out of need to overcome the loss of her parents. She’s in a state of mourning and grief with no one to help her, which makes her diving into this world of fantasy understandable. It only takes Ash going to extremes with real Pokemon and his real that makes Molly decide to go back to reality. Being a little girl things like seeing Ash own Pokemon make an impression on her which lead to her having illusions of her own Pokemon which lead to the movie’s most engaging battles.
The character of Delia Ketchum is given a lot more to do in this movie as well. In most of her appearances, she’s mostly relegated to being the stay-at-home mom or cheering Ash on during the early leagues. Here her role as a mother plays to the plot and slowly develops Molly’s character. There’s also a hilarious scene where Ash attempting to make his way to the mansion and it causes Delia to snap out of her hypnosis for a moment.
The character of Entei is a nice one too. Once again Dan Green, who gives the character this otherworldly and grand voice voices him. And unlike in Yugioh it’s not too over-the-top dramatic. Despite only being an illusion you truly feel this guy loves Molly and is willing to do anything for her. What makes him interesting is that he carries Molly’s representation of him which was pretty much him being her hero but lacks moral judgment. Entei very much embodies the themes of fantasy and reality as well as adults and children.
Finally there’s the character of the Unown. This movie really went out of its way to portray the Unown as these powerful Pokemon when in reality they’re the worst Pokemon out there. There’s no real clear reason as to why they’re helping Molly but once again they work to the movie’s surreal environment they create.
The battles of this movie are engaging. There’s the obligatory opening battle with Ash against Lisa which very much showcases the fun of real world battling and bonds with the Pokemon and each battle is crafted in a legitimate way. And I liked it how the Pokemon actually utilize the environment around them. The battles against Molly and Entei are visually cool to look at. Each one takes place in a beautiful environment whether it be the one with Brock and the teenage Molly, the battle underwater with Misty and the pre-teen Molly, and of course the final battle against Entei. While Charizard’s arrival to save Ash was pretty much a deus ex machina, the battle between Charizard and Entei is intense with some amazing angles and attacks from both. This is one of the few Pokemon movies to actually use Pokemon and battles to play to the plot.
The rest of the animation is also well done. The tower Molly creates is given an excellent contrast to the real world. The tower has this sort of bizarre design in its physics and colors and it’s a place of wonder but also a place of danger.
One of the major flaws about the movie was the fate of Molly’s mother. The original mentions that the mother left Spencer due to his obsession with the Unown and the dub mentions that the Unown took her. When 4kids was translating the Japanese dialogue and questioned the mother’s whereabouts they were apparently told that she was in a mental asylum, which is downright baffling. And somehow in both versions she shows up at the end.
Pokemon 3: The Movie has a great villain and actually plays to all the characters. Best of all, the movie went the extra mile in the battles and making them easy to get invested in and actually enjoyable. It’s something that every Pokemon fan ought to watch at least once. It’s truly one of the Pokemon movies that has more than sheer nostalgia.