Universal // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // March 30th, 2009
In a reverse world, a legendary battle rages on...
The Case "Granita" is an Italian frozen dessert made by gradually freezing a sweetened liquid in an open shallow pan, breaking up the ice crystals every now and then with a fork until the desired consistency is reached; it can be served with dollop of fresh whipped cream or a mint sprig for garnish. "Garatina" is a legendary Pokémon who lives in the Reverse World and has a starring role in both the recently released Pokémon Platinum video game for the Nintendo DS and the associated anime movie Pokémon: Garatina and the Sky Warrior. Whether the frozen dessert or the mythical pocket monster appeals to you more will likely depend on your age, interest in video games, and passion for Mediterranean cuisine.
Giratina and the Sky Warrior is the eleventh movie (released to coincide with the fifteenth main video game) in a franchise that shows no sign of slowing down. The success of Pokémon boils down to accessible role playing mechanics combined with the inherent addictiveness of collecting an ever-growing roster of cute monsters -- as the tagline says, "Gotta Catch 'Em All!"
Parents may feel that the collect-a-thon of the games has spilled over too much into the real world, with a never-ending parade of trading cards, movies, books, and merchandise to buy. If you or your kids just got Platinum -- an incremental upgrade over the Diamond and Pearl games released back in 2007 -- is Giratina and the Sky Warrior really worth another $15-20? If you're a Pokéfan, it just might be.
Giratina follows the further adventures of series protagonists Ash, Dawn, and Brock, who come upon a rare telepathic "Shaymin" Pokémon who was washed downstream from her mountain home after getting in the middle of an epic fight between Giratina and Dialga that left Giratina stuck in the Reverse World (an alternate dimension that exists alongside our own). The trainers clean and care for the stranded Pokémon, then set off to for a magical flower patch where Shaymin evolve into their sky form. On the way they are ambushed by Giratina, who sucks Ash, Dawn, and their Pokémon into the Reverse World. There, they meet Newton Graceland, a scientist who has spent most of his career studying the strange universe. He helps them escape, but before long it becomes clear that Giratina isn't the only one looking for Shaymin. A mysterious stranger named Zero has turned his attentions, and an army of Magnemite Pokémon, toward the group, and he'll stop at nothing to kidnap Shaymin.
My experience with Pokémon is pretty limited. Since I was in college when the series first hit the Game Boy, I missed out on the hype. Years later, I picked up one of the games to see what the fuss was about, and legitimately enjoyed what I played. There's something satisfying about building up a collection of fictional creatures you can use to battle and capture even more creatures. Add in the subtleties of figuring out what environmental adjustments are necessary to "evolve" each Pokémon into their more powerful forms and it's no wonder the series is such a big hit with kids -- and so impenetrable to parents. Though Giratina and the Sky Warrior is bound to be just as impenetrable to the uninitiated (sorry, parents), those who know the ins and outs of the universe will find it to be a tapestry of new and familiar sights, sounds, and cuddly creature cameos.
I won't bore you with the specifics of Giratina's plot. Fact is, a lot of it went over my head. If you've seen other movies in the series, you'll probably enjoy it. Even as a relative newcomer, though, I was blown away by the presentation. Giratina & the Sky Warrior looks and sounds phenomenal. The picture is as rich, colorful, and detailed as the best standard def has to offer; and the 5.1 surround mix puts many big name blockbuster releases to shame. Though I'm sure it will look fine on a small set, if you've got a widescreen TV and a good sound system you're in for a real treat. You might even forget you don't know what the heck's going on.
Even if you love the movie, you'll probably be disappointed by the lack of extras. There's a trailer for Pokémon Platinum at the beginning of the disc, but it's not available from the main menu.
You already know whether you or your kids are the target audience for this release. If you're invested in the Pokémon universe, enjoy Japanese animation, and have a good home theater set up, it's a no-brainer. If you're new to the series, or are hoping to sit through it with your kids without having to ask questions every thirty seconds, you should probably look elsewhere.
Gotta watch 'em all? Not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* View the Trailer
* Clip: Under Attack
* Clip: Riding the Train
* Clip: Lead the Way