If Judge David Gutierrez got his wish, he'd be the majority stakeholder in the company that makes Pokémon toys.
Pokémon's one of those phenomena that has completely befuddled me. I don't understand the appeal. That being said, though, I was sort of impressed with Pokémon—Jirachi Wish Maker.
Spinning out of the popular Pokémon television series, Ash, Brock, Max, May, and Pikachu happen upon a carnival. While watching the enigmatic Butler's performance, a crystal formation begins talking to little Max. The rock is actually a protective egg housing the Pokémon, Jirachi. Jirachi has the ability to grant wishes, the caveat being Jirachi can only use his power during the seven days of the Millennium Comet and when he has a friend. Luckily for Butler, who plans to use Jirachi's power for his own nefarious purposes, the comet is just overheard and Jirachi finds a new friend in Max. It all boils down to a battle between our quintet of heroes and Butler for the fate of little Jirachi. The poor little guy just wants to go home.
The film starts out with a good deal of exposition, so much so I thought I was watching a special feature or hit the wrong button on my remote. Unfortunately, I still don't understand why these four kids and this androgynous, electricity shooting mouse are hanging out together. I also fail to understand why Pikachu is the only Pokémon that's able to exist outside of the red and white sphere that houses so many of the little critters. Nor do I comprehend why some of the Pokémon can speak and others can only pronounce their names. This film is really for those familiar with the Pokémon world and definitely not the best jumping on point for the uninitiated.
Despite its intended audience, the film held my attention. I thought the ending was something straight out of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, but other than that I can see how a child would like it. The battle scenes are exciting and the characters of Ash, Brock, May, and Pikachu are quite interesting. It helps that the smaller Pokémon have a doe eyed innocence that draws a viewer in. They grow on you.
The acting was often overdone. A production intended for children doesn't mean performances must be grating. I grew particularly tired of Max. Since he's part of the film's focus, watching and hearing him became somewhat of a challenge. I'm glad that Meowth and Team Rocket were also almost completely absent from the film. Unfortunately, their acting talents are a strong component in the bonus short "Gotta Dance."
The animation is sharp and well directed. Miramax has done a good job of keeping the picture quality strong. I got the feeling this DVD was intended for widescreen viewing when I noticed evidence of panning and scanning. Would it have killed the producers of this DVD to preserve the original aspect ratio? I'm actually a little surprised at how good this release sounds. Explosions, dialogue, and incidental music are all clear and distinguishable.
Pokémon—Jirachi Wish Maker has quite a few special features. The DVD includes the interesting short film "Gotta Dance." The talking cat, Meowth, gains control of a magic wand that makes Pokémon's dance. Imagine Pokémon meets West Side Story. Also included is the "Make a Wish" video, a trivia game, a couple of artwork galleries, and a pointless short message from the film's director. I didn't get anything out of watching him walk through Canada telling me he's working on the next Pokémon movie, but can't say anything about it. While not special features, the DVD also includes a Pokémon playing card and game tips for Pokémon card and video games. Too bad most DVDs don't include half the special features this one does. Particularly helpful for the Pokémon impaired is the character information included in the Pokémon artwork gallery. If you're new to the world of Pikachu and company, I suggest viewing this before watching the feature.
It's worth a rent and will probably keep the kids entertained for an hour and a half.
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• "Gotta Dance" Short
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