Saturday, 8 November 2014

Pokémon The Movie: Diancie And The Cocoon Of Destruction (2014) - Movie Review

Pokémon: A franchise so big that it may one day topple Japan’s own government; a TV show that is one of the few anime series that everyone knows about, guaranteed; and a game series that has a special place in the hearts of children and man-children alike. Yes, Pokémon is all of these things and I am a fan of the games myself. I specify ‘games’ because the TV show isn’t really my thing. Honestly, out of all the different anime titles that we grew up on (Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z, etc.), as a show Pokémon would have to be the weakest. Don’t get me wrong: The games are still awesome, even though with the advent of ‘Mega Evolutions’, my mother’s outcries that Pokémon and Digimon are exactly the same is starting to make too much sense, and while I haven’t played any games past Emerald (I kind of fell out with portable gaming somewhere down the track), I do still find myself playing homebrews on my computer (Zeta/Omicron is pretty damn good). So, with the 17th instalment of the Pokémon movie series coming out at my local cinema, I decided to head out with a couple of friends and check it out.

The plot: The Legendary Pokémon Diancie, unable to create a new Heart Diamond to keep her people safe, journeys outside of her Diamond Domain to the over world to find Xerneas, another Legendary, in hopes that it can unlock the power within her to make one. Along the way, she encounters Ash and his friends, whom agree to help her find Xerneas, all the while Diancie is being hunted by several groups because of her power to create diamonds.

Let’s start with the animation; it’s a mess. While some of the CGI work is surprisingly good (The diamonds seriously look like real diamonds), the line animation is standard for Pokémon, in that it is very cheap in places. The amount of detail on the characters’ faces gets extremely minimal in places, and the character models on default are pretty basic as is. Hell, at one point, the outlines on the character models gets about twice as thick as everywhere else in the movie with a very jarring and noticeable effect. Even ignoring the budget-cut moments, the more traditional animation and the CGI look as far removed as they possibly can while sharing the same screen with each other, making for a very disjointed look.

There’s a specific line that caught my attention: It’s where Ash tells Diancie not to cry because crying doesn’t solve anything. I found this to be rather ironic, considered what happened to Ash in the first Pokémon movie. I originally thought that this was some sort of sly jab at the original, as an in-joke for the viewers, but I quickly discovered that this film is nowhere near clever enough to be making that kind of reference. I’ve made brief mention before about there being a difference between a family film and a kid’s film, but at the core of it, that difference is that family films are enjoyable for everyone due to it not feeling like it talks down to children, and thus to adults. With this in mind, Cocoon Of Destruction is one of the kiddiest kid’s films I’ve seen in quite some time. If it isn’t shoe-horning in messages about friendship like this is Care Bears all over again, it’s blatant exposition on the plot. If it’s not exposition on the plot, then it’s just plain re-explaining events that we saw only a few minutes earlier, or repeating what another character has said for pointless clarification.

Even ignoring the facepalm-worthy dialogue, the plot is all over the place as well. The running time is cluttered by all of these different groups trying to catch Diancie, like Ninja Riot, which is a name so on-the-nose even Steven Seagal wouldn’t touch it; Marilyn Flame, which sounds like a drag queen; and Argus Steel, whose heel turn is so telegraphed that I don’t even feel the need to place my usual spoiler tag on this, and yet the film expects us to be surprised by it. We also get Team Rocket, who are hands-down the best part of the entire film, because they actually have jokes written into their lines as opposed to everyone else; they aren’t the best one-liners, but they were welcomed all the same. Seeing the team’s Wobbuffet do its schtick is great as always, and it was kind of funny watching James swim on air for a few seconds.

There is also a major problem with the resolution, involving a deus ex machina that not only stuck out like a sore thumb when it was introduced, but doesn’t even do anything of significance when it’s first used; *SPOILERS* It involves Diancie and her Mega Evolution, which… doesn’t really do anything of use during the big battle with Yvaltal; it only becomes useful in the epilogue when she uses the Mega Evolution’s power to create the new Heart Diamond, after Yvaltal is defeated by Xerneas without the assistance of Diancie. This makes the entire affair just a massive fan-wank that could have had some purpose, but they blew their load too early and we end up with just a mess for the climax. I swear, that sentence wasn’t meant to sound that way when I started it.

As for the battle scenes, they are decent enough: The finale with Yveltal decimating the forest and everything in it is pretty spectacular, and Pikachu’s Thunderbolt is still as iconic as ever. Given how little I know about the new generation of Pokémon, seeing some of the newer ones in action was pretty cool, especially Ninja Riot’s Greninja. If I ever start playing Pokémon X/Y, I know which starter I’M going with.

All in all, this is… not good. Unless you’re a diehard Pokémon fan, and I mean “You would commit acts of international terrorism to get your hands on a legit Pikachu Illustrator Card” level fan, you probably won’t get much out of this aside from some fan-service involving the new Legendary Diancie (No, not that kind).

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