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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
    None Listed
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Sided
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hebrew: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Greek: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Dutch: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Italian, Hebrew, Greek, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Audio commentary
  • Music video
  • Awards/Nominations - To Know the Unknown
Pokemon 3
Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

With Pokémon 3: "The Spell of the Unown", the Nintendo marketing machine hits high gear, pushing out its third Pokémon movie in as many years. This newest film in the franchise sees the return of familiar faces and familiar plot lines from previous outings, as Pokémon trainers Ash Ketchum, his squeeze Misty, his mate Brock and their army of minions find themselves in another battle filled adventure.

For the uninitiated, it kind of works like this: Pokémon masters raise and train their Pokémon (pocket monsters) for combat. Travelling the land, they pick fights with each other, summoning specific Pokémon to emerge and do combat - some using fire, some water, some flying, some running really fast. Basically Pokémon are a lot of miniature Godzillas that fight for their master’s pleasure in a form of bizarre blood-sport – only its OK because the Pokémon enjoy it, don’t get killed, and despite getting regularly knocked unconscious, I’m reliably informed endure only comic-book violence that doesn’t hurt a bit.

And so on to our feature. Well almost. As has apparently become the tradition, the Pokémon theatrical experience starts with a 15 minute short, this time starring Pikachu and the Pichu brothers. In one long chase reminiscent of the silent era of film-making, we are introduced to many a cute back-alley Pokémon as Pikachu and friends are chased through the big city. Fast and colourful, this is Pokémon for our younger viewers and their shorter attention spans.

We then move on to our feature that takes up the remaining 73 minutes of the running time. The story goes something like this: Professor Spencer Hale has been trying to uncover the secrets surrounding a mysterious Pokémon known as the Unown that appear as twenty-six entities in the shape of bizarre letters of the alphabet. Called to a recent discovery, Hale suddenly vanishes, leaving his young daughter Molly all alone in their mansion home.

Understandably distraught that her father has now disappeared just like her mother two years before, Molly's tears somehow activate the Unown, who seem able to read human minds and turn dreams into reality. Since she last equated her father to Entei, one of the mythical Pokémon, the Unown bring forth Entei to take the place of her father - just as large crystalline structures encase the mansion sealing her within her fantasy world.

With Molly also desirous of her mother’s return, Entei leaves the mansion to find her one, returning with Delia Ketchum, the mother of Ash. Witnessing her abduction, Ash and his pals (and their various squeak-toys) set out to rescue her from the crystal prison.

So what do kids enjoy about Pokémon movies? Basically a Pokémon movie is a string of Pokémon battles, motivated and loosely strung together by a thin veneer of plot. But that, it seems, is the point. Firstly, there is the enjoyment of identifying an endless stream of familiar Pokémon characters as they crop up in the feature. Secondly, there’s predicting the outcome of the numerous Pokémon battles - with every four-foot-high Pokémon aficionado knowing the detailed vital statistics of every single combatant. Of course there is never an upset, with all battle outcomes mired in comforting predictability.

At the end of the day, the cynic inside keeps reminding me that the whole point is to sell more playing cards and electronic games. But for kids the world over, in particular Riley the 8 year old Pokémon expert who willingly served as my guide through the Pokémon universe, Pokémon 3 "The Spell of the Unown" is high entertainment indeed.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

In terms of video, Warner has done a fantastic job with the transfer, providing a beautiful anamorphic transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The thing that immediately springs to your attention is colour, colour, colour. The classic children’s anime stylings provide an image that rich and vivid, and the transfer shows no sign of colour bleeding or compression artefacts. The colours and black level are just amazing. Produced for the cinema, the transfer displays none of the interlacing problems normally associated with animation produced for TV, and the transfer remains crystal clear, totally clean, and devoid of all video artefacts for the feature’s total length. An absolutely perfect job 10/10.

The quality of the audio was a big surprise, presented here in Dolby Digital 5.1, and providing an aggressive and dynamic soundtrack. Dialogue is clear and distinct, and the movie delivers a good level of ambient noise throughout, creating a wide and immersive soundstage. There is a constant stream of swirling and directional sound effects as Pokémon battle with many a smash and crash. The subwoofer is kept very busy providing bone shaking explosions and adding body to the score. In terms of music, Pikachu & Pichu in particular features a beautiful score that combines light hearted jazz with classical music to enhance the at times light-hearted and at times perilous adventures of the little dudes. All in all, Pokemon 3 represents a surprisingly good audio experience.

The static menus are anamorphic and the movie’s theme plays behind them. A set of chapter stops are provided for both Pikachu & Pichu and Spell of the Unown. The quality of the video and audio presentation continues into the extras, with Warner compiling quite a good collection; most appealing to the younger Pokémon fans, and a commentary that may appeal to those that are a little older:

Making of “To Know The Unknown”: five young, vacuous and very blonde singers (calling themselves innocence) talk about why they sang one of the movie’s theme songs, why the song is so great, what its themes are and other marketing drivel. You know, like, whatever.

What the Film-makers Say: Norman Grosefeld – producer and co-writer of the English language version, and Michael Hagney – director and co-writer of the English language version, talk about the script changes to the original Japanese and the re-animation of key scenes that were made to westernize the story. The guys are surprisingly interesting and express a real passion and enthusiasm for the Pokémon movies. I was kept very interested for the 73 minutes of commentary over The Spell of the Unown - for more interested in fact than during the feature itself.

Johto Pokérap: The music video for another Pokémon based song that revolves around naming endless streams of Pokémon characters.

Theatrical Trailer: A big budget trailer that makes the movie look truly spectacular. Narrated by that movie voice over guy, no child alive would have been able to resist it.

All in all, and I am getting very strong support from Riley here, this is one movie for every Pokémon fan's collection. Parents, either open your wallets or steel yourself for the barrage.


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  •   And I quote...
    "Plucky youngsters continue to battle their squeak-toys in this fantastic looking and fantastic sounding continuation of the Nintendo franchise."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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