POKEMON HEROES Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: May 16, 2003

Starring: Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Maddie Blaustein, Ikue Otani, Lisa Ortiz, and Megan Hollingshead

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Audience: Children and young
teenagers REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder The POKEMON series
keeps rolling along with
another full-length feature
movie based on the popular
television series. This time,
however, the production values
are a little higher, and the
story a bit more focused. The
series focuses on Ash Ketchum,
a young boy who travels the
world as a Pokemon trainer,
along with his friends Brock
and Misty. Ash hopes one day
to become a Pokemon master and
own his own training facility.
As a little introduction to
POKEMON HEROES, the fifth
movie in the series, relates,
Pokemon are strange animals
with special powers. Some of
the creatures have physical
powers like electric shocks or
sticky webs, while others seem
to have supernatural, occult,
magical, or psionic powers,
such as telepathy or hypnosis.
If you capture one of them, or
keep one of them as a kind of
pet, you can use their powers
to battle, defeat and capture
other Pokemon, who then can be
trapped in small round
PokeBalls. Ash's best friend
is Pikachu, a cute little
Pokemon with electric shock
powers. Pikachu's abilities
have attracted the interest of
Jesse, James, and a talkative
Pokemon named Meowth, who call
themselves Team Rocket and
want to steal Pikachui for
their mysterious boss,
Giovanni. In POKEMON HEROES,
Ash, Pikachu, Brock, and Misty
travel to Altomare (pronounced
"Altimar" for high sea), to
compete in the city's annual
water race. According to an
ancient legend, the
Venice-like island city was
saved from two large, evil
Pokemon, who were drowned by a
Pokemon called Latios. Latios
died after the encounter, but
his spirit or soul is said to
inhabit the Soul Dew, a jewel
with awesome and dangerous
God-like powers, but only if
it is hooked up to the huge
machine guarding
Altomare. Master thieves Annie
and Oakley set out to find
where the Soul Dew is kept.
Annie is attracted to the
jewel's destructive powers
when it's hooked up to the
machine, but Oakley lusts
after the jewel for its own
sake. Apparently, they also
serve Giovanni, the mysterious
Pokemon thief. Ash discovers
that the Soul Dew is now
guarded by the children of
Latios, Latias and her
brother, who is also called
Latios. Latios and Latias
watch over the city. Annie and
Oakley spy on Ash and his two
new Pokemon friends. They
capture Latios in order to
harness the combined powers of
the jewel and the machine.
Ash, Pikachu, Latias, Brock,
and Misty must rescue Latios
and stop Annie from destroying
the whole city. The dubbed
Pokemon stories are
Americanized versions of the
original Japanese cartoons.
The original cartoons have a
fair amount of humor in them
to begin with, especially with
the characters of the lovesick
Brock and the incompetent Team
Rocket, but the American
producers put in more
off-the-wall humor, like using
the names Jessie and James and
Annie and Oakley for Ash's
antagonists. Like the other
movies, however, POKEMON
HEROES is a bit more serious
than the cartoon episodes on
television. This new Pokemon
movie also seems to tone down
the Japanese pagan mythology
in many of the original
cartoons. For instance, the
introductory narration by the
Brock character mentions
something about the Pokemon
world being an imaginary
fantasy world where magical
creatures exist side-by-side
with humans. No mention is
made of the fact that the
Pokemon animals are like
contemporary versions of the
animal spirits which,
according to Japanese folk
religion, inhabit the real
world. Despite this, the close
relationships between the
human beings and the Pokemon
creatures appear to be
vestiges of this kind of
paganism, which draws people
away from a proper
relationship with the One True
God. On the other hand, the
Pokemon creatures at times
serve the function of being
both a good friend and a
guardian angel of the human
beings whom they like. Some of
their special powers also seem
to have a scientific
explanation at times, as if
some of them have "energy"
weapons to protect
themselves. Still, there are
religious implications in all
these elements and in the Soul
Dew jewel which supposedly
contains the spirit of the
father of Latios and Latias.
Annie remarks, in fact, that
she gets a "spiritual" feeling
when she holds the jewel.
Later, while sitting at the
controls of the machine, she
is able to use her newfound
power to command the sea and
bring the two evil Pokemon
back to life. The movie also
makes it clear that Latios and
Latias, who can turn
invisible, serve as the
Pokemon protectors of the
city, sort of like two
supernatural or magical animal
protectors. At the end of the
story, however, one of the
Pokemon must sacrifice its
life in order to save the city
and the people from total
destruction. As part of its
sacrificial death, its
"spirit" ascends into the
heavens like a beam of
light. There are hidden
allegorical, Christological
meanings to some of this,
which lends a redemptive
aspect to the mixed pagan
worldview in POKEMON HEROES.
Paganism often borrows from
Christianity, however, because
the truth and beauty of
Christianity stands out in
stark contrast to the
ultimately bankrupt theology,
philosophy, and psychology of
non-Christian religions.
Although the movie says early
on that magical creatures with
wonderful powers can make your
dreams come true, the story
and characters in the movie
also imply that it is Ash, and
his positive relationships
with his friends, both old and
new, that give him and the
others the power and strength
to overcome the "sins" and
obstacles in the situations
and other characters they
encounter on their journeys.
It also should be noted that
the movie does not call upon
Ash or the other characters to
worship any of the magical or
mystical Pokemon creatures.
Such worship would be pagan
idolatry, which the Bible
clearly and vehemently
condemns in many
passages. POKEMON HEROES also
has some solid, positive moral
messages to Annie's lust for
power, which nearly kills her
and Oakley as well as everyone
else. As usual, Jessie, James
and Meowth get their just
desserts, which, by the way,
does not include the ice cream
snacks they try to eat in the
story. The movie also focuses
on the friendship between Ash
and the adorable Pikachu, who
has a caring attitude toward
its friend but who can get
very protective if Ash or
other friends are threatened
by the evil and/or
mean-spirited humans and
Pokemon they often
encounter. POKEMON HEROES has
some of the best, most
colorful animation of all the
Pokemon movies and cartoon
episodes. The filmmakers have
shown more care than usual in
depicting the beautiful nature
of the unique city, which is a
maze of pretty gardens,
courtyards, canals, and
alleys. The movie also has
several humorous moments,
though it would be more
enjoyable if it had even more
of them. All in all, POKEMON
HEROES may be one of the least
threatening Pokemon stories,
similar to what George Lucas
has done with the paganism and
occultism within the
worldviews of the newer STAR
WARS movies. Since this can be
confusing to children,
however, and because of the
cartoon violence, we recommend
a caution for older children,
and a stern warning for
younger ones. Please address
your comments to: Bob and
Harvey
Weinstein Co-Chairmen Miramax
Films 375 Greenwich Street New
York, NY 10013 Phone: (323)
822-4100 & (212) 941-3800 Fax:
(212) 941-3846 Website:
www.miramax.com

Rating: G

Runtime: 70 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(Pa, BB, C, O, H, Ev, VV, M) Mixed pagan worldview with moral, redemptive, and magical occult elements, plus a slight implication of humanist notions about "evolution"; plenty of cartoon action violence such as hero crashes into wall during water chariot race, magical creatures briefly battle one another using physical and magical powers, electric shock attacks, thunderbolt attacks, web attacks, people and creatures tied up, people nearly drown, and machine goes berserk; and, stealing and kidnapping rebuked.

GENRE: Fantasy Adventure

Pa

BB

C

O

H

Ev

VV

M

Summary:

In POKEMON HEROES, a Japanese animated cartoon adopted for American audiences, Ash and his friends must save a beautiful city threatened by two reckless thieves, one of whom lusts for the destructive power of a mechanical, mystical weapon. Despite some positive moral qualities, the movie's theological and spiritual messages are sometimes mixed and could be confusing to children, especially younger ones.

Review:

The POKEMON series keeps rolling along with another full-length feature movie based on the popular television series. This time, however, the production values are a little higher, and the story a bit more focused.

The series focuses on Ash Ketchum, a young boy who travels the world as a Pokemon trainer, along with his friends Brock and Misty. Ash hopes one day to become a Pokemon master and own his own training facility. As a little introduction to POKEMON HEROES, the fifth movie in the series, relates, Pokemon are strange animals with special powers. Some of the creatures have physical powers like electric shocks or sticky webs, while others seem to have supernatural, occult, magical, or psionic powers, such as telepathy or hypnosis. If you capture one of them, or keep one of them as a kind of pet, you can use their powers to battle, defeat and capture other Pokemon, who then can be trapped in small round PokeBalls. Ash's best friend is Pikachu, a cute little Pokemon with electric shock powers. Pikachu's abilities have attracted the interest of Jesse, James, and a talkative Pokemon named Meowth, who call themselves Team Rocket and want to steal Pikachui for their mysterious boss, Giovanni.

In POKEMON HEROES, Ash, Pikachu, Brock, and Misty travel to Altomare (pronounced "Altimar" for high sea), to compete in the city's annual water race. According to an ancient legend, the Venice-like island city was saved from two large, evil Pokemon, who were drowned by a Pokemon called Latios. Latios died after the encounter, but his spirit or soul is said to inhabit the Soul Dew, a jewel with awesome and dangerous God-like powers, but only if it is hooked up to the huge machine guarding Altomare.

Master thieves Annie and Oakley set out to find where the Soul Dew is kept. Annie is attracted to the jewel's destructive powers when it's hooked up to the machine, but Oakley lusts after the jewel for its own sake. Apparently, they also serve Giovanni, the mysterious Pokemon thief.

Ash discovers that the Soul Dew is now guarded by the children of Latios, Latias and her brother, who is also called Latios. Latios and Latias watch over the city. Annie and Oakley spy on Ash and his two new Pokemon friends. They capture Latios in order to harness the combined powers of the jewel and the machine. Ash, Pikachu, Latias, Brock, and Misty must rescue Latios and stop Annie from destroying the whole city.

The dubbed Pokemon stories are Americanized versions of the original Japanese cartoons. The original cartoons have a fair amount of humor in them to begin with, especially with the characters of the lovesick Brock and the incompetent Team Rocket, but the American producers put in more off-the-wall humor, like using the names Jessie and James and Annie and Oakley for Ash's antagonists. Like the other movies, however, POKEMON HEROES is a bit more serious than the cartoon episodes on television.

This new Pokemon movie also seems to tone down the Japanese pagan mythology in many of the original cartoons. For instance, the introductory narration by the Brock character mentions something about the Pokemon world being an imaginary fantasy world where magical creatures exist side-by-side with humans. No mention is made of the fact that the Pokemon animals are like contemporary versions of the animal spirits which, according to Japanese folk religion, inhabit the real world. Despite this, the close relationships between the human beings and the Pokemon creatures appear to be vestiges of this kind of paganism, which draws people away from a proper relationship with the One True God. On the other hand, the Pokemon creatures at times serve the function of being both a good friend and a guardian angel of the human beings whom they like. Some of their special powers also seem to have a scientific explanation at times, as if some of them have "energy" weapons to protect themselves.

Still, there are religious implications in all these elements and in the Soul Dew jewel which supposedly contains the spirit of the father of Latios and Latias. Annie remarks, in fact, that she gets a "spiritual" feeling when she holds the jewel. Later, while sitting at the controls of the machine, she is able to use her newfound power to command the sea and bring the two evil Pokemon back to life. The movie also makes it clear that Latios and Latias, who can turn invisible, serve as the Pokemon protectors of the city, sort of like two supernatural or magical animal protectors. At the end of the story, however, one of the Pokemon must sacrifice its life in order to save the city and the people from total destruction. As part of its sacrificial death, its "spirit" ascends into the heavens like a beam of light.

There are hidden allegorical, Christological meanings to some of this, which lends a redemptive aspect to the mixed pagan worldview in POKEMON HEROES. Paganism often borrows from Christianity, however, because the truth and beauty of Christianity stands out in stark contrast to the ultimately bankrupt theology, philosophy, and psychology of non-Christian religions. Although the movie says early on that magical creatures with wonderful powers can make your dreams come true, the story and characters in the movie also imply that it is Ash, and his positive relationships with his friends, both old and new, that give him and the others the power and strength to overcome the "sins" and obstacles in the situations and other characters they encounter on their journeys. It also should be noted that the movie does not call upon Ash or the other characters to worship any of the magical or mystical Pokemon creatures. Such worship would be pagan idolatry, which the Bible clearly and vehemently condemns in many passages.

POKEMON HEROES also has some solid, positive moral messages to Annie's lust for power, which nearly kills her and Oakley as well as everyone else. As usual, Jessie, James and Meowth get their just desserts, which, by the way, does not include the ice cream snacks they try to eat in the story. The movie also focuses on the friendship between Ash and the adorable Pikachu, who has a caring attitude toward its friend but who can get very protective if Ash or other friends are threatened by the evil and/or mean-spirited humans and Pokemon they often encounter.

POKEMON HEROES has some of the best, most colorful animation of all the Pokemon movies and cartoon episodes. The filmmakers have shown more care than usual in depicting the beautiful nature of the unique city, which is a maze of pretty gardens, courtyards, canals, and alleys. The movie also has several humorous moments, though it would be more enjoyable if it had even more of them.

All in all, POKEMON HEROES may be one of the least threatening Pokemon stories, similar to what George Lucas has done with the paganism and occultism within the worldviews of the newer STAR WARS movies. Since this can be confusing to children, however, and because of the cartoon violence, we recommend a caution for older children, and a stern warning for younger ones.

Please address your comments to:

Bob and Harvey Weinstein

Co-Chairmen

Miramax Films

375 Greenwich Street

New York, NY 10013

Phone: (323) 822-4100 & (212) 941-3800

Fax: (212) 941-3846

Website: www.miramax.com

In Brief: