When Ash, Pikachu, and their friends visit a desert city by the sea, they meet the Mythical Pokémon Hoopa, who has the ability to summon things-including people and Pokémon-through its ... See full summary »
Arceus, creator of the world, comes to pass judgement on humanity for the theft of the Jewel of Life, but Ash Ketchum and his friends are sent back in time to discover and possible reverse the events that led to Arceus' vendetta.
Our heroes must protect the Prince of the Sea, Manaphy, from the evil pirate Phantom, and return the young Pokémon to the Sea Temple with the help of the the People of the Water and Jackie the Pokémon Ranger.
An idyllic town is thrown into chaos when two powerful Pokémon, Dialga and Palkia, cross paths and battle, distorting the dimensions of time and space. The only hope comes from Darkrai, a shadowy Pokémon shunned by the townsfolk.
It is commonly agreed upon that the "Black & White!" and "XY" films are the worst in the Pokémon franchise. Although I only have seen "White - Victini and Zekrom" and "Black - Victini and Reshiram" so far, I can already feel the remainder of this retrospective hanging above my head like an outflow pipe of Damocles.
Thank God, then, that "Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice" has the shortest runtime since "Latias and Latios;" at 1h12m only one minute longer than that film was. Not only is "Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice" shorter, it is also by far less aggravating than the films that preceded it -- not that that means anything.
The story's focus is the Pokémon Keldeo, who wants to become a member of the elite group "Swords of Justice," but cannot enter yet because his... horn isn't big enough. If your mind is only half as Freudian as mine, you will probably laugh yourself through the intro. You might as well; it is almost 20 minutes long -- not so much a prologue as the film's entire first act.
No matter the size of his Sword of Justice, Keldeo deems himself ready and challenges the legendary Pokémon Kyurem to prove it. Of course, Keldeo is beaten and only barely managing to escape, thanks to the help of some friendly passers-by.
As it happens, these saviours are Ash and his cardboard friends, who have been reduced to side characters in their own film (and not for the first time.) Perhaps for the better; it is not like these characters have gone through any growth during the past twenty years, and Keldeo has a haphazard but functional hero's journey to fulfil.
That sense of acceptable mediocrity is persistent throughout the film: Not so much an appreciation of the creators' effort, but rather relief that they didn't mess up as badly as before. In this case, it was much a matter of 'less is more:' Most of the things that have been cut out help for the film to feel less aimless, like reducing Team Rocket to a cameo appearance, or skipping Ash's obligatory tournament.
At times this trimming admittedly goes too far. In earlier films, the production team would literally go out of their way to create an appealing backdrop from their story, recreating places like Venice, Barcelona and the Netherlands, but Roshan City is an unimaginative and desolate place. I don't even remember having seen a single inhabitant walking its streets. The town is just another set piece, discarded after ten minutes so we can get over with it.
But who still cares? "Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice" is bearable. It is short, cheap, flimsy, cliché, a bit dumb and not a little suggestive, but not offensive like the other films from this era. I will probably have forgotten about it tomorrow, but that is not necessarily a bad thing; I wish the same was true of "Giratina and the Sky Warrior."
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