The world of Pokémon has many legends, but the people of Cameron Palace believe in one very special tale: the legend of the Aura Guardian. Long ago a hero and his Pokémon, Lucario, saved the world from destruction- but can it be true? Ash and his friends find out for themselves when Lucario is awakened and Pikachu disappears! With Lucario's help, Ash sets out on a journey to find Pikachu, a journey that leads him to a mystical tree and the legendary Pokémon, Mew! The future of a world and the fate of Ash and Pikachu will depend on the power of friendship between humans and Pokémon.
Directed by: Kunihiko Yuyama
, Darren Dunstan
. Starring: Veronica Taylor
, Eric Stuart
, Amy Birnbaum
, Madeleine Blaustein
, Rachael Lillis
, Ikue Ôtani
, Jeff Berman
, Darren Dunstan
, Suzanne Goldish
, Dan Green
, Jason Griffith
, Christopher Collet
, Mike Pollock
. Music by: Go Ichinose
This is a review of the latest in the long lasting line of feature films that have spawned off the widely recognized Pokemon franchise. How does it stack up, against its Pokemon-movie brethren, and against other movies in general? Let's find out, shall we? When we start up the movie, we are introduced to the kingdom of Orudoran, some centuries previous to main character Ash's time. A cataclysmic war has broken out across the barren landscape, one that threatens to destroy the kingdom. We are also introduced to Sir Aaron and his Pokemon apprentice, Lucario.
The main premise of the film builds off of the events that take place in its first few minutes; that is, Sir Aaron tells Lucario that he is forever abandoning the kingdom, never to return, and imprisons the confused Pokemon inside of his crystal staff.
After the opening title, we jump ahead a few hundred years, where Ash and his sidekick pals are attending a festival at Orudoran palace, held every year in honor of the legendary guardian, Sir Aaron. Wait, what? Yeah, you see, the legend held at this point in time suggests that Sir Aaron was able to find some way to stop the war that would have otherwise destroyed the place. Our young hero Ash accidentally provokes the sealed Lucario enough for it to emerge from the preserved crystal staff altogether, and as you may expect, it is very confused to have awakened so many years later. The body of the film consists of Ash's journey to a fossilized wonder called the Tree of Beginning, where Pikachu had been taken by the ever popular Mew.
The story itself is fresh and welcome to the series on all accounts. There are some well choreographed twists and a convincingly apocalyptic scene that builds up to the movie's sincerely touching conclusion. If you can stomach another painfully lengthened "Pokemon remorse" scene, similar but (thankfully) about a quarter as long as the one found near the end of the first movie, this is a magnificent story befitting the world of Pokemon quite well.
A large part of appeal an anime gets is determined by how it presents itself graphically. "Lucario" is a monumental upgrade in terms of... well, everything in terms of animation, really, for the series, including previous feature films. The graphical presentation is astounding with detailed, smooth character animation, fantastic background images, and some neat effects. By far the biggest update to the scene is the broader use of 3D rendering, which is used widely from moving 3D models of people to rendering full 3D environments. Near the beginning we are treated to a scene where a Tailow (a small bird Pokemon) is flying around a fully 3D rendered Orudoran castle. The blending of 2D hand-drawn anime and 3D rendering effects is crisp and clean, and it works very well with the show. With as much as is used, it never feels like overkill.
The movie's soundtrack is equally intriguingly above-par. A full orchestra provides a stunning array of background music and makes this seem like an authentic, medieval adventure. Good composition and orchestration all around, and it really adds to the experience to hear it loud. You'll want to turn your volume up for this one. Sound effects are also very well choreographed, with animation-matching foot steps and the like. There are, as well, some novelties in the sound department, the obvious of which are the vocations of "Regirock", "Regice", and "Registeel". These will send shivers down your pants, and get my vote for producing the first truly "out of this world" sound from a Pokemon I've ever heard. I'm going to reiterate about the soundtrack: I liked it so much, I imported the CD from Japan. It's that good.
The acting is... well, Pokemon. These are all the old voice actors, so you know pretty much what to expect. I will say, to newcomers of Pokemon, that these actors are truly excellent. Especially in this feature, it seems as though they gave an extra little something, and the screenplay seems to have been thought of to a greater extent than previous feature attempts, as well. Ikue Ootani pulls off an extremely believable "crying Pikachu" here, which must have been hard to do, and from all fronts, you'll receive top notch performances by Taylor, Lillis, Stuart, and Blaustein (Meowth). A very enjoyable English dub.
This film establishes itself as a children's adventure, but there are some sincerely touching moments and some real laughs along the way. I know I'm not the only one who lowers my head and shakes it when Brock goes hopelessly head over heels for the series's next pretty girl, and at one point near the end I broke out in laughter when Ash catches long separated Pikachu in his arms. A euphoric cry of delight turns slowly into a pleading yell of despair as he realizes that he is falling down a chasm of indiscernible height. Things like that make this an already good package even better.
Overall, "Lucario and the Mystery of Mew" is an excellent endeavor by Pikachu Project. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I sure as hell wasn't expecting this, and that's what made it even more special. It may be a little on the childish side, granted, but don't let that keep you from watching this film. You see that "810" score up at the top of the page? That's not comparing this movie to other Pokemon films. That's comparing it to the world. And you know what? It deserves that. It deserves that all the way. This is a great children's film to begin with, sure, but after adding a thought out story, a memorable soundtrack, and a wonderful cast performing their roles with perfection, you have a masterpiece in animation. I give "Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew" a well deserved 9 out of 10 (A).
Review by latios-of-altomare from the Internet Movie Database.