Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is the last of the Advanced Generation Pokémon movies. While it’s a mediocre ad for the Pokémon Ranger video game, can it top the popularity of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew?
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Good lord. How long has it been since I reviewed one of these damn movies? Since I posted my review on Lucario and the Mystery of Mew on May 21, 2016. Almost two years. I had been sleeping on this.
The irony here is that I originally started Breaking Canon just to give my criticisms on the Pokémon anime. Its flaws, inconsistencies and oddities. There was a time when I was a huge Pokémon fan as a kid, but discovered that the anime was way worse than I remembered as an adult. Children typically have low standards when it comes to entertainment, making us much less critical as a result. And the parents? Tch. The parents don’t care. As long as their kiddies get entertained, who cares about how dumb the story gets?
These stories made more sense when we were kids. But as adults, we’re searching for smarter and/or more mature content. While we look back on the Pokémon movies with a sense of nostalgia, rewatching them… might be a different experience.
For the most part, they’re great examples of “guilty pleasures.” If you always wondered why your parents or siblings didn’t like them years back, well… take a guess. They’re not exactly high art, even as far as anime films go. I thought it would be entertaining to poke fun at my childhood, so these long minute-by-minute reviews surfaced. And as you can imagine, those take a fucking long time to write up.
And with the publication of this review, I guess you could say I’m here to… finish the job. There are still many Pokémon movies left for me to watch with even more on the way, but all in due time.
So, recap. I didn’t like Lucario and the Mystery of Mew that much despite its popularity with the Pokémon fanbase. Even with some good ideas and some good writing behind the character of Lucario, the movie still felt like a tedious slog for me to sit through. While it is considered to be one of the good Pokémon movies by fans, its cheap plot devices and general character stupidity mucked it up for me. Sorry to disappoint you guys. I haven’t really liked a Pokémon movie since Spell of the Unown.
So, time to sit through the horrifically long session that is Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. This movie is over one hour and forty minutes, longer than the average Pokémon movie. What a place for me to start anew.
Okay, so I have a question. Why do you think it’s a good idea to rehash the plot of a recent movie in the same movie series to make a quick buck?
This is part of what Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is. It recycles the same plot as Jirachi Wish Maker, except we’re switching over roles to different characters.
The other part of it is that it’s a big promotional ad for an upcoming Pokémon game.
Yeah… a Pokémon spinoff where you spend 80% of the time drawing rings by directing a spinning top on the touchscreen. Exciting stuff… Well, at least it’s one of the better Pokémon spinoffs out there.
I just don’t get it. Did OLM give up trying new ideas so they had to recycle the plot of a movie that wasn’t even five years old?
Alright, alright. Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt, I guess. I’m still rather pessimistic that it’s going to be decent at all, though.
So sometime after I published my Jirachi Wish Maker review, someone commented thinking that I hated May and made the point that she was the best developed female lead in the anime. I guess it’s because of that beginning rant I made where I find the sibling rivalry between May and Max annoying.
I’m going to make this clear: I don’t hate May. Hell, I was barely paying attention to the Advanced Generation seasons of the anime in general. Those seasons just don’t interest me, and part of the reason is because May shares some of the focus. And her main goal to become a top Pokémon Coordinator and her participation in the sparkle-fests known as Pokémon Contests are boring concepts to me. I much rather watch monsters beat the crap out of each other rather than shoot glowy beams and spread pixie dust all over the place.
And of course, she can get REALLY childish at times, especially when she argues with her brother. Almost as bad as Ash Ketchum at times.
And, I don’t know. To me, her main trait that stands out is that she’s such a typical girly girl. And that’s about it.
Well, what’s wrong with being a girly girl? Shouldn’t girls behave like girls? Is being a tomboy a requirement now?
That’s not my point, though. In a similar vein to how Pokémon anime fans constantly complain how Serena is too girly to the point of being her only defining trait, this is pretty much my main issue with May as a character as well. Personality wise, she is just not interesting to me. She’s the daughter of a Hoenn celebrity and already has a pretty good life, if not having a bit of a spoiled brat side to her.
While I don’t consider May to be nearly as annoying as Max, there is something about her blandness that rubs me the wrong way. While she is the first replacement for the tomboyish Misty, May has never really displayed an extraordinary personality. She’s pretty much a typical young girl with the same naïveté as Ash and… not as smart as Misty. She is not as hardheaded as Ash and lacks the knowledge and experience of Brock, so she is sort of in between being the newcomer and the tagalong.
She’s nice, I guess. Pretty? Ehhhhh. You do realize it’s a 10-year old girl as a cartoon character, right? Give me a break.
OKAY OKAY! STOP THAT! STOP WITH THE PEDO FAN SERVICE!
And that’s really it. She just seems… average. I don’t know about her “character development,” so don’t ask me.
But if you go into the darkest reaches of the Pokémon fandom, you’ll find that some fans have a creepy attraction and even obsession to the character.
Are you cringing now? Cool. Welcome to the Pokémon world, bitches!
I especially liked where it said that she “went out of her way to save Jirachi in movie six,” which she FAILED at and was completely useless for the majority of the movie. Or that she “never gets angry at her brother,” which is complete bullshit. Or commenting on her looks and making marriage proposals, even though she’s a fictional character.
And of course, the jailbait quality of Ash’s female companions is not lost on me.
Wait wait wait DON’T!
FOR GOD’S SAKE, PEOPLE, THEY’RE 10!
THIS IS THE FBI!
*BANG BANG BANG*
Sorry, but I just like poking fun at stupid stuff like this. No series is safe from my jokes. Including Pokémon. ESPECIALLY Pokémon.
(Why do you think I’m reviewing these terrible movies anyway?)
So, let’s go over it again. I don’t hate May (though I hate her little brother). I tolerate May for the most part. I even thought she had a few good moments in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, minor as they are. So for the sake of this review, let’s move on.
Why did I bring that little discussion up? Because… she’s the focus of the movie. Just like Max was in Jirachi Wish Maker. Hmm. By the end of this, all of the May fans are going to be out for my blood.
*takes out a cross, wooden stake and holy water*
BRING IT ON, YA DAMN VAMPIRES!
Returning to the Pokémon World
So, the movie begins with an expository intro about the Pokémon world.
You’d think by the 9th fucking movie, they’d figure out that most people with no knowledge or interest in Pokémon wouldn’t watch this tripe anyway. This movie series is for a niche audience who already knows what Pokémon is, so this intro is just a timewaster. And having to see this kind of intro again and again with every Pokémon movie as if we’ve forgotten is plain insulting. I sometimes wonder if Nintendo thinks their consumers are idiots.
Actually, here’s the weird part of this intro. It gives out a bunch of cameos to all sorts of Pokémon human characters. There’s Brendan, the male protagonist of the Generation III Pokémon games. There’s Rebecca, the purple-haired computer chick from Destiny Deoxys.
Then oddly enough, you have Attila and Hun, the two Team Rocket executives that were featured in the somewhat obscure anime special The Legend of Thunder! And they managed to capture a Rayquaza in this short segment, which was never expanded upon. Fuck this Pokémon Ranger and Temple of the Sea bullshit! I want to see what two badass Team Rocket members are going to do with Rayquaza!
It also gave a cameo to Solana, the female ranger who starred in the original Pokémon Ranger game. It’s definitely appropriate, considering it is the subject matter after all.
Pokémon Pirates and Lames Bond
The real movie begins with an underwater shot of an ocean, where this blue-red embryo-like egg floats around. And holy shit, it’s CGI galore. I swear, it looks like a bad PlayStation 2 game.
Then this giant submarine, which looks more like a battleship of doom, comes in to pursue the egg and then…
We meet the missing eighth member of the Seven Dwarves.
No, this bug-eyed man is a pirate captain known as the Phantom. Wooooow. I’m so frightened. You know, at least the pirate Blackbeard had the good sense of making himself look intimidating in order to reduce casualties of his own crew. This joker looks like a failed cereal mascot.
His crew successfully retrieves the egg, and the Phantom gives a rather odd response to his second-in-command.
Galen: Recovery complete. Surfacing to retrieve helicopter.
The Phantom: Galen! Remember, there are two types of men in this world: those who have unlimited desires and those who do not.
…Thanks for that, Captain. Well, I have some advice for you too. There are two types of characters in the anime Pokémon world: those who are as dull as concrete bricks and those who are more over-the-top than the sky.
Guess which one you fit in.
Also, is he wearing belts over his beard?
I guess if normal hair bands are too girly for you, might as well make them stupidly manly by tightening your beard with leather belts.
So the submarine surfaces, then the Phantom and Galen gaze upon their new prize. The Phantom is about to take hold of the egg, but then suddenly one of his crew members takes it away.
The Phantom: Who are you?!
Unknown pirate: You want this to satisfy your selfish desires. Not happening!
And I kid you not. This egg thief escapes by wall-running… slowly. Seriously, they were all in a tiny room and it took him 5 seconds just to get around them. What, is he wearing gravity shoes or something?
During this short pursuit scene, the egg thief actually KICKED A STEEL BAR SO HARD THAT IT CAUSE A HUGE DENT THAT DETERS HIS PURSUERS!
Dude, I could leg press over 400 lbs. and I couldn’t do that. I’d be more likely to mess my knee up. And I’m more on the heavyset side. This guy is just some generic jock with no visible muscle mass. Ah, anime characters and their sudden superhuman strength…
The egg thief contacted his headquarters, revealing himself to be Jack Walker. Really, Jack Walker? You couldn’t come up with a less plain name than that? Why don’t we just go with Jack Johnson or John Jackson? Or how about John Smith?
Even Jack Sparrow is a cooler name. Or James Bond. It’s not over-the-top but it’s also not very generic. Oh, but make room for Jack Walker! He can kick and bend steel rails.
But in all seriousness, we’ve all seen this character before. He’s pretty much whatever spy/daredevil cliché wrapped into one character. He is insufferably optimistic, spouts corny phrases, has stereotypical spy music play in the background whenever he does something cool, and is the apogee of badass in whatever he does. Yeah, whatever…
Meanwhile, he speaks to a lady named Judy over his communicator.
Jack: EOP confirmed!
Judy: EOP? You mean Equal Opportunity Publications?
Jack: Egg of the Prince. So, pretty cool name, huh?
Judy: You can’t just make up names.
Jack: Look. First I get stuck in this ship, scrubbing stinking floors for a solid month. Couldn’t you think of something nicer to say?
Oh, poor baby. Scrubbing floors for a month but getting to ride a submarine and having the opportunity to steal a legendary item. Try working as a janitor, cleaning up bathrooms for years. Then you’ll know the true meaning of pain.
Judy: As soon as our work is through. There’s a lot left. You man enough?
Jack: I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘failure.’
Judy: You don’t. Would you like to borrow my dictionary?
Jack: No thanks.
…Good lord, these one-liners are the definition of cringe.
And then the Phantom’s grunts come in and Jack just makes the most perfect escape attempt that rivals that of Kevin McAllister’s homemade traps from Home Alone.
Eventually, the Phantom reappears and sends out his Pokémon to stop Jack. And they engage in some more eye-rolling banter.
The Phantom: Give it up!
Jack: I don’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘give it up.’ Capiche?
The Phantom: Really? I’ll lend you my dictionary.
Jack: Keep it.
Again with that lame joke? Ugh. God, these lines are terrible. WHO WROTE THEM!?
But as he sees a wild Mantine passing by, Jack throws his cute little spinning top thing out into the sea and waves his magic wand to recruit the help of said Mantine.
Just as he was cornered, Jack’s eye literally sparkles for a second before the Mantine gives him a ride, then blasts his pursuers with a Confuse Ray to make a clean escape.
Oddly enough, the Phantom seems too calm about this whole thing.
The Phantom: Heh. Pokémon Ranger, eh?
…Well. Yeah. What of it?
And no, you did not just witness the first episode of a bad Saturday morning cartoon. That first ten minutes is the prologue to the whole movie. And after a lengthy CGI sequence (with atoms for some reason) that just ends up showing the movie’s title, the real movie begins.
Wow! That was stupid. On to the rest of the movie!
Giant Bubbles and Street Performers
So we cut to “our heroes” in this bizarre shot of them walking through a bright white background. No, Ash! Don’t walk into the light!
Ash: Just tell me again, Brock. Are you really sure this is the right way to go?
Brock: I used to think so, but now I’m not so sure.
May: We haven’t seen a town or anything.
Max: And the PokéNav isn’t picking up a signal at all.
Wow. “Our heroes” are so tired that it altered their voices. I wonder if Pokérus is in the air.
Actually, no. This is the point in the anime series where they changed voice actors.
For those who have missed that little bit of trivia in the Lucario and the Mystery of Mew review, it was the last 4Kids dubbed Pokémon movie before Pokémon USA took the reins for the anime series.
It was also the last voiceover roles for long-time voice actors of the series like Veronica Taylor (Ash Ketchum, his mother Delia and later May), Eric Stuart (Brock, James), Rachael Lillis (Jessie), Maddie Blaustein (Meowth), and Amy Birnbaum (Max and multiple small roles in the anime). I could be missing more, but the point is that the entire voiceover cast for the Pokémon anime had been replaced and there was a big outcry from the fanbase at the time.
The Pokémon anime was a majorly iconic show for many a childhood and it really was unfortunate that that old voice actors didn’t get to reprise their roles after Pokémon USA’s acquisition of rights to the English dub.
4Kids may have sucked for its poor localization and censorship choices, but its voice actors generally do fine. Well, sometimes. But still, the older fans of the anime really do appreciate their work for breathing life into the characters that we know today. Myself, included, even I get really critical of the anime.
So how do I feel about the new voice actors? Well, Ash, Brock, and Max kinda sounded like they got done with smoking some hardcore ganja. May is pretty much the only one in this group that sounded normal to me.
So, “our heroes” have somehow wandered into a giant savanna of all places. Which is pretty confusing, considering the movie’s first establishing shot is under the sea.
And then, giant bubbles.
But of course, their eyes weren’t just playing tricks on them. It turns that a young lady was practicing some sort of trick that keeps Pokémon suspended inside floating bubbles.
And you might be wondering, “What is this Final Fantasy X water physics bullshit?” Well, the answer is simple. “Psychic powuhz!” from a Meditite and a Medicham.
Everyone does their usual introductions to this girl named Lizabeth and Brock has one of his fanboy freakouts after recognizing her as a circus performer and celebrity. Of course, he has to further remind us on how creepy he can get.
…I’m curious. At what point in the Pokémon anime was Brock flanderized into a creepy stalker that makes Johnny Bravo seem like a well-behaved gentleman? I don’t remember Brock being this embarrassingly transparent poon hound that makes the most persistent perverts groan in disgust. It’s not even funny at this point. It’s just… uncomfortable. Is this what being sexually harassed by a fictional character feels like?
And just as Brock was getting TOO intimate with Lizabeth, Max pulls him away by the ear. Oh yeah. This running gag also existed…
I know this pulling-by-the-ear gag began with Misty during the Johto seasons. And then I remembered there being a couple of episodes in the Hoenn seasons that brought back Misty and even had her teach Max on how to control Brock’s lecherous behavior. And part of why I stopped watching the anime around that point was because of the anime’s repetitive running gags. And Brock here just doesn’t seem human anymore. He’s lust incarnate.
Ah, Brock. You walking meme you. Please change, for the love of god!
So Lizabeth’s family walks in right after that whole awkward scene and we do get one funny scene. May compliments Lizabeth’s mother (Meredith), saying that she looks like she could be her own daughter’s elder sister. Flustered by the compliment, Meredith “taps” May and knocks her down.
Ah, slapstick. How I miss you.
So “our heroes” drink some water like it’s a feast. The family Buizel accidentally reveals a mysterious blue/red object, which was that egg we’ve seen in the movie’s intro. May seems to be the only person who notices the odd-looking egg.
And annoyingly, we get a credits crawl during a scene where Lizabeth’s family (and some random clown) perform their water tricks out in town. Team Rocket sneaks their way into the movie, undoubtedly becoming meat shields for “our heroes” and sneaking a funny one-liner here and there. Like nearly every movie thus far.
Later on, the family Buizel takes the egg AGAIN and May just so happens to be there to gaze at it. I don’t know about you, but these minor coincidences feel a bit forced. But little does May know that Team Rocket was spying on her. And just as May was going to take a closer look, that one random clown working with the family of performers silently took it away and gave it to Lizabeth.
That’s not weird at all.
But what’s even stranger is that Team Rocket looked at their organization-published gazette that they just so happened to have in hand, which showed a picture of the Phantom and the egg. So you’re telling me that whole intro of the movie just so happened to be common knowledge among the entirety of Team Rocket? How did they get that information and who was the photographer that got the photos of a notorious criminal like the Phantom and an extremely rare egg? And why didn’t the Team Rocket organization grab the egg for themselves if they were that close up for the photo?
And what language was that magazine written in? The font looked like Unown script but it might as well just be a bunch of gobbledygook. But seriously, WHO GOT THIS INFO AND THESE PHOTOS? Couldn’t the writers of this film find a different way to get Team Rocket up to speed?
But yeah, Team Rocket decided that working with the Phantom is a good business opportunity and considered stealing the egg for profit. And soon after, James made a phone call to 1-800-PHANTOM.
The Phantom had a 1-800 number? What!? How is that even possible! Is the Phantom secretly a business entrepreneur? Does he own a studio where he reenacts bad movie scenes?
Later that night, the family Buizel couldn’t keep its grubby paws to itself and once again took a peek at the egg. May just so happens to be resting in a sleeping bag nearby. So the egg glows and May instantly has a wonderful dream of swimming with a whole group of water Pokémon. She encounters a unique, sprite-like Pokémon approaching an undersea temple. This, for some reason, distresses May and stirs her from her sleep.
This is So Boring
The next morning, Team Rocket snuck into the family’s trailer in order to steal the egg. “Our heroes”and Lizabeth’s family have breakfast outside as May describes her strange dream to everyone. The conversation trails off to a backstory, where Lizabeth and Meredith explain that they’re descendants of the People of the Water. Yeah. Boring name for a mythical tribe that we’ll probably never bring up in the anime outside of the movie.
Then we cut back to Team Rocket, who found the egg but encountered some hijinks. The egg somehow got them to swap bodies. Wow…
This goes beyond just simple incompetence on Team Rocket’s part. What should’ve been a simple theft somehow turned into a trap. With their shitty luck, Jessie, James and Meowth could accidentally stumble upon the Ark of the fucking Covenant and get their faces melted off without touching it.
Cut to “our heroes.” More boring exposition about the People of the Water, who are these peaceful people who bonded with water Pokémon and built the Sea Temple (yet another generic name) and blah-blah-yawn. Apparently, only descendants of these people are able to have the same dream that May had—though we already know that May isn’t a descendant. It was the egg that caused her to have the dream, so we’re just meandering here.
They come across Team Rocket stealing the egg, who botch up their infamous Team Rocket motto in the process. It’s actually kinda funny. Then they flee with the egg and the strange clown from earlier pursues them.
Ash tries to get his Pikachu to take down Team Rocket’s getaway blimp, but the clown stops him, saying they’re carrying something important. Then we learn who the clown is, who uses a capture device on a Fearow to transport Pikachu to steal back the egg. And of course, pop Team Rocket’s blimp.
Attempting to murder criminals instead of capturing and arresting them. Only in shows like the Pokémon anime.
So after about five minutes of filler and over twenty minutes of slowly paced agony, Jack “Jackie” Walker takes off his chickenshit outfit and reveals his true identity. “Our heroes” figured out that he’s a Pokémon Ranger due to his capture device—I think by this point, Ash and friends had already met Solana earlier in the anime series, which is why they know this. So yeah, there’s continuity there. But if you hadn’t seen that one specific episode, you’d be wondering when and how they know this.
So Jackie tells Ash and friends about the egg, which contains the legendary Pokémon Manaphy. Apparently, his mission is to incubate the egg and deliver Manaphy to the Sea Temple. May remarks that this was the sprite-like Pokémon she saw in her dream.
But just when you think that there’s going to be more downtime in the movie, helicopters arrive. The Phantom and his crew show up out of nowhere to put in another action sequence.
Um yeah, quick question: how were these fuckers able to locate the egg without any kind of tracking device? Since they came in with a group of helicopters, they had to know the exact location of the egg to go into such preparations.
Jackie: They must’ve followed us all the way here! (comment: yeah, I’m sure you would hear the trailing helicopters behind you, asshole. That explains nothing.)
Ship (Lizabeth’s grandfather): We got to hurry and get back into the trailer!
Heh. Seriously, the trailer? You mean the one that just got burglarized moments ago? Oh yeah, what a safe location for a rare find like a Manaphy egg!
And… a trailer against a small fleet of helicopters full of pirates? Isn’t that like using a one-story house as a fort against a naval invasion?
So stupidly, “our heroes” flee without putting up a fight against the pirates’ Pokémon. Um, NOW might be the time to send that Pikachu, Ash. Really now.
And the Phantom says another cheesy line.
The Phantom: Remember, there are only two types of people on this planet: those who are chased and those who do the chasing. I know which is better! I go for the role of chaser every time! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Is this “two types of people” monologue going to be this guy’s personality quirk? Does he think he’s being poetic here? Who’s writing his dialogue? It’s so dumb and annoying.
So he and Jackie share some lame banter that pretends to be a James Bond flick. Apparently, the Phantom has been eating his spinach because he was able to lift a boulder and toss it with ease. Jesus, guy.
Jackie: Man, you’re strong, Phantom. You take vitamins?
No, Mr. Walker. That would be protein and steroids. And anime logic. And funny coming from you of all people, Mr. Steelbender.
May and Max took the Manaphy egg while Ash holds off the Phantom’s right-hand man, Galen. Somehow, the Phantom was able to catch up to May and Max and entered an embarrassing struggle.
Dude, you just chucked an enormous boulder a minute ago! How are these two shrimps putting you into a stalemate!?
So, they accidentally released the egg and May caught it just in time. And then the egg hatches into Manaphy, in the most glowy fashion possible. It’s like we’re witnessing the birth of a Disney princess or the second coming of Jesus Christ.
So the first thing Manaphy does is cry like a real baby. How wonderful. And just like that, the conflict had seemingly defused and everyone managed to escape after Jackie dealt with the Phantom. They took off in the trailer towards the mountains. Yeah… I don’t think they’re going to be safe from helicopters!
NO! FOCUS! This is a Pokémon movie! There’s no enjoyment to be had here!
And true enough, we get a trailer-helicopter high-speed chase. A wishy-washy one at that.
Finally… Actual Plot
Deeper into the mountains, we see Team Rocket again, who are now for some reason back in their respective bodies. And by coincidence, “our heroes” and Lizabeth’s family entered the same area.
The group enters a set of ruins, while the Phantom is not too far behind. And apparently, Lizabeth’s family possess mystical artifacts capable of advanced technology. Like using bracelets to reveal magical symbols on the wall, then rotating the symbol like it’s a touch screen.
Who knows. Maybe these People of the Water are actually wizards from the lost city of Atlantis. That’s probably as much background we’ll get from that.
“Our heroes” find an altar deep in the ruins, showing a stained window depicting a temple. Lizabeth’s family revealed that temple is Samiya, the Sea Temple of legend. And deep within the temple is the magical MacGuffin known as the Sea Crown. As a precaution, the temple endlessly floats across the sea and blends in with the water, making it near impossible to find. Only a lunar eclipse will reveal the temple.
The family also revealed that the species known as Manaphy has an innate ability to find the temple, which is why the Phantom wanted to capture him.
So 40 minutes into the movie, we got our plot. We could’ve gotten there sooner, but I guess that Team Rocket burglary scene was too important to cut out.
Speaking of which, Team Rocket encounter the Phantom and his crew, offering their services to him. The Phantom was all, “Yeah, whatever. Put ’em to work,” and just pimps out on his helicopter.
The Phantom deduces that the family is going to search for Samiya using Manaphy. And he and his crew will ambush them there.
But… here’s the thing… why would the family go to the Sea Temple anyway? As long as the family has the only Manaphy in the area, the Phantom won’t be able to get the Sea Crown. So if they go reveal the location of the temple, then they’ll just end up helping their enemy. And that’s stupid.
…Also, didn’t we just get an explanation that the temple is impossible to find without specific conditions? How the hell is the Phantom going to find the right spot to ambush the family anyway?
And…. yeah. That’s pretty much what happens. Jackie, deciding that “our heroes” had done enough, continued to escort the family while leaving behind Ash and friends. As the family departs on a boat with Manaphy on board, Ash and friends feel understandably disappointed. But Manaphy throws a tantrum and plays a little trick on everyone. It swapped the minds of Ash and Jackie, forcing the family to turn back.
Apparently, this body-swap move is Heart Swap, which is NOT what the move actually does in the games. And it wears off in a while, which is how Team Rocket got back to normal earlier. There goes the anime again, making up its own rules to suit the story.
So once again, “our heroes” are back in their little adventure. Well… Jackie’s little talk with them just a while ago was pointless, wasn’t it?
Why does it feel like we’re approaching the movie’s final act already? We’re not even halfway done with the runtime.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
D’aww. I mean, damn it, movie! Stop making me feel!
So right as Ash and friends bond with Manaphy, Lizabeth and her family explain that they must release Manaphy out to sea and allow him to live out his life. Not even that long after hatching and the baby must grow up already. Oops.
So May releases Manaphy and everyone follows him. The boat transforms into an oddly-shaped submarine.
Wow. This movie’s CGI is so bad that it somehow made a submarine look like a giant turd floating in the sea. I can’t make this shit up. Couldn’t they choose a different color aside from this brownish-red?
Damn it, movie! Stop being cute!
Alright, I’ll admit something. The movie’s beginning was painfully slow and felt like it took forever to get to the actual plot. But now that our characters are out at sea, the whole “excitement and wonder” tone actually felt right at home here. For the first time, the movie felt like it had a real direction to go to.
It’s too bad the foundation was rough and shaky at best. In fact, we only have a plot now because “our heroes” just so happen to be at the right place at the right time… again. Like always.
Yeah, remember when Lizabeth’s family mentioned a lunar eclipse that would make the Sea Temple visible? Well, there just so happens to be one approaching soon.
What is with the Pokémon world and convenient celestial events taking place in a short time period? If Ash Ketchum ever turns 12 in the anime series, the planets would have aligned, Halley’s Comet would appear in the night sky twice, the sun would explode, several stars would collapse into black holes, and five alternate dimensions would be discovered.
And… yeah, things suddenly fall into place. Lizabeth’s family now has a convenient excuse to go find the Sea Temple, despite the fact that a certain pirate is still hunting them down. And all they have for their escort is an athlete who doesn’t own any Pokémon himself and some pre-teens with too much luck on their side.
So with wondrous sights abound, we suddenly get a backstory on Jackie on why he became a Pokémon Ranger—which is basically kind of a short retelling of the anime episode Snow Way Out! You know, the one where Ash and friends got trapped in a blizzard while crossing a mountain.
Nice scene and backstory and all, but… what bearing does it have on the movie at all?
And that’s the odd thing about Jack Walker here. You’d think he’d have a major presence in Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea since he had that cringy prologue earlier. But now, he just comes across as a run-of-the-mill supporting character whose importance dissolved as soon as Ash and company enter the story. If the actual “Pokémon Ranger” part was its own separate entity, I’d think this scene would resonate better.
I will admit that this one segment where Ash and May diving underwater was a pretty chill scene. This is the one time in the movie where I felt that the CGI actually worked to the movie’s favor. And it was accompanied by some nice acoustic background music.
Argh, damn it. Fine.
So by far the strong point of Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is the relationship between May and Manaphy. It’s actually quite believable and the movie invests a few scenes to the two just having cute, heartfelt interactions.
Even in the scene afterwards, May shows concern of Manaphy getting possibly lost out in sea and watches over him like a concerned mother. And this leads in to an actually pretty good conflict.
May accidentally walks into Ash and Jackie talking about separating May from Manaphy. The reason is that the two are getting too close, and Manaphy may never want to leave May. Therefore, Manaphy probably won’t fulfill his destiny as the ruling Pokémon of the Sea Temple.
So May has to deal with the harsh reality that she may have to cut ties with Manaphy, for his own good and the good of the Sea Temple.
Oh my god. There’s actual relatability here. I thought I wouldn’t see that in these movies again.
So… we just got past the one-hour mark. Over 40 minutes left! Oh… joy… WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO LONG!
The Night of the Eclipse
So just in case you forgot that Team Rocket is in this movie, well, here they are as janitors for the Phantom. They’re plotting to stab the Phantom in the back and take the treasure for themselves, so I guess they’re just freeloading the submarine ride here. And then they leave a couple of bad jokes for us to ponder.
Meowth: Hey, guys, the ol’ treasure meter is goin’ off the charts!
James: It won’t be long now. We’ll clean up in more ways than one.
Jessie: That old crusty crab thinks he’s so smart, when we’re the ones poised to pocket those diamonds and pearls!
Meowth: Hey, that sounds like a good name for a game!
Wow, that last joke is so forced…
I mean, I get it. They’re leaving a cute little reference to the games Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, which the English localization actually come out a month after the English localization of this movie.
But the setup comes out of nowhere and this is also the only time a joke like this would make sense in context, because… what other games in existence do you know called themselves “Diamonds and Pearls?“ It sounds like a boring competitor to Bejeweled or Candy Crush.
So the night of the lunar eclipse approaches soon. Out of instinct presumably, Manaphy starts singing.
Max: Hear that? That’s Manaphy singing!
Thanks, brainiac! I would be totally lost without your Pokémon “expertise!” Really, what is up with characters in the anime stating the painfully obvious?
The singing entranced everyone on the boat, as well as many local water Pokémon. May and Lizabeth were also watching. At that moment, Lizabeth decided to gift May with her bracelet, which she referred to as the People of the Water’s Mark.
And the next morning…. mindless cutesiness ensues—which seems to be a staple of these Hoenn movies. May ended up losing her bandana to the wind and somehow got carried off by water Pokémon. Manaphy follows it in an attempt to retrieve it for her.
However, Manaphy didn’t come back for a while and “our heroes” and Lizabeth go searching for him. May blames herself for ignoring Manaphy, though Lizabeth reassures her it wasn’t her fault. Unfortunately, the Phantom was also nearby, somehow tracking Manaphy’s location—we’ll never get an explanation for that, will we?
But don’t worry! Be happy! Manaphy’s fine, and look! He found the bandana!
…And then shit happens.
“Our heroes” got caught up in a rip current, which ended up cutting off communication from Lizabeth’s family. Furthermore, the Phantom follows close by. But somehow, Manaphy and Lizabeth’s submarine vanish into the ocean.
The lunar eclipse begins and the Sea Temple appears. And despite being underwater, the temple seems to have a barrier that repels water from the inside. Well, that’s nice and convenient. Hopefully, we don’t have to go solve a bunch of puzzles that involves constantly switching into steel boots.
We remember this infamy, Nintendo. We never forget.
The Sinking of Atlantis
So “our heroes” venture deeper into the Sea Temple, learning that Manaphy’s song has some power to open passages. But of course, ol’ Captain Beltbeard is also in the area as he erupts into a giddy evil laugh.
Is this “movie” really just an extended Saturday morning cartoon all along?
And as the Phantom vanishes into the temple, Team Rocket crawls out of the submarine, leaving us with yet another game reference.
James: Diamonds and pearls…
Meowth: Let’s get through dis season foist…
Ha. Ha ha. Ha.
“Our heroes” come across a door with a marble inscription. Before they could figure out what it says, the Phantom walks in and gloats that he could read it.
The Phantom: I warn you. Even if you were all to attack me at once, you wouldn’t stand a chance!
Oh yeah? Then what was that shit earlier in the movie, where you couldn’t snatch an egg from two kids?
Also, Ash has his Pikachu with him right now. All the Phantom has with him is a Chatot. Just zap them! Put his body into paralysis! Just… DO SOMETHING, YOU MORONS!
Or, you know… stand around like dumbasses as he gloats. Like you always do. Whatever, I’m used to it. Just keep being stupid.
The Phantom takes out his own People of the Water’s Mark and uses it on the door, which reveals a hallway. Everyone races for the Sea Crown.
Meanwhile, the lunar eclipse ends, almost as soon as it begun. The Sea Temple is once again cloaked in the dark water.
The Phantom: Remember, there are two types of men in this world of ours: those who look good with rare jewels and those who do not. For my money, the Sea Crown and I are a match in the heavens above! Mwa ha ha ha!
Oh, shut up. You’re not even remotely clever or funny. You’re about as transparent as the Iron Masked Marauder in Voice of the Forest.
Then everyone enters the chamber of where the Sea Crown lies, which is actually an enormous set of crystals. The Phantom yanks one of the crystals out while “our heroes” just stands around without putting up a fight.
…You know, I just realized something. There’s little to no battling in this movie. Why? Did OLM use up their budget on this “cutting edge” CGI, so they couldn’t animate any battle scenes? Is that why Ash and friends are doing NOTHING to stop Cap’n Crunch from becoming the King of the Seas or some shit?
So naturally, the climax is just around the corner. Because our dumbass heroes didn’t stop the Phantom, the Sea Temple begins to flood. Once again, it becomes visible in the water as the cavalry (who is just Jackie) is coming over to assist them.
You know, he really should be crushed by that amount of water pressure for being so deep underwater. But you know… PokéPhysics is never consistent.
But here’s the real kicker about this whole scene. Lizabeth tells everyone to evacuate the area, but to leave the Phantom behind as he continues plucking the crystals out of the Sea Crown while the whole place floods. Ash looks back, growls and does nothing.
Holy shit. This is probably the most blatant example of “our heroes” not doing a thing I’ve ever seen. You know how in Dragon Ball Z, characters never seem to stop the villain as they enter their “final form?” It’s exactly like this. The character-induced stupidity is just astounding. It speaks for itself.
So “our heroes” flee like the chickenshits they are, and Jackie just so happens to be there in time. While everyone goes back to the submarine, Jackie stays behind to deal with the Phantom himself. Before the Phantom disassembles the entire Sea Crown, Jackie makes a fool out of him (not that the Phantom really needed any help with that anyway). Jackie manages to reassemble most of the Sea Crown, but then he and the Phantom fall into the water with the last crystal.
Wow. It’s like the Great Bay Temple in Majora’s Mask. Is this movie advertising for that game too?
And like a dumbass, the Phantom loses the final crystal to the water. Wonderful.
But just as “our heroes” were getting ready to set sail, Manaphy decided to stay behind in an attempt to save the Sea Temple. Ash and May follow him into the Sea Crown’s chamber, where Manaphy is attempting to finish the Sea Crown.
But alas, one crystal is somewhere out there. And the situation grows worse by the second, as the temple’s floors submerge in water.
The Phantom attempts to escape with his submarine. But thanks to Team Rocket’s screw-ups, they all get carried away by the flood. But somehow, the Phantom had one last trick up his sleeve: there is a smaller vessel attached to his submarine.
With the Sea Temple appearing to be a lost cause, Ash and May search for a way out. But because they’re among the luckiest kids in the world, they found the final piece of the Sea Crown along the way, so they only need to finish assembling it to stop the flooding. They also find an escape pod. Tch. Wonderful! The lucky coincidences just keep on coming!
But Ash decided to leave May, Manaphy and Pikachu inside the escape pod while he tries to finish the Sea Crown. Cuz why not, I guess. This wouldn’t be a Pokémon movie if Ash Ketchum didn’t get his Big, Damn Hero moment.
I guess the rest of Ash’s Pokémon are going to remain in Poké Ball stasis underwater for the rest of their lives. Ooh… and if water leaks in…
Oh, and if he fails and May stays inside the pod for too long, locked in… the lack of oxygen would set in. Well… stakes raised.
Apparently, Ash has amazing parkour skills as he manages to run and hop across narrow platforms perfectly without falling into the water. You’d think these platforms would be a bit slippery, but nah. Ash the Parkour Expert could handle it. So he managed to enter the flooded chamber with the crystal but ran into some… difficulties…
Uhh… well, you see it here, folks! a 10/11-year old child just drowned! Dark.
Ha ha, no. Apparently, Manaphy has the ability of… telepathy… hydropathy…? I have no idea but somehow he was able to channel May’s prayers to Ash, which just snaps him out of being unconscious UNDERWATER. I was wondering when “psychic powuhz” would actually factor in the plot. That was what this Pokémon movie was missing all along! My movie experience is complete.
And… I just realized something. Doesn’t Ash have a fucking Corphish? You know, a WATER Pokémon with pincers? Why didn’t he use it to help him retrieve the last crystal while it’s deep underwater?
Ah, hindsight. Too bad the anime rarely acknowledges Ash’s stupidity.
Everybody, Super Sonic Racing!
So yeah… through the power of friendship, Ash suddenly wakes up, goes up to get some air, immediately goes back underwater to retrieve the final crystal and completes the Sea Crown. Use Corphish, you dumbass…
And this causes all of the water to leave the Sea Temple. Also…
Right the fuck out of nowhere, the legendary Pokémon Kyogre enters the movie.
I guess since Kyogre was the only member of the weather trio who had yet to make an appearance in the Pokémon movies, let’s just throw him in a movie about a sea temple because… why not.
Oh, and the Sea Temple just rises out of the water, even though it was completely submerged before the Phantom took the Sea Crown apart. Oh, and there also needed to be a lunar eclipse for the temple to actually appear… but there isn’t one now, so… sure. Whatever. The movie is almost over, mercifully.
May gets out of her escape pod and contemplates if Ash had died in the temple. But then the Phantom appears and grabs Manaphy. And he has a jet ski now. Well…
Oh, but we’re not done yet. Oh, no. We haven’t gotten to the Crowning Moment of Bullshit just yet. After all, what is a Pokémon movie… if Ash Ketchum wasn’t the hero who saved the day?
Ash emerges out of the water… as Super Sonic. Ah-ha. Ha ha. Ha ha! HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!
So, let’s recap. Thus far in the Pokémon movies…
- Ash was considered a competent enough trainer to be a part of the very small selection of elite trainers to face Mewtwo, specifically picked by Mewtwo himself. Despite Ash having a team of mostly un-evolved Pokémon.
- Ash just so happens to be the Chosen One to protect the world from ruin, right when a rich man with a giant airship pisses off some legendary birds. Ash was at the right place at the right time to stop this catastrophe.
- Ash saved the life of one of the world’s leading Pokémon researchers (Samuel Oak) as a kid, as well as inspired him to create the Pokédex, one of the most important research tools in the world.
- Ash and his friends are somehow lucky enough to witness a comet and meet the legendary Jirachi, who only wakes up once every 1,000 years.
- Ash just so happens to possess aura similar to that of a legendary hero, Sir Aaron. This could mean that Ash is the hero’s reincarnation. So if he really wanted to, Ash could train in aura manipulation.
- Ash became the King of the Sea using the Sea Crown, which allows him to fly like Super Sonic.
This kid is the ultimate Mary Sue in Pokémon canon. It’s no wonder Pokémon fan fiction is crawling with these types of characters. Ugh…
So, we get a very siilly-looking chase sequence where Ash zips around the water while the Phantom avoid him on his jet ski. And you might be wondering why Kyoge is in this movie.
Basically, to make the Phantom feel like a fish out of water. How pointlessly simple.
So Ash managed to snatch Manaphy from the Phantom. Then the Phantom summons his pirate crew for assistance and launches a high-frequency soundwave that hurts the nearby water Pokémon. Manaphy sings, which reverts them all back to normal. And so, the Phantom prepares for the biggest assfuck of his piracy career.
The water Pokémon tear the submarine apart and Kyogre FIRES ITS LAZOR to destroy it.
Fuck. That’s actually pretty cool.
Also, we get one last bit of annoying dialogue from the Phantom.
The Phantom: There are two types of men in this world: those who are completely crushed and those who do the crushing!
Noo… there are two types of men in the world: those who talk too much and those who know WHEN TO SHUT THE FUCK UP!
So the Phantom got a taste of his own medicine and the day is saved once again, thanks to Ash Ketchum. Well, fuck you too, movie. You just couldn’t resist shoving him into the spotlight once again.
Now let’s invite EVERYONE to be Super Sonic!
I have no words. Except… NEXT!
So, yeah. From what I understand, this is the extent of the Sea Crown’s lame powers. The Phantom spent his life searching for this treasure. Though it supposed makes you the King of the Sea or some crap, all we see it do is make the Sea Temple float and make people float. Not exactly a world-ending power, but… I guess the Phantom wanted to be Peter Pan or something.
But at least through all that silliness, we get one final heartwarming scene with May and Manaphy. Manaphy actually said, “Love you, May” and “Love you, Mommy.”
Cue epilogue with pleasant rock song. Jackie completes his job as a Pokémon Ranger, Team Rocket somehow survived the whole incident despite being carried away underwater, the Phantom and his crew are in jail and “our heroes” said goodbye to the secondary characters before continuing the journey that never ends.
So that was Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea. It’s… surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. This movie definitely has some glaring flaws that prevented it from being particularly good. While I think the story is more consistent than that of Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, it still takes its sweet time to actually get to the plot and can be pretty damn boring. If anything, I felt that the first half of the movie needed to be trimmed.
For example, why do we need to pointlessly include Team Rocket in every flick without giving them an actual role? Are they just contractually required to be in every Pokémon movie, even if their purpose is to annoy us for a few minutes?
The secondary characters are quite forgettable and the Phantom is a run-of-the-mill Pokémon movie villain who’s just there to be the bad guy. The dub’s attempt to give him a catchphrase backfired; instead, we’re going to remember him as that one pirate villain in a Pokémon movie. Not really a good way to remember him by.
The new voice talent by Pokémon USA (also known as PUSA) was… questionable, at best. Generally, they do sound like lower-budget actors with less passion in their voiceovers. Ash Ketchum’s in particular sounded off, as if he got a sore throat. Remember that one scene in Disney’s Mulan where the titular character tried to act masculine?
Yeah. Only this time, it wasn’t played for comedy’s sake. But seeing as how voice actress Sarah Natochenny was starting out around this time and she continues to voice Ash Ketchum’s English dub to this day, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope her performance improves over the future movies.
Interestingly, I saw criticism of Manaphy due to its high-pitched voice. I guess at this point, I was used to the high-pitched, annoying voices in Pokémon movies since there are quite a few legendary Pokémon with such a voice (Mew, Celebi, Latios, Latias, Jirachi). It didn’t annoy me that much but I can see how someone screaming, “Mana! Mana!” can get grating at times. But then again, Regice from the previous movie annoyed the shit out of me…
CGI? Heh. I don’t think that’s ever a strong point in these movies. I’m just waiting to see the worst example.
So if there’s anything decent about Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, it’s that May and Manaphy have a genuinely sweet mother-child type of relationship. Yes, it strongly parallels Max and Jirachi in Jirachi Wish Maker. However, the problem I had with that movie was that Max’s role was forced and he came across as an unlikable, selfish brat. He didn’t really do much with the spotlight given to him.
While May’s importance in Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea was a teeny, tiny bit forced, hers is more plausible. For one, she was the person who held the egg just as Manaphy hatched, so it makes sense that Manaphy would consider her to be his mother. May was genuinely moved by this, so she accepted this role as Manaphy’s mother.
As a result, May actually feels like an important character in this movie, compared to Max previously. So, who knows. Maybe that one commenter has a point about May having good character development in the anime series. It’s too bad the movie’s climax kinda downplays her role in favor of making Ash the hero of the day.
I mean, seriously? Ash barely has a presence in the movie and we’re letting him save everyone? AGAIN?
I have a suggestion. If you’re going to roll with this silly Super Sonic action sequence towards the end anyway, why not give it to May instead? Have her, one of the real stars of this movie, save her beloved Manaphy instead of Ash. That one little change would make her into a stronger character, as well as make that one scene less eye-rolling. Even during movies where he’s not as important, he somehow pulls through because he’s the protagonist. I mean, I’m honestly getting sick of Ash Ketchum being the hero when he had several friends helping him throughout his journey. Why not get them to play the hero every once in a while? It would be sure as hell refreshing.
So that is all the Advanced Generation movies. It certainly took me a while to get through them (mainly due to the hiatus), and it was one hell of a trip. Altogether, these four movies showed a noticeable dip in quality compared to the original movie series. If you’re willing to watch these movies (because you’re probably a masochist), the best ones are Lucario and the Mystery of Mew and Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea.
So next up is the four Diamond & Pearl movies. I think this is around the point where I stopped watching Pokémon movies when I was a kid, so most of them will be a first viewing for me.
So, yeah. Surprises all abound. I’m ready to embrace the fourth generation of stupidity.
Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea$6.70
- The animation is decent at times, mainly the digital 2D animation.
- The second half of the story is better paced and had more interesting scenes.
- The orchestral and acoustic background music are generally fitting for a movie about searching for a lost temple.
- The main highlight of the movie is the mother-child relationship between May and Manaphy, which is a genuinely sweet relationship.
- The CGI is pretty bad in this particular movie, as it sticks out like a sore thumb.
- An oddly generic villain despite his strange character design.
- The first half of the movie is slowly paced and has quite a few uninteresting, pointless scenes.
- The bizarre lack of fight scenes. Why doesn't Ash and co. send their Pokémon out while they're in danger?