What is there to say about Generation III that hasn’t already been said?
I’m serious. I have two more movies after this one set in the Hoenn region and I already have no idea how I’m going to open these reviews from now on.
From a personal standpoint, this is the point where my intimate knowledge (as well as, I’m assuming, the knowledge of many others my age) stops. It was pretty clear that the show was going to go on forever without actually going anywhere, the new characters were unpopular with fans, the beloved characters were beginning to get flanderized to the point of parody, and if people continued to focus on the series it was generally due to the games rather than the anime. Also, third grade was really hard you guys, I didn’t have the time to waste it on cartoons.
Destiny Deoxys is also the final movie that I remember watching as a kid, which means it’s uncharted territory from here on out, folks. But I suppose the time is right to go down memory lane one last time.
After an unnecessary opening involving showcasing lots of Pokemon through bad CGI, the film proper begins in the not-too-distant future, as a meteor is about to crash into the Pokemon world. As a group of scientists performs research in one of the polar regions, a young child is seen playing with the local wildlife.
This kid is Tory (Tara Jayne), better known as “literally every white haired teenager in an anime ever”.
Tory is the child of the expedition’s leader, Professor Lund (Sean Schemmel), and his life is about to suck.
Nevermind the fact that an asteroid that size crashing into the planet would most likely cause a worldwide extinction event. Sensing the error in astronomy or whatever science this miniscule detail would fall under, the Pokemon begin to stampede, with Tory in the middle of the rampage as though he’s in a Mario Party minigame. The professor and his assistant Yuko (Rachael Lillis) manage to save him, but before they can hightail it the hell out of there, the alien Pokemon Deoxys emerges from the wreckage.
Deoxys is an interesting villain. It’s essentially a blank slate, showcasing no emotion or motive and bringing only destruction. This trope is fairly common in media, and it can either be very interesting (like in Battle Royale) or very boring (like in Battle Royale during future rereads).
For those of you that haven’t played the games, Deoxys’ main gimmick is its specialized forms, which Wikipedia tells me was dependent on the game cartridge at the time of this movie’s release. Since this is real life and not some video game, the different appearances are conveyed through Deoxys outright turning its limbs into Play-Doh and changing like the world’s most twisted Animorph.
This is demonstrated through the introduction of Rayquaza (here pronounced as Ray-Quay-Zah instead of Ray-Quah-Zah for some reason), who sees Deoxys’ meteor joy ride as an attack on its territory.
This is about all that Rayquaza does in this entire movie.
After a battle between the two legends that no doubt results in the deaths of dozens of researchers, Rayquaza unleashes a Hyper Beam on its opponent and Deoxys retreats into a gem-
-and the scientists take a green rock found at the crash site back with them for experimentation, because apparently The Thing does not exist in the Pokemon universe.
Four years later, we cut to their base of operations, located in LaRousse City. After the highly stylized and beautiful locales of the last couple of films, this movie takes place in a town based on… Vancouver.
Don’t get me wrong, it still looks fantastic, but it’s odd to see such a technologically influenced setting after the emphasis on natural beauty throughout the rest of the series. Maybe it’s because as an American the city just comes off as less foreign to me than it would to a Japanese audience.
That said, the area isn’t any less fantastic as the city’s pretty much dependent on its robotics, as evidenced by the security robots going around and the requirement for inhabitants to use their passports for pretty much anything. Hell, now that I think about it it’s not that different from a modern college campus.
There’s a lot of supporting trainers in this movie and they’re all introduced at the same time, but in short Rafe (Sebastian Arcelus) is a jerk, Sid (Matthew Charles) is comic, Rebecca (Lisa Oritz) is smart, the twins (Rebecca Honig) are young and Andrey isn’t here. Everyone is drawn to the city because of the Battle Tower (despite the fact that the Battle Frontier is better), and this gives us a wide variety of personalities to deal with.
We also get some comic relief in the form of a Plusle, Minun, and Munchlax, even though the latter isn’t supposed to debut for another three or four years. They’ll become important later. Or maybe they’re just here to appear in advertising and look cute. We’ll see.
Ash naturally gets lost because the building doesn’t have any maps clearly marked, and ends up running into Tory at the library. It’s clear that Tory is uncomfortable around Pikachu but since Ash seems insistent on invading his personal space as much as possible I’d probably feel unnerved too.
Ash chases Tory into a nearby hallway and due to wacky shenanigans with computers they’re both entered in the Battle Tower tournament as a team so that the showrunners can show off these fancy new double battles that the game had introduced. Despite the fact that the infrastructure, economy, and social structure of this universe are all based off of Pokemon, Tory does not have anything to fight with, and although Ash lends him one of his own they lose horribly.
You see, the childhood incident that we saw in the prologue caused Tory to have a crippling fear of Pokemon, which isn’t that far-fetched when you think about it because if Pokemon existed in real life they’d be friggin’ terrifying. If I came across a foot-tall rodent that could easily kill me with electricity if it wanted to I’d be freaked out as well.
After hearing about this terrible phobia, Ash immediately comes to the conclusion that the solution to this problem is exposure therapy. Attempts to get Tory to accept the generation three electric mouse pokemon go poorly, and everyone else tries a much more reasonable method of keeping the Pokemon at a bit of a distance.
This leads to our obligatory pop song coupled with images of the team’s Pokemon playing, and to be honest, it’s not all that bad. The scene is sweet but not diabetes-inducing, and the song, despite being generic pop, is actually somewhat enjoyable. While the entire sequence is clearly included for the sake of padding out the film’s length, it doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time.
It’s around this point that Deoxys, having regenerated, shows up at LaRousse and shows off the film’s budget by casting an aurora effect over the entire city even though it’s broad daylight. For some reason only Rebecca seems to think this is odd, which is why she’s the white girl that survives the horror movie.
Touched by the cheery montage, Tory invites the entire crew to the city’s greenhouse to meet his only friend, a pallette-swap of one of the Evangelion enemies.
They’re no real need for this character except as a plot device, even though it does kinda show how pathetic Tory is. It’s not a terrible effect, but it is clearly out of place, although I’ll let it slide for reasons that will be clear later.
While this is going on, Deoxys has been making copies of itself and literally stealing people in what I can only assume is a Youtube prank gone horribly wrong. This is bad for tourism, so the Professor orders the town to be evacuated, a verdict that is missed by Ash and co. as they are busy experiencing Tory’s delusions.
Rayquaza also shows up, having realized that these damn whippersnappers won’t learn a lesson if they don’t get a whuppin’. However, Deoxys demonstrates the strategy of anyone that has actually learned to play a fighting game and puts up a shield, namely an enormous one that encompasses the entire city.
Having realized that something is amiss, the group goes outside to see a city in chaos and Deoxys continuing to prank anything with a pulse. Most of the named characters manage to hide in the nearby laboratory, but Sid is taken by the hoard.
It’s around this point that the movie shifts its tone from “adventure” to “survival horror”. And it’s a bit of a welcome change, if I’m being honest. The past three films had all fallen into the pattern of the team meeting a friendly (that is, marketable) legendary, and having one that’s presented as a legitimate threat brings a greater sense of tension to the forefront. Hell, they even address the whole supplies issue, given that the main power grid is down.
In a slightly related manner, the fact that they have no power allows them to really enforce a sense of world-building, since apparently Pokeballs utilize centralized power (don’t ask me how that works). The constant presence of the Pokemon as a result of them requires the writers to actually use them somewhat, and as a result the end product feels like it legitimately takes place in the Pokemon world, rather than being a generic action movie that just so happens to involve Pokemon.
Also this means that there’s just a Blaziken running around with everyone else and I think that’s hilarious.
Back on track, our leads are trapped in the lab with the comedic relief trio mentioned earlier when they realize that their immediate concerns are moving further down on the hierarchy of needs. A few of them are sent out to get food, but for the most part this results in Minun and one of the food dispensers getting abducted.
This actually results in a bit of an epiphany, as the Deoxys clones abandon the machine once it runs out of power, leading to the realization that the abductions are being caused by the alien’s reliance on electric currents to see.
That night, the clones attack again, and the characters are forced to retreat into the basement of the lab because they’ve never seen a horror movie. It’s here where the scientists have decided to keep the crystal taken from the meteor at the beginning of the film, and Yuko explains that it actually contains another Deoxys.
This conversation triggers the necessary event flag, and the crystal produces a mini-aurora similar to the ones seen earlier.
Fortunately Rebecca majored in ridiculous made-up languages, and the party is able to determine that Deoxys Prime is using the lights to look for its friend, who for the sake of clarity will be called Frank from this point onward. However, the force field has completely cut off both the primary and secondary sources of power, thus rendering the revival impossible.
Naturally, this means that the team is going to go out and talk to Deoxys because it’s totally shown signs of understanding, and this predictably ends in disaster as Rafe is kidnapped and Rayquaza manages to break through the barrier by attacking its weak point. In its pursuit of the alien, it ends up crashing into a ton of buildings and causing more property damage than anything else in the movie.
The upside to this issue is that it leads the primary characters to the makeshift prison. Through the combined power of shocking things, our protagonists are able to break all of the prisoners out of the tower and the people and Pokemon are able to use unorthodox means to start up the city’s wind turbines. It’s like a Monkey Island puzzle only even more convoluted.
Despite this power surge, the equipment doesn’t have enough juice to actually work, so our heroes decide to do what they should have been doing this whole time and use the creatures that produce electricity to supply energy, thus allowing for the machine to work. I don’t know why they didn’t do this before, as the machine was clearly working in the movie’s intro, but whatever.
Frank is successfully resuscitated and immediately takes Tory and Ash on a flight, thus reminding everyone of the exact same thing happening in 4Ever and triggering the audience’s fight or flight response. They manage to stop Deoxys from actively killing Rayquaza, and we get another special effects shot before Rayquaza starts to fight back.
This is where the movie starts getting stupid.
Since you can’t have the primary forces continue to fight now that they’ve both been proven to have good intentions, we need to introduce a new antagonist to add a sense of urgency and tension to the conclusion. This comes in the form of the city’s security robots, led by the emcee from Nintendoland. They’ve gone into overdrive thanks to the power surge, and have begun to swarm the Battle Tower to protect it from… something.
This means that we get a lot of shows of the city being swarmed by blocks, so I’m pretty sure that whoever wrote this movie had a traumatizing experience in their childhood involving Tetris.
Professor Lund informs them that the only way to stop the security bots is to use one of the passports on the leader so that it can be rebooted during processing (despite the loss of data), and Ash and Tory immediately set off to save the day. Apparently they’re the only ones, too, given that they’re the only people shown to be affected by the attack despite the fact that the bots are supposed to be swarming the entire island.
Although this would normally be the place for an obligatory action-packed sequence where Ash rides the legendary to the rescue, all three are incapacitated. Rayquaza has been buried under all of the blocks due to a bad history with Geometry Wars, and the two Deoxys are preventing him from certain death through suffocation because if anyone kills Rayquaza it’s gonna be them.
Instead, Ash and Pikachu end up literally jumping from enemy robot to enemy robot, nevermind the fact that if they wait like thirty seconds somebody’s probably gonna send a flying type. Tory’s also able to save Plusle and Minun from certain death, thus proving that phobias stemming from severe trauma can be overcome in a single day. Needless to say, Ash ends up dropping his passport from the heights he’s reached, but Tory manages to toss up his and the evil is defeated.
Apparently, all of the damage caused by the events of the weekend, physical or otherwise, is easily fixed. The city is quickly repaired, Rayquaza seems to forgive the aliens, and Deoxys and Frank leave, presumably to pull pranks on other planets.
Ultimately, I’d have to say that Destiny Deoxys is actually a fairly decent movie. That is, up until the last fifteen minutes. Why they felt they couldn’t resolve a misunderstanding without bringing in a completely new threat is beyond me. But other than that it does a fantastic job of worldbuilding. Most of the characters feel like they’re there to actually accomplish something rather than saying an obligatory line; generally a concept with which the franchise had previously struggled.
Additionally, the film’s sense of setting is great, particularly given the one-off location. It is kind of funny how they had the legendary Pokemon in this movie considering that they have nothing to do with each other in the lore of the games, but they make it work. All in all, I think that this strikes a good balance for a franchise film: It’s good enough that you can get legitimate enjoyment from it, but not so great that you feel bad for mocking it.