Destiny Deoxys Review

Although I use the English name of the movie and its characters, I was watching the Japanese version subtitled rather than the English dub while actually writing the review. Due to the notorious editing done by 4Kids, the dub is often vastly different from the original that I am reviewing, so keep that in mind even where I don't specifically mention the dub did something differently. If, by the way, I'm not using the correct official translation of some term or something, I'd appreciate a correction.

Thoughts and Synopsis

Ah, a Legendaries Randomly Fighting™ movie. We haven't had one of those in a while.

Destiny Deoxys starts with a "World of Pokémon" sequence where a narrator blabs on about the Pokémon world while various wild Pokémon are shown in their natural environment. Technically all the movies, or at least all the later ones, do - I just haven't thought it was noteworthy enough to talk about - but this one actually warrants comment, because it uses a whole bunch of CGI to render the Pokémon and their movements, and it looks extremely unnatural. The film is not off to a good start.

At least, the movie proper begins with a meteorite strike in the Arctic. The meteorite turns out to contain the extraterrestrial Pokémon Deoxys, as well as a mysterious green gem that Deoxys seems to care about. Within two minutes, Rayquaza has appeared to attack Deoxys, because apparently it is intruding on its territory. (If you're thinking, "Wait, Rayquaza lives in the Arctic now?", so am I; and if, as many interpreted it, the Rayquaza's territory is the entire atmosphere, I can only wonder why it isn't running off fighting everything that flies.) They fight for a little while; eventually Rayquaza manages to Hyper Beam Deoxys at close range, effectively dissolving its entire body and sending the blue gem in the middle of its chest flying into the ocean as Rayquaza leaves, satisfied that it has destroyed the intruder. Afterwards, a scientist named Professor Lund who was doing research in the area, his son Tory and his assistant Yuko bring the green gem (which is so totally not another Deoxys!) with them back to LaRousse City where they live to research it.

FOUR YEARS LATER, Professor Lund and Yuko are doing experiments on the green crystal, pointing a laser beam with a specific frequency at it in the hope that it will regenerate the Deoxys, but before it succeeds, the beam dies: there is not enough power to keep the beam going at that intensity for that long. Meanwhile, deep in the Arctic, the Deoxys that was destroyed four years ago emerges from underneath the ice, seemingly fine, and dramatically produces a purple aurora while Deoxys' leitmotif (which is pretty cool, by the way) plays ominously in the background.

Ash and Company, meanwhile, happen (of course) to be traveling to LaRousse City, mostly for the Battle Tower located in it. They are greeted by a welcoming robot (a "Block Bot") consisting of five independently moving, levitating blocks that speak and carry out functions like creating passports for everyone who enters the city. It turns out the whole city is similarly high-tech, featuring for instance huge conveyor belts with both fast and slow lanes all around the city for pedestrians, and just about everything is automated. On the way to the Battle Tower, they meet two trainers called Rafe and Sid as well as the pretty computer geek Rebecca, who will of course have an important role in the movie.

Once at the Battle Tower, Ash tries to ask a boy for directions. This is actually Professor Lund's son Tory, who seems oddly afraid of Pikachu. Ash doesn't pick up on his terrified screams at all, and he chases Tory around with Pikachu sitting ominously on his head all the way into a tag battle with Sid and Rafe; Tory does not get the opportunity to explain his situation and quit at any point as everything including registration for battles is completely automated. When the battle starts, Tory finally reveals to Ash that he doesn't have a Pokémon, and Ash ends up loaning him Torkoal. This fails miserably, as Tory just stands there being scared when Torkoal is attacked and has no idea about Pokémon attacks, and when Ash attempts to handle it himself, he just makes silly mistakes and loses quickly. As Ash and Tory exit the elevator after the battle, Professor Lund and Yuko arrive to congratulate him on having tried to take part in a Pokémon battle, but he cries that he entered by mistake and runs out, upset.

Professor Lund and Yuko explain things to the very confused Ash and company. Turns out that Tory has Poké-phobia: he was nearly trampled by a stampede of scared Sealeo and Walrein when the meteorite struck, and the experience traumatized him so much that, even though he likes Pokémon in theory, he is terrified of being close to them. Ash, naturally, immediately believes he can Fix It With Friendship: surely he and Pikachu can just make friends with Tory and everything will be okay, right?

Meanwhile, as Tory walks outside to sulk, he is approached by a Plusle seeking help for its Minun partner who has gotten stuck in one of the city's automatic trash cans. Despite his terror, Tory decides to help, eventually managing to pry the trash can open and free Minun. As the Pokémon attempt to thank him, however, he runs away again, retreating to an enclosed garden within the lab, where he has a special friend: a strange, sparkly green mist (which is totally not somehow the spirit of the green-gem Deoxys!) that plays with him and communicates with him by changing its shape. He excitedly tells it that he just helped out a Pokémon and entered a Pokémon battle. As Ash arrives to ask him who he's talking to, however, the green mist disappears and Tory refuses to tell him.

As this is happening, the blue-gem Deoxys arrives in the city and settles on the top of the highest spire it can find, producing a vivid display of aurora in the sky in broad daylight. Hmm. Apparently, however, nobody actually notices the Deoxys, and people just look at the aurora in amazement without doing anything about it.

Back to our heroes, Brock eventually suggests inviting Tory to eat with them, and a bunch of cute wild Pokémon (including eventually Plusle and Minun) come out to eat too. Ash, ever the hopeful type, is sure that Tory is perfectly cured of his fear by now (I mean, he's eaten with a guy who has a Pikachu!) and can go pet the wild Pokémon, but naturally getting rid of a phobia is not that easy and Tory runs off again.

That evening, the blue-gem Deoxys lands near a water fountain in the city and shoots beams at the escalators near it which make them fail. Then it makes another aurora, which the characters see again. Rebecca the pretty geek comments on the suspicious fact that they're, you know, nowhere near the north or south poles, but again, that's then simply dropped as Tory brings everybody Pokémon cookies. Then there is a long scene where all the Pokémon and kids play with one another while some silly pop song plays in the background, and my, this scene sounds familiar. Rebecca, meanwhile, sits on a bench doing something useful, namely analyzing the aurora patterns, since she has the sense to figure something interesting must be behind conspicuous aurora displays far away from the poles.

Anyway, the aurora eventually vanishes, the blue-gem Deoxys continues ominously shooting beams at things, and suddenly Rayquaza realizes Deoxys is back and rushes off to fight it. If you're thinking, "Wait, didn't Rayquaza live in the Arctic at the beginning of this movie?", so am I. Well, actually, it seems to be flying quite a long way, so maybe it just noticed the commotion in LaRousse even from the Arctic through its magical powers of perception or something, but seeing as, you know, the reason Rayquaza had anything against Deoxys in the first place was that apparently it was intruding on its "territory", it is still quite mystifying why it is making a big deal of Deoxys being down on the ground somewhere way off in LaRousse. Maybe it's just still holding a major grudge because Deoxys hurt it in that battle four years ago, in which case Rayquaza is one seriously petty sky-snake thing.

Meanwhile, Tory is talking to Ash about the progress they've made and explaining that he's always been a loner because he couldn't be around anyone who had Pokémon. He makes a brave attempt to touch Pikachu, but then Ash's Corphish jumps startlingly in front of Pikachu demanding attention and Tory is back to square one. Well, almost. The next day, Tory actually willingly introduces everyone to his friend the sparkly green mist who is totally not the green-gem Deoxys. Rebecca analyzes it with her laptop, intrigued. Meanwhile, however, Rayquaza arrives in the city, and the blue-gem Deoxys flies out to meet it. On the way, it fires more strange beams down at the conveyor belts, which promptly go berserk. Professor Lund, worried that the upcoming battle between Deoxys and Rayquaza will have civilian casualties, orders an evacuation of the city, which begins to be carried out by the Block Bots. Professor Lund is mistakenly carried out of town with everyone else by the largely automated evacuation, unable to help the main characters directly from here on.

Deoxys mysteriously sends a bunch of clones of itself that begin to pick up humans and Pokémon alike, taking them off to God knows where, and meanwhile the real one shifts into its Defense Forme and creates a huge dome-shaped barrier around the city to prevent Rayquaza from getting in. This stops the wind from outside from getting in, too, and thus all of the city's power-generating windmills come to a halt and the power of the entire city goes down. By this time most of the city's inhabitants have escaped, but several are left, including all the named human characters in this movie except Professor Lund, who finds this out while observing the passport records with Officer Jenny (shut up! She doesn't count as a named human character! <_<). It is now impossible to enter or exit the city, everything is down including the Pokéball system (which makes it lucky that several of the main characters sent out at least one Pokémon earlier to introduce to the sparkly green mist), and there is no way of communicating with the outside world.

Ash and company (which here includes Tory, Sid, Rafe, Rafe's two annoying little sisters who have no significance whatsoever and Rebecca) have to force their way out of the lab, which cannot be opened normally with the power down. The Deoxys copies kidnap Sid and his Blastoise and are swarming around the exit they were going to use; Rebecca suggests they try to take another exit, which they go to look for (and meet Yuko on the way), but they end up stuck in a cellar with none of their Pokéballs working. Outside, while more Deoxys clones carry off all the wild Pokémon in the area, Plusle, Minun and a Munchlax that's been providing some comic relief here and there in the movie crawl into a sewage pipe and eventually find their way into that same cellar.

As night falls, most of the Deoxys clones seem to be gone, and Ash, Brock, Rebecca, Tory and Rafe deem it safe to exit to try to find some food and water. Plusle and Minun follow them, wanting to be with Tory. They find one of the city's many automated hotdog dispensers, which doesn't work thanks to the power failure, but Pikachu comes to the rescue with a Thundershock that gets it shooting hotdogs all over the place. Then a couple of Deoxys clones come along, and one of them captures Minun, prompting Tory to unthinkingly reach out to grab it - unfortunately, however, he doesn't reach it in time, and they have to run for a place to hide, where they conveniently find boxes full of water bottles to go with all the hotdogs. Plusle is sad, and again, Tory very nearly reaches out to comfort it, but still can't do it.

Meanwhile, Rebecca and Rafe are watching the Deoxys clones to scientifically analyze what they are doing. Turns out they're taking all the people and Pokémon to a particular building. Astonished, they also watch one of the Deoxys clones carrying the hotdog dispenser from earlier (which is all the while wiggling its "legs" and repeating "Please cease your violence!", in one of the most amusing moments of the movie) but suddenly dropping it when the limited power Pikachu's Thundershock gave it runs out. Hmm.

Everyone gets back to their cellar, and the next morning, as Rebecca and Yuko are trying to figure out the meaning of Rebecca's data together, the Deoxys clones realize that they're inside and start trying to break into the building, though they lose interest and go away when the gang have retreated through a door to where the Deoxys can't see them anymore. It just so happens that the place they just entered is the stairwell leading to the Deoxys regeneration lab where they were trying to revive the green-gem Deoxys near the beginning of the movie. As they stand there and watch the meteorite with the green gem stuck in it, the sparkly green mist suddenly jumps out of the gem, and ohmigosh, it really was the green-gem Deoxys! Who would've thought? Rebecca analyzes the light patterns of the mist and realizes that they're the same as the patterns of the aurora - the Deoxys actually use light patterns to communicate, which is really a pretty neat idea, though she has to go ruin it by magically being able to translate the words "friend" and "where are you?". They realize that the two Deoxys are friends and the entire ordeal has simply been the blue-gem Deoxys' attempts to locate the green-gem one - it projected huge auroras onto the sky in the hope the green-gem Deoxys would read them and find it, and because Deoxys "sees" electromagnetic fields (we've been treated to some distorted Deoxys-vision in the movie so far), the electric patterns given off by all the living creatures and the various electronic devices in the city were making it hard for it to see anything, thus prompting it to try to remove them all so it could explore the city undisturbed.

They realize they just need to revive the green-gem Deoxys so that the blue-gem Deoxys can cease its search and they can leave in peace. However, the emergency power the lab is running on right now is not nearly enough to keep up those laser beams for long enough, so instead, the trainers head out to try to make their Pokémon manually turn the windmills' blades. They meet the blue-gem Deoxys on the way and unsuccessfully attempt to tell it they want to help while it creates more clones that Rebecca's Metagross and Rafe's Blaziken fend away. Eventually Rafe volunteers to be left behind to hold them off while the others continue.

At that time, however, Rayquaza finally figures out how to break through Deoxys's defensive barrier around the city: it fires a Hyper Beam and then dives through the shield at the weakened spot, pushing through to the inside of the shield. Deoxys' myriads of clones swarm around Rayquaza and it blasts them apart pretty easily, but there are so many of them it keeps Rayquaza busy for a while, all the way until the real blue-gem Deoxys finally comes out to face it.

Ash and Tory meanwhile get Pikachu and Plusle to use their electricity to power the door to the building where everyone is being held, opening it to let everyone out, while the battle between Deoxys and Rayquaza rages on around the city. Sid and Rafe go with a bunch of other people and Pokémon (including Team Rocket, who have of course been around in this movie doing nothing of importance) to repower the windmills with May, Brock and Rebecca while Ash and Tory return to the lab with Plusle, Minun and Pikachu (who are conveniently Electric-types). As they power returns thanks to the efforts of everyone at the windmills, they turn the regeneration machine on, but the same thing happens as in the beginning of the movie - there is still not quite enough power. But since they brought three convenient Electric-types with them, they grant the machine the remaining power it needs, and the green-gem Deoxys is dramatically revived. Which is probably an important moment for Tory, since now he suddenly has a trusted friend who, it turns out, was a Pokémon all along.

As usual, the green-gem Deoxys decides it would be fun to allow Ash and Tory to fly around a bit with its psychic powers while everybody else watches in admiration and is not jealous at all. The fun is put to a stop, however, when Rayquaza sends the blue-gem Deoxys crashing into the ground and this causes the barrier around the city to break. The wind comes back, the power comes back, and they no longer need all the manual powering of the windmills. Which has to suck for the people who were working to keep them going only to now find out that they could have just waited for five minutes.

The blue-gem Deoxys rises from its impact crater and manages to bury Rayquaza in that same crater and attack it there as Ash and Tory arrive with the green-gem Deoxys, who heroically switches to Defense Forme and deflects the attack the blue-gem Deoxys was preparing, though it gets buried under the rubble in the process. We see the blue-gem Deoxys scan the area with that beam that it used to mess up electronics, and find out what it was actually trying to do: the beam turns green when it passes over the rocks the green-gem Deoxys is buried under. The two Deoxys communicate for a moment through that beam before the green-gem Deoxys breaks out, the two of them create pretty aurora patterns and they transform back into their Normal Formes as they seemingly recognize one another. Their alien friendship dance is interrupted, however, when Rayquaza bursts out from the ground and shoots a Hyper Beam at them. Now both Deoxys fight Rayquaza and they start to circle around and inside the Battle Tower. (And there is a cameo by that hotdog dispenser! Or maybe it's another one since the previous one was dropped into a lake, but I'll pretend it's the same one.)

The head Block Bot, now operational again since the power is on, however, detects this fight as dangerous and activates an emergency protocol to seal off the danger with the Block Bots' bodies. And as it approaches the Battle Tower, it is caught in some funky electric waves from the legendary fight, its blue face turns red, and the Block Bots turn evil. Sort of. They flood the city uncontrollably and flood in towards the Battle Tower, beginning to drown Rayquaza. Then suddenly both Deoxys transform into their Defense Formes and create barriers to prevent Rayquaza from being buried under the flood of robots, and all of a sudden Rayquaza realizes Deoxys aren't so bad after all and completely stops wanting to kill them. Whut.

Just as Ash and Tory are wondering what to do, Professor Lund appears on a giant screen near them and informs them that the only way to stop the head robot is to force it to verify a passport - in the split second while it is doing so, it is vulnerable to remote control, and they can use that moment to stop the overreaction of the security system. This is actually a surprisingly well-handled plot point; given how much the Pokémon movies tend to require very arbitrary solutions to the problems that come up, I immediately expected as Professor Lund started talking about how Tory's passport could save everyone that this was about to be one of those, but all in all it's pretty realistic for a computer system to be momentarily vulnerable to attack while serving some particular function. It's easy to imagine that the Block Bot would have to open network communications in order to access a remote database when verifying a passport, and that would make it plausible to send a command over that same connection.

Anyway, as the Block Bots destroy the screen Professor Lund appeared on, Ash declares that Tory isn't the only one who can save the city, since he's there too and also has a passport, and he's the hero after all. I groan at this conspicuous attempt to make Ash save the day instead of Tory, who is pretty adorable and really would have deserved to do it himself. The hotdog dispenser comes floating along on the sea of Block Bots, and Ash and Tory hitch a ride on it along with Pikachu, Plusle and Minun. Their improvised boat begins to capsize, and it turns out the Munchlax was hiding under it; it falls out and suddenly glows white, evolving into a Snorlax then and there.

Ash walks across Snorlax's body, which is conveniently positioned just so that he can get over to a tower near the head Block Bot. Pikachu jumps across the moving Block Bots, in one of those scenes that look like a video game level, and reaches the head Block Bot; Ash follows it, managing just barely to latch onto the robot. He takes out his passport and... drops it. Nice job, Ash.

But then Tory floats past (why didn't he float past earlier, when Ash was separated from him?) and throws his passport up to Ash, he makes the head robot verify it, Officer Jenny is ready to override its controls, and the head bot's face turns blue and happy again before all the Block Bots shut down, piled in towers around the city. Tory, Plusle and Minun are sitting on top of some very unstable ones high up around the walls of the Battle Tower, Plusle and Minun fall, and this time Tory does catch them when he reaches out to save them. The three of them fall helplessly down, until the green-gem Deoxys emerges from underneath the Block Bots below and catches them in its arms.

Rayquaza reemerges! But because it decided earlier that Deoxys were totally nice because they saved it from being drowned in robots, it is now their friend. Ash, Pikachu, Tory, Plusle and Minun all get to take a little flight with the two Deoxys and Rayquaza before being reunited with everybody else. Tory is now over his fear of Pokémon thanks to Plusle and Minun. The two Deoxys make pretty auroras and then head off towards space together.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket are still working an exercise cycle, apparently unaware that the windmills have been fine for the last half hour or so.

The Good

While the plot of this movie is mostly rather poor, there is a lot of stuff that is subtly well done in this movie. First of all, I'd like to name its portrayal of Deoxys, which I was very pleasantly surprised by - they actually went through the trouble of making it compellingly, realistically alien in a way surpassing most portrayals of aliens, not just in children's fiction but fiction in general. Our primary sense is sight, sensing electromagnetic waves of certain wavelengths; their primary sense picks up the shape of electromagnetic fields around objects. We communicate primarily through sound; they communicate primarily through sight. I was expecting them to be your typical boring unimaginative humanoid aliens that speak in unintelligible sounds and sense the world exactly like we do for no good reason, but it turns out they're actually pretty fresh and original in that regard. I also enjoyed how what looked like an evil alien invasion was essentially caused by a failure to communicate, because the alien was doing something perfectly innocent that we perceive as threatening simply because it doesn't understand us and we don't understand it. In that way, I'd say this is actually relatively good as an alien movie.

Second, Tory was a pretty nice character. He's adorable, for one, but his fear of Pokémon also gives him his own subplot with an issue to work through and thus makes him catch and hold the viewer's attention a lot more than most of the throwaway human characters they introduce in the movies. Additionally, the fear-of-Pokémon thing is also something done better than I expected - it's not magically gone when he's made bestest friends with Ash, throughout the movie his growing concern for Plusle and Minun is built up with his genuine longing to get over his fear, and that combined with a bit of adrenaline is what finally gives him the determination to face and conquer his phobia. It feels reasonably realistic that way.

Third, like the second movie, it makes up for its subpar plot with humour: it's one of the funnier Pokémon movies in my opinion. There's that hotdog dispenser, Team Rocket (who get a couple of actually funny scenes even though like in the fifth movie they never interact with the main characters at all), Ash's trouble with the conveyor belts, Sid's crush on May, May's passport photo, Munchlax's serious business with the trash can... plenty of amusing bits.

Fourth, the battle scenes in this movie are pretty cool. I've heard people complain that they're repetitive, but I don't see that at all; from what I'd heard, I thought it was going to be Rayquaza firing Hyper Beam and Deoxys using Protect throughout, but I think that only happened once in the whole movie and I'm not sure how people's brains got that impression. Sometimes you're going "oh shi-" for Deoxys and sometimes you're going "ouch" for Rayquaza. Later it's also cool when Rayquaza is being ganged up on by the Deoxys clones, although that scene is hurt by the CGIness.

And fifth, though it's not really much of a positive point for the movie per se, the solution of making the head bot verify a passport to hijack its controls again actually made sense, as I said. Props for not taking the easy, arbitrary way out like sometimes.

The Bad

As a Legendaries Randomly Fighting™ movie, the plot is bound to be kind of flimsy. Like in the second movie, they use the "territorial" excuse to make one legendary needlessly pick a fight against the other, but this time they make it continue to carry a grudge over the next four years, enough to specifically leave its "territory" the moment it feels an opportunity to pick a fight again despite that by that time the intruder is no longer in Rayquaza's territory at all. Then the green-gem Deoxys protects Rayquaza from the blue-gem Deoxys's attack, but Rayquaza has no qualms about attacking both Deoxys afterwards, and they have no qualms about attacking it when it's doing that. Then the robots flood over everything, and then suddenly the Deoxys are back to immediately wanting to save Rayquaza - note that they do it in unison, even the blue-gem Deoxys, without first communicating about it in any way - and for some reason, this time when they save Rayquaza's life, it suddenly makes Rayquaza peaceful and loving and it forgets all about whatever it was that made it hold a four-year grudge. Let me repeat that. First Rayquaza attacks Deoxys. Then it gets mad enough to be still furious after four years, enough so to abandon its precious territory that caused the conflict in the first place just to fight it. And then, not only does this deep-seated grudge completely evaporate when the two Deoxys decide to incidentally shield it along with themselves from outside danger: it also had absolutely no effect minutes earlier when the green-gem Deoxys specifically stepped in the way of an attack to save Rayquaza.

In fact, the first time I watched this movie, I completely missed the fact the Deoxys were apparently shielding Rayquaza and not just themselves, as well as the meaning of that brief shot of Rayquaza's eye that was supposed to tell us it was forgiving them, and I couldn't discern any resolution to that conflict at all. When what ought to be the most important moment in the movie is so brief and vague that the viewer has a good chance of not even noticing it, something is off.

Then, although the Block Bot plot had a reasonable method of resolution, it was pulled out pretty randomly at the end. It was as if somebody thought, "Hey, let's make this the longest Pokémon movie yet by throwing in another plot at the last minute!" Either that or they thought, "Oh, crap, how are we going to make Ash save the day and make Rayquaza and Deoxys stop fighting? Um... let's introduce a new threat to make Rayquaza and Deoxys become friends, and have Ash defeat that threat!" Which perhaps makes more sense since, after all, for no good reason Ash got to do the day-saving instead of Tory, even after they had specifically set up a request for Tory to go and use the passport. Okay, so Tory is timid, but he is also shown to be brave when he needs to; he could have done it with Plusle and Minun's help. And Munchlax evolving at the end was a random deus ex machina to make it easier for Ash to get to the head bot.

And it still annoys me that after they'd introduced the cool concept of a light-based language, Rebecca's computer can suddenly translate individual words and phrases without any possible way of knowing what they mean to the Deoxys.

Outside the plot department, there is the CGI. It's worst there in the World of Pokémon opening montage, but there are also other noteworthy parts where Pokémon are rendered with CGI and it looks painfully off. The Block Bots are also CGI throughout and look rather unnatural.

Conclusion

This movie is pretty good with the little things but bad with the big picture. The fact the plot doesn't work and Ash is shoehorned in as the hero really hurts it overall; despite how much I like some of those good little things, this still has to rank pretty low on my favorite Pokémon movie list. Still, I guess it depends on how you see it.

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT