Giratina and the Sky Warrior Review

Although I use the English name of the movie and its characters to make the review more accessible to English-speaking fans, I was actually watching a fansub of the Japanese version of the movie. There may be some differences if you have only seen the dub.

Thoughts and Synopsis

This is the first Pokémon movie to be to some extent a proper sequel to the previous one: Dialga and Palkia's fight in the tenth movie serves to set up the events of this one. It still stands on its own, but it's neat that the events of a previous movie are acknowledged and built upon - especially since this movie's plot and premise are a lot more solid than its predecessor's.

We start with two legendary Pokémon, Shaymin and Dialga, both coincidentally arriving at the same forest pond for a drink. As they quench their thirst, however, a third legendary, Giratina, is watching them from its domain, the Reverse World. Reflective surfaces in the real world, such as the surface of the pond, are represented by floating bubbles in the Reverse World, providing a window through which Giratina can see what goes on. Giratina seems to have been waiting for this; without warning, it creates a portal in the surface of the pond, emerges through it and drags Dialga back into the Reverse World with it. Shaymin, caught in the vortex of air from the portal, is accidentally sucked in with them.

Giratina and Dialga fight it out as Dialga tries to escape back through the portal; dark, purple smoke is stirred up in their path, but Shaymin absorbs the smoke in her flower. As the terrified Shaymin is blasted into the air by a Hyper Beam aimed at Dialga, she releases a Seed Flare powered by the pollution she absorbed, which produces a powerful enough explosion to create a new portal back to the real world. Shaymin is sucked back through it, and Dialga follows after immobilizing Giratina with a ball of energy.

Once Giratina's regained its mobility, it attempts to follow Dialga through the portal, but the portal closes naturally before it can. It opens another, but as it flies towards the new portal, it is automatically warped back to where it was a few seconds earlier: Dialga has trapped it in a "time loop", rendering it unable to escape the Reverse World. Giratina cries out in anger at Dialga's reflection in one of the floating bubbles and attacks the bubble, breaking it; this causes an explosion over in the real world, but Dialga shrugs it off with relative ease and disappears.

Shaymin, who fell into a river after being sucked out through the portal, gets carried on the river current towards a city, where of course Ash, Brock and Dawn happen to be at the moment. Covered in dirt, she sneaks up onto their lunch table while they're tending to their Pokémon and begins to eat their pancakes, then shakes herself and gets dirt all over everybody, then jumps onto the barbecue so that it explodes, absorbs the resulting smoke, and uses another Seed Flare that creates a huge explosion and ruins everyone's food.

Understandably, the Pokémon are mad, but as they surround Shaymin, Dawn stops them, picks her up and washes her (Shaymin shakes herself vigorously again, spraying water all over Ash). Shaymin rambles incoherently through telepathy and Brock realizes she has a fever, so they bring her to the Pokémon Center and get her healed. Instead of being thankful, she insists she was just fine and that they should be grateful to her, before burping black smoke in Ash's face and demanding that they bring her to the "flower garden". Nurse Joy explains that every year, Shaymin gather in a flower field somewhere and migrate from there, creating a new field of flowers wherever they land.

The gang agree to take Shaymin there; Dawn has already taken a bizarre liking to her. They set off through a garden full of metallic sculptures - but unfortunately, as they are reflective, Giratina can see through them, and Shaymin notices the surfaces of the sculptures rippling and distorting, indicating Giratina is opening a portal. She screams and jumps out of Dawn's arms, frantically talking about how "It's here," only for Team Rocket, who were listening in at the Pokémon Center, to grab her, hoping she'll fetch them a handsome reward from Giovanni. Before they can get very far, though, a portal opens on one of the sculptures they pass by and sucks them in. Dawn manages to grab Shaymin before she's pulled in with them, but a moment later the portal opens again and sucks them in as well, and Ash jumps in after her, ever his reckless self. Brock is left standing by the sculpture, confused.

Ash, Dawn, Pikachu, Piplup and Shaymin have landed in the Reverse World, in an empty, warped cityscape. (Team Rocket, who went in the first time the portal opened, landed somewhere totally different, and unfortunately will do nothing of worth in the rest of the movie.) Giratina flies past them and Shaymin screams that it wants to eat her, so they try to attack it, only for a man with a Shieldon to run up to them and tell them they shouldn't make Giratina angry. His Shieldon counters one of Giratina's attacks, and he leads the way into a strange, warped alley while the smoke clears. Gravity is light in this part of the Reverse World, and our heroes travel in leaping bounds to safety.

The man introduces himself as Newton Graceland, a genius scientist who's been researching this place for five years. He explains that the Reverse World is another world stuck to the back of the regular world, where the rules are different, and whose purpose is to adjust to maintain the balance of space-time when changes occur in the real world. Giratina, the Reverse World's only inhabitant, is the only creature that can (usually) travel freely between the worlds, but Newton knows about a periodically-appearing portal where the kids will be able to return and takes them there. On the way, they encounter a dark purple dust cloud in their path, and he explains that when a space-time disturbance occurs in the real world, those poisonous clouds form in the Reverse World as a way to counterbalance it. Thus, the events of the last movie didn't go unnoticed in the Reverse World - with all the space-time disturbances then, the Reverse World was severely polluted. That's why Giratina was so angry with Dialga: Dialga and Palkia's conflict had been disastrous for the Reverse World, and since Shaymin's Seed Flare allowed Dialga to escape from Giratina, Giratina is mad at Shaymin too.

Giratina appears and Shaymin jumps on Ash's head to try to steer him to run away, but this just skews his balance and he ends up falling flat on his face as Giratina lunges to snatch Shaymin. Shaymin narrowly escapes by using Substitute, and while Giratina is figuring that out, they run towards the portal and conveniently emerge in the same sculpture garden where they came in, right in front of Brock. Newton doesn't come with them, but he sees them off with a warning to watch out for reflective surfaces.

They move away from the garden as instructed, but are soon attacked by a group of Magnemite and Magneton and a Magnezone, who surround them. Alongside them, a mysterious white-haired man, Zero, who we've been seeing watching Giratina and the goings-on in the Reverse World on a video feed, demands they give Shaymin to him. He orders Magnezone to attack, but Pikachu counterattacks and they run for it while the Magnemite are dazed by the resulting explosion. They jump on a train to escape, where they seem to be safe for now.

On the train, they talk to some people who are thrilled to see a Shaymin, and one of them has a bouquet of Gracidea flowers. When their pollen falls on Shaymin, she transforms into Sky Forme and suddenly becomes much less obnoxious. Shaymin explains clearly for the first time that she needs to get to the flower garden before the Gracidea flowers bloom so that her friends won't leave her behind when they all fly from the garden. A woman on the train conveniently explains how they can get to the flower garden, and Ash and Dawn are excited to take Shaymin there and see it. They fend off one more attack by Zero and his Pokémon without too much trouble.

As instructed, they get off at a train station to take a boat onwards; the flower garden is located under a glacier in a different fjord. However, as the sun is setting, a portal to the Reverse World opens in the surface of the sea, and they're sucked off the boat by a vortex of air. Zero, who has been watching Giratina's movements from his high-tech airship, follows them on a small flying scooter with his Magnemite/Magneton/Magnezone, but ends up in an entirely different place in the Reverse World for some reason.

Giratina shows up where our heroes are, and Shaymin, braver in her Sky Forme, attacks it and challenges it to settle this now. She's more or less holding her own with Pikachu's help, but as the sun disappears behind the mountains and the Reverse World goes dark, Shaymin can no longer maintain her Sky Forme (which in the games only works during the day) and transforms back into her scared, obnoxious Land Forme. She sits on Ash's head as they run for it, helpfully explaining that then he'll get eaten with her if Giratina catches up. They quickly run into Newton Graceland again, and he takes them into a cavern where Giratina can't get to them - only for Zero's Magnemite to capture them.

As they're brought helplessly before Zero, Newton explains that Zero used to be his assistant. Zero tells them he's there to claim this world as his own and that humans in the real world keep damaging the beautiful Reverse World. Zero's Magnemite spin around a cloud of pollution to direct it towards Ash and company, who struggle not to breathe it in; the Magnemite fly Shaymin into the cloud as well, daring her to absorb the pollution to save them. She does so, and Zero orders her to use Seed Flare to open another portal to the real world to let Giratina travel between worlds again. (I suppose Dialga's time loop thing only activates when Giratina itself creates a portal and then tries to exit through it, so a Shaymin-created portal would work - though this just opens the question of why Giratina couldn't use any of the naturally-occurring portals to get out if that's the case.)

Shaymin doesn't comply immediately, but as Giratina approaches, she releases the Seed Flare in self-defense, still convinced that it wants to eat her. Everyone gets sucked out through the portal this creates except Zero and Giratina, and they end up on the ground near the roots of a glacier. Newton realizes that Giratina never wanted to eat Shaymin - it just wanted to have Shaymin use Seed Flare to make a portal it could get out through. They watch as Giratina emerges from the portal and transforms into its Altered Forme, and Zero follows just before the portal closes.

Zero's giant, spiky airship emerges from the fog of the valley nearby and shoots a huge red energy beam at Giratina, immobilizing it, before trapping it in a cage. Zero lands his flying scooter on the ground and hitches a ride on the cage instead as it's pulled back towards the ship. He tells the helpless Giratina that he's been waiting a very long time for it to come to the real world so that he could capture it. The ship's on-board AI informs Zero that Giratina's back to its regular state now - the time loop broke once Giratina successfully traveled between worlds.

As the sun comes up, Newton tells Ash and company that he's the one who designed the machine that Zero just used to capture Giratina; it's made to scan and copy all of Giratina's abilities (specifically, the ability to travel freely to and from the Reverse World), but Newton discontinued the project when he realized Giratina wouldn't survive the process. Zero saw this as a betrayal, and apparently, even though Newton deleted his designs, Zero seems to have managed to reconstruct them in the hope of gaining the power to traverse the worlds and become king of the Reverse World.

Newton is determined to stop Zero and save Giratina, and he, Ash and Dawn take Zero's flying scooter that he conveniently left behind (Brock's hilariously just left behind alone on the ground), while Shaymin transforms back into her Sky Forme - because conveniently, this is the Gracidea field they were trying to get to all along, and there's plenty of Gracidea pollen to go around. Shaymin leads the way up to the airship as Zero sics his Magnemite/ton/zone on them. They dodge them while Zero goes back into the ship to tell the computer to prepare for entering the Reverse World. Attacking Giratina's cage doesn't work; Newton says he's going to have to turn the mechanism off from inside the ship. Finally, they land on the body of the airship, and Ash and Dawn fend off the Magnemite while Newton's Shieldon breaks open a door to enter the ship.

As the battle rages on outside, Newton gets to the computer and starts frantically pressing buttons as the scan of Giratina inches closer and closer to completion. When it's at 99%, he successfully manages to shut off the scan... and the power of the entire airship with it. The ship rapidly begins to lose altitude; the near-dead Giratina falls down into the water as the cage can no longer keep it suspended, while Ash and company escape on the flying scooter, and the ship crashes in the forest nearby, though not before Zero ejects himself on a small escape shuttle that falls into the water as well.

Giratina crawls slowly out of the water and collapses, clearly only hanging on by a thread, but still breathing. Shaymin, though, lands on top of it, concentrates, and uses Aromatherapy, healing it completely. The worried forest Pokémon that have gathered around it cheer; Newton explains that they understand the importance of the Reverse World.

The happy triumphant music is interrupted by a splash; Zero's escape shuttle emerges from the water and attacks them with energy bolts as Zero yells that he won't forgive anyone who interferes with his beautiful plans. When Giratina and the heroes' Pokémon attack back, the shuttle creates a portal and disappears through it: apparently, even though the scan didn't complete fully, Zero still managed to copy Giratina's powers onto his shuttle. Once there, Zero finds a bubble showing Ash and company and Giratina, and he gleefully attacks it, creating an explosion in the corresponding location in the real world. Giratina creates a new portal and enters it to stop Zero, and Ash follows on the scooter along with Shaymin.

In the Reverse World, Zero begins to attack a row of huge ice pillars, which are actually supporting the glacier in the real world. As the glacier starts to break and crawl forward into the fjord, Newton wonders if Zero is trying to sever the connection between the real world and the Reverse World, hoping to stop the real world from polluting the world that he loves.

As Ash, Shaymin and Giratina battle Zero in the Reverse World, all the nearby Pokémon in the real world that can use Ice attacks work together to try to freeze the fjord to stop the glacier's advance and prevent it from destroying everything in its path, but even with their combined efforts, it inches on. The rumblings of the glacier, however, awaken Regigigas from its slumber, and along with a herd of conspicuously CG Mamoswine, it walks over the ice and physically pushes back against the glacier, holding it in place.

Meanwhile, Zero continues to destroy the pillars in the Reverse World and manages both to temporarily bring Giratina down and nearly captures Ash and his Pokémon, but Shaymin comes to their rescue. Ash, standing on Zero's shuttle, orders him to stop destroying the Reverse World, but Zero insists that it's the real world that damages the Reverse World and that he's just protecting the latter. He flies into a poisonous cloud, but Shaymin sucks in the smoke, and Ash asks her to use Seed Flare to get Zero out of the Reverse World, so that they can stop him from causing more damage to the glacier. Zero tries to shake them off, but Giratina grabs onto the shuttle to keep it still. Shaymin successfully opens a new portal, and Giratina then blasts the shuttle out through it with an energy blast. Zero's ship crash-lands by the roots of the glacier, and Dawn's Buneary and Swinub along with the Mamoswine use Ice attacks to freeze it in place. Inside Zero's ship, the computers shut down and are unable to save Giratina's data into permanent storage.

Shaymin is sucked out through the portal as well and slides down the surface of the glacier; the cold transforms her back into Land Forme and she lands in Dawn's arms. Inside the Reverse World, Ash rides on Giratina's back as the legendary Pokémon uses its power to regenerate the destroyed pillars, stopping the glacier from crawling further. Finally, Giratina returns with Ash to the real world and then flies off again - Newton's scientific instruments detect that Dialga is apparently nearby and that must be where Giratina is going...

Just before dawn the next morning, dozens of Shaymin are crawling around in the flower garden as our heroes come to see our Shaymin off. She says she's grateful to them as the sun's rays reach the Gracidea flowers and they unfurl their petals; Ash thanks Shaymin for bringing them here. Shaymin thanks them all tearfully before entering the field, transforming into Sky Forme along with all the other Shaymin, and flying off. Despite everything, Ash is the one to be most emotional to see her go.

During the credits, we see Newton Graceland, along with some police officers, rescuing Zero from his frozen shuttle. Newton extends his hand; Zero reaches for him but hesitates, but Newton grabs his hand firmly anyway and pulls Zero out as he smiles. Also, we see that Ash, Dawn and Brock have each sent their families a Gracidea bouquet, and that nature is already taking its course with Zero's airship, which is being happily eaten by wild Aron and Lairon where it crashed.

The Good

This is a tight and well-paced movie; pretty much anything would look well-paced next to the previous couple of movies, but this one genuinely has action and intrigue going on from the very beginning, and from there there's never very long between interesting and/or action-packed scenes. It's never boring or draggy, and all in all it's just fun to watch.

The plot of this movie is kind of a doubled-up instance of the "Villain wants a legendary's power, Ash and company must save the legendary from their grasp" plot, with both Shaymin and Giratina serving the legendary's role, but (in part thanks to that doubling-up) it's got a fair bit more going on than the other such movies and avoids feeling like a rehash, even though the Shaymin aspect in particular is pretty similar to the sixth and ninth movies (one of Ash's traveling companions bonds with a cute event legendary who needs to get to a specific faraway location that they must travel to while evading a human villain who is after the legendary).

In part, though, it just feels pretty different because Shaymin is so hilariously obnoxious. After the previous cute event legendaries have been these playful, happy, childlike types, Shaymin is this stuck-up brat who fully expects everyone to be grateful to her just for existing, and it both gives her a very distinct personality and fuels the movie's humour. She's grating (in her Land Forme), but just genuinely naïve enough not to be completely intolerable, and all in all she makes the movie more entertaining and it's gratifying when she finally expresses gratitude to others at the end.

This is also decidedly not a Legendaries Randomly Fighting™ movie, despite featuring legendaries fighting! All the legendary-fighting here is pretty naturally motivated, instead of being fueled by some handwaved excuse about territorialness: Giratina is angry at Dialga for what it did to the Reverse World, Dialga's defending itself, and Giratina then wants to get Shaymin to free it from the Reverse World, while Shaymin thinks it wants to eat her and is defending herself. Giratina can't speak even to other Pokémon, but it gets some character nonetheless, as this somewhat vengeful but ultimately firmly good-natured protector of its own realm.

Zero, meanwhile, is one of the stronger human villains in the movie series. He's completely deranged, but he's got more interesting motivations than most, with his obsession with the Reverse World as this pure and beautiful place that he's very possessive of and wanting to protect it from being polluted by the real world's influence. The Reverse World really is a pretty cool, fascinating place, and along with Zero's history with Newton in researching it, it really helps sell Zero's character and why he's so captivated by this parallel world.

The music in this movie is also pretty good, as is the imagery of the Reverse World.

The Bad

Shaymin is an entertaining character, and it's sweet that she eventually grows to be able to appreciate and be grateful to others instead of just demanding everyone else's gratitude - but the way that growth is portrayed within the movie is a bit muddled, thanks to the way her form changes play out. Shaymin is immediately much more likeable in her Sky Forme than her Land Forme: she stops being frustratingly vague about what she wants and where they're going, becomes braver and more proactive, and is playful and fun-loving rather than snotty and rude - she pulls on Ash's ear while they're on the boat, but unlike her constant bullying of him in Land Forme, it genuinely reads like she just wants him to fly and have fun too and doesn't quite get why he can't. This personality shift is obviously simply part of the form change (Brock even remarks on it), and it doesn't represent a true underlying change in Shaymin's attitude - later in the movie, when she's back in Land Forme, Shaymin is back to the same old. The thing is that as the movie goes on, she spends progressively more time in her Sky Forme - which, yes, makes her become less obnoxious over time, but that's not actually rooted in Shaymin visibly learning anything, and we don't quite get to see a real change in her character take place until abruptly at the very end when Shaymin's back in Land Forme and expresses gratitude to them. What would have been a fine and believable character arc without the form changes just becomes a bit difficult to truly follow this way, when most of it takes place with a version of the character who never really needed to change so much in the first place.

It also just feels a bit weird and wrong how Shaymin is so unrelentingly awful to Ash for the whole first half of the movie, yet nobody else seems to notice or care. On the boat, Ash suggests life might be less stressful when Shaymin is gone, not even in her earshot, and Dawn kicks him! He absolutely had every right to feel like it'd be a relief to see her off at this point, and Dawn refusing to acknowledge how badly Shaymin's treated him just makes her seem like an insensitive jerk.

Brock, meanwhile, just barely says or does anything in this entire movie in general - twice he's simply left out of the action entirely, and even the rest of the time he's just sort of standing there with the other characters, maybe saying a line or two of exposition here and there. He cooks food and flirts with Nurse Joy at the beginning and that's pretty much about it. Not only does he have nothing to say about Shaymin's attitude; he never even sends out a Pokémon after the opening lunch scene, even when they're repeatedly attacked. All in all, Brock is pretty much an occasional exposition-delivering lamp in this movie, and it's actually noticeable here.

Because Shaymin's form changes drive the plot a bit, the movie uses dawn and nightfall to control when those form changes can happen... in ways that unfortunately just don't make any sense. Night falls and Shaymin reverts to Land Forme at 48:35; then we seem to proceed pretty much in real time until... 58:35, exactly ten minutes later, when it's dawning again. What?! Did we spend the entire night down in the caves without any indication of this whatsoever? If we did, why didn't Zero strike earlier, instead of waiting around until it was almost dawn? I suppose you could argue that time passes differently in the Reverse World - but the movie doesn't really sound like it otherwise, what with sunset in the real world clearly corresponding to sunset in the Reverse World and how in the final battle we've got things going on in the real world and Reverse World at the same time that seem to line up normally. At the very least, if there is any kind of time dilation, it's clearly not extreme enough to condense an entire night into something on the order of ten minutes. It's then quite bright near the end when Ash gets out of the Reverse World, and there's been nonstop real-time action since that earlier dawn at 58:35, so we can assume by 1:27:35 when Giratina flies off to find Dialga, it's really only been something on the order of half an hour since dawn... but then we suddenly cut to before dawn the next day for Shaymin's meeting with the other Shaymin. Did they all go back to town and hang out together for the rest of that day, or what? Why does the movie make no mention of it at all, making it seem oddly like they just never left?

The way the portals to/from the Reverse World are used also seems arbitrary and driven purely by plot convenience. Not only was there a naturally-occurring portal that Newton knew of and could take the heroes to - it just so happened that that portal took them to the exact place where they entered the Reverse World, even though when they entered it was through a completely different portal in a completely different place. The portals also always conveniently deposit the heroes and villains in different places - it could be that the destination of the portals shifts with time, since they do go in separately, but it sure is convenient how the shift always happens between the heroes and villains and not between two groups of heroes.

Regigigas is another pointless secondary legendary, with only a few minutes of screentime to hold back the glacier with the Mamoswine. It's not a character, doesn't do anything unique or distinctive to Regigigas, and overall is both completely unnecessary for the movie's story and does no justice to Regigigas itself.

Finally, a couple of nitpicks, as usual: why would Zero randomly leave his flying scooter behind for anyone to take, just so he can ride up to his airship on the Giratina cage? Shouldn't Giratina have been able to exit the Reverse World through a naturally-occurring portal?

Conclusion

There's a fair bit of stuff here that's questionable or doesn't hold water, and Shaymin's character arc isn't as well conveyed as it could be, but overall this movie is still a lot of fun, tight and entertaining and with several interesting elements to it. I wouldn't call it a personal favorite, but it's very watchable, and out of the "formula" Pokémon movies, this may be one of the best executed.

Page last modified May 5 2019 at 01:03 GMT