Pokémon Heroes-The Movie (2003)

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Released 20-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Location Scouting In Venice
Featurette-Animation Stages (6)
Gallery-The Characters Of Pokemon Heroes (6)
Short Film-Camp Pikachu
Game-Pokemon Heroes: Trivia Game
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 68:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kunihiko Yuyama

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Veronica Taylor
Rachael Lillis
Eric Stuart
Madeleine Blaustein
Ikue Ohtani
Lisa Ortiz
Megan Hollingshead
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Coba
Shinji Miyazaki

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Pokemon merchandising
Action In or After Credits Yes, what happened afterwards...

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There's no indication on the cover, but this is the fifth Pokémon movie — there's a single panel at the start of the movie saying it.

    This one is set in the city of Altomare (clearly inspired by Venice) — it has canals instead of roads, and gondoliers, and very familiar-looking bridges. But that's not where this story starts. It starts with two sinister looking lasses stealing a book from a library; a book that talks of a city protected by two powerful Pokémon called Latios and Latias. That city happens to be Altomare, and the two girls head directly for it.

    It's time for the annual Tour de Altomare, but it's not a bike race like the Tour de France (it's a bit hard to race bikes on water!) — it's a race for water Pokémon pulling water chariots. This year our heroes Ash (with Totadile) and Misty (with Corsola) are competing. Ash gets some unseen help from an almost invisible source, but just before winning his "help" gets turned off course by another invisible player.

    We discover fairly quickly that the two girls are Annie and Oakley (oh, dear...), who turn out to be members of Team Rocket, but rather more effective evildoers than the losers we know (Jesse, James, and Meowth, who only appear in this film in momentary glimpses, mostly as the butt of slapstick humour — they don't even get to do their traditional intro sequence). Annie and Oakley start out trying to capture Latias, who is disguised as a girl (Latias and Latios are very special Pokémon). Ash and Pikachu intervene in the attempted capture, when Annie and Oakley send Espeon (a psychic cat-like Pokémon) and Ariados (a large spider-like Pokémon) after Latias.

    Annie and Oakley are out to capture Latios and Latias, and to steal the Souldew, a mystic jewel that will power up the ultimate weapon that is the Defence Mechanism of Altomare.

    Latios and Latias are rare examples of Pokémon who do not spend their entire time saying their own names — they have high-pitched voices, reminiscent of eagle cries, but more melodic.

    This movie has been made using a blend of 2D and 3D animation — most of the foreground animation is 2D (except for some of the "invisible" footage), but a lot of the backgrounds are 3D. Some of the backgrounds are really gorgeous — the canal flying sequence is beautiful, and the defence mechanism is neat.

    I was sure I recognised the voice of Annie — it turns out her (English language) voice actor is Lisa Ortiz, best known as Lina Inverse in Slayers. I've watched a lot of Slayers over the years...

    This is an interesting tale, with some unusual Pokémon abilities, and an understated moral. If you like Pokémon movies, this will probably suit you fine, even if it is rather short.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.331, and is not 16x9 enhanced. I have not been able to determine if that was the theatrical aspect ratio, but I rather doubt it — I suspect this is a pan-and-scan transfer, which is a shame, because this is an otherwise superb transfer.

    The image is very sharp and clear and very attractive. There's no trace of low-level noise or film grain.

    Colour is superbly rendered, and there's plenty of bright colour to enjoy, especially with Latias being bright red, and Latios bright blue. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are a very few film artefacts, just enough to make it clear that this was taken from film, but they are negligible.

    Aliasing is sometimes visible, but not annoying. There are no significant instances of moiré or MPEG artefacts. There's slight occasional shimmer.

    There are subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. Interestingly, there are two sets of English subtitles, one labelled English SDH (which is a common abbreviation indicating English for the Hearing Impaired), while the other is labelled English ESL — I'm not sure, but the only meaning I know for ESL is "English as a Second Language", which might suggest that these were simplified subtitles for those whose native language is something else. I watched the ESL subtitles all the way through, and they read like normal subtitles — a little abbreviated here are there, but that's normal; they are well-timed, and easy to read.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 58:25, at the start of Chapter 11. It is essentially invisible on most players because it is placed in a fade to black between the end of the movie proper and the denouement. Given how short the movie is, I was a little surprised that they bothered with an RSDL disc, but I'm not complaining.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in English, French, and Spanish. The English is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps.

    The dialogue is clear, and easily comprehensible. The animation sync is rather good.

    The music is credited to Coba and Shinji Miyazaki. It's well matched to events on-screen, but does get a bit corny at times (such as during the first flight from Ariados and Espeon). There are some songs, suitably bouncy up-beat stuff that match the optimistic bent of the Pokémon universe.

    There is some very neat surround sound in this soundtrack, with a few really good directional sound effects.

    The subwoofer gets a fairly minimal amount of signal most of the time, but it's not completely neglected.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The main menu is animated with music. It's easy to operate.

Featurette: Location Scouting in Venice (2:13)

    A short piece with footage of the production team photographing parts of Venice, contrasting shots of Venice with shots of Altomare — there's a lot of resemblance...

Animation Stages

    This takes a number of (very!) short grabs of the film, and shows them in varying stages of development, as alternate angles. In theory you can switch between views using the Angle button, but in practice the pieces are too short to do this. The scenes shown are:

Gallery: The Characters of Pokémon Heroes

    This should really be labelled "The Pokémon of Pokémon Heroes". It shows:

Short: Camp Pikachu (21:03)

    This short was shown before the movie in Japan, but was omitted in the US screenings. It's good to get it on the DVD. It's another example of a Pikachu short, with no humans involved, just a wide variety of Pokémon. We start by following the Pichu brothers (who look like less-evolved versions of Pikachu).

Game: Pokémon Heroes Trivia Game

    This is a rather simple game, where we're asked 7 questions and must choose one of three Pokémon as the answer. When you select the correct answer they show a grab from the film to back up the answer. At the end you get a rating of your expertise.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Just as this film is being released in Australia we see the sequel (yes, there's a sixth Pokémon movie) being released in Region 1.

    This movie was released on DVD in Region 1 at the start of last year. The R1 release has the same extras that we get on this disc. The transfer on the R1 is reportedly as good as the one we get on the R4, including being a pan-and-scan release.

    The two discs seem to be pretty much identical, with neither in the correct aspect ratio. That's a shame.


    A gorgeously animated Pokémon movie, on a DVD that's very good, except for being in the wrong aspect ratio.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are quite good, and it's pleasing to see the usual Pikachu short included this time.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
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A Great Movie - Henke