Warning: Contains many spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Spell of the Unown, known as Lord of the “Unknown” Tower in Japan, is a captivatingly beautiful masterpiece about a girl who just wants to be with her family. It was released in Japan on July 8, 2000 and debuted in North American theaters the following year on April 6. The movie opens with a heartwarming scene between Molly, a young girl and one of the main characters of the film, and her father reading a book about legendary Pokemon. Molly remarks that although Entei looks scary, he’s actually very powerful and protective, and thus reminds her of her father. Her father, Professor Spencer Hale, then picks her up and runs around the room, pretending to be Entei.
However, their time together is cut short as the professor receives a call from his colleague about the Unown, a species of legendary Pokemon that they have been researching, and rushes off. While researching a room covered in strange inscriptions, the professor mysteriously disappears and Molly is left alone, as her mother had disappeared prior to the start of the movie. She is left with a box filled with tiles that have the Unown engraved on them. Realizing that they look like letters, she spells out her name, along with the words ‘mama’ and ‘papa’, and then begins to cry, wishing that they were with her. Suddenly, the Unown appear and create a dream world, summoning Entei as her new father.
The movie then cuts to Ash Ketchum and his friends, Misty and Brock, as they enter Greenfield. Ash’s mother, Delia Ketchum, as well as Professor Oak are also there, having heard what happened to Professor Hale on the television. While they are talking, Entei appears and kidnaps Delia after Molly asks for a mama. Ash and Pikachu race after frantically, but are unable to stop them. Later that night, he and his friends sneak out and make their way into the crystal fortress. Molly sees Ash and his Pokemon through a camera and remarks that she would also like to be a Pokemon trainer, to which Entei tells her that whatever she wishes will come true. Then, Entei and a dream Molly set off to meet Ash and his friends, who are slowly making their way through Molly’s dream world. One by one, Molly battles Brock and Misty while Ash goes on to rescue his mother, defeating them both times as her dream Pokemon cannot be beaten. Meanwhile, Ash has found his mother and the two of them are about to leave, but Molly refuses to let them go. Ash’s Pikachu and Charizard battle Entei for a while and Entei comes close to killing Charizard before Molly begs him to stop.
At this point, Ash, Misty and Brock are able to convince Molly into returning to the “real world” with them. The group prepares to leave when they are suddenly attacked by the mansion; The Unown have lost control of their power and the mansion is trying to seal them in. Ash and his friends attempt to stop them, but to no avail. However, Entei sacrifices himself in order to set them free, telling Molly that as long as she believes in him, he can do anything. The Unown disappear and the mansion returns to normal. Professor Hale is also returned to the place where he disappeared. Finally, the group is free to go and they go outside, where many people are waiting anxiously for them. During the ending credits, Molly is reunited with both her father and her mother.
In my opinion, Spell of the Unown is the most beautiful Pokemon movie yet. I was absolutely stunned by the quality of the art and animation, as well as the storyline and the voice acting. When I was watching the scene where the mansion and its surroundings are turned to crystal, I was practically breathless with excitement. It was absolutely gorgeous. Also, having rewatched the third movie after watching some of the more recent movies and anime episodes, I came to fully appreciate the voice acting. Veronica Taylor is one magnificently talented voice actor and it is a real shame that the Pokemon cast lost her. Every word she utters is so full of emotion and she portrays the characters of Ash and Delia so well. Especially when compared to the new voice actor, Taylor really shines. Taylor is not the only voice actor I was impressed with; all of the others supporting roles were fantastic. There was none of the strange hesitation and slow speaking that seems to dominate current English dubs, nor any of the faked and overly exaggerated emotions. Everything was just portrayed in such a fantastic and realistic manner. Team Rocket especially was full of witty lines that they somewhat lose as the seasons progress. Their characters, despite being the so-called “bad guys”, are incredibly loveable and endearing.
The story was also breathtakingly beautiful. A sad, lonely little girl’s dream world suddenly becomes reality, granted to her by these strange, legendary Pokemon. Entei, one of the legendary beast trio, appears as her father, a powerful yet compassionate figure. Delia Ketchum is kidnapped to replace her mother and Ash frantically tries to save her, stopping at nothing to get his mother back. I was thoroughly touched every time he told her that whatever she wished would come true. I got shivers as he was struggling against the Unown, telling Molly to believe in him. When he sacrificed himself to save the others, I cried. The story was spun in such a way that made it so that there was no character that one ended up disliking. Even Molly, who was placed in the position of the antagonist, was lovable. She was adorable and sweet, even when she was battling against Brock and Misty. After all, she was just a little girl who missed her parents. Can you really blame her for that? The love and ties between all of the characters in this movie is apparent, giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling after watching it.
Ever since I first saw the third movie in theatres as a child, I have been in love with it. Even after watching every other movie, Spell of the Unown remains my favourite. No matter how old I am, I still enjoy it and have watched it numerous times. If you have not seen Spell of the Unown, my question to you is what are you waiting for? It’s an absolute masterpiece that is a must to watch for every single Pokefan!