Humans are tools
How can you compare max's arc and misty's role in movie. This was a movie only based on max and he was good, this movie showed may's and max bonding and max and jirachi's moments which were still better than misty's little cameo in second movie. She may have contributed in that movie but she still was a supporting character and that movie still revolved around ash and lugia.When I went through all the movies and got to this one, my initial reaction was: my god…I’d given up hope of seeing it outside of Revelation Lugia, but as Yoda once said, there is another…
Another pokefilm where a travelling companion gets an actual arc!
Not just an arc - Max’s friendship with Jirachi forms the core of the plot. That friendship is very sweet and believable. Jirachi’s a cute character, and Max is at his slightly bratty but innocent best. Ash is in a mentor/supporting role this time ‘round, and plays the part well. Even in the climax, he doesn’t end up arbitrarily acting as the hero; he’s part of the team that saves the day, but not its star. This film puts him to better use than most of them IMO. And having the heroes work together with the “villain” at the end is novel. On paper, Jirachi Wish Maker should be among the best of the pokefilms.
Most of the pokefilms suffer from pacing issues, but this one has unique challenges on that front. It’s a very choppy plot. By that I mean that individual scenes and sequences may be well-constructed and effective, but there’s not a great organic flow from one to the next. The first attack by Absol’s a good example. It’s a nifty little bit of action, but it just happens in the midst of other things without a clear set-up and without a good lead-in to the next scene. Compounding this problem is the decision to structure the story around one week. That’s not an inherently bad way to organize a movie’s plot, but the danger of it is that, when not done carefully, it can feel…well, as I said already, choppy. It doesn’t help that the timing is a bit funky with the days of the week; the first few get a decent amount of screen time, the middle few are breezed over, and the last one eats up nearly half the movie.
There are also story elements here that just don’t work IMO. The opening sequence with the TRio feels like something from a typical episode thrown in here for padding. The melodramatic romance between Butler and Diane is plagued by hammy dialogue and the fact that Butler isn’t a very likable guy. But most out of place is Groudon. The situation here isn’t quite as bad as the one with Yveltal in Diancie; at least the idea the Groudon will play a part in the film is introduced early on. But Jirachi is a Pokemon with the reputed power to grant wishes, and the confirmed power to teleport. Both these things would make her a prized target for any villain. To ultimately want her just to revive another Pokemon - one that amounts to a bland kaiju at that - feels like a bit of a waste. The animation of the fake Groudon is impressive, and its powers and attacks have a bit of Miyazakian flavor to them, but I think they would have done better to have Jirachi as the only featured Pokemon.
When I realized that Max and Jirachi’s story would carry the picture, I kind of hoped that this film would take the “Best Role for a Traveling Companion” crown from Lugia. But because the plot is so riddled with issues, Max’s arc, charming though it is, just doesn’t gel as nicely as Misty’s in Lugia. It’s a case of the main relationship of a story being solid, but the structure and execution of the plot around that relationship dragging things down.
Now, for its technical weaknesses on the story front, Jirachi is a very entertaining movie. From Mewtwo’s cape in the (ever baffling) introduction sequence to the candy scene to a great exchange by Jessie and James (”do I look blind?” “That would explain the hair.”) this film is full of fun little details and moments. At the risk of being repetitive, the main friendship is very endearing. And I watched these films all out of order initially, so it was great to hear 4Kids cast again after going through so many films in the hands of TCPi. I can’t say I found the lullabye the dub provided especially memorable, but having an all-around solid cast, cast in appropriate roles, was so welcome at that point. Veronica Taylor doesn’t get enough credit for subtly tweaking her Ash voice to reflect his growing maturity in the AG era.