Starting off the first year of the 2010s, Pokémon's Black and White finally let go of Ash's remaining friends he had met from the beginning of the anime. However, that basic group outline would stay consistent. Venturing into the unova region he would be joined by Iris and Cilan having somewhat similar roles to fill as previous characters. Along with that came a new film entry but released in a very weird way. For some reason two productions were made having the same storyline except for some slightly different scene changes. As for reception of the release, it seemed like many enjoyed it. This is good for familiar fans of the show but to anyone just joining, it still would be hard to get fully involved. Realistically though, this is one of the weaker entries in this shows run of films.
The story feels overly complex dealing with ancient ancestry and how a kingdom was removed from its rightful place. This was done after two legendary dragon Pokémon Zekrom and Reshiram clashed. To settle the spat, another legendary Pokémon by the name of Victini gave its powers to accomplish just that. And it just so happens Ash and his new friends are headed in that direction. Considering again the guys heading it - Mr. Yuyama and Sonoda, this entry or set of entries is nothing to feel invested over. Making it all the less inviting is the release of this film. What is the point of having two similar versions of this story? If it's a director or producer's cut, that's something, but just altering various scenes to fit a different perspective? It just feels very horseshoed in. Which one should a viewer watch, both?
If so, that's truly wasted time. What also doesn't help is the over reliance on main characters with cuteness. Victini is too reminiscent of several other tiny "legendaries" that have appeared throughout the franchise of films. Now, it's just overstaying it's welcome. This doesn't mean the antagonists don't have development, but it is very distracting when the main focus always pivots on the tiny big eyed Pokémon. One other thing to note of is the change in Team Rocket and their approach taken in stories now. Yes, for this they are still relegated to sideline characters, but they are far more competent than what they used to be. Instead of making jokes, puns, rhymes or even blasting off, they actually manage to hold their own. What got into them lately?
The acting is good even though some consider the black and white series main characters not as great as others. Eileen Stevens who voices Iris plays her character well. Having voiced Zorua in the last film, her expansion into a full blown recurring character works. Jason Griffith voices Cilan and his performance doesn't miss a beat either. While he hasn't spent too much time with the franchise, he did voice some minor characters in Pokémon films before as well shows like One Piece and Sonic X. Then there's also J. Michael Tatum playing Damon, Leah Clark as Carlita and Lisa Ortiz as Luisa, who are natives and descendants of the old kingdom. All of whom have experience working on other animes. The animation is also credible.
Being how far the films have come since they began, the CGI components are not as jarring anymore when next to their digitally animated counterparts. Cinematography is still a questionable thing to have in an animated film unless explained. The only shocker here is that it's not who it normally is. This time its Shinsuke Ikeda which is their first time working on a Pokémon film. As for score, the music is again composed by Shinji Miyazaki which again provides a very underwhelming experience. For some reason, the music here is just not that interesting to listen too. Maybe the guy just needs a break? That's probably understandable after working on it for so long. At least he likely didn't have to score music for both versions of the film.
The animation and acting are really the only highlights because they are competently done. That's not to say music or the basic story structure isn't, but it just feels stock. Having a big eyed baby sounding Pokémon at the center of the film has been done enough times now. Additionally, making two versions of the film with practically no differences makes no sense.