This review contains spoilers! Please do not read it if you do not want any plot details revealed. This review is also entirely my opinion; your opinion may vary.
Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life starts just like the rest of the Pokémon movies: showing off the Pokémon world and those who live in it. After the standard intro finishes, a recap of movies 10 and 11 runs, showing the feud between Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. The film then cuts to Arceus’s past and finally finishes with Arceus claiming justice to be brought to the human race.
The graphics are beautiful like most of the recent movies, combining the classic 2D hand-drawn artwork with the modern 3D computer-generated imagery. Arceus fits in perfectly well with the previous two, The Rise of Darkrai and Giratina and the Sky Warrior. The Pokémon themselves look very representative of their artwork and 3D models promoting the video games.
Arceus features the same quality of amazing score that livened up The Rise of Darkrai. The sound effects are brilliant and are successful at accomplishing their goal. Arceus has a strange voice, especially when it acts complacent; however, the irate voice suits Arceus quite well. The English intro theme is an extended version of Stand Up!, which is the introduction to the 12th season of the anime, Galactic Battles. Its remix is an excellent and catchy composition. Like the themes in previous movies, however, it just seems a little too short.
Arceus and the Jewel of Life is the third film in the Diamond & Pearl trilogy, following The Rise of Darkrai and its sequel, Giratina and the Sky Warrior. The film itself centers on Arceus’s imminent destruction of the world putting humans to justice through meteors bombarding the earth, the equivalent of the biblical Judgment Day. As Arceus is the god of the Pokémon universe, this reference is more than obvious.
The setting of the motion picture is ancient times, likening to the ruins of various ancient Greek civilizations. The depiction is presented very well, including the usage of Pokémon as servants, such as Cyndaquil for keeping the fire lit or Bronzong to help arrest misbehaving citizens. The solar eclipse used in the film was actually an allusion to a real event: a solar eclipse occurring close to the date that the film was premiered in Japanese cinema. It may have also had a connotation with the religious implications of eclipses.
Arceus receives due emphasis on the abilities of a god (with partial reference to a number of Greek gods), yet nearly perishes from being frozen solid in silver. Ash and co. slowly start to disintegrate because of the rupture of time until Pikachu fully vanishes. The Jewel of Life revives Arceus and brings the gang back to the future.
As great as the film is, there is one fatal flaw that must be brought to attention. After fixing the past, Ash and friends travel to the future to see Arceus still wreaking havoc on Michina Town. Several seconds later, Arceus realizes who Ash is and stops. If they had truly returned forward in time, they would have not seen Arceus angry, for there would have been no reason for it to have awakened. There would also have not been any destruction to the land, nor any of the three lesser deities having a quarrel.
On the other side of the time travel stick, they managed to pull off the term “Pokémon” well. In Celebi: Voice of the Forest, one of the characters, Sam, shows off the Poké Balls of the past, which date back to their invention. Lucario and the Mystery of Mew also references the absence of Poké Balls where all Pokémon roam free, but not giving them a formal name. Arceus and the Jewel of Life calls them “magical creatures”, as they are rather animal-like and have fantastic abilities; they certainly can’t be called Pokémon, which is short for Pocket Monsters, as they don’t have the ability to be shrunk to pocket size with a ball.
All in all, Arceus and the Jewel of Life is a very enjoyable experience for anyone who enjoyed previous Pokémon films. It is a must-see for Pokémon fans and anyone who has seen The Rise of Darkrai and Giratina and the Sky Warrior.