After 25 very long minutes of Pikachu's Rescue Adventure, the feature, subtitled The Power of One, finally opens. The villain, Lawrence III, reads aloud an ancient and cryptic inscription (think Indiana Jones). The carved words foretell power and treasure for the one who can unite three rare Pokémon birds found in the Orange Islands. Coincidentally, Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum and his friends Misty and Brock are on vacation with their Pokémon in those very islands. Strange disturbances in nature draw trainers and Pokémon alike to one island- Shamouti-where Ash is asked to participate in the ritual of the Chosen One. The ceremony is performed every year to look forward to the day when the real Chosen One will gather three Pokémon treasures and thus tame "the beast of the sea" (a.k.a. the new Pokémon Lugia).
Meanwhile, Lawrence has upset the balance of nature by disturbing the harmony between the Pokémon titans of fire, lightning and ice. Team Rocket, comprised of Jessie and James, a pair of thieving Pokémon trainers, shows up to steal Ash's Pokémon, Pikachu. It soon becomes clear that Ash's presence in the islands is not a coincidence and that the treasure ritual has given way to the real thing: Ash is the Chosen One. The treasures he seeks belong to the three Pokémon Lawrence wants to capture, and Ash is able to use them to save the day.
Positive Elements: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 celebrates a "can-do" spirit. Ash valiantly steps up to his responsibility: "Some things are more important than fun. This is serious. I'm the Chosen One. I gotta be responsible." Misty is willing to risk her life to rescue Ash when he gets in trouble at sea. All the Pokémon rush to the scene of trouble in hopes of being the one to help. Lawrence is clearly ignoble because he uses Pokémon for his own personal satisfaction rather than caring for them and training them for good. Team Rocket gives up trying to steal Pikachu for the higher goal of defeating Lawrence and restoring order to the world ("We don't want the world destroyed. Even if we survived, there'd be no one left to steal from. We'd be out of work.") Ash's mother is relieved when he survives his task, expressing her concern and fear and reminding everyone that, "Ash is the world to me."
Spiritual Content: The idea of the Chosen One is treated as a prophecy and the ceremony as a semi-religious festival. The Pokémon all have preternatural powers and the ability to shoot streams of power from one to the other. These seem to be fantastical rather than occult. Still, some viewers will associate ideas about harmony in nature with New Age religion or Eastern mysticisms.
Sexual Content: None. Concerning romantic content, Misty balks when Melody teases that she's Ash's girlfriend. In the end she admits a strong bond between herself and Ash but expresses it through a lifesaving, selfless act of friendship.
Violent Content: Mild to moderate. The action is continual, and may frighten very young viewers, but there is no bloodshed. The most intense scenes involve the ice, lightning and fire Pokémon. Lawrence's capture methods are harsh, and once the three birdlike Pokémon have been thrown out of balance, they attack one another with electric-current-like powers as they vie for rank. A fierce storm shipwrecks the Pokémon trainers, but no one is injured. Ash nearly drowns in his attempt to collect the treasures and restore order to the islands. When Lawrence is defeated, his ship crash-lands with him inside.
Foul Language: None
Drug and Alcohol Content: None
Other Negative Elements: The reformation of Team Rocket is celebrated ("We did the right thing and it feels great!"), but it's not complete. They decide they want to continue doing the right thing, but to do so they'll have to break from their current boss and start all over. They'll be starting out penniless, so how will they fund their efforts? They'll steal money, of course.
Summary: The plot is as wearisome as it was in Pokémon: The First Movie. But the violence has been tamed somewhat, so the positive messages shine a bit more brightly. If only there were a way for kids to extract those positive messages without making parents suffer so much.
Note: In the short film that precedes the movie, Pikachu and friends work together to rescue Poké-egg character Togepi from a storm. To the delight of children and annoyance of adults, only four English lines are spoken during the entire 25 minute ordeal. In place of dialogue is a barrage of gibberish from Pokémon whose only intelligible sounds include the high-pitched repetition of their own names. Again, a positive story, but positively nerve-grating.