Pokemon The Movie 3: Spell of the Unown was released in Japanese theaters on July 8, 2000 (under the title Pocket Monsters: Lord of the "Unknown" Tower). The dubbed English version of the film was released to theaters in the United States on April 6, 2001. In the United States, the film was released before the episode "The Totodile Duel" aired, which caused some continuity problems for viewers. This meant that Ash had acquired a Totodile and a Noctowl, and Misty's Poliwag had evolved into a Poliwhirl before these events happened in the series.
The film was preceded by the 20-minute short, "Pikachu and Pichu," and it marked the debut of the Pichu Brothers. In the short, Ash, Brock, and Misty go to a big city that reminds me of New York, and they leave their Pokemon in a park at the top of building to play so their trainers can work on a surprise. Pikachu becomes separated from the others, and the Pichu Brothers must help Pikachu reunite with the other Pokemon. Meowth appears in the short as a window washer, and is the source of some of the comic relief. Pikachu makes it back to the other Pokemon in time, and Ash unveils that the surprise is a party to celebrate the day Pikachu and Ash first met.
In Pokemon The Movie 3, Professor Spencer Hale (who is a top student of Professor Oak) is investigating a kind of Pokemon called Unown. He has a daughter named Molly, and his wife had mysteriously disappeared before the film begins. Professor Hale is called away to a potential discovery, and has to leave Molly behind. While Professor Hale investigates some ruins, he mysteriously disappears.
When a shipment from the ruins arrives at Professor Hale's home in Greenfield, it includes tiles with pictures of the Unown. Molly's sadness and desire for companionship invokes the Unown trapped inside the tiles, and they use their reality-warping abilities to seal off the mansion and surrounding valley in crystals. The Unown also create an image of the legendary Pokemon Entei to stand in for Molly's missing father.
Ash, Brock, and Misty arrive in Greenfield as these events are unfolding. Professor Oak and Ash's mother (Delia Ketchum) watch the news coverage, and decide to go to Greenfield. Delia is an old friend of the Hale family, and she wants to make sure Molly is all right. After Delia arrives, Molly wishes for a mother. Entei brainwashes Delia and kidnaps her, taking her back to the Hale's home to be Molly's new mother. Ash and his friends end up trying to make their way into the Hale's mansion to try to rescue Delia.
There are a total of six special features on the DVD. The first is a roughly three-minute documentary titled, "Making of 'To Know the Unknown'." The documentary is about the girl group Innosense recording the song for the ending credits of the movie. The girls in the group talk about the message of the song. Unfortunately, the audio quality of the interview footage isn't the best, but at least you can understand what's being said.
Next is a feature titled, "What the Filmmakers Say"; this is basically a version of the movie with audio commentary by the directors of the English dub running over it.
Next is the "Johto Pokerap," which is the Pokerap that would have been shown at the end of some of the Johto-era Pokemon episodes. Unfortunately, this Pokerap is not as good as the original one.
There is the theatrical trailer for the English dub version of Pokemon The Movie 3, which has a runtime of 45 seconds. There is also a Japanese trailer for the fourth Pokemon film; however, there are no subtitles provided, so if you don't understand Japanese, you have no idea what is being said during the trailer.
The final extra is titled, "Little Known Unown Facts." This is two pages of text, but all of the facts included are revealed over the course of the movie. In other words, the title of this extra is rather misleading.
Overall, this is a rather enjoyable film. As with the other Pokemon films, it utilizes its runtime effectively to tell a strong story. When it comes to the DVD, it's disappointing that the short can't be accessed as a special feature. I was also a little disappointed in the fact that the Japanese trailer didn't include subtitles, and I thought the "Little Known Unown Facts" was a rather worthless bonus feature.
Even with its flaws, this is still a DVD a Pokemon fan should have in their DVD collection.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband and I purchased.