Movie Critics - The Panel: Diamonds Are Forever

By Layell and princessofmusic. Art by Bummer.
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I remember the first time I watched a Pokémon film: it was a packed movie theater with kids of all ages. This was the first film, and Mewtwo was going to fight Mew; we cried when Ash turned to stone and cheered and applauded at the end of the credits as if Pikachu itself could hear our thunderous cries for more. Of course, we all paid to get in and would be paying for all the Mewtwo and Pikachu merchandise we could find after that. After that first film, I saw the next two, and by then, I stopped caring about the show and films entirely. They weren't giving away cards or anything cool, so why would you want to waste your time with them?

Some 15 years after watching that first film, I went with my girlfriend, princessofmusic, to a Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire promotion event which was screening Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction for free. We had some Pokémon battles and ate free popcorn together. Take that, bullies in elementary school who said no girls would like me for playing Pokémon at recess; I certainly showed you!

To take advantage of our free preview of this film, princessofmusic and I decided to bring back this old Movie Critics feature, and we will explore in-depth some of our favorite and least favorite features with you. As this is a completely new film and barely anyone has seen it, we will give you the gist of it (or if you were like those parents in the back who slept through it, consider this just a recap).


The story begins in the Diamond Domain, a subterranean network of gem-encrusted tunnels which comprises the home world of Carbink and Diancie.

Diancie is playing "hide-and-seek" with her three Carbink attendants, who chase after her with important news. All goes well until a troop of youngster Carbink spoil her cover. The Carbink elder, Dace, arrives and reminds Diancie that she has responsibilities as a princess. A sanctum within the Diamond Domain houses the Heart Diamond: a floating gem of massive proportions which powers the entire kingdom with light and energy. The elder reveals that the Heart Diamond will soon degenerate, and the only one with the capability to create a new diamond is Diancie herself, setting up the film's central dramatic conflict.

Dace flashbacks: in his younger days, he had gone to the Allearth Forest when a cataclysm took place. A dark shroud engulfed the forest, turning everything into stone until Xerneas made a timely arrival and saved the lives of Dace and a group of other Pokémon.

In the present, Dace asks Diancie to find Xerneas, who can grant her the power necessary to form a new Heart Diamond. She agrees, excited to see the outside world. What an intense first seven minutes!

The opening credits roll, during which Ash engages in a friendly match with a female Ace Trainer while Serena, Clemont, and Bonnie spectate. Nearby, Diancie escapes the clutches of two of the film's villains: Marilyn Flame and Ninja Riot. As Ash's battle ends, Pikachu senses the scuffle and runs off as Ash and company follow.

Diancie befriends the crew after they rescue her. Everybody has dinner that evening, during which Team Rocket comes along and abducts Diancie using a sack. These guys want Diancie to make diamonds for them; Diancie complies and generates enough gems to jam the clocktower they're in from the inside. While Team Rocket is distracted, a mysterious girl named Millis Steel shows up and helps Diancie to escape.

Ash and company reunite with Diancie; meanwhile, the gems that Diancie created all dissolve, allowing the clock to chime eight o'clock and foiling Team Rocket's plans. Diancie tells the friends about her quest to find Xerneas so that she can create real diamonds, and they decide to join her. On their journey, Diancie unintentionally creates a small diamond, which Bonnie preserves in her purse.

The protagonists hit the mall, where Diancie goes shopping with the girls while the boys sit and wait in boredom. In the ensuing montage, Ash and company help Diancie escape from her three Carbink attendants; Marilyn ambushes the heroes, most of whom get away via Rhyhorn riding. They end up in the woods, where Riot attacks them. Millis Steel makes an entrance and holds off the other two villains, allowing Diancie and friends to escape.

Next, the Carbink trio leads the protagonists inside the Diamond Domain. It's too late: Dace explains that the Heart Diamond has died, and Diancie starts to cry, realizing that she has failed her people. Ash helps her pull it together, and they continue on with their search.

Dace accompanies the group as they arrive at the Allearth Forest. He discusses the threat of Yveltal, who became a cocoon after the events of yesteryear and slumbered in the same location. Diancie spots Xerneas in the distance, but it flees like a mirage. The princess trips and falls, and ends up rolling into its foot. Xerneas, who speaks telepathically with a female voice, casts its Fairy Aura onto Diancie before disappearing again.

Before Diancie can assess her new powers, a military aircraft emerges overhead; Millis Steel and her father Argus descend from it, now revealed as villains who also want to capture Diancie. Riot and Marilyn join the party, and the brawl soon ends up in a vast, eerie crater filled with water. The characters land in the pool, disturbing a certain cocoon on the lakebed.

They notice something's wrong, but it's too late: Yveltal awakens and immediately asserts itself as a threat, petrifying Riot and Marilyn's Pokémon and destroying the forest once again. Millis and Argus attempt to escape with Diancie, but the legendary thwarts them. Later, Marilyn mourns the loss of her Delphox, and despite their history as rivals, she and Riot reconcile and embrace before Yveltal's attack locks them in stone.

In the biggest twist of the film, Diancie faces her fears, and as she and the gem in Bonnie's purse begin to glow, she transforms into Mega Diancie! She generates a Heart Diamond in the air, which absorbs Yveltal's Oblivion Wing, before reverting to her base forme.

Argus and Millis reappear in their military plane and launch a barrage of missiles at Yveltal, attempting to finish it off. Yveltal emerges from the gunfire unharmed and with a vengeance: it crushes the front of their aircraft and petrifies them at point-blank range. The defunct plane plunges into the river below.

Xerneas arrives in time to deflect Yveltal's next blast, which was headed towards Ash and company. In the most anticlimactic face-off ever, Xerneas telepathically calms Yveltal, who withdraws its power and peacefully soars away. That's it: no battle between the two title legendaries!

Afterwards, Xerneas revives everything in the surrounding area, turning itself into a tree in exchange. All of the villains and their Pokémon return to life.

Back in the Diamond Domain, Diancie Mega Evolves again and creates a new Heart Diamond to restore power to the kingdom. Bonnie discovers that the diamond that Diancie created earlier is still intact, and she returns it to the princess. With pride, Diancie holds it up: the camera zooms in and displays the Mega emblem inside. All along, Diancie created its own Mega Stone!

The end credits show that the film's bad guys have reformed. The Steels have opened a confectionery that sells chocolates; elsewhere, Ninja Riot proposes to Marilyn Flame in marriage, and she accepts (it was at this point that the audience cheered the loudest, in the theater that Layell and I were in!).

Layell on Locations

Here is a small fun note: the locations in this film were all based on Canada, and it seems that the province of Ontario was featured prominently. For those of you who don't know, princessofmusic and I live in Ontario, and the recognition was completely obvious. Parliament Hill is the inspiration for the starting scene with Ash. The shopping spree at the mall is clearly the iconic Toronto Eaton Centre, and as a note, the fact that Ash and Clemont had to wait for the girls to do their shopping is completely accurate. The Allearth Forest as the location in the finale was certainly inspired by Canada's wonderful boreal forests and features a waterfall not unlike the iconic Niagara Falls. The subterranean caves full of little grumbling men are without a doubt the headquarters of Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada.

The real baffling thing to me is that this film takes place in Kalos, aka PokéFrance, and they apparently thought that Canada = France. They could have been consistent and at least picked Quebecois locations, but even then, the relationship is dubious at best. The director of this film actually traveled to Canada to "scope out" locations; I am more keen to think that he decided he wanted a free vacation, and he wanted it to be paid on the Pokémon Company's dime.

princessofmusic on Protagonist

In early editions of the Movie Critics, some may recall Jellicent dedicating his panel towards insulting Ash, the traditional protagonist in animated Pokémon media, as hard as humanly possible each issue. This time, however, Ash can step aside, because the real protagonist of this movie is clearly the pink princess of prettiness: Diancie.

Diancie is adorable. Other choice adjectives would include polite, charming, fabulous, whatever. You're probably familiar with the event legendary version of Diancie from the games, and I highly recommend this movie if, by chance, you're interested in witnessing an entirely different depiction of this legendary.

"I will hereby allow you all to be my friends." —Diancie at some point

That, folks, is real class (and absolutely chuckle-worthy).

Throughout the movie, Diancie teeters back and forth between being a standard damsel in distress and a genuinely cool character, finally leaning towards the latter when she Mega Evolves during the final clash. Frankly, with her base 160 Special Attack and both her types beating Yveltal's, it's a shame that Mega Diancie didn't just outright whoop Yveltal's butt without waiting for the other title legendary's arrival. Writers, you can be more creative than that.

Anyhow, it was about time for a Pokémon film to star an actual Pokémon as the main character, and gosh, Diancie is perfect. This gem of a movie does not disappoint.

Layell on Villains

Now for every good hero, we also need a decent antagonist. This film ups the ante significantly with four villains caught in a hate triangle of trying to be the ones to make lots and lots of money off of stealing Diancie. We have Marilyn Flame, Ninja Riot, and the father/daughter duo of Argus and Millis Steel. Some might consider this overkill; however, I enjoy how much each of these villains repeatedly attempt to not only be assholes to Ash and company, but also to pull their rivals' chains. Giving each of them a fully evolved starter is also an interesting change of dynamic in the Pokémon films. Generally, we see the starters of the movie trainers in supporting roles in order to remind kids to buy more merchandise. But here, they are used to fight each other repeatedly, and I don't mind this change.

The naming convention on these villains, though, is something else. Marilyn Flame is the kind of name you'd give your kid if you know she is going to be some sort of sex icon. I mean, I can't really define anything else she has going on; that is the extent of her character. Secondly, we have Ninja Riot, and I'm going to have to assume Ninja Riot is his actual name and he just decided it would give him an edge in the ninja career field. Mr. Riot also has easily some of the best entrances for a villain; he has invisibility, sudden vanishing as carriages move across the screen, and flying in while being tethered to two Ninjask, just like a real ninja! He also has some of the best flirting moments in the entire Pokémon series; Brock could learn a thing or two from Mr. Riot. Argus and Millis Steel disrupt this whole convention of being named after the starters; apparently, Argus's Aegislash team is so centralizing to the naming metagame that they have the surname Steel. Is this supposed to be a pun on stealing? Even I don't know. Perhaps Millis is just looking for the right man in her life to get a proper Grass / Fighting surname, but the movie never addresses this. The Steels also have easily the best plan with making sure Diancie can actually create real diamonds. Plus, there is that whole giant ship thing they have going on. So while there is a definite lack of depth aside from "we want diamonds," these three certainly add a bit of a power struggle in a film series that is often known for really simple plots.

princessofmusic on Plot

For those who are familiar with the ubiquitous three-act structure, this movie follows it, practically to the finest detail. I don't see this as a bad thing, however, and it gives the film a somewhat relatable, Hollywood-esque feel.

The introductory segment of the film works to establish two things: one, Diancie is a cute and reasonably likeable protagonist, and two, she's been given an astronomically large job, one that if she fails at, the world she lives in will be in big, big trouble. As if that weren't enough, Dace's subsequent flashback does a really great job at cementing the feeling of impending doom.

Like with any other exposition, the first seven minutes also serve to introduce our main characters and their world. Diancie is our protagonist, who's officially the princess of the Diamond Domain. She is, inexplicably, the only member of her species present; her subjects are composed entirely of Carbink. The movie makes no attempt whatsoever to explain this, except for Diancie commenting that the Carbink had raised her since she was "very young."

Let's fast forward a little... or a lot, to the end of the second act. Characteristic of the three-act structure, the lowest point in the film happens here. Diancie finds out that the Heart Diamond is no more, and we see shots of the Diamond Domain breaking down: crystal deposits everywhere decay as hundreds of innocent Carbink huddle in the cold and dark, and it seems like all is lost. Cue tearjerker moment: Diancie proclaims herself a failure of a princess and begins to cry, which may inspire you, the audience, to do the same (I teared up; don't judge me).

I could go on discussing more plot points, but I think you get the idea. It's predictable, but still manages to be fun.

Layell on Battles

As I mentioned before, having the three Kalos starters continuously bash against each other while abducting a princess makes for some great moments. Throw in Ash trying to remain important to this plot, and you have a lot of fun. This film also really puts the Mega Evolutions into focus because we get a lot of them shown, and in fact, this was a big part of the marketing for this film. Too bad most are the cameo sections at the start, and we really only see Mega Absol and Mega Diancie do anything of note in this film.

These recent films also seem to really enjoy focusing on only one of Ash's Pokémon for the majority of the time; rather than taking advantage of the longer screen time to get everyone in, Ash will use Pikachu and maybe two more. In this film, we saw a lot of Hawlucha and a fair bit of Froakie. Hawlucha certainly steals the show with those macho wrestling moves, and adds good moments of levity during some of the fights.

The best part of the film is Yveltal, who goes around and does not care about whatever the plot of this movie might have been. His whole life-stealing schtick is the same as what happens in the very first film, but at least we have a better explanation for why it all happens. You actually think Yveltal has a chance to completely hijack this film, turning all the villains and even Pikachu into stone. Then Xerneas comes along, and after two attacks, the XY mascots leave and Xerneas becomes a tree.

That was not the battle of XY titans I was looking for; I'd ask for my money back, but this whole preview was free. With such a nonsensical ending to an epic battle with people being turned rock solid left and right, perhaps the writers were stoned as well.


The track record of these films is quite astounding; they are annual releases, and in our own lifetimes, they will probably have made more films than any other franchise in existence. This impressive record says nothing to the fact that I will still make fun of them for whatever reasons I possibly can. I'd like to say that this is the last Movie Critics article, but I might very well have to revive it again once I see the next film and how bad it was. Overall, I would say this wasn't the worst of the series, but it's very telling that they didn't even want us to pay to see it. It was still enjoyable though, and princessofmusic enjoyed it partly because it was about a Pokémon who was a princess. But nobody is going to claim these films as groundbreaking works of art, yet they can be enjoyed if you know enough about Pokémon, and at the preview I got my fair share of free popcorn out of the whole ordeal. See you all when the next film comes out!

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