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What do a volcanic lion and the alphabet have in common? This film.

Pokémon 3 the Movie: Spell of the Unown, known as Pocket Monsters: Lord of the Unknown Tower: ENTEI in Japan, is the third Pokémon: The Series film and first film in the Johto arc, released on July 8, 2000. It was directed once again by Kunihiko Yuyama and written by Takeshi Shudō and Hideki Shirane. It was Shudo's last Pokémon film before his death in 2010.

During a discovery in some far-off ruins, Professor Spencer Hale is sucked into the realm of the Unown, who then appear to his young daughter Molly. The Unown make Molly's wishes come true, and the Pokémon transform the mansion into a crystal palace, and create an Entei to replace Molly's father.

Meanwhile, Ash and his friends arrive at Greenfield, and they are caught up in the mission to save Molly. However, it gets worse, as Ash's mother, Delia Ketchum, is kidnapped by Entei in order to have her as Molly's mother. Now Ash, Misty, and Brock must not only save Molly, but Delia as well.

For 18 years, this was the last Pokémon film to score a wide release in North America, after disappointing at the box office. The fourth and fifth films settled for limited releases (and under Miramax instead of Warner Bros.), while all the rest have gone straight to video or TV. However, this film is currently the fifth highest grossing anime film in North America. In 2019, the franchise finally made its return to wide cinemas in North America with Pokémon Detective Pikachu, with Warner Bros. once again distributing, by which point Kids' WB (whose logo appears on the North American Pokémon 3 poster) had been a thing of the past since 2008.

Released with Pikachu and Pichu.

This movie provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The crystal castle and swarms of Unown are all rendered CG, which mostly serves to make them look creepier.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The dimension Molly's father gets transported to via the Unown.
  • Adaptational Abomination: The Unown go from being a weak, one-note Pokémon in the games to being immensely powerful reality-warping creatures from another universe.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the original Japanese, Molly's mother is absent because she left her husband due to his obsession with his work. The English dub instead says she disappeared and implies the Unown were somehow involved.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Unown. In the games, they're basically gimmick characters with only a single attack and nothing more than cosmetic differences between them. In this film, they're nigh-unstoppable reality warpers. Possibly justified as the games state that Unown are exponentially more powerful when all of them are together, which never comes into play there since you can only use one at a time.
  • Almighty Mom: Delia when she stands up to Entei. It was a failed effort, but she still gets points for trying.
    Delia: I don't care if you're a real Pokémon or not! You can't take the place of her real father!
    Entei: I AM Molly's real father! As long as that is her wish!
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Downplayed; The Japanese poster for the movie has a brighter background and features Pikachu, Misty, Brock and the Johto starters, with Charizard only seen far away. The English poster (above) is darker, relegates Pikachu to promoting the short, and adds Ash riding on Charizard.
  • An Aesop:
  • And the Rest: This is when Ash's mom started doing this to him. She greets Pikachu with a hug, and Ash with "Oh hi honey." And the fans think she's overprotective?
  • Anger Born of Worry: What snaps Delia out of her brainwashing is seeing Ash on a dangerous climb via a news report, which causes her to yell at him to get down.
  • Anti-Villain: Molly (Type II) and Entei (Type IV).
    • Molly is just a little orphaned girl who was granted ultimate power and wants to be in a happy family again. Unfortunately, her reality warping is affecting the world, and she's too young to use it responsibly.
    • Entei is an imaginary being meant to represent Molly's father. All the disaster caused by him just because she asked him to do something and he wants to make her happy.
    • Possibly the Unown themselves, they quickly make friends with Molly and appear to only want to make her happy. It's stated later on by Professor Oak that the Unown's rampage is not due to malicious intent, but Power Incontinence.
  • Artificial Pokémon: The Crystal Pokémon Molly creates, but only Entei is shown to have a true personality.
  • Badass Adorable: He may not have won but Pikachu taking on Entei like he did was undeniably badass and he put up a decent fight.
  • Battle Butler: Entei serves as one for Molly.
  • Beam-O-War: Lots of it in the Charizard vs. Entei battle.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Molly and the Unown.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Charizard, having witnessed the crisis while in the Charicific Valley, takes off to join the battle, saving Ash and Pikachu from falling to their deaths right in the nick of time.
    • Entei himself.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The "undiscovered" Unown which appear on Professor Oak's computer are Cyrillic letters.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Professor Hale's report about the Unown.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Unown trap Professor Hale in their dimension during his research, and then go on to bring chaos to Greenfield while fulfilling a lonely Molly’s wishes without any qualms.
  • Bond Creatures: Entei, to Molly.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Team Rocket, as usual.
    Meowth: You think we're gonna get a bigger part in the next movie?
    • Then again after the Rocket Trio saved Ash from falling.
    Meowth: If anything happened to you, we'd be out of showbusiness!
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Hey, Charizard, Entei is no run-of-the-mill Legendary.
  • Catchphrase: Entei has two, "If that is what you wish." and "I am happy that you are happy."
  • Creepy Children Singing: The Unown's Pokémon Speak sounds like the classic slow "laa laaa laaaa" that you'd expect in a horror movie.
  • Crystal Landscape: The Unown collectively grant the wishes of the young girl Molly, transforming her family's mansion into a palace made of pure crystal. Their corrupting influence proceeds to spread outward, turning everything else into pure crystal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Molly vs Misty and Brock. Though the only reason for that is because she's essentially cheating.
    • Ash's team vs Entei, too. None of them stood a chance. Charizard was an exception, as he was able to put up a good fight, but Entei and the Unown stacked the odds waaay high against him, due to Molly wanting Entei to win and the Unown magnifying the power of her imagination. Although as a legendary Pokémon, Entei would have beaten them (save perhaps Charizard) all anyway.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the last film. This one is definitely more psychological (which is not a word commonly associated with Pokémon), and has far more creepy antagonists in the shape of the Unown. Also Entei comes dangerously close to killing Ash's Charizard at the end of their fight.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Some websites (Serebii included) actually went on to list Charizard as one of the three featured Pokémon alongside Entei and the Unown. He's even on the cover image above!
    • This is the one movie where Delia Ketchum gets to be a main character, revealing she was once a student of Professor Oak and a friend of Spencer Hale, and despite being a Damsel in Distress, she shows her brave side by chewing out Entei for kidnapping her and playing a key role in getting Molly to snap out of her depressive funk.
  • Disappeared Dad: What started the plot.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: The view pans out of the tower a couple of times during the Beam-O-War between Charizard and Entei.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: During the climax, Ash trying to convince Entei to "let Molly go," and Entei not wanting to hear any of it. (Separation issues.)
    • Also, Molly gaining a Legendary Pokémon out of nowhere, and her crystal Pokémon with obviously altered stats and near reality-warping powers, all the while being told how wrong that is. (Cheating in Pokémon Games)
  • The Dragon: Entei.
  • DVD Covers Spoil: For those who paid attention to the Johto season corresponding with this movie, Charizard appearing for the climax would've been a surprise note . But then he appears (see above) on the DVD cover fighting Entei...
  • Eldritch Abomination: Essentially what the Unown are. Certainly helped by the fact that they're rendered in CG, which serves to make them look more otherworldly.
  • Empathic Environment: The crystals in the mansion change according to Molly's mood.
  • Empathic Weapon:
    • The Unown; they create entire worlds throughout Molly's home based off images from a storybook she read, and they respond violently to her emotions. By the end of the movie, the Unown have gone out of control due to the girls' constantly changing temperament.
    • Entei too, to an extent.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Molly finds out she can't control the Unown anymore when she decides to quit, and they turn on her.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Team Rocket's closing lines for the film are an enthusiastic declaration that, whether or not they succeeded today, they can always fail tomorrow!
  • Fighting a Shadow: Molly creates a pair of dopplegangers (one as a young adult, the other as a tween) to fight Brock and Misty, respectively.
  • Filling the Silence: Molly spelling out her name and the names of her parents with Unown tiles has her talking about how they look just like letters, and that she can spell out her parents' names. In the Japanese version, she remains silent until afterward, when she cries about missing her father.
  • Fisher Queen: The Unown have turned Molly into this for her crystallized hometown.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Teenage!Molly's Pokémon all fit this trope. Justified since, again, little girl.
  • Funny Background Event: While Ash and company are talking to Team Rocket about their Villainous Rescue, Charizard turns around to listen in on them.
  • Giggling Villain: The Unown are a giggling Hive Mind Eldritch Abomination. It's exactly as creepy as it sounds.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Entei was created to be a father figure/guardian to Molly (or more specifically was based directly on her actual father). Once the Unown go out of control, they threaten Molly's own life, and Entei goes against them to protect her.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Molly and Entei.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: Almost in verbatim, even, but lighthearted in tone.
    Jessie: I'd say to prepare for trouble, but you're already in it!
    James: That's right.
    Meowth: Hey, don't steal my line.
  • Hero Antagonist: Entei is actually one of the nicest and most benevolent characters in the series, it's just that he happens to be loyal to an increasingly insane Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Entei.
  • Hope Spot: Molly manages to stop Entei from killing Ash and Charizard, and decides that she wants things restored to the way they were. The crystals start to recede... and then the Unown go completely out of control.
  • Hypnotize the Captive: Molly wants a mother, so Entei searches around, finds Ash's mother, hypnotizes her into thinking that Molly is her child, and takes her back to the mansion. It also has a funny moment when Ash's mother sees Ash getting into danger, and she snaps out of the trance to berate him.
  • Imprinting: Molly, the Human girl, imprints on Entei as her "Papa" for the rest of the movie.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Molly can psychically bend reality to match the one in her head, but even when she can't, she insists that hers is correct. A good example of this is that when Ash tells Molly that if she stops what she's doing, she can have real Pokémon and real friends. Molly's response is to conjure three crystal Pokémon and yell "I already have real Pokémon!"
  • It's Personal: So far the only movie for it to be personal for Ash.
    Ash: Entei! You took my mother — NOW WHERE IS SHE?!
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Entei again; justified in that he is a creation of the Unown based off Molly's thoughts and memories (and more specifically, her father), and he exists solely to protect her and keep her happy.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: Molly Hale. Unknowingly, whatever she wants, the Unown make into reality, including the ever-loyal Entei.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: In perfect order, in fact — Molly vs Brock, Molly vs Misty, and Entei vs Ash and Charizard take place respectively on each of these three fields.
  • Leitmotif: The five-note trumpet bar that accompanies Entei, and the Creepy Children Singing that accompanies the Unown.
  • Megaton Punch: The Teddiursa that Molly uses in battle against Brock knows DynamicPunch, which it uses on Vulpix to devastating effect.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Delia gains these when Entei hypnotizes her. They're restored back to normal when she sees Ash in danger and snaps out of it.
  • Missing Mom:
    • It's vaguely implied that the Unown are responsible for the disappearance of Molly's mother, hence Spencer Hale's persistence in researching them. The end credits show Spencer returning home to Molly with her mother in tow, suggesting the defeat of the Unown also brought her back as well.
    • In the Japanese version, it's stated that she left her husband because he wouldn't stop obsessing over his work. Should be noted that the English dub never rules out this to be the case.
  • Mission Control: Thanks to the Girl of the Week conveniently giving the gang a Pokégear, Professor Oak was able to maintain radio contact with them. His first order of business: telling Ash off for foolishly taking things into his own hands.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Entei outright states this during his battle against Charizard.
    Ash: It's not right for her to stay here with you! You have to let her go!
    Entei: Whether it is right or wrong, I will do AS SHE WISHES!
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Entei explicitly states he can become stronger as long as Molly wishes it. Molly also uses this trope, as she is able to create the Pokémon that she needs in battle and gives them whatever move she wants.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Unown create Entei, such that he can become as strong as Molly wishes. When Molly decides to escape the Unown...
  • No-Sell:
    • In the upbeat beginning of the movie, Ash's Pikachu's electric attacks ended up being shaken off by Lisa's Quagsire. This is a case of actually adhering to the type relationships of the Pokémon games the anime/movie is based on.
    • In the climax, Entei is able to easily shrug off Charizard's barrage of Flamethrowers and Fire Spins.
  • Obliviously Evil: Subverted/inverted with the Unown. They know damn well what they're doing, but it's clear they don't have any concept of the fact it's "evil".
  • Older Alter Ego: The Unown create crystal bodies for Molly as an adult and preteen (which her mind seems to possess) to battle Brock and Misty, respectively.
  • Parental Abandonment: Although both Molly's parents are back by the end.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Molly faces down the trio in three separate Pokémon battles, explicitly invoking this trope.
  • Power Incontinence: By the end of the movie, it's stated that the Unown's power had gotten so huge that even THEY couldn't turn it off. All they could do at that point was contain it, and grant Molly's desire for Entei's power-up, so they-and, by extent, their power-could be defeated.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: Or rather, pretend to still be brainwashed. When Delia breaks out of her trance after seeing Ash on a news broadcast, she brushes off her outburst as nothing and act like she's still in Entei's thrall.
  • Pun-Based Title: There are two different meanings in the dub's title "Spell of the Unown", which, some will find actually brilliant.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Entei: You. Are. MAMA!
  • Reality Warper: The Unown, and Molly by extension.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: One of the movie's aesops.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Ash and Delia knew the Hales prior to the start of the series. Mysteriously they had never been brought up before, or since.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The Unown create Entei to act as Molly's father, and then Entei kidnaps Delia to assume the role of Molly's mother.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: Twice. Brock battles Teen Molly while Ash and Misty continue on; Misty then faces Tween Molly so Ash can reach his mother.
  • Sanity Slippage: From the time of her father being sucked into the Unown's home dimension to the climax, Molly progressively loses more and more of her marbles. It starts when she sees Entei and automatically assumes that he's her father (technically he is, but this was before he started speaking),
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Unown.
  • Sky Face: At the end of the movie, Entei's face appears in the clouds in the sky.
  • Skyward Scream: When Professor Hale vanishes, his assistant Skyler reacts with "PROFESSOR!"
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Durring her battle with Molly, Misty claims to not only the leader of the Cerulean Gym, but "One of the best" gym leaders. She wasn't actually the real gym leader at the time of this movie, her sisters where.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Generated by the Unown. And whenever Ash's Pokémon manage to breach it, the Unown create another one.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: The first time Molly and Entei show up to impede our heroes, Brock challenges her to battle so Ash and Misty can continue. The second time, Misty battles her so Ash can continue.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Some of what Molly does of her own free will is borderline sociopathic.
  • True Companions: It was at its most obvious in this movie.
  • Tuckerization: Molly's Japanese name, Mii, is the nickname Takeshi Shudō had for his own daughter.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Entei towards Molly, even willing to face the Unown that created him.
    • Showing how its time since the Orange Islands changed it, Charizard's loyalty to Ash is the reason it appears in the film. Seeing Ash on a news report while in the Charicific Valley, he immediately chose to fly over and help him without anyone else aware.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Molly is practically one of the Unown's magic.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Molly is in emotional turmoil over what to do when Ash comes to take his mother back and set everything right, Entei (who can naturally feel what she feels) goes berserk and tries to kill Ash. It's made worse by Ash telling Molly that Entei is an illusion and not her real papa:
    Entei: I AM Molly's real long as SHE WISHES!''
    • As she starts crying and getting angry, the whole room starts producing crystal spikes, in order to try and isolate her from what is causing her anger (Ash and his mother trying to take her away). Eventually, the emotional turmoil gets so confusing, as she can't decide whether to stay with Entei or leave with Ash and causing Entei to disappear, thus the reason of the turmoil, the Unown go berserk and starts crystallizing the whole field, so out of control that they won't even follow Molly's will. When Entei has overpowered Ash and is about to deal a killing blow to Charizard, Molly finally breaks down sobbing and begs for it all to just end.
  • Villainous Rescue: While Team Rocket are not the film's antagonists, they manage to catch Ash's hand before he falls out of a window.
  • Villain Protagonist: Molly is pretty much the central protagonist of the movie but from Ash and co's perspective, she's the main antagonist since she's the one willingly creating the conflict.
  • Walking Wasteland: Entei can crystallize anything he touches.
  • Water Is Air: Thanks to Molly's Unown-granted powers, her battle with Misty is underwater, but states she shut off the drowning hazard beforehand.
  • We Need a Distraction: Brock, and then Misty, serve as distractions so Ash can reach Delia. Their teams get beaten down by Molly's crystal (read: hax) Pokémon.
  • Who's on First?: In the dub, Jessie, James and Meowth are given a bit arguing about "If they're walkin' through the water, how are they waiting/wading?"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Molly's parents both disappear from her life, and, in her grief, she decides to reshape reality to make herself happy. Though it isn't stated she wants to destroy the world, the Unown's powers go completely out of control toward the end.