Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama/Michael Haigney. Featuring the voices of Veronica Taylor, Eric Stuart, Rachael Lillis, Maddie Blaustein, Ikue Otani, Ken Gates, Dan Green and Stan Hart.

Pokemon 3, the third installment in the phenomenally successful Japanese franchise, is actually two films in one: the feature length 'Spell of the Unown' is preceded by the sickeningly twee 'Pikachu and Pichu', in which the objective seems to be to establish which Pokemon can make the most annoying sound. There are many candidates.

'Spell of the Unown' sees our ace Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum and his band of troops journey to Greenfield where they encounter the Unown, the most mysterious of all Pokemon. The Unown is comprised of a flock of swarming symbols ("like alphabet soup without the soup"), which have the power to turn human dreams into reality, but only on its own terms.

When Pokemon expert Professor Spencer Hale mysteriously disappears while researching the Unown, daughter Molly taps into the power of the Unown to establish her own familial reality. Entei, the mythical leonine Pokemon, becomes a father figure to Molly, while Ash's mother is abducted to assume the maternal role. And so begins the struggle to combat the formidable powers of the Unown, and to re-establish the erstwhile cosmic order.

It is quite surprising how popular among children the Pokemon phenomenon actually is. Traditionally, kids' heroes were human figures who could perform superhuman feats. With Pokemon, the heroes are an array of weird creatures that do battle at their master's request. Personally, I don't get it. Overall, Pokemon 3 is colourful, loud and has some dazzling spectacles of animation. But be warned, it is still strictly for kids. Childless couples everywhere should rejoice.

Tom Grealis