Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is the first of the Sinnoh movies and has since become a fan favorite since its Japanese release in 2007. The film has earned praise for its tragic hero and fascinating premise rooted in the lore and destructive power of Sinnoh's legendary Pokémon, all taking place in a beautiful setting based on Barcelona, Spain.
These components are wrapped in a touching story as the characters fight off the collapse of all space and time as a legendary battle promises certain doom for everyone caught in its wake.
The film begins with Ash, Brock, Dawn and Pikachu arriving in Alamos Town, where they meet a scientist, Tonio and his friend Alice. Alamos Town is home to the Space-Time Towers, the largest musical instrument in the Pokémon world and built by Tonio's great-grandfather, Godey. Most of the fictional towns in Pokémon movies are based on real places, with Almos Town resembling Barcelona, Spain. Alamos Town's verdant gardens and gothic architecture truly leap off the screen, as do the Space-Time Towers -- which were inspired by the Sagrada Família -- which deftly ties together the stunning setting.
One night, Tonio discovers a diary written by Godey detailing the events of a nightmare -- one he believed to be a prophecy. The nightmare showed Palkia, ruler of space, and Dialga, the ruler of time, crossing paths between dimensions when they were never meant to meet. Their meeting sparks an unbridled rage between the two Pokémon as they engage in a ruthless battle that will envelop the town and destroy it. Signs of the coming disaster have already begun and, to prevent it, Ash and friends must somehow find a way to stop these mighty Pokémon from fighting, which means learning more about them.
Living between dimensions, Palkia and Dialga, together with Giratina, ruler of antimatter, are credited as the creators of the Sinnoh region. Due to the immense powers wielded by both Palkia and Dialga, they are revered as deities. Once these two legendaries accidentally cross paths, they their battle begins and, thanks to some truly epic shots, their power comes across in a mighty way. Space and time are distorted with every collision and reality itself is altered by their clash, even while the two are still outside of it. The fight between Dialga and Palkia really comes across as an omen of doom -- and that's before an injured Palkia seeks refuge in Alamos Town. When Dialga arrives in hot pursuit, the humans struggle to calm down two legendary Pokémon -- until the mythical Darkrai steps up to the task.
Darkrai, known as the Pitch-Black Pokémon, causes people to have nightmares both intentionally and unintentionally. When people are plagued by nightmares at the same time reality in Alamos town is being distorted, the people point to Darkrai, who is infamous locally because of its spooky appearance and powers. However, when Palkia and Dialga move their fight to the town, it is Darkrai who attempts to fend them off. While most of the townsfolk were convinced that Darkrai was attacking them, in actuality, it was merely trying to protect them, despite facing their ridicule and judgment.
Later in the movie, it is revealed that Darkrai's one friend in Almos Town was Alice's grandmother, Alicia, played a song -- Oracion -- to get Darkrai to open up to her. Though she passed decades ago, Darkrai took the town's gardens as its home, as that's where it and Alicia spent time together. Though Darkrai was always treated unfairly, it still fought for the safety of the people and town Alicia loved, doing its utmost to warn everyone of the incoming danger through nightmares. Darkrai's role in this movie is close to that of a dark knight, as it risks everything -- and nearly loses everything -- despite how terribly the townspeople treat it.
The Rise of Darkrai is a darker take that hasn't been seen in Pokémon movies for a while; a mysterious fog that keeps the townspeople trapped, phantom Pokémon are ridden by nightmares and a clash between two Pokémon deities as Ash and friends struggle to not be wiped from reality. Through this intense battle, Darkrai, an outcast, rises up to do what is right while Tonio and Alice inherit a legacy from their grandparents to stop this calamity in a heartwarming story about unfair judgment and doing right by others.
Add to that a central, ongoing battle that's as terrifying as it is exciting, and it becomes obvious why the hype for The Rise of Darkrai is still alive after so many years, putting it on par with some of the series' first, most beloved films.