I liked it a good deal. It's a simple story with a simple theme, but at least it has one and it's exploring it pretty well. It's also a lot of fun.
It's about friendship. This is probably the theme of half of all children's anime, whether it's magical girls or shounen fighting series. What's different here is that it's a movie-length exploration that's going a bit further than usual. The movie's friends include:
1. HIKARI AND HINATA (aka. HOUOU, POOCH, HEATER, BLANKET, etc.)
The goofier names come from Nagisa, which doesn't endear Hinata to her.
At the start of the film, though, Hinata's an egg. "Sage, don't drop the egg," says a flying beaver to one of the tiny, bearded old idiots who seem to rule all worlds in the Futari wa PreCure universe. (Is that a beaver? No, it's a Japanese flying squirrel.)
"I won't drop it!" promises the sage, dropping it. Whoops.
The egg hatches and out comes a fat, stupid-looking yellow blob. At first it's not even intelligent. It flaps around, tries to fly and fails. Fortunately, though, she gets found by Hikari, who's the nice but not-entirely-human friend of Nagisa and Honoka. Hikari isn't herself a PreCure, but she can generate energy from her harp-thing (while shouting "Shiny Luminous!") that will supercharge Nagisa and Honoka's attacks. Here, though, Hikari isn't just acting as a PreCure power booster, but instead has a much more important story role. She's Hinata's first friend on Earth, which is without exaggeration the most important thing in the film.
2. NAGISA AND HONOKA
Obviously they're inseparable. They're PreCures. Apart, they're powerless. However Nagisa's also terrible at winter sports (here snowboarding) and really sensitive when it comes to the boy she fancies, Fujipi. This leads her to have a very mild blink-and-you'll-miss-it fight with Nagisa, which both of them take too strongly to heart.
What happens with Nagisa and Honoka in this film is actually interesting. You can tell that it's not a serious breach, but it's still a big deal to them and it's hard to find the right moment to apologise when you're being transported to the "Garden of Clouds" or under attack by walking icicle villains. The latter end up making Nagisa and Honoka fight each other, incidentally. All this material is surprisingly good.
3. FREEZEN AND FROZEN
They're better villains than you'd think at first. Initially they just look like henchmen, the kind of opponents who'd get brushed aside halfway through an episode. They're sexy chiseled musclemen who happen to be made of spiky ice. What's sinister about them, though, is their response to heroism and apparent setbacks. They'll smile and start casually walking towards you. They think enemies attacking them are amusing. After shooting ice into Honoka and Nagisa's hearts, our villains just stand there and smile as they watch these two girls trying to kill each other.
Obviously they're the antithesis of everything the girls believe. They're cold-hearted, sadistic and hate friendship, despite also claiming to be the strongest duo ever. Where this ends up going made me laugh out loud.
Anyway, this film's exploration of friendship has quite a few interesting wrinkles, e.g. Rina's speech about "fake friends". Pretty much the entire finale is similarly riffing on this theme, from the girls' reasons for wanting to protect Hinata to the epilogue's semi-reprimand of "friends don't address each other like that".
As it happens, incidentally, Hinata/Houou is a phoenix who's the source of all warmth in the multiverse. "As long as we have the Houou, there will be no more warmth or peace," say the villains. "And then all the worlds will fall into freezing darkness." Obviously this is horseshit. It's pinning unbelievable cosmic consequences to some one-off cartoon character, but the first PreCure film did something similar and you've got to admire the brass neck of it. If you're a scriptwriter who wants to write something ridiculous, why not go the whole hog and turn the idea's absurdity into a feature?
Anyway, Hinata's important. Baddies capturing her would be Exceedingly Bad. Our heroines, though, couldn't care less about all that. "Because we're friends!"
Incidentally, this film was released on 10 December 2005, between Max Heart episodes 40 and 41.
It's a lot of fun. This film has good jokes, a cool snowbound motif and more interesting villains than you'd think at first. Nagisa and Honoka get a pretty cool entrance after they've at last made up (improvised snowboarding!), after which I went crazy over Freezen getting taken down by Honoka with her eyes closed. There's more Fujipi-Nagisa, although I was convinced that Nagisa and Honoka were about to kiss each other in their big reconciliation scene. (The PreCure franchise has been known to dabble in subtle lesbian hints, but that was a pretty loud example.) This film can be cool, funny and heartwarming. It's still a children's cartoon, but a good one.