They've ditched All Stars. It's too unwieldy. Instead, it's "Dream Stars" with just the last three teams:
- Go! Princess PreCure = hurrah!
- Mahoutsukai PreCure! = yup, okay, I'm fond of them too
- KiraKira PreCure a la Mode = oh, bloody hell
That's still twelve heroines, by the way, not counting fairies. It would have been thirteen if they'd included Cure Parfait.
The plot's rudimentary, but there is one. A goofy villain (Karasu Tengu) who's voiced by a comedian is trying to catch a little girl called Sakura. She's the movie's real hero. The PreCures will do the fighting, but she's the one who's brave. She wants to save her friend Shizuku (a three-tailed fox) and she'll go dimension-jumping to do so.
In order, we visit:
ICHIGOZAKA = the KiraKira PreCures. They're okay, actually. Their story role is more dynamic than in the TV series and they're doing physical attacks, because it would have looked embarrassing to see KiraKira non-fights alongside the Go Princess and Mahoutsukai kicks and punches. Unfortunately, though, the girls will eventually visit the SOD RIGHT OFF KiraKira patisserie and eat sweets. No, no, please, stop it. Burn the place down. Furthermore, the film's last two heroines will be Sakura and KiraKira's Ichika. Ugh. I didn't mind this on first watching in 2018, but it became painful on rewatching after forcing myself to sit through the full KiraKira series.
Ichika... I mean, seriously. Why am I having to watch Ichika? That said, though, I laughed when she used her hair in combat ("my hair is amazing!") and the film has fun with Akira's ladykiller looks.
MAGIC WORLD = the Mahoutsukai PreCures. This is where you feel the benefit of this film being only Dream Stars, not All Stars, with plenty of colour from the setting, supporting cast and of course magic. There's a flying carpet incident. Riko is Riko-ish. Pleasingly, also, there's a bit where the film remembers that Cure Felice is stronger than everyone else.
NO-BRA ACADEMY (sorry, "Noble") = the Go Princess PreCures... and Yui! She's only in it briefly, but she's here. You can't not have Yui. These girls have a respectable amount of screen time and the film has nothing to be ashamed of here, but Towa isn't differentiated from the others and is basically just in the queue.
For ten minutes, I wondered if we'd reverted to the bad old days when an All Stars movie would just rotate through the teams and give them a battle each. Then, though, KiraKira girls started invading their predecessors' worlds and the film got fun. (Their appearance in the sky over Magic World made Natsuki laugh.)
This is also the first CGI PreCure movie. The only 2D elements are some backgrounds. Even when the girls are cel-shaded, you can tell. However, it's been painstakingly done, with as much character and acting as a fully hand-drawn film. Furthermore, it's playful. They use various rendering styles and the girls realise. They admire their new images on entering Sakura's universe. On occasion, a fully 3D Sakura will even break into the cinema and talk to the film's audience. (Eventually Karasu Tengu spots this and decides to invade our world too.)
I liked this film a lot in 2018. It's a light-hearted cartoon romp for little girls, but it finds an emotional level for Sakura and Shizuka. It's exciting. It's heroic. It's funny. ("Timeout!" "Well, if you're quick.") Unfortunately, though, it has the KiraKira PreCures. There's more linguistic despoiling. ("Let's la maze-maze!") They're allowed to have real fights, uncharacteristically, although Akira does claim that the KiraKira girls are less powerful than the other teams. (Maybe she was just being polite, but the assessment appears to be true.)
I still like the film, though. The Mahoutsukai girls are no problem whatsoever and don't damage the film at all. My only objection with the Go Princess girls is that they don't get enough screen time. Sakura's excellent. It's by miles the best thing from the KiraKira PreCure era, and it's also good.