|Now with more species than the human|
brain can remember!
Long story short, I’m only reviewing one Pokémon movie for now, and it’s the first one. And I know I’m probably the 1000th critic do be reviewing this particular film. Almost everything has already been said about it. Pretty sure that, if you’re a Pokémon fan, you know everything about it. So, don’t complain if I’m doing something that’s been done. We never know, I might actually bring some new points. I guess I’m writing this review for anyone who doesn’t know much about the franchise… and also because, due to being an adaptation of a video game series, I had to talk at one point or another about the Pokémon anime, and give my thoughts about it. Think of this as a review that covers enough ground for the newcomers and makes many precise jabs at the franchise for those who know it inside and out.
As is the case for many “First Movies”, there was a world to set in place. There had to be an explanation of the special elements of the universe depicted here. As a result, Pokémon: The First Movie was dubbed with the intention to explain everything in great detail, to make sure every newcomer to the franchise could watch and learn, immerse themselves into this odd world of colorful and mythical creatures, and...
Just kidding, they throw the viewer into it with next to no explanation whatsoever. Because who cares for all that stuff, right? This is a franchise for da widdle keeds, right? What we really need is to replace every vaguely-Japanese aliment with good ol’ American food, remove most moments too silent or dramatic, and ramp up the silliness!
Okay, okay, I’m aware that beating on 4Kids is beating on a dead horse. There’s no denying that the Pokémon anime as a whole could have been a whole lot better, had this enterprise not been dubbing it and making a buttload of stupid decisions along the road. So, I won’t spend too long discussing that aspect; just know that one of 4Kids’ decisions was to cut certain scenes from this movie that would have added some much-needed emotional depth to this film’s villain.
|I needed to put together two screencaps for this picture.|
I'm rather proud of the result.
Yes, mass murder in a Pokémon movie. Between this, local terrorists in just about every region from Kanto to Kalos passing by Orre, and implications of genocide as part of the villains’ plan in the sixth Generation, expect lots of dark moments from this series! Contrary to popular belief, Pokémon only looks “for kids”. The reality is otherwise. A lot of elements in the series turn out to be straight out of a child-friendly horror film. And that’s the explicit stuff. The implied elements are even worse. And of course, there’s also the gameplay elements, which one can only perfectly master after years of playing with the games of the main series…
I should also explain that in the original Japanese version, a short scene showed a child-sized Mewtwo playing in his consciousness with three clones of the Starter Pokémon from Gen 1 and a little girl; it’s implied that Dr. Fuji was trying to clone his dead daughter back to life, and the cloning of Pokémon was a side-project. And sadly, only Mewtwo survived the experiment. That’s a very poignant scene that explains a part of Mewtwo’s angst. Not to mention that in the original version, Mewtwo is portrayed in a much more sympathetic way, as a confused creature who doesn’t know better and tries to prove its superiority. Here? Straight-up Take Over The World kind of bad guy. Really creative there. I swear we don’t have enough of that type of villain around already.
After this rampage, Mewtwo is recruited by Giovanni, the head of the local mafia/terrorist organization, Team Rocket. Equipped with a robotic armor, Mewtwo helps the villains in catching a lot of wild Pokémon, but at some point realizes he’s once again a tool… and destruction ensues, once more. Although, to be fair, Giovanni did help Mewtwo learn to use his psychic abilities more efficiently… but then Giovanni shows once more how humans can be total bastards, reinforcing Mewtwo’s view of them. After his destructive lightshow, Mewtwo swears to find his way in life, even if that means destroying all those who oppose him.
|A Pokémon Master 17 years in the making...|
and he's still a rookie.
|I couldn't find a shot of her alone in|
the first 15 minutes of the film.
|He's also the team's cook.|
Now I'm hungry.
|You are now... Thunderstruck!!!|
For those who don’t know, if any, Team Rocket refers to the criminal organization, but it’s also short for the trio of losers who follow Ash and Co. around in hopes of stealing Pikachu. Their obsession is based on a single proof of great power from that Pikachu, in episode 2 of the entire series. They’re sure that this electric rodent is ultra-valuable, so in every episode they try to steal it. The trio consists of Jessie, James (geddit?) and Meowth, one of the rare few Pokémon to have transcended the language barrier and speak fluent English. With his mouth, not through telepathy or something like that. Those three rarely pose a threat, so they’re treated as laughingstock. It’s like a Wile E. Coyote type deal; after a while, you start feeling sorry for them. And then you remember that their boss is Giovanni, yes, THAT Giovanni mentioned earlier, and you stop feeling sorry. They’re some of my favorite villains, if only for their undying passion for crime (despite constant failure) and the corny introduction they always say when they’re up to no good. And of course, they usually get the funniest lines. Seriously though, if that’s just money they want, they could set up Meowth as a translator and have him decode, for a price, what Pokémon are telling their Trainers. That, or set up a school where the cat would teach other species to speak English… If I were in the Pokémon world, I'd invest in that!
|Too bad this Dragonite can't say "You've got mail!"|
Moments later, we see that the “strongest trainer” is none other than Mewtwo! The Psychic Pokémon starts manipulating the weather to stir up a storm outside. I didn’t know he could do that. By all accounts, he can’t. But then again, the anime did take quite a few liberties with the source material, so I’ll let it pass. If Sabrina, the Psychic-type Gym Leader and a psychic, can be an insane womanchild who can shrink people or turn them into dolls (which she did to her own mother!!), I guess Mewtwo can control the weather. But don’t tell Kyogre, Groudon or Rayquaza! They’ll be pissed!
The storm has gotten pretty damn strong by the time our protagonists reach the nearby town, so much so that the ferry won’t take them to the island. Of course the owner of the harbor pretends that this unnatural storm was predicted by some prophecy, because everything needs a goddamn prophecy, am I right? And as if things weren’t already bad, the Pokémon Center is closed, as their Nurse Joy has mysteriously vanished a month prior. Gee, good to know they don’t have more than one employee! She shouldn’t be hard to find, she looks exactly like every other Nurse Joy.
But the storm won’t stop the dedicated Trainers! One flies over to the island on his Pidgeotto. Two others use Water-type Pokémon who know Surf (a move needed to cross bodies of water in the games). Ash really wants to go there, but none of his Pokémon know Surf or Fly. Same for Brock and Misty. They have no way to reach the island! Well, we all know they WILL reach the island, it sounds like that's where the plot wants them to go… but how will they get there? You know what, this part has been long enough. Tune in this Monday for Part 2!