Pokémon: The First Movie
Pokémon was an integral part of my childhood. Be it the anime, the cards, or the games, I loved Pokémon. As a matter of fact, I still love Pokémon to this day, not so much the anime and cards, but the games are still a guaranteed buy upon release. And since Pokémon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, I though it appropriate to dedicate some reviews to the games and movies of Pokémon. Starting with the first feature-length outing of the series: Pokémon: The First Movie.
As part of their ongoing celebration this year, you could watch the entire movie on their website for a short amount of time, this was especially useful, since it is unbelievable hard to get a DVD copy of the first movie in Germany at a reasonable price these days. With the movie having been available, so old, and all that, I am also issuing a spoiler-warning, since I will talk about everything in this movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet (why?) then watch it and come back. I’ll be waiting. (Commence waiting…) Did you watch it? Good, then let’s talk about it.
The movie focuses on the recently created Pokémon Mewtwo and his struggle with the meaning of his life and since all he has ever experienced was hate and brutality he deems it a viable solution to his identity crisis and vows to destroy the world with all humans and Pokémon ‘serving’ humans as well to then start a new world without the shackles of slavery. This new world shall be populated by strong cloned Pokémon and for that he invites the strongest trainers to his island to take away their Pokémon and clone them. Among those trainers is, of course, the series central cast: Ash and friends who always find themselves stumbling from one adventure to the next and Team Rocket is also part of it, obviously.
– Back when movie posters had stuff going on –
The tone of the movie is surprisingly dark compared to the rest of the franchises outings. Mewtwo’s struggle is a very human one and in that relatable. He is a victim of his circumstances and is not really to blame for his view on the world which in return sets up one of several strong messages found in the movie. How does a clone relate to the world when his existence is already pre-lived for him? How is one to define a self when it is a mere copy of something that already exists? All of these slightly philosophical topics are touched upon and may sail over some people’s heads, but I found them to be very engaging and a welcome diversion from the usually really stale plots.
– I still fondly remember the first 15 minutes of this movie to this day –
But enough philosophical blabbering: How does the movie hold up in general? Well, quite good to be honest. Pokémon fans will surely be satisfied with the movie as it delivers equally on battles and funny moments, even though the fun is turned down towards the end in favour of a more tear-wrenching scene. The dialogue is what you would expect, namely not very good, but there are some well written exchanges here and there. The hilarity of Brock stating the obvious still hasn’t worn out to this day. A rather weird enjoyment is found, I suppose only partly in the German version (?), since several Pokémon are blatantly mislabelled. Such as Sandslash being called Sandshrew and other mistakes. But there is fun in finding all the little mistakes as a seasoned veteran of the games, such as a rock/ground Pokémon being seemingly defeated by and electric attack. A very nerdy kind of fun, but fun nonetheless.
– Is Mewtwo a metaphor for the search of identity? –
Now to my biggest gripe with the movie: The final act of erasing everyone’s memory stands in utter contrast to the movie’s message. Throughout the final act the central theme of the movie is solidified as that birth does not dictate your life and violence because of this simple difference is utterly pointless, going so far as to say that violence as a means of solving a conflict is utterly pointless. Mewtwo realises this as well and states how he has learned a valuable lesson, but goes out of his way to erase everyone’s memory simply because they are apparently better off without this knowledge. Why? How? This doesn’t make sense. Even if Ash is the only one willing to stand his ground for this position, the other trainers realised this far later and would need this imprinted in their minds, the same goes for Team Rocket. But for light-hearted battles to continue in the rest of the show this simply revelation had to be erased.
– Look it’s Alakazam! I mean Scyther. –
The first Pokémon movie is an exercise in nostalgia and is still entertaining to this day due to its very mature themes. It may fall victim to the need of fitting into a larger universe rather than a stand-alone experience, but works well as a movie nonetheless. There may be some questionable music choices, especially towards the final climax, but as a whole the movie delivers an enjoyable experience even from today’s perspective. Pokémon fans will be pleased and none-fans will probably not watch it anyway so nobody loses.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/k/2016/02/pokemon1.jpg (Last date of access: 12.02.2016)
- http://i283.photobucket.com/albums/kk314/Loose_Seal/pokemon.jpg (Last date of access: 12.02.2016)
- https://projectedrealities.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/mewtwo.jpg (Last date of access: 12.02.2016)
- http://download.gamezone.com/uploads/image/data/1158304/article_post_width_news-pokemon-first-movie.jpg (Last date of access: 12.02.2016)