Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Movie Review: Pokemon: The First Movie

Pokémon: The First Movie
Rated G
1 Slimes
Copyright Warner Bros. 1999

THE CHARACTERS

Ash Ketchum: He wants to be the greatest Pokémon trainer in the world, which is basically the same goal in the video games. He is lured to Mewtwo’s private island along with a bunch of other trainers and is promptly turned to stone later on when he tries to interrupt Mew and Mewtwo’s battle. He is returns back to normal and forgets the entire lesson the movie was trying to teach in the first place.

Pikachu: An electric mouse who is Ash’s Pokémon and is the series' mascot in some sense if you think about it. He and his clone end up facing each other near the end of the movie. Outside of being Ash’s BFF and the focus of the mini movie, Pikachu’s Vacation, he kind of doesn’t provide much to this film.

Misty: Ash’s friend and potential love interest throughout the course of the series, but that is a whole different story that would take forever to explain. Along with Ash and pretty much everyone, she forgets that Mewtwo exists and the important lesson on violence.

Brock: He is a Pokémon Breeder, a friend of Ash, and the world’s biggest womanizer. He’s like that certain skunk in other words. Why are his eyes always close?

Jessie, James, & Meowth: The human duo of Team Rocket that are always constantly trying to steal Pikachu from Ash. They are extremely incompetent, but you got give them points for never giving up. They don’t really spend much time stealing Pikachu in this movie; they mostly just end up in the middle of this huge battle between the clones and the originals. Like everyone, they forget the entire lesson & Mewtwo in the end. Meowth can talk, unlike most Pokémon, but that’s a whole another story.

Nurse Joy: She is kidnapped by Mewtwo and is hypnotized to send messages to Pokémon trainers around to come to Mewtwo’s island. She gets out of the hypnotism later.

Random Trainers: They remind me of those random trainers I had to fight in the video games all of the time. They don’t really have much a purpose for this movie, other than the fact that most of their Pokémon are cloned.

Giovanni: He is the boss of the sinister Team Rocket who had Mewtwo created. He tries to use Mewtwo as a way of global domination, but Mewtwo learns that he is just being used, so he escapes and blows up Giovanni’s lab.

Mewtwo: He is the clone of Mew and has major anger issues. According to my research into the Japanese version, he is hates the fact that God didn’t create him and that he was just created by man, so he takes vengeance on society. He comes to his senses that what he is doing is just plain stupid and not well planned, so he decides to go live in peace with his clones in the end. He also erases everyone’s memories of him as a bonus… but he did miss a certain someone…

Mew: He or she is the most powerful Pokémon in the world, well… before Ho-oh showed up in the second generation mind you. This thing is a bit… goofy and weird. Anyways, he or she decides to confront Mewtwo about what he is doing, but not before spying on every single person in the place first.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ If you cry hard enough, people who have been turned into stone will turn back to normal.
+ Clones don’t like to be told they are just a copy of someone else.
+ Dragons can be used to deliver mail.
+ Never take a Viking’s offer to canoe you to an island in the middle of the storm.
+ Cloning machines look like trilobites.
+ Pokéballs can capture other Pokéballs!

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
4 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST AN ENTIRE RESEARCH FACILITY!
21 min – What the hell…
31 min – Well the guy sure knows how to make an entrance.
45 min – Cool magic trick! Where’d he hide all of those things?
52 min – Will you stop goofing around and help already!
56 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BASICALLY EVERY POKÉMON ON THE BATTLEFIELD!
59 min – That was more inspirational than what I would expect from this movie.
63 min – I got nothing, not the right time for a joke.


NOTABLE QUOTES
Mewtwo: So, this is my power... but what is my purpose?

Meowth: You're right; we do have a lot in common. The same earth, the same air, the same sky. Maybe if we started looking at what's the same… instead of always looking at what's different, who knows?

Scientist: We dreamed of creating the world's most powerful Pokémon... and we succeeded.

THE PLOT

First of all, I am actually a fan of the series and anime. The games were great and I always enjoyed the action, adventure, and humor that came from the TV series. Then the movie came along and frankly it wasn’t that good. I’ll explain why, but I’ll first give you a heads up on something. Pikachu’s Vacation, the mini short at the beginning of the film, will not be included in this review. I want to judge the movie by itself and without the short, which I might review in the future by itself.

The story opens up with the creation of Mewtwo, who promptly kills all the scientists who have just created him, because he is just a clone. Someone has anger issues. As he looks over the damage he has brought, Giovanni, the head of the evil organization of Team Rocket, comes to him, offering to help him control his powers. Of course, Mewtwo realizes soon enough, he is just being played for a sucker, so he escapes Giovanni’s other lab and goes back to the place where he was created to set up a base for something.

We cut away from this to Ash, his two friends called Misty and Brock, and his Pokémon, Pikachu. They are just having a lazy day when a random Dragonite (Think of it as a different color version of Pete’s Dragon, just not as large or goofy looking, to save some time) comes along and gives him an invite by the so-called “Best Pokémon Master in the World” to come to his party. Ash, being obviously foolish and not questioning if this could be a setup for something, decides to agree to it.

Now, he and his friends arrive at this port, where he hopes he can catch a boat that will take him to this island where the party is being held. Unfortunately, there is a large storm that rolls in (Caused by said ‘Greatest Pokémon Master in the World’) and cancels any chances of them being able to get to the island the more safe and logical way. That doesn’t stop a bunch of trainers from riding their Pokémon through the dangerous sea conditions to the island. Just because you have a large and durable Pokémon doesn’t mean you should try to brave very dangerous weather conditions in the open sea. IDIOTS!

Anyways, Ash and friends decide to take an offer from a bunch of Vikings, who offer to row them in basically a wooden canoe to the island. Oh yeah, because we all know it is safe to take offers from Vikings who want to row you in a fragile boat through basically a hurricane to an unknown island to meet a mysterious figure who you know nothing about! MORONS! Anyways, we find out that the Vikings are Jessie, James, and Meowth, a Team Rocket trio who constantly harass Ash and his friends so they can steal their Pokémon. Just as they reveal themselves, the sea destroys their boat and they all somehow safely make it to the island in one piece, though Team Rocket arrives on the island somewhere else.

The 3 heroes arrive at a banquet and find out that the rest of the trainers have also made it safely. There, they meet Mewtwo and everybody is shock to discover that a Pokémon is claiming to be the best master around and stuff. Same with me, doesn’t that violate some rule or something? He shows off his three Pokémon clones and has the trainers, who have the same Pokémon, to a battle. The clones defeat the Pokémon who they were cloned of and with this victory, Mewtwo decides to get greedy and steal everyone’s Pokémon with these levitating special Pokéballs! Why? To make more clones to conquer the world! Of course!

Anyways, Ash chases after one of the Pokéballs that has his Pikachu in it. He follows it down into the clone lab and manages to rescue Pikachu (Not before it is cloned mind you) while also destroying the cloning machine and rescuing all of the normal Pokémon as well. This leads us into a basic big brawl where Mewtwo’s newest clones take on the original Pokémon. At this point, it becomes very hard to tell which Pokémon is the good one and then we get our movie’s main moral message to the story as the trainers watch as the battle rages on. The main message I gather, since it is hard to understand, is that senseless violence isn’t a good thing and fighting in an extremely brutal way is bad. It is kind of an ironic thing to hear from this series.

Anyways, the battle gets more intense as Mew, who Mewtwo is cloned after and who has been hanging around on the sidelines, comes in to join the battle. This goes on for a bit before Ash decides to jump in to try to calm the two of them down, right as they throw two intense psychic blasts at each other, which he gets caught up in. This somehow turns him stone, which I’m not sure how it works. Did the psychic energy mess around with his atoms, changing them into different elements, which turned his physical and atomic structure into that of a stone statute? If that didn’t make sense to you, I apologize. I have been watching this movie too long.

Then come one more thing that should baffle every form of science out there, the Pokémon start crying and their tears somehow float over to Ash’s statute, which turns him back into a real boy. Then Mewtwo comes to a realization that this battle is pointless (That’s not the only thing that is pointless) and that no matter what the situation regarding birth is, it is what you do that with your life that makes a difference. That’s a great lesson, but Mewtwo decides to wipe everyone’s memories and send them back in time so everybody forgets the events and learns nothing from this.

This movie just doesn’t do it. As a fan of the series, I would give this film a 2 out of 4, but as a regular movie reviewer, I give this 1 out of 4. The movie has many problems with it, such as the fact the message is a bit strange coming from basically a series that sells itself on fighting (There’s more to it, but that one of the main points to it) and that most of the movie is just too dark for kids. Seriously, people in the beginning get burned alive; the fighting is a bit too intense, the scene where Ash struggles his way out of the cloning machine is pretty violent, and a bunch of other things as well. There’s no blood or guts, it’s just mean spirited.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t completely bad. The voice acting is good; the action, while intense, is pretty nice; the messages they do get a cross are very nice; and the movie did lead into a very good follow-up that made me very happy. Anyways, if you want to see a Pokémon movie, go watch Pokémon Heroes or Pokémon 2000, but if you want to see this, just make sure to check out Mewtwo Returns next.  It wraps everything up quite nicely.

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