thatcow

Poke me when it's over.

I've been known to say that I'll watch just about anything. This review, perhaps more than any to date, shows that. There's no pretension of appealing to adults in Pokémon - it's a mass-marketed money machine built to capitalize on the developing obsessive and competitive instincts of the world's youth. If not for a few occasions to gain some familiarity, this would have been a hard movie to sit through.

But, my attitude of the Pokémon franchise has little to do with the quality of a feature. I try to keep an open mind.

This "First Movie" starts with the tale of a genetically engineered Pokémon, based upon the DNA of a legendary Pokémon named "Mew" - appropriate, a cat-based one. Our super-Pokémon, "Mewtwo" reigns terror upon the scientists who created him, and also upon the corrupted individual who refines his abilities with the intention of using him to take over the world. Mewtwo's nascent perspective on the world comes from a self-assured superiority and the evil manipulations of those around him.

Sadly, the opening is the best part of the movie. We then join Ash, Misty, and Brock - the usual trainer crew that stars in the Pokémon cartoons. They have a typical encounter with another trainer, followed by an odd invitation to "New Island" (how original is that name?) as leading Pokémon trainers. Team Rocket, the usual foes of this group of trainers, follows in secret, having been routinely eavesdropping when the invitation arrived.

What follows supports two premises: that Ash and Pikachu are cool, and that Mewtwo is powerful and mysterious. The various invited trainers are, big surprise, part of Mewtwo's plan to take over the world.

The movie is a setup for a personal sacrifice that provides a moral lesson to Mewtwo, and presumably to the audience as well. The point is an odd distinction - that Pokémon is supposed to be a friendly game and that we should all get along. What makes this a weird distinction is that the game of Pokémon is based on a simulation of combat, and much of the climax of the movie is based on that same combat, which isn't all that substantively different. If anything, are we teaching children to equivocate over small distinctions?

Aside from a simplistic, obvious conclusion, what is there to be offered here? The animation isn't that special, nor the performances. It basically plays like a super-long version of the cartoon. It expands on the Pokémon universe some, but not all that much, and the end of the film makes it seem like nothing that happened really even mattered. This will appeal only to those who like the cartoon series, and even for them, it falls short of interesting.

Don't count on seeing reviews from me on the Second through Fourth (or further) editions of this franchise. This was a fluke. Honest. Really.

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