It’s been a while (shock horror). Lets do a brief catch up. Hey, hello, hi. How are you? Good? That’s good. Oh, you got a new dog? That’s fantastic! Not dog? Fish? That’s still cool I guess. The last month or so has been pretty hectic and unfortunately has ended up in me losing my PC and thus any ability to play games or continue my LiS review series for the moment. It’s okay, I’m gonna fix it. In the mean time I’ve been reaching into the depths of my brain for what I can post about that fits within gaming until this travesty is rectified. So, without further ado…
The 20th Anniversary Pokémon movie. I was “lucky” enough to endure this movie twice; once at a press screening and once in the cinema. Now, I’d like to stick to my usual format with the least amount of spoilers as possible (not that Pokémon can really be spoiled). Everything I say I’ll try to keep within the limitations of the trailer… I do like a good writing challenge.
Title: Pokémon: I Choose You
Genre: Children’s Anime Adventure
Release Date: July 15th 2017 (Japan)/November 5th 2017 (WW)
Produced By: OLM
Pokémon: I Choose You is a retelling of the beginning of Ash Ketchum’s journey through the Kanto region and Indigo League. It is the first in the Sun and Moon series of movies. The film focuses on Ash’s role as receiver of the “Rainbow Wing” being known as the “Rainbow Hero”. The main legendary Pokémon featured in the movie are the legendary bird Ho-Oh and mythical Pokémon Marshadow; Entei, Suicune and Raikou also make very brief appearances.
Revisiting the wonderful world of Pokémon…
As a long-term fan of the anime, dating back to the original series, I am extremely glad that the animators chose to go with a similar animation style to “XYZ” series than to the new “Alola” style. It makes every Pokémon battle feel epic and intense whether you’re an adult or a child. Each move that gets used from a Thunderbolt to a Throat Chop looks smooth and actually powerful. The backdrop of every scene is stunning and although it isn’t the Kanto I necessarily remember from my childhood, the nostalgia train definitely hits within that first panning shot of Pallet Town.
The trailer revealed that in this version of Ash’s journey Misty and Brock either don’t exist or stay as the leaders of their respective gyms (the latter seems more likely but you never know). Posing questions of: if this is a different Ash, where does this lie in the anime’s canon? Is any of this canon after all? Etc. Etc. Boring multiverse stuff that we’ve heard a million times. Instead we are introduced to Sorrel and Verity and instead of Gary Oak as the rival we have Cross. I take no issue with Ash’s new companions. His new rival, however, is atrocious and I have this opinion solely on his design. His hair has to be a ridiculously designed pun on both his name and his attitude and, upon the second viewing, his “edgelord”/”I am clearly a bad person” appearance was something I couldn’t ignore.
Musically, I’m not impressed but not disappointed. I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack. I am aware the Japanese release uses a different score and that certain scenes have more of an emotional impact because of it. I can think of one scene in particular that, emotionally, falls completely flat because the original score hasn’t been used. (Think Butterfree). But of course I sang along to the opening theme at the start of the movie but that one moment is not a reflection of the soundtrack in its entirety; which is mediocre at best.
Where did it fall apart?
Unfortunately where the movie falls weakest is the plot…which is kind of the point of a movie but hey, it looks pretty! However, this is Pokémon and I can’t say that they have ever thrived on plot arcs. Every movie is fairly the same with someone wants to destroy the world/take all Pokémon for themselves/create a clone army to take over the world (wait…or was that Star Wars? Never mind!) and then Ash Ketchum comes along and somehow is the chosen one for every region and saves the day with Pikachu. Somehow.
This movie follows the same formula. Some elements of the plot made little to no sense or felt unfinished. For example (SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY), we have a moment where Verity delves into her issues with her mother with a photo of the mother briefly being shown. Who is she? Why does she disapprove of Verity? Is it a character we’ve seen before? Does not matter because you will never find out and it’s ignored completely for the rest of the movie.
At this point, many of you will have already seen the clip where a certain electric mouse decided to open its mouth and speak English (or your native language) for the first time in 20 years. I feel the response shown in the clip of confusion and then laughter was the general reaction for anyone above the age of 14. It was jarring. Another emotional moment in this visually stunning movie completely ruined by one wrong decision on the writer’s part.
Overall, Pokémon: I Choose You is a great nostalgia trip for long-term fans but if you’ve been disappointed by the movies in the last 5 years, don’t expect to feel any different about this one. Personally, this one just hits home harder because it had the potential to be an epic retelling of one my favourite childhood heroes and his buddy and instead I received the European knock-off of the Indigo League.
I give this movie: 2/5