The First Movie
scr Takeshi Shudo
voices Veronica Taylor, Philip Bartlett, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Addie Blaustein, Ikue Otani, Ed Paul, Jimmy Zoppi, Michael Haigney, Kayzie Rogers, Ken Gates, Lee Quick
release US 12.Nov.99, UK 14.Apr.00
Review by Rich Cline
Japan's highest grossing film of 1998 continues its march of world domination. Trading cards, toys and TV series apparently aren't enough. The first Pokemon movie is in two parts: a 20-minute short called Pikachu's Vacation and a 70-minute feature called Mewtwo Strikes Back. Both segments are aimed squarely at the kiddies, and as such will be a test of endurance even for the most childish adult who accompanies an actual child. And if there's any consolation, Mewtwo is much more bearable than Pikachu.
Do I really need to go into plot details? OK, if you insist. Part 1 centres on Pikachu, a cute, mousy Pokemon (short for "Pocket Money" ... oops, I mean "Pocket Monsters") who goes on holiday to a dude ranch for Pokemon, each of whom has a special power that they use in (mostly) harmless battles. That's about it.
Part 2 gets much more action-packed as the genetically engineered Mewtwo launches a war of revenge on the world that created him, gathering the best Pokemon trainers (and their Pokemon of course) on a remote island for a big challenge. Or something like that.
It's pretty excruciating, really. Pikachu's Vacation is vacuous and stupid, with irritating little transition graphics that make you want to throw things at the screen. Mewtwo Strikes Back at least has a storyline (sort of), and some impressive animation effects. Here I can start to see what all the fuss is about, as the characters begin to take on personality in their battle between good (getting along, friendship, trust) and evil (mistrust, blame, jealousy). So the kids'll love it. But would it have been too much to ask for just a tiny bit of interest for the grown-ups?
[PG cartoon violence] 10.Apr.00
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"I'm still recovering from seeing this AWFUL film ... aaargh. Unbearable stuff, but the kids thought it was amazing of course!" --Colin L, Yorkshire.