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Pokémon: The First Movie

review by Zach B.

 

Rated G

English Adapation by Michael Haigney and Norman J. Grossfield

Directed by Michael Haigney

 

Retail Price: 26.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Audio Commentary with Michael Haigney and Norman J. Grossfield, The Story of Mewtwo's Origin, Ash's Journey, Production Notes, Music Video "M2M 'Don't Say You Love Me'", Sneak Preview of "Pokémon The Movie 2000", Trading Cards, DVD ROM: Essays, Movie Website, Virtual Trading Cards, Game Guides

Specs: 4:3 Open Matte (Pikachu's Vacation), 4:3 Pan and Scan (Mewtwo Strikes Back) 5.1 Dolby Digital (English), English Captions, Chapter Search

 

Pokémon... pop culture phenomenon or fad of the year? You be the judge. Yet after the various games sold millions, merchandise took off and the TV show became number one, it doesn't take a genius to distribute the movie (which did big numbers in Japan) in the U.S. So Warner Bros., who also has exclusive rights to air the show on their "Kids WB" network, brought the first feature film over here.

Pokémon: The First Movie has two parts to it. The first part is a "mini-movie", which lasts around twenty minutes, entitled "Pikachu's Vacation". The short film follows everyone's favorite Pokémon, Pikachu, as he and his Pokémon friends have a nice trip in a theme park dedicated to Pokémon. There, they get into contests and trouble with a rival Pokémon gang. Yet soon the two rival Pokémon clans must pust aside their differences join together to save a Pokémon in very big danger. I have to say, I was cracking up through this whole segment. Not because it was funny, because it was just plain stupid. Unless you are in the target age group, you are not going to find this very enjoyable at all. There is a narrator who says a sentence now and then, but the rest of this is all Pokémon noises. Unless you have to, and you are not under seven, try to avoid watching this. It'll kill some of your brain cells.

The real feature, which lasts around an hour and fifteen minutes, is entitled "Mewtwo Strikes Back". This feature, is also laughable. Mewtwo is a genetically engineered Pokémon, who is trained and than betrayed by the man who funded the project for him to be created. Torn with anger and questions, Mewtwo sets up a fake Pokémon tournament to show off his power and fight Pokémon. The heroes of our story, right from the TV show, Ash, Brock, Misty and all their Pokémon go to the tournament, where due to a storm very few other Pokémon trainers make it. There, a lot of escapdes happen, which include fights, chases and the usual mindless stuff. Mewtwo then clones all the Pokémon, for the greatest Pokémon fight you'll ever see. And the mysterious Pokémon Mew vists for the big fight...

I apologize for going so into plot detail, and I am sure you can figure out the predictable ending. But what really annoyed me about this movie is that the dialogue used is plain stupid. The film seems like it was adapted by any ten year old. The plot is very standard, but what really, really got to me was the abrupt ending. All of a sudden, something happens to the main villain, and it's just out of nowhere, and in the end, it all deals with such a cheesy moral, you'll teeth will rot.

Rest aside the flaws, Pokémon: The First Movie is a very good film for Pokémon fans alike and the appropriate age group.

 

There has been some debate concering this release. Many were upset that the film, was not released in widescreen. "Pikachu's Vacation" is presented in an open matte, and looks fine. However, "Mewtwo Strikes Back" is in pan and scan, and it's pretty bothersome. You can really tell when it's panning and scanning. Then again, most families prefer the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, so I guess that's why it was released this way. As far as the video goes, not bad! Not bad at all. I did not notice any grain or artifacts, and detail is very nice. However, I have to say the film has a certain VHS like quality to it, it's hard to describe.

 

Pokémon: The First Movie uses 5.1 Dolby Digital, and I have to say, it's very impressive. There are some great sound effects which bring life to this mediocre film, and when Mewtwo "thinks", there is this very nice effect. Things are clear, and bass is nice. An excellent mix!

 

Surprsingly, this movie features a good amount of materials, sure to please any Pokémon fan. "The Story of Mewtwo's Origin" is a short animated clip telling a little about how Mewtwo was created. Nothing great and it is short, but it's sure to please the fans. Next, is a marketing fluff piece entitled "Ash's Journey", which explains the world of Pokémon. This is a nice introduction to those confused about the phenomenon. The best feature, however, is a full length commentary with English adaption director Michael Haigney and producer Norman J. Grossfield. There is some silence now and then, but they crack some jokes for a very entertaining commentary. They even point out some secrets you'll never even notice. Off the top charting soundtrack, there is a music video in full frame of M2M's "Don't Say You Love Me". For DVD-ROM users, you can get some virtual trading cards, essays, guides to the Pokémon games, the movie's website and genre essays. To top it off, there are some extensive production notes about Pokémon, one of the film's theatrical trailer, and a teaser for "Pokémon: The Movie 2000" (I can't wait for that one). Plus you get a collectible trading card for the "Pokémon Trading Card Game" and an advertising card.

 

This is the perfect addition to any Pokéfan's collection. With some nice video, great audio and extensive features, no Pokémon fan should be disappointed with this release. If you enjoyed the movie (or at least if your kid(s) are still into Pokémon), pick it up.

(2.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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