Yes, I still almost cried! Okay!?...
Released: Feb 27th 2020
The year is 1999 and I'm eleven years old. Three things matter most to me at this point in my life. Video games (duh), mainstream anime and specifically Pokémon.
I had no idea there was a Pokémon movie on the way, that is until the first day I saw the "Coming to a cinema near you..." type advertisements on TV for what was known simply at the time as Pokémon : The First Movie.
I promptly called my mother into the room and informed her, in no uncertain terms, that on the day of release she was to bring me two towns over to the nearest movie theatre.
There was no room for negotiation.
I was dropped to the movies to go watch the movie whilst my mum went shopping (it was a different time in 1999) and with my 10 Irish pound note in hand I bought my first ever solo film ticket. Big enough moment in a nerdy kid's life let’s be honest.
I was given my ticket, an exclusive shiny Pikachu Pokémon card, and I was on my way.
Popcorn? Check. Fanta? Check. Childish wonderment and excitement of seeing this wonderful world for the first time on the big screen all by myself? Oh, you better believe CHECK!!
I sat myself up on that ratty old cinema seat and sat mouth agape as the world of Pokémon came to life in a way I had never experienced before.
I laughed. I cried (you know what part), I felt pride in the victory of the day, and I came home a bundle of excitement. Starting up Pokémon Blue for the third or fourth time.
This paragraph was written to explain to you that yes I do have a little nostalgia bias. Though maybe that's not such a good thing.
Gotta Watch em’ all!
Flash forward now to 2020 and here we have Pokémon: Mew Two Strikes Back : Evolution. A one to one CG remake of the original release from some 20 years ago. This was done in 2019 by the Japanese studio OLM's CGI studio. The team was tasked to bring into the modern age the franchises most successful trip to the big screen. Watching it I feel it must be commended how much they kept to the source material, but, more on that later.
In 2020 Netflix announced it would be partnering with the Pokémon Company to bring the adaptation, dubbed for western audiences, to the NA and EU Netflix streaming services.
Honestly, this is probably why I went out of my way to watch this movie. Because it was easy to do so.
Now I know I spent a rambling paragraph conveying my untold love for the franchise and no doubt painted myself some sort of weeb fanboy. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Im not really a Pokémon guy. Haven't been for the longest time.
I mean I caught 'em all several times over in the Red/Blue, Gold/Silver days. But I think I burnt myself out, and not owning a GBA just meant I never got to play the other entries in the series. So I put away my trading cards and sticker books and moved on with my life.
That said I have toyed with later entries in the series, but find little enjoyment in the sugary, hand holding aesthetic.
I have for the record completed the story on Moon and Let's Go Pikachu so I'm not just throwing shade here, they're just not for me.
However, when I heard they were remaking that movie I remembered so dearly I do remember thinking to myself "i'll watch that someday". Not on release, someday.
Meaning if this was on another platform that I did not have access to I was not hunting it down.
So turning on Netflix and seeing Pikachu and Ash smiling back at me, I thought, what the hell!
As I said earlier, this is a one to one retelling of the original work. Very little, if any, liberties were taken here, and for once im not sure how much this worked into the piece's favour. The story and dialogue are virtually untouched. Giovanni and his nefarious team rocket are up to their old tricks again, however this time in the form of developing the ultimate weapon, in the shape of Mewtwo. A bio cultured clone of the legendary Pokémon Mew. Mewtwo wrestles with the great questions, such as what is his purpose, and before long turns on his oppressive creators to find himself in this new world.
In doing so, he scouts the strongest trainers around and invites them to face the “Greatest master of all time” at his floating castle in the middle of the sea. Amongst which are our old favourites, Brock (still a creep), Misty, Ash and all of their Pokémon in tow. They make their way to the tournament only to find that this will be no ordinary battle and the very moral nature of Pokémon battles and the sense of ‘ownership’ one has over their Pokémon will be brought into question.
This premise is still as questionable today as it was 20 years ago in a series that lives and dies on a community based on anime cock fighting. However, it still manages to tug at the heart strings if you don’t think too hard. And yes, when that most emotional moment came up, I once again found myself welling up. If you haven’t watched it I won't ruin it here, but those who know will understand.
The look and feel..
The visual style they chose is somewhat uneasy. I mean take any given still image of this movie and it looks great! Truly. The way they masterfully fleshed out these two-dimensional characters and set pieces into a fully rendered CGI landscape is to be applauded. However, in motion something just feels ever so slightly off. Animations and camera transitions never quite flow as cleanly as you would expect, to the point I was intermittently checking my Wi-Fi connection. There’s just something about the style of animation that takes from the art style, and that’s the real shame. Having said that the environments are a true delight to take in, not to mention the generation one Pokémon on display. There is still a lot to like here.
All in all, I feel that this retelling of this 1999 Pokémon story, while unnecessary, was a pretty successful one. Would I recommend it over the original? Certainly not. However, it will attract the younger generation to watch essentially the same movie I did when I was a young’un and that’s something in itself. If you’ve never been a Pokémon fan then this is certainly not going to convert you, but a returning fan could do worse of a rainy Sunday morning.
Watch this Movie if you:
Are a Pokemon fan
Have fond memories of the original movie and TV series
Have kids and want to show them where it all started
..Are in need of a bit of a cry
ll images are taken from the ‘POKÉMON AND NETFLIX TEAM UP FOR GLOBAL RELEASE OF ‘POKÉMON: MEWTWO STRIKES BACK—EVOLUTION’ press kit here
POKÉMON: MEWTWO STRIKES BACK—EVOLUTION Trailer here
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