This was my favorite movie as a child, and it always made me sad to watch it every time, so watching it again having gone through the self-discovery of adolescence made me realize why it was so impacting.
The reason why Ash is always able to win is because he's friends with his Pokémon. The whole series is an allegory on how you're supposed to treat your fellow man, using the relationship between Pokémon and their trainers as a parallel for the relationship between human beings.
Mewtwo's hatred for mankind stems from their lack of compassion - he was basically used. He was given life, and then
treated as less-than-life - a tool to be used for human purposes, rather than a living being with a living will and a purpose. He has no purpose of his own, he didn't know he was, so he lashed out against all of humanity, and against the Pokémon he felt were being used by their masters.
Mew is his foil, as Mew is everything that Mewtwo is, minus the hatred. Mew loves mankind because he knows that they're just another form of life on the planet. He eliminates the antipathy between humans and Pokémon by realizing that they're all the same. Pokémon and their trainers can be friends, but can also walk their own paths, just like all humans in real life.
Mewtwo makes his own purpose in life the destruction of life itself, but realizes that isn't the way things are supposed to be. The reality of friendship "slaps him in the face" as he sees all the Pokémon weeping over the petrification of a human being who only wanted to protect his friends.
Pikachu is the Pokémon embodiment of friendship. The relationship between Ash and Pikachu is the entire central theme of Pokémon: friendship prevails over selfishness. Pikachu's will is so similar to that of Ash's that he refuses to fight the other Pikachu (essentially, refuses to fight another living being to prove to the other Pikachu that the fighting is pointless - even Meowth, who's supposed to be one of the "bad guys" knows better than to fight like that), even as it continues to slap him over and over again.
The most saddening part of the movie as a child was when Pikachu just kept taking the hits without retaliating. As an adult, I understand why that was so heartbreaking: Because that's the way many people in the world are, just fighting each other to prove that their purpose means anything, instead of just banding together in friendship.
We've been so deadened as a society that we think that that is "cheesy," and "children's material." No. Fuck that - I've been through the ringer in life, and I can still come back around and see the value in a story like this. It's a parallel to life, and I believe the creators would be very sad to know that audiences are taking it with a grain of salt instead of realizing the true message behind their work (instead of just writing it off as "kiddie stuff").
I know that many adults don't want to hear it, but "kiddie stuff" is codeword for "things that are important in life, but I don't want to think about them anymore." You have to think about them. "This is life," as Nurse Joy herself puts it.
Also, the dub did dumb down some of the deeper parts of the message for American consumption, but that's America's own damned fault for thinking that our children can't handle being exposed to a little bit of truth for an hour and 15 minutes of their lives.
If you're an adult, and you find yourself calling this movie "stupid," you should try looking beyond the medium and look to the message. You could find that you're a bitter Mewtwo, and two stubborn and hurt to see it. The human condition.
Don't be a Mewtwo. Mew :3
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Synonyms: Gekijouban Pocket Monsters: Mewtwo Strikes Back, Pokémon Movie 1, Pokémon: The Origin of Mewtwo, Pokémon: The First Movie Kanzenban, Pokémon: The First Movie Complete Version
Japanese: ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲
English: Pokémon: The First Movie
German: Pokémon: Der Film
Spanish: Pokémon La Película: Mewtwo vs Mew
French: Pokemon Le Film: Mewtwo vs Mew
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 18, 1998
Duration: 1 hr. 25 min.
Rating: PG - Children
Score: 7.631 (scored by 167591167,591 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.