Pokémon franchise has been long known for making two to three versions of their games, adding small changes to make each different yet similar, but I think this is the first time with a movie. Nice idea, although I think it's... not worth it, really.
I first watched the "Zekrom version"; Ash and friends, as usual, are traveling, and meet a group of friends after helping a couple Deerling out of danger. They get more than they bargained for when their new friends, who are part of the People of the Vale, hope to restore their old, now destroyed home to its former glory.
Much as I
love Pokémon, I have to say this was from the weaker end. The story just didn't have its usual drive, and the main event/danger didn't seem that great - or rather, it was hard to see how a good person could make such bad choices and not see it happening.
Victini had a big part in the story, with its sad past and Ash's determination to help the lonely Pokémon.
The other legendary Pokémon, Reshiram and Zekrom, were sadly left to the shadows. They didn't have that great of an impact, sadly, on the story, and weren't used well enough. I would have loved to see so much more of them, in more creative ways.
Decent story, great art as usual, but a bit of a let down. Perhaps they should have pooled their efforts into honing the story and giving it a bit more edge instead of splitting it in two.
Pokemon Black & White sound great on paper. You've got a neat concept, great legendaries, character moments, scenery porn and superb animation. What a shame that two crucial ingredients are missing - originality and good dialogue.
Annunal Pokemon sequels bumped up animation slightly with almost every release. What caught me off guard, however, was a massive improvement with these two films. One thing that can't be understated is how nice Reshiram & Zerkrom look. For this reason alone, it's a joy to watch the films. But these two aren't aiming to be an audio-visual extravaganza. While the best thing I can say about audio production is
that it did its job, I can't be as forgiving to other elements.
These films can be split into two parts. The character driven first and plot dirven second half. Both focus on different elements and both come up short in their own departments.
Throughout the first half, we're treated to quite a few neat situations. While watching, as I try to enjoy them, something rushes through my mind - images from previous films. Therein lies the problem. There's very little originality here. A garden with tastly berries? Already done in The Rise of Darkrai, better too. Running through the packed streets of an old town? Fifth film. Pokemon waking up Ash to enjoy the local sunrise? Series did it at least three times. I could go on, but I think the point has been illustrated. Black & White are plagued by moments already done better before. The battles at display here aren't very memorable, either.
Where the films really starts to fall, even for someone not familiar with the other works in the franchise, is the second half. The dialogue turns into a complete disaster. Characters won't talk to each other. They'll arbitrary decide to withold key information, just so the plot can go the way director envisioned. Baffling behavior of this kind creates numerous plot holes.
For films centered around Reshiram & Zerkrom, there's very little build up of them as legendaries. After all is said and done, they feel more like rare local pokemon, than legendaries. Their themes of Ideals & Truth, Yin & Yang, are barely touched by the films. Twice blurted out in expositional fashion, these lines feel like trailer material. Making the two virtually identical and replacing one with the other in each film creates a troubling statement. Equaling truth to idealism and implying they act the same is unforgivable. Then again, these two films don't even touch the subject.
As the mysterious dragon force raises the sword castle into space (yes, this actually happens), we're left to wonder about its nature. How does it work? Where does it come from? This isn't explained. We see the force almost destroy the world through a few very brief and nonthreatening scenes. The fact that the force acts as if powered by Yveltal and Xerneas is a mere curiosity for Pokemon fans. The truth is, this force is a lazy McGuffin and won't be mentioned ever again.
Lastly, there's Victini. This little f#cker is pretty damn cute. Throughout the films he's been handled well. Until the end, that is. Near the end he's treated to a faux death scene. I'm sick of these. Ash in the first movie, Celebi in third, Darkrai in tenth, Giratina in eleventh and Zoroark in thirteenth. The faux death has been overused and the manipulative nature of Victini's death is pathetic. We're treated to a scene of characters standing, spewing exposition, while sad music plays in the background for a minute - then revealing the little bugger alive. Even if they had to do this, is this the way it should have been done? No. They should've had an unexpected death, followed by a ten seconds of slowdown, just enough for characters to realize this really happen. Next you continue the plot, but slowing it down a bit, just so the audience can grief. Maybe have one or two lines about regret at the end of the film before revealing him to be alive in a creative fashion. I'm no film director, but I think I may know a bit more about making films than these guys do.
Ultimately, I would recommend these films to people craving some more Pokemon. It doesn't survive close up scrutiny, but looks pretty good. Enough for most people to enjoy, in any case. Sometimes, just sometimes, verbal ratings are true and 4/10 means decent (enough).