What started as overhyped expectation for a tribute to the classic 90’s anime, a feature length film that promised to shine some light on one of the show’s most discussed fan-theories, ended with affirmation that it’s time for Ash’s journey to come to an end.
As to be expected from a Pokemon movie, the visuals were stunning. Like seriously, wow. This film looked incredible, from the lush forests and sprawling mountain ranges to the interior design of the pokemon centers and other buildings, I was never not impressed with the backgrounds and environments. Also stunning was the array of colors. The bright sky blues, the robust red Flamethrowers, and foreboding shadowy purples were a treat to behold. Everything in this show was masterfully animated, and the attention to detail impressed me, especially since they could have easily got away with doing much less. Way to go the extra mile!
Unfortunately, this is where the praise ends.
The narrative was all over the place. Any time the plot started to pick up, all of a sudden, a new subplot is introduced and then dropped just as rapidly, thereafter abruptly switching gears again with nothing in the way of a transition except for a scene cut. These include, but are not limited to, Ash’s adventures from the show (Butterfree, etc) and anything regarding Marshadow.
The action (pokemon battles) were also an area of issue for me. The fights were far too numerous and excessively forced on the viewer (seriously, they can’t go 10 minutes without having some sort of battle). Also, the amount of bullshit taking place in Ash’s battles is insane. In this ~90 minute film, Ash evolves his pokemon mid battle at least 3 or 4 times, and some of his combat strategies are so frustratingly idiotic that despite his plot armor, I’m genuinely surprised they worked. There is NO WAY Pikachu should be able to Iron Tail a Snorlax and launch it 100 feet in the air after being pinned moments ago by a Body Slam. Snorlax is like, 1,000 pounds. How do they get away with this?!?! Even kids have to realize how absurd this is at some point, right?
I suppose I ought to at least mention the other technical aspects of the film.
Here you go:
Sound: SFX were great. Soundtrack was whatever, the remixed medleys from the original series were a nice homage, but still unimpressive.
Voice Acting (dub): Some of the side characters were well voiced, but Ash and the usual suspects are as mediocre as ever.
Characters: Ash still sucks, but at least his companions were enjoyable. Despite being every single stereotype in the book, Cross managed to be one of Ash’s better rivals, not like that’s saying much though…
Visuals aside, I was let down with this film, though I can’t say that I’m completely disappointed because at least I got some (canonical?) insight into the Ho-oh fan-theory. Am I perhaps being too harsh on Pokemon 20XX?
After all, it is a “kids” movie.
...I really don’t think so. It is possible to make a good kids movie. Dreamworks and Pixar do it all the time, and the legendary Hayao Miyazaki never fails to amaze. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask of Pokemon company to put some effort into their writing and create a story that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages.
I’ve said it for a long time, but the biggest issue holding back the Pokemon anime is the company’s attachment to its protagonist. He’s dried up, and stopped being interesting 10 years ago. There are pokemon fans of all ages, a sizable demographic being in their 20s and 30s. It wouldn’t kill them to make a series, or even a one-off movie, starring a mature protagonist, or at least a teenager more mature than Ash.
That being said, it was fun watching Pokemon again after all these years, but after seeing this film, my hiatus will likely continue. I was actually planning on watching some of the other Pokemon movies as well, but until they kick Ash to the curb, it just isn’t worth my time.