As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was obsessed with Pokémon. I loved everything about it. And the first Pokémon movie was something that people my age will remember as having one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the history of cinema. I lived with a guy at university that definitely described it as the saddest films ever made but he also really loved the Hannah Montana movie. So, I’m not sure we can trust his opinion too much. I never quite went that far but it certainly stayed with you. And this year, Pokémon: The First Movie is celebrating its 21st birthday. Yep, the first ever animated Pokémon movie is finally becoming an adult. So, I decided it was definitely worth giving it a rewatch. Especially considering I’ve been pretty Pokémon obsessed since I watched Detective Pikachu. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly bought a Nintendo Switch just to play Let’s Go Pikachu! At least the film would only distract me for a little over an hour.
1998 was a long time ago and it shows when you go back and rewatch something like this. This is definitely one of those films that ended up resting on its reputation instead of creativity. Because, as films go, this is a bit of a mess. After escaping from the laboratory in which it was created, Mewtwo, the clone of the ancient Pokémon Mew, decided to wage war on humanity. Annoyed that he was seen as nothing more than an experiment or a weapon, Mewtwo wanted to take over the world and punish humans for their treatment of Pokémon. He does this by inviting a host of Pokémon trainers to battle the World’s greatest Pokémon trainer. Obviously, this is a challenge that our hero, Ash, can’t ignore and he, Misty and Brock head off to New Island.
Of course, things go tits up once they discover Mewtwo’s intentions. He is planning on wiping out humanity and the Pokémon who are loyal to them with the help of a storm. But first, he wants to prove how strong he is. To prove the clones are superior to originals. So, he unleashes his army of clones Pokémon on the trainers. It’s up to Ash to try and convince Mewtwo that humanity is worth saving. But can he do it before his Pokémon get really hurt?
There are some good moments within this film. The scene where Pokémon are facing off against their clones is a memorable one, despite how horrific it really is. And that final, super emotional scene is still pretty sad. I mean watching Pikachu desperately trying to bring Ash back to like will always be a bit much. That thing is so bloody cute. But, really, there’s nothing to this film. Especially now that Detective Pikachu has already updated and bettered the Mewto storyline. It’s all very bland, very silly, and not all that memorable for the most part. But this film did what it needed to. It was a marketing ploy. A way to make even more money out of the obsessed fans who would rush out to watch it. And, in those terms, it’s perfect.
However, can we talk about the fact that this film is pushing a moral anti-violence message whilst being based on a video game that is all about making creatures fight each other? Plus, who is that message for? It’s not as if the people who were going to see that film back in the day were paying any attention to Mewtwo’s moral speeches. They just wanted more fighting. It’s amazing how you can build something up in your memory and forget all of the flaws. As Pokémon goes, this wouldn’t even be one of the better episodes. It’s all a bit too much but not quite enough at the same time. And, most crucially, it doesn’t have the same humour and self-awareness that Detective Pikachu does.