Starring: Rica Matsumoto, Ikue Ôtani, Mayumi Iizuka
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Running Time: 75 mins
Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back is a Japanese film following the events when Mewtwo, a highly powerful Pokémon experiment, lures all the world’s Pokémon trainers to a small island as a part of his plan to seek revenge on all of humanity.
Now, Pokémon isn’t something that I’ve adored all my life. I enjoyed the TV show when I was about 5, but that’s about it, so huge Pokémon fans may get a lot more enjoyment out of this film than I did. That said, I can tell that the film is taking itself far too seriously, centring on a half hour-long battle sequence that doesn’t provide the same sense of fun as its lighter, happier moments.
If there is one thing that this film does do well, then it is make you smile. Again, there is a large period throughout (which feels even longer given the tiny runtime) where there’s no real glee to proceedings. However, either side of that, there were a good few moments (most of which are down to Pikachu) that made me laugh and smile at the film’s wonderfully innocent imagination.
However, in a film that’s only 75 minutes long, I can’t accept a 30 minute-long period which doesn’t provide any intrigue, genuine excitement or happiness. I’m sure that big Pokémon fans will have a better time with greater interest in the various Pokémon and their abilities, but for general audiences, it’s a painfully long and drawn out period of the movie that’s far too serious for its own good, and leaves you wondering what to actually look for.
While there are Pokémon flying all over your screen, the film’s story about Mewtwo’s revenge against humanity becomes completely stagnant. It’s not a story that I loved at first given its slightly darker tone, but it did at least provide some intrigue for the film initially, instead of falling to pieces halfway through to make way for a ridiculous battle sequence.
And then, to top it all off, the film’s final act is simply painful to sit through. There was surprisingly one moment of impressive emotion, but the way in which the film goes for such a cheesy and dull message about appreciating what binds us instead of what divides us in the most didactic way was awful, and it ended the film on a disappointingly low note.
Overall, Pokémon: The First Movie is clearly a film that fans of the series will appreciate more than the rest of us. It has some good, fun moments, but they don’t do enough to overcome the largely dull and excessively serious atmosphere that plagues the majority of this movie, and that’s why it gets a 6.2 from me.