Pokémon: The First Movie

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Pokemon the First Movie Poster

DirectorKunihiko Yuyama
StudioOLM, Inc.
Release year1998
Movie number1
Purchase DVDClick here to purchase from Amazon.


Welcome to a fantasy world, where mice, garbage bags, and androgynous ballroom dancers shoot bolts of lightning and lasers. Where logical fallacies rule and biological encyclopedias are written by 10-year olds. Where if a movie attempts to get serious, it somehow becomes sillier.

Oh yes, we live in a Pokémon world.

So yeah, a few things about me:

  • My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Yellow
  • I collected trading cards
  • I watched the first few seasons of the anime
  • I had a Pokémon-themed bed
  • I owned several VHS cassettes
  • I had a bunch of miscellaneous crap that never caught on, including decorative coins, watches, etc.
  • I had a few PokéROMs (does anyone remember those?)
  • I played all the way to Pokémon X/Y, and completed the Pokedex for each game I got since then
  • I hated Mega Evolutions and Kalos in general (BRING IN THE HATE, ANGRY FANBOYS/GIRLS/ALIENS)
  • Blah blah blah, nostalgia

So as you can see, our relationship is a bit rocky at the moment. I haven’t been keeping up with the anime lately—save for a few silly episodes that my friends brought to my attention—and Generation VI of Pokémon makes me want to maim myself with a saw. Okay, not really, but I shall use my right to bitch about it at some point!

So for my first review, I’m going to start things off by shitting on my childhood obsession. Get ready for Pokémon: The First Movie.

I never watched this movie in the theaters, but you could imagine the hype back then. Every kid who got into Pokémon were screaming for this movie. Like, it was the shit back in the late ’90’s. I had the VHS cassette. At the time, mini me thought it was AWESOME.

But watching it again as my 20+ year old self, I realized that I was a puppet of Hype. Yes, Hype, that powerful demon that can turn first-time watchers into… shall we say, lesser demons. Fuck with the king demon, the lesser demons are out for your blood. Well, take my blood because I have some opinions!

Gasp! Opinions! Kill him! Kill the nonbeliever!

So, I’m going to get into a little movie marathon by going through all of the Pokémon anime movies—or at least as many as I can sit through. Also, they are going to be the English dubs since those were what I grew up with. Pray that my brain cells still live by then.

Also, I won’t review the Pikachu shorts since they’re designed to be cutesy, silly cartoons. Really, what else can I say about them. No, I’m shooting for the feature presentations. The big ‘uns that make little kiddies squeal.

Now don’t take that the wrong way, because you may be squealing for different reasons by the time we’re through with this post.

So, where to start?

Pokemon The First Movie Jungle
Oh right, right… this portion.

So right off the bat, here is something that already irritates me. In the theatrical release and VHS tapes, 4Kids Entertainment did us the “favor” of cutting out 10 minutes of footage at the very beginning of the movie. Why? Because it was too dark. Yeah. Batman: The Animated Series and early Don Bluth movies are for kids, but THIS?! You bwoke my wittle inner child’s heart… for cutting out the segment, not the content of the segment itself.

We open up with a scene in a jungle, where a scientist narrates that he and his expedition team are headed for a shrine. In the background, they are being watched by none other than the legendary Pokémon Mew, AKA “The Most Powerful Pokémon to Have Ever Existed.”

But you know what is even more powerful? Retcons, rendering the legendary status of certain Pokémon to by title only. Otherwise, being legendary nowadays means rare and not necessarily all-powerful. Really sucks the fun out, doesn’t it?

FEAR THE RETCON.

So Giovanni, leader of the criminal organization Team Rocket, is financing the expedition, no doubt relishing his wet dreams of taking over the world. However, our lead scientist, whose name was never mentioned in the movie but credited as Dr. Fuji, with his convenient Mew fossil, wants something more: the secret to life itself.

Pokemon The First Movie Ancient Mew
And to your left is the ancient cat god that will inadvertently bring ruin to the world.

Wow. For a movie targeted towards children, this is a pretty adult subject you’re tackling. It’s almost like… children have brains or something.

So we see a short montage of scientists taking a sample of DNA from the fossil (because Jurassic Park logic) and creating a new lifeform from it. On the VHS cassette, this is where this segment ends.

But let’s carry on. Prepare your handkerchiefs.

Pokemon The First Movie Baby Mewtwo
Imagine if you could pet THIS in Pokémon-Amie.

We see an adorable toddler version of Mewtwo in hibernation, already questioning his own existence, while being watched by Giovanni and Dr. Fuji. How charming.

Mewtwo then hears a voice of a little girl, and she materializes in front of him, both apparently stuck in some psychic limbo. The little girl talks with Mewtwo, stumping him with basic concepts of the Pokémon world. Heh, weren’t we all?

And suddenly, the Kanto starter Pokémon appear, who all have what appear to be birthmarks as a result of their unnatural creation. Outside, the scientists explain that all of the clones are communicating using telepathy. Makes sense for Mewtwo, a psychic Pokémon. How did the others do it? I… have no idea. Roll with it.

We cut back to the psychic limbo where Amber explains that they’re all clones, which is why they have “two” at the end of their names. The originality shocks me! So they partake in what appears to be a bizarre psychic attempt at “Ring Around the Rosie.”

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo and Amber Two

In a flashback by Dr. Fuji, we find out that Amber-Two is a clone of his deceased daughter and his wife confronts him regarding her creation. Then we cut back to a lone image of a farewell letter, what I presume to be a house key, and a ring… and then a portrait of Amber.

Pokemon The First Movie Amber

Pokemon The First Movie Dr. Fuji
Mommy. Why am I feeling so sad?

Damn. That was surprisingly poignant. Don’t get used to it though. A moment like that is rare in the Pokémon anime.

The project seems to be going well and Giovanni is happy that he’ll have his most powerful Pokémon soon. But Dr. Fuji is more than happy to sacrifice the world’s safety in order to see his precious daughter again. Happens to the best of us.

Back in the psychic limbo, Mewtwo and the clones explore a dreamlike suburban area where he learns about the sun and wind. It all seems frivolous, but we have to remember that Mewtwo isn’t “born” yet and he has yet to experience the joys of life itself. So, a crash course on life. Why not I guess.

Pokemon The First Movie Origin of Mewtwo
Only in my demented dreams would I see environments this beautiful and haunting.

And when night falls and the clones appreciate the moon’s beauty, something happens. Charmander-Two fades away, symbolizing its death. Squirtle-Two and Bulbasaur-Two soon follow. And finally, Amber-Two begins to fade away, leaving Mewtwo with her last life lesson: farewell.

Pokemon The First Movie Amber Two Death

Mewtwo sheds a few tears as Amber explains the concept of tears.

Amber-Two: They’re tears. You’re crying.
Mewtwo: Crying?
Amber-Two: My daddy used to tell me a bedtime story. That when Pokémon were sad, and they cry, their tears are filled with life.
Mewtwo: I’m so… sad!

Aside from Mewtwo’s silly telling of his emotions, there is also what Amber-Two said. Jot this down: Pokémon cry tears of life. We’ll get to it later. Also, the Japanese script didn’t have that whole tidbit either which I thought was better overall. Damn you, 4Kids.

Finally, Amber fades away, thanking Mewtwo for caring about her and reminding him that life is wonderful. Mewtwo is left alone and is stricken with grief, which causes him to enter a panicked state.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Crying
And I find it kinda funny, I feel it kind of sad. The dreams of which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.

Back in the real world, the scientists begin erasing his memories of the event, reverting him back to a calm state. Dr. Fuji laments the loss of his daughter once more but looks forward to complete Mewtwo. And from there on, Mewtwo returns back into hibernation in the psychic limbo and waits. As time goes on, he ages into an adult state and ponders over the words, “Life is wonderful,” not knowing who said them and what their meaning was.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Asleep

Whew… doesn’t that bring a manly tear to the eye? Yeah, honestly, this whole segment was done better than what you would expect, and it really sucked that 4Kids decided to cut it out. It could even save the movie for some people. But nope. Too mentally scarring, according to 4Kids.

If you want to see this portion, I recommend watching the Japanese dub with English subtitles, where in my opinion the script is better.

And now… the footage everyone saw.

We open to an underwater environment as a narrator talks about life itself, and we’re treated to some beautiful scenery. Definitely not a bad introduction but I would still take the whole “Origin of Mewtwo” sequence over it.

We cut to an adult Mewtwo, getting a peek at his creators as he rests in his birth tank. Yeah, I said it. For him, it was pretty much his version of the womb.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Awakened
Ready to kill.

Later hearing the loud voices of the scientists, he awakens and busts out of his tank with his developed psychic powers. Dr. Fuji attempts to communicate with Mewtwo and explain to him what his purpose is. Not only had Mewtwo grown but his intelligence seemed to have too, as he immediately recognized the situation he’s in. Mewtwo resents that he is nothing more than “Mew’s shadow” and an “experiment.” Most likely retaining the emotions he felt in his time during the psychic limbo, Mewtwo is disgusted with his deformities and goes into a frenzy. Despite the scientists’ attempts to stop him, Mewtwo destroys the laboratory and murders the scientists. A shocked Dr. Fuji awaits his imminent doom.

Pokemon The First Movie Dr Fuji Death

Dr. Fuji: We dreamed of creating the world’s strongest Pokémon… and we succeeded.

Uh, hey, 4Kids. What was your stance on Mewtwo murdering a whole team of scientists? The clones from before passed on peacefully, but we just had a violent scene that involved killing. Hypocritical much?

Standing over the ruins of the island, Mewtwo relishes in his power. Conveniently, Giovanni arrives at the scene via helicopter, discrediting his dead research team (what a douchebag) and offers a “partnership” to Mewtwo. Or SLAVERY, whichever you prefer.

Mewtwo claims he doesn’t need Giovanni’s help, but then our favorite Italian mobster implies that Mewtwo would destroy himself if left unchecked. Giygas reference, anyone? Mewtwo reluctantly agrees.

Pokemon The First Movie Armored Mewtwo
Why can’t this be in Super Smash Bros?!

Cut to a new scene. Mewtwo receives a very cool armor set and becomes Giovanni’s secret weapon, assisting him in capturing more Pokémon for Team Rocket and his gym matches. No Pokémon has come close to harming him, even those belonging to Gary Motherfucking Oak.

Pokemon The First Movie Gary
Yay, Gary cameo!

After some time, Mewtwo once again asks himself what his purpose is. And for no reason whatsoever, Giovanni walks up and tells him that his purpose is to be his ultimate weapon. Mewtwo gets pissed off and obliterates Giovanni’s gym.

Okay, movie, there’s your first big mistake. Now here are some questions:

  • Why would Giovanni confess that to the world’s strongest Pokémon?
  • Why didn’t Giovanni place countermeasures in case his independently minded super weapon decided to rebel?
  • Why didn’t Mewtwo detect Giovanni’s deception with his psychic powers? Is he just not capable of reading the intentions of others?

So Mewtwo returns back to the ruins of the island of where he is created, once again gazing at his navel—Yeah, this was a time when broody angst was wildly popular. Seriously, look at this piece and tell me this doesn’t sound like Shadow the Hedgehog.

Mewtwo: I will find my own purpose, and purge this planet of all who oppose me. Human and Pokémon alike. The world will heed my warning. The reign of Mewtwo will soon begin.

I AM THE ULTIMATE LIFEFORM. WHERE IS THAT DAMN FOURTH CHAOS EMERALD.

No offense, Mewtwo, but it sounds like you have already found a purpose for yourself. Maybe your side goal could be to show less angst?

Ha. Yeah right.

Then, we see the Pokémon logo pop up with the movie’s subtitle: Mewtwo Strikes Back.

Mewtwo strikes back at whom? He already did at the scientists. And Giovanni. Maybe the world? Because the late ‘90’s are so about rebellion, man!

FAWK YOU I WON’T DO WATCHU TELL ME!

And finally, our heroes: Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu. Don’t you just get sick of hearing our heroes from the narrator, like he has a constant need to remind of us that they’re the protagonists? Uh-huh. Thought so.

We meet Ash Ketchum, the ageless anime prince of Suck, whining for food. Didn’t you find it just as charming when your kids are whining for some McDonald’s? Always a pleasure to watch Ash doing it too.

A man dressed like a pirate approaches Ash and his company, looking for the nub trainer himself. The two have a battle, with the pirate starting with…

Pokemon The First Movie Donphan
OMG! OMG! OMG! WTF IZ DAT?!

 Q: Why are you freaking out?

Donphan was a Generation II Pokémon and this was its first anime appearance. This was even before Pokémon Gold and Silver existed. Aside from the merchandise of the First Movie at the time, Donphan’s name was never revealed. That was basically my reaction when I first saw this cool armored beast. This was a time when a new species of Pokémon is the most exciting news in the world for an impressionable young child. Too bad that lost its effect over time.

God, I’m old…

Anyways, the ongoing battle progresses as a pop cover of the first Pokémon opening theme plays. To say the least, the whole thing is cool to watch as Ash’s Pokémon curbstomps the pirate’s team. At the last minute, the pirate unleashes three Pokémon at the same time—which was back then an illegal move—and Pikachu finishes the battle with his legendary h4x Thunder.

Pokemon The First Movie Golem, Venomoth and Pinsir
Pikachu’s bolts of Thor could bring down Golem in one shot, a GROUND-type.

In an awkward transition, the pirate just vanishes from the scene, probably having “blacked out” from existence. The whole time the battle was going, our favorite band of idiots; Jessie, James, and Meowth; is spying on our heroes. And not just that, a Fearow from afar was also watching with a surveillance camera on its neck. The other side of the camera shows a lady reporting back to her “master” before letting loose a Dragonite carrying a parcel on its neck.

The Dragonite interrupts lunchtime and hands Ash a… hologram invitation. Yeah, because paper is SO impractical and expensive!

Pokemon The First Movie Ash Invitation
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Okay, that one was too easy.

The invitation is for a gathering of trainers to a place called New Island, hosted by the “World’s Greatest Pokémon Trainer.” Uh-huh.

Hey, kids! Let’s go to a remote island cut off from all contact to have a private gathering! Nothing fishy whatsoever.

And of course, Ash accepts this challenge like the little gullible dumbass he is. A… DumbAsh, if you prefer.

Okay, I apologize, that one sucked…

But Jessie, James, and Meowth refuse to lose their targets and stop the Dragonite during its flight, wanting to find out what the whole thing was all about.

Pokemon The First Movie Team Rocket and Dragonite
Wow. They’re stronger than you’d think.

Somewhere far away, Mewtwo, while sitting in his best executive chair, is conjuring up a massive thunderstorm, presumably inventing Rain Dance. I know he’s psychic and all, but how does he know how to control the weather? What, did he read the clouds’ minds?

And someplace else far away, a slumbering Mew leaps out of a river and bursts into flight. This is possibly because it senses Mewtwo’s power, I guess. We had to get our antagonistic foil from somewhere, I suppose.

Ash and his friends take cover in the nearest Pokémon Center as the storm reaches its peak. There, they find other invited trainers for the New Island gathering, complaining about the ferry to New Island being closed down. I guess Mewtwo couldn’t have predicted that his thunderstorm would make crossing the sea so dangerous. Dumbass.

The harbormaster, who for some reason has a discernible accent, tells a prophecy (out of nowhere, to be honest) about a terrible storm that would claim the lives of trainers. But then, Pokémon tears brought them back to life.

Again, we’re on the subject about Pokémon tears bringing dead people back to life. Did you get that, audience? Good, because Chekhov’s Gun dictates that there’s a point to all this.

Pokemon The First Movie Brock and Nurse Joy
I’m squinting my eyes as hard as I could and I still can’t see her!

And apparently, the Nurse Joy of this Pokémon Center has vanished a month ago, meaning the Center itself can’t heal Pokémon. A month passes by and no one, not even the police, bothers to call in a substitute? What if someone’s Pokémon has been poisoned and there are no cures for miles? What’s wrong with these people?

Actually, let me move that question to the trainers who decides to go out into the thunderstorm and swim across the sea.

Pokemon The First Movie Neesha and Dewgong
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

As Officer Jenny threatens to arrest them, in vain—having just a Growlithe in your lineup is a bitch, ain’t it—the harbormaster then explains why they left (as if we didn’t know) and wishes them luck. Well, so much for your damn warning, lady.

Ash and his friends attempt to do the same thing but Misty points out that their Pokémon aren’t strong enough to swim through the currents. And then… Vikings.

Pokemon The First Movie Viking Jessie
…wut

Really, Team Rocket? Vikings? You’re going to fool them with Vikings?

Well, guess what? It worked! Even Brock, who was often shown with the most common sense of the group, accepts that this is in no way a coincidence. You’d think after the 50th fucking time, these kids would’ve caught on and saw through those paper-thin disguises at the beginning of this scene.

Remember, kids! When you’re away from home and you need to go to a remote island for a “gathering,” take boat rides from strangers in costumes!

Brock: I didn’t even know Vikings still existed.
Ash: They mostly live in Minnesota!

Wow. Two anachronisms in one. Remember, this was a time when the franchise was using real-life locations alongside their fictional ones.

I don’t really watch sports but this terrible joke was based on an American football team. Thanks, Mila.

I feel so un-American now. Waaaaah.

But as the boat ride goes on, a tidal wave crashes into them and washes away Team Rocket’s Viking disguises.

Ash: Those aren’t Vikings!
Misty: It’s Team Rocket!
Brock: I should’ve known there was something fishy about them besides the way they smell!

Um. NO FUCKING SHIT.

And just as Jessie and James are about to recite their motto, another wave throws everyone overboard. Ash and his friends use their water Pokémon to stay together but get separated from Team Rocket. For a whole minute, they have been tossed aside by the waves until they dive underwater to stay with the currents and resurface later on. Miraculously (and I really mean that), they stumble into the eye of the storm and find sanctuary at New Island.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Castle
Nope. Still nothing ominous here.

At the island’s pier is the same woman who appeared in the hologram invitation earlier, seemingly have anticipated their arrival. As she bids them welcome, Brock notes her uncanny resemblance to the missing Nurse Joy mentioned earlier. How convenient…

At the last second, we also learn that Team Rocket survived too! Yay.

In a random cutscene, Mew arrives at New Island as well, using one of the castle’s windmills for its joyride. What, is this movie too dark for you? Here’s a pointless scene of cutesiness to cut the tension!

Pokemon The First Movie Mew on Windmill
Pokemon The First Movie Mew
WHEEEEEEEE!

Our heroes enter inside the castle of doom, finding that only three other trainers have made it through. You know, the same exact trainers we saw leaving the pier earlier and no one else.

Right?

There. I just killed the possibility that anyone else who attempted the dangerous stunt earlier was washed away and possibly drowned. Are you happy?

Actually, someone just brought to my attention that there was ANOTHER trainer who left the pier earlier while riding a Fearow. There was also an unidentifiable man standing at the pier, though we never saw him leave. We have no idea what happened to the Fearow and its trainer, even in the ending of the movie, so it is quite possible that this trainer has turned up missing while attempting to go to New Island. Who knows. Thanks, PokeAce.

As the door closes behind our heroes (getting annoyed yet?), Jessie, James, and Meowth find themselves locked out. It isn’t long until they find an alternative entrance, a cistern on the side of the castle by the looks of it. And they aren’t alone.

Pokemon The First Movie Team Rocket and Mew
PEEKABOO, BITCHES!

Inside the castle, the other trainers greet Ash and the gang. The guy modeled after the male CoolTrainer (credited as Corey) in the games claims that he made it across with his “Pidgeotto.”

Pokemon The First Movie Corey and Pidgeot
Nice to know 4Kids had been brushing up on their Pokémon mythos…

The other two trainers are a water trainer (Fergus) and a girl modeled after the female CoolTrainer (Neesha).

And finally, the main event occurs. The arrival of the “World’s Greatest Pokémon Master on Earth.”

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Pissed
I’m back, bitches!

Meanwhile, Team Rocket somehow manages to get into the cistern while being stalked by Mew. And they stumble upon a ladder leading to an upper floor. It makes me wonder:

  • Did Mewtwo really build New Island by himself? Where did he learn all this architecture?
  • If Mewtwo could float, why does he need ladders?

Back in the main castle room, hologram lady introduces her master. “Yes, the world’s greatest Pokémon master is also the most powerful Pokémon on Earth. This is the ruler of New Island and then soon, the whole world: Mew-two.”

Pokemon The First Movie Ash and Pikachu
Mew… Two?!

GASP. WHAT A TWEEST.

We find out that Mewtwo has been controlling the hologram lady’s mind the whole time. Fergus talks down at Mewtwo, which results in Mewtwo using his psychic attack to toss him into the nearby fountain. Pissed off, Fergus sends his Gyarados in, only for Mewtwo to use his precursor Magic Coat to send back Gyarados’s Hyper Beam back. Ownage.

Mewtwo terminates his control over hologram lady, who was revealed to be none other than the missing Nurse Joy. Way to get us there, movie. You really know how to bring the best out of plot twists.

And then we get this bit.

Mewtwo: You have been under my control. I transported you here from the Pokémon Center. Your knowledge of Pokémon physiology proved useful for my plan. And now I cleansed your time and your human brain of memories from the past few weeks.

Um, okay. Jot this down. We’ll get back to it.

And so Mewtwo declares that he’s the ruler of all. Yep, because of a little girl he only knew shortly died (and forgot about her) and the other humans he met before then wanted to use him as a tool, all humans are evil and therefore the world is DOOMED. Man, Mewtwo really IS a poor judge of character.

Pokemon The First Movie New Island Laboratory
Kewl…

Meanwhile, Team Rocket is still wandering the castle and later discover a laboratory, encountering fully evolved starter Pokémon hibernating inside liquid chambers. As Meowth points out, “Dey’re Pokeymon…” Behold, the brains of Team Rocket.

And the starters have those curious birthmarks just like those other starter Pokémon in the “Origin of Mewtwo” segment… wait…

No… that can’t be. They died though. And Mewtwo destroyed the laboratory they were in. And he FORGOT about them. There is no way that the DNA samples of those Pokémon could’ve survived in a fiery explosion.

Unless the samples came from elsewhere, which will be left unaddressed.

Pokemon The First Movie Team Rocket
And why is Meowth blushing at the sight of them? Weirdo.

In a brief flash of Jessie fanservice, she sits on a button that coincidentally activates a program that takes a sample of Meowth’s fur.

Pokemon The First Movie Meowth

James: Who’s that Pokemon?
Jessie: It’s Meowth!

Hehehehe….

For the newer fans, that was a fun little reference to the “Who’s That Pokémon?” segments in the older anime season. Okay, I’ll shut up now…

And then in one of the liquid chambers, a clone of Meowth appears immediately. With no birthmarks. Um, wow. That’s… unbelievable. No really, this raises questions.

But the scene doesn’t stop as the computer just randomly activates a recorded message from the now deceased Dr. Fuji, flashing images and explaining exposition that we already know about. Why does it need to be repeated? We saw the beginning, writers!

Apparently, Dr. Fuji was recording this message (again, WITH VIDEO FOOTAGE OF RANDOM IMAGES) while Mewtwo was destroying the laboratory. It was pretty much a brief history on how Mewtwo was created and how he became the world’s strongest Pokémon. And somehow, the message survived and Mewtwo just placed it into his supercomputer. Well, someone has a big ego.

Dr. Fuji: But for some reason, the creature’s anger is out of control.

Gee, I wonder why. Surely it has nothing to do with you telling him that he’s nothing more than an experiment and that you will keep experimenting on him for Arceus knows how long.

This whole scene raises so many questions:

  • How did Mewtwo learn about cloning?
  • How did Mewtwo learn how to speed up the cloning process, perfect it so that the clones won’t die, and condense it into mere seconds?
  • Why didn’t the Meowth clone have birthmarks like the starter clones?
  • If Mewtwo destroyed the lab on New Island at the beginning of the movie, how the hell did enough of the research and DNA samples survive for him to rebuild a new laboratory?
  • How and why is Dr. Fuji’s recording at this lab?
  • Why is it important for Team Rocket to know about Mewtwo, if not to repeat to the viewing audience of what we already know?
  • Bringing back what Mewtwo said about Nurse Joy’s expertise in Pokémon physiology earlier, was SHE the one who helped him make the clones? That’s so improbable though. She’s a nurse, not a genetic engineer.

“There is a hole in the plot you could drive a truck through.”
—Dot, Animaniacs

Seriously, did he read the broken computers’ minds too? Well, doy! Of course!

James: So this must be the lab.
Jessie: But if Mewtwo destroyed it…
James: Somebody rebuilt it…
Jessie: Yes, but who?

Agreed. That needs a more direct answer.

Cut back to Mewtwo, preaching to the humans. And we get this interesting little tidbit.

Mewtwo: You humans are a dangerous species. You brought me into your world with no purpose but to be your slave. But now I have my own purpose. My storm will create my own world. By destroying yours.
Brock: So you hated all humans. And you’re going to destroy us to save Pokémon.
Mewtwo: No. Your Pokémon will not be spared. They have disgraced themselves by serving humans. Those Pokémon are nothing but slaves.

I’m sorry, but who’s dangerous again? You murdered a whole laboratory of scientists. You trusted a master criminal, benefited him, and ended up destroying his home base. You summoned a storm to “test” people that you could’ve killed, only so you could preach to them about the evils of humanity. And your next step is to murder every living thing outside of your castle’s walls, leaving behind an empty, desolate world. If you’re so resolute about this plan and will in no way be convinced to have a change of heart, why are you even telling them this? You just met these people. This plan makes no sense!

Pikachu calls bullshit on this plan, and Mewtwo tosses him aside. The CoolTrainer Corey decides to send his Rhyhorn charging at Mewtwo, even though he saw Fergus’s Gyarados getting its ass handed easily earlier. Of course, Rhyhorn meets the same fate. What do you expect, man?

Mewtwo once again gloats about his ultimate power (again, sharing that similarity to Shadow the Hedgehog) but Ash grows some balls and asks him to prove it.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Smiling
Is that a challenge?

“Bitch! You bet it is,” says Ash.

We go back to Team Rocket, who watches as the starter clones wake up. And then, we witness their mechanical wombs giving birth. No seriously, that is what happens.

Pokemon The First Movie Blastoise Two Birth
Ewewewewewewewewew EWWWWW!

The starter Pokémon bellow their war cries and leave the room. Mew follows them, leaving Team Rocket befuddled on what the flying fuck just happened.

The three starter clones appear in the main castle room, via floating platforms, which begins the next step of Mewtwo’s stupidity.

Mewtwo: Like most Pokémon trainers, I, too, began with Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. But for their evolved forms, I used their genetic material to clone even more powerful copies.

So… does that mean they were clones of those clones that died before? I’m still stumped on that one. And I noticed this too: a lot of time passed since those previous clones died, including with Mewtwo growing up and up to the point where he rebelled against Giovanni. There is no way in hell there are DNA samples that have survived.

By the way, this scene is a whole load of BS. Earlier, Mewtwo seems to have taken a stance against Pokémon falling under the ownership of trainers. But here, HE IS DOING EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Oh, and let’s not forget the Fearow and Dragonite he recruited earlier. How do you expect to make your point if you keep contradicting yourself?

Next, Mewtwo reveals a battling stadium.

Brock: A stadium! Mewtwo planned this all along!

Nothing gets past you, Brock…

The CoolTrainers, Corey and Neesha, claim that their own starter Pokémon (Bruteroot and Shellshocker) are better than the clones—basically, my dick is bigger than yours. Ash decides to join in the fun by sending out his Charizard, who makes one hell of an entrance by immediately opening fire on Mewtwo.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo

Mewtwo: Your Charizard is poorly trained.

Okay, that’s kind of funny coming from the one who said Pokémon working under humans was disgraceful. But you as a trainer? You can do no wrong!

Corey and his Bruteroot begin the battle against Mewtwo’s Venusaur-Two, only for Bruteroot to get his ass literally tossed across the field. Next up, Neesha and her Shellshocker fight Blastoise-Two. Again, taken down with one blow.

Finally, Ash sends out his Charizard against Charizard-Two. However, Charizard is unable to match Charizard-Two’s speed and can’t hit his target worth a damn, resulting in Charizard-Two choking Charizard while still in the air and smashing him into the ground. Badass.

With the battle over, Mewtwo performs his most hypocritical act yet: capturing the trainers’ starter Pokémon with his specially created Poké Balls.

Again, you are doing the same exact things that you claimed humans were evil for! What is your deal?!

Mewtwo explains that he will extract the DNA of those Pokémon to make more clones “for himself,” and they will remain safe in his island while his storm wipes out life outside of its walls. Again, this plan is just stupid. So to further add insult to injury, Mewtwo summons more of his strange eye-shaped Poké Balls and captures every single one of the trainers’ Pokémon. Why don’t they just return their Pokémon back to their respective Poké Balls? Well, we find out why as Ash returns his Squirtle and Bulbasaur back into theirs.

Pokemon The First Movie Ash Stolen Pokemon
Yoink! I’ll be taking that!

HAAAAAAAAAX!

But give Ash some credit. At least he tried to be smart this time.

So yeah, at this point, Mewtwo is a cheating villain sue. He’s pretty much unstoppable at every turn and he has a pretentious, flawed goal with an ego to match. Great villain, right?

Ash’s Pikachu, in an extended chase sequence, tries to evade capture by running away and zapping the Poké Balls away, which seems to work for a while. After falling from a long height, one Poké Ball successfully captures Pikachu with Ash following behind. Ash chases the Poké Ball into an underground compartment, where he goes to the same laboratory Team Rocket is in.

Team Rocket just watches the computer screen as they name more Pokémon, a la “Who’s That Pokemon?” segments, their very first guess being completely WRONG.

Pokemon The First Movie Scyther
Alakazam?

One by one, more clones appear in the laboratory’s tanks, again having no deformities or birthmarks like Mewtwo’s starter Pokémon. Yeah, the starters looked more menacing that way, but what was the point?

Ash appears in the conveyer belt and continues to chase the Poké Ball containing Pikachu. He wrestles with the strangely organic-looking robotic arms and manages to tear them apart to get his precious Pikachu back, as well as breaking the cloning machine. Since when did this kid become Superman?

So we get our heartfelt reunion between Ash and Pikachu after only one suspenseful minute. But then, Mewtwo’s clone army comes out of the mechanical wombs and march outside of the lab. As soon as they left, the cloning machine explodes and let loose the original Pokémon. Again, a 10-year old boy who was way over his head broke this enormous, advanced, expensive-looking machine.

Meanwhile on the surface, Mewtwo declares that he would spare the lives of the remaining humans in his castle as they watch his thunderstorm wreak havoc on the world. What is with him? Why does he need to make his point to people that he is going to kill anyway?

His clone army appears to stand by his side. But out of the same smoke, Ash appears with his own army of Pokémon, attempting to do his most badass slow walk.

Pokemon The First Movie Ash and Pokemon Army

Well, okay… this is pretty stupid, but hopefully we get an ultimate showdown between the two Pokémon armies, right?

Nope.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Psychic

Instead, we are treated to more Ash stupidity. Ash comes charging down and attempts to throw a punch at Mewtwo, only to get his ass tossed aside. If the much tougher Pokémon earlier couldn’t resist Mewtwo’s psychic powers, why the fuck does he think HE has a chance? Pokémon Master, my ass…

Mewtwo is about to smash Ash against a distant wall and leave behind a massive blood stain on his castle. But then…

Pokemon The First Movie Ash Saved By Bubble
Oh, BULLSHIT!

Yeah. Mew comes in at the last second, saving Ash with some weird elastic bubble. Mew teases Ash and fools around like a half-witted idiot. But then, Mewtwo can’t take any more of the cutesiness and decides to throw a few Shadow Balls at Mew. They all miss, causing Mew to giggle. D’aaaaw, how pandering.

Pokemon The First Movie Mew Giggling
Tee-hee-hee-hee-hee!

Mewtwo: Mew… so finally, we meet.

Wait a minute, Mewtwo. Are you telling me you were EXPECTING Mew to appear? You never made THAT clear for your “purpose!”

And speaking of purpose, why is Mew even at New Island? He just so happens to stumble upon New Island and decides to use it as his playground. He has no reason, at least an explained one, on why he decides to come here.

So as Mewtwo has another “I am the Ultimate Lifeform” speech, Mew seems to listen on with the attention span of someone with ADHD.

Neesha: So Mewtwo was cloned from Mew.

It’s like the job of these side characters is to keep pointing out what was already explained to us. Or 4Kids just can’t pick a different line for the dub.

So Mewtwo and Mew play a game of cat-and-mouse—which is ironic, seeing as how they both resemble cats—and seem to have ended with Mewtwo defeating Mew with a Shadow Ball. But then…

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo Hit by his Own Shadow Ball
RIGHT BACK AT YA!

Mew sent back Mewtwo’s Shadow Ball against him, harming Mewtwo for the first time in this whole movie. Finally.

Mewtwo declares war on Mew and the original Pokémon, with Mew replying back (according to Meowth’s translation) that a Pokémon’s real strength comes from the heart. God, that is just cheesy, 4Kids… what’s next? Are you’re going to say the monsters in a card game draw their strength from the “heart of the cards?” HA!

Yu-Gi-Oh Yami Yugi
…Oh.

And fun fact: the Japanese audio had Meowth translating that Mew wanted to eradicate the clone army, therefore making him a bizarre sort of purist. Well, I guess that would have explained why Mew came to New Island in the first place. I dunno.

Mewtwo: I will lock all the Pokémons’ special abilities using my psychic powers. Now we shall see who triumphs!

What? Seriously? Okay…

  1. Mewtwo can now disable every Pokémon’s attacks with psychic? That is just outright bullshit.
  2. Are you really going to deny your viewers an all-out Pokémon war with abilities? Let me guess… the animators didn’t want to do it because it’s too much work.

Ash, somehow still surviving, watches as the climactic battle occurs.

Pokemon The First Movie Ash Watches Battle
And boy is it STUPID.

For one thing, the originals and clones can only use melee attacks, resulting them in beating each other with whatever they have. That… is so boring. And don’t you just love the pop music playing in the background?

Pokemon The First Movie Scyther
BROOOOOTHER! MYYYYYY BROOOOOOOTHEEER!

Second, this whole scene is meant to show that fighting “in this way” is wrong. Yep. A franchise, about collecting creatures and pitting them against each other in legalized cockfights (which in the games, you get MONEY out of), is trying to give a message about the cruelty of beating each other.

OH! BUT’S IT PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE TO HIT THEM WITH LIGHTNING BOLTS, SET THEM ON FIRE, POISON THEM, AND FREEZE THEM ALIVE! BUT A COUPLE OF HITMONLEE KICKING EACH OTHER AND A COUPLE OF RHYHORN BASHING THEIR ROCK-HARD HEADS AGAINST EACH OTHER ARE WRONG WRONG WRONG!

Meanwhile, Mewtwo and Mew surround themselves in glowing barriers and proceed to tackle each other across the field. Really, that’s all they are going to do for the rest of the battle?

*Sighs*

Okay…

Pikachu has his own problems as his clone starts beating the crap out of him.

Soon, every Pokémon begins to experience fatigue and this prompts the side characters to question the whole morality of Pokémon fighting “in this way.” Again, what is different from Pokémon tackling each other until one faints while a Pikachu slaughters a water-conductive Wooper with electricity?

Misty: This just proves that fighting is wrong.

You just discredited your whole franchise in that one sentence.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket’s Meowth meets his doppelganger. But instead of fighting, they talk things out. They go into some weird topic about how the originals and the clones aren’t that different from each other due to breathing the same air, and that they ought to look for what is the “same” rather than what is “different.”

Pokemon The First Movie Meowth and Clone Meowth
It was preachy, but its heart was at the right place at least.

While the Pokémon on the field continue fighting and Mewtwo and Mew having their own private battle, Ash watches as his Pikachu getting bitch-slapped multiple times by the clone Pikachu. Even though this is meant to be tragic scene, it sort of ends up being comical. I wonder why.

Pokemon The First Movie Pikachu and Clone Pikachu
Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!

Ash: Someone’s gotta take a stand. Someone’s gotta say no, and refuse to fight… just like Pikachu.

ALRIGHT ALREADY! SHUT UP! WE GET YOUR HYPOCRITICAL POINT!

Mewtwo and Mew land on the ground, signifying that their battle is about to come to a close. I never thought a battle between two legendary Pokémon could be so boring and repetitive.

Then Ash performs his stupidest risk in the movie. Just as Mewtwo and Mew launch powerful psychic blasts at each other, Ash runs into the middle of field, pleading them to stop, and gets caught in the crossfire. What is exactly throwing your life away going to accomplish, kid?

Well, we found out why. This is meant to be the movie’s “heroic sacrifice,” even though Ash wasn’t really protecting anything specific. He wasn’t thinking straight, just like the majority of the characters in this movie.

So Ash… turns into stone instead of getting obliterated into kingdom come. Okay… and then Pikachu attempts to revive Ash by shocking him, to no effect. Okay…

Then, Pikachu breaks down in tears, mourning the loss of his owner. The spectating Pokémon, including the clones, also weep.

And then… the silliest thing happens.

Pokemon The First Movie Pokemon Tears Scene
WAAAAT DAAAA FAAAAAAQ

Remember those bits about magical Pokémon tears? Yeeeeeaaaah, they really went there. The tears heal Ash, restoring him back to his original state.

Pokemon The First Movie Gyarados Crying
They even made Gyarados, the Atrocious Pokémon, cry!

Okay. Just because you foreshadowed it doesn’t make it any less stupid.

Pokemon The First Movie Ash Revived
D’awwww! How contrived!

Mewtwo: The human sacrificed himself to save the Pokémon.

Uh, did he really? If a bomb went off and someone used himself as a meat shield to protect the other people around him, would it really weaken the blast itself and save the other people?

Aw, fuck it. The movie is almost over.

Mewtwo has seen the error of his ways, with Mew agreeing, as he comes to the conclusion that it didn’t matter on how he was born, but what he does with his life. A really good message for children, mind you, but get ready for the last act of bullshit.

So Mewtwo and Mew take the clones and fly away to parts unknown. Mewtwo decides to pave a new destiny for himself, ending on what should’ve been a reasonably powerful note.

Pokemon The First Movie Mewtwo and Mew Farewell
But no. Mewtwo decides to remember what transpired today while he wipes the memories of every other human and Pokémon clean, and then teleports them back to safety. Wow. Just wow.

Seriously, everyone is back at the Pokémon Center with Officer Jenny and the harbormaster attempting to repeat what they said earlier in the movie. Wait, so did Mewtwo send them all back in time? Just… what the fuck, man. You spent the entire movie trying to make your point to the humans and you decided it didn’t matter? Whatever. Go set out on your next hypocritical quest. I’m through here.

Meanwhile, Nurse Joy—previously missing earlier in the movie—announces that the Pokémon Center is open for business. Too bad she doesn’t remember that Pokémon tears are the ultimate medicine, so powerful that they can bring a dead person back to life. I guess it’s back to legend again.

Ash and his friends ponder about how they end up at the center, but they decide to handwave it off. They go outside with the side characters to find that the storm has vanished.

Out in the distance, Ash sees something peculiar.

Pokemon The First Movie Mew Ending
And then he pops up in the Rainbow Cloud stage of Pokémon Snap.

Then Ash recounts the time of when he saw the Ho-oh from the very first episode of the anime series, comparing it to this moment. I’m not sure how this is supposed to tie in, but whatever I’ll take it.

Pokemon The First Movie Team Rocket Ending

Meanwhile, Team Rocket ends up at some random island with no idea on how they ended up there. But they don’t care, and neither should we. What a pretty island! Screw those twerps we had been chasing during the entire anime series! Ahahahahahaha!

THE END.

Oh, man, typing this review takes a lot out of me. This is most likely something I have to expect from the rest of the movies. Damn it…

Overall, as an impressionable kid, I told myself that I liked the movie. However, I did feel a little disappointed that the movie seemed to have gone by so fast, plus that annoying ending didn’t help matters.

Right now, it’s a guilty pleasure… but still has tremendous flaws to it. I admired this movie for attempting to shoot for a “darker and edgier” feel, especially when compared to the campiness of the anime series. People outside of the fandom are more than likely to hate the movie, but it does sit well enough for many fans and helps turn Mewtwo into a more popular character. It does help bring up the possibility that the series can appeal to the older audience if it hits the right notes.

As much as the movie tries to shove morals down your throat, at least they weren’t entirely in vain. The morals were well intentioned, though poorly conveyed.

However, I can say that the worst disservice this movie has done to me personally is cheating me out of a great, conclusive ending. Even as a kid, I hated that cheap deus ex machina ending and it could’ve been approached better. I don’t criticize these things to hate them. I want to see them improved.

For one thing, Mewtwo wasn’t a “born villain.” He had to undergo a tragedy early in his life, having to lose his first and only friends at the time. When he learned that he was seen as a tool, not a creature with feelings, it was what sent him to a flying rage. Furthermore, he was originally created with the intent in bringing the dead back to life.

Yeah, did you forget that part? I would too.

Now let’s look at the ending again. The magical Pokémon tears scene was pretty dumb to say the least, despite the foreshadowing. So let’s try something different: what if Mewtwo brought Ash back to life?

This was brought up by other fans before. Think about it. Mewtwo was the key to discovering how to create life, and his “purpose” could be using his powers for good rather than selfish purposes. Plus he knew the pain of losing a loved one, so watching Pikachu break down should’ve been his cue to redeem himself. It was one thing the villain could have related to. If he was so capable of many things, why not try resurrecting Ash at least? It would make more sense than Magical Tears of Life. And AXE OUT THE OBLIVION, THANK YOU.

Even with the other flaws in the movie, this ending would’ve brought the movie to “not really that bad” territory. But the damage was done already. I still kind of liked this movie, despite what I said about it, but man it felt like it missed out on so much. The size and scope at the time was more than enough to satisfy your typical Pokémon fan. It was creative enough and had the shift in atmosphere to show that it could be a unique flavor, so might as well enjoy it for what it is.

What, are you expecting a number or star rating? Sorry, I don’t really do those.

What, you think I overanalyzed a kid’s movie? Well…

TOUGH.

This movie took itself seriously, therefore I had given it the serious approach.


 

Added 05/08/2015

So, I found a video that I haven’t seen before until now. Apparently, it’s the first Japanese trailer of the movie. And NONE of this footage made it in to the final product.

And this is the part where the PokéShippers cry.

I’m not into shipping, but imagine if this ending really happened! Oh my god. The series could have ended with such a poignant, conclusive ending! They had a good idea and they threw it out in favor of continuing a series that ended up being shamelessly repetitive over time and made a relatively likable protagonist into a total dumbass!

But to sum up my feelings about this movie, I had a very soft spot for the first season of the Pokémon anime, which I felt that the later seasons failed to match the charm and wonder of. Not even close. It’s the same feeling I got from playing the older Pokémon games, including Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow versions, Pokémon Snap, and Pokémon Stadium.

This might be a bit hard to buy and I don’t know if other old-school fans had this feeling, but Pokémon felt like it originally had this rustic, laidback innocence to it. For me, at least. From the art design of the characters to the picturesque landscapes that felt like part of a humble fairy tale. It’s a weird feeling, and I never had this feeling with anything else I read, watched, or played. It’s… pretty surreal and dreamlike. I dunno. I was a pretty naive child back then.

The movie didn’t quite live up to my expectations either. It took a different direction from what I originally thought it would. I was okay with it as a kid, but looking back this movie really isn’t that good. Not only is the plot very meh, but it didn’t match the tone of the series.

I didn’t mind dark and edgy settings, as I did grow up with Batman: The Animated Series too, but this movie was weird in places. I wanted to see Mewtwo as this cool badass of a villain who is both menacing and calculating, waiting to bring the world into ruin; instead, I got a villain with a nonsensical, emo-ish motive who takes down nearly every opponent with a psychic bitchslap.

I wanted to see Ash make a difference by overcoming adversity and using his wits to take down the strongest Pokémon in the world; instead, I got an idiot protagonist who constantly jumps into danger, defenseless, and ends up turning into stone for it.

I wanted to see Team Rocket show some major competence for a motion picture, proving that they can indeed be a threat; instead, Team Rocket got shoved to the side for comedic relief and convenient exposition portals.

I wanted to see the main characters learn and grow from the experience, leading to an ending where our characters are finally living their dreams and we can look back on this series as it went off on a high note; instead, we got a deus ex machina ending where no one learned a damn thing and the events of the movie will be barely referenced in the future.

*sighs* Come to think of it, this movie was a bigger letdown for me than I thought. The sad part was that I convinced myself that I liked it before, even with that weird Pikachu short, trying to find no flaws with it whatsoever. I was one of those kids who never looked for anything to complain about in a movie and just say I enjoyed it.

“I’m not the storyteller. I’ll love it as it is.”

To think I used to have that mindset as an impressionable child. I find it really sad, now that I think about it.

…And here I am, hoping my constructive criticism would touch base with some people. Yes, I made many stupid jokes and sarcastic remarks throughout my reviews. Stuff like this though? I genuinely wanted to see them improve. Putting effort into writing good stories may seem superficial to some people, but it’s these kind of good stories (both fictional and non-fictional) that I felt that makes life worth living. Life itself is like a story, and to be unsatisfied with it is like living a bad story in itself.

And hopefully, that makes more sense to you. I’m in a weird, kinda existential mood while writing this, so I understand if you’re not getting the same vibes as I am. And trust me, I find it more surreal that I got them from Pokémon of all things. But don’t worry. I’m still going to be a real snark in my reviews.

But when I get serious about a topic, you’ll know it. Just FYI.

But here is another list at least. Hope it helps.



Pokémon: The First Movie

$12.99
Pokémon: The First Movie
60

STORY

5/10

    CHARACTERS

    4/10

      ART & ANIMATION

      8/10

        SOUNDTRACK

        7/10

          Pros

          • Dark premise, with a lot of promise for a more adult movie.
          • The “Origin of Mewtwo” segment is well done.
          • The animation combined with the art style, which helped develop the “darker and edgier” setting.
          • While the morals were clumsy and explained poorly, the movie’s heart was at the right place.

          Cons

          • Mewtwo’s “fuck the world because I’m SAD” motive, as well as his hypocrisy.
          • The overall stupidity of Ash and the side characters.
          • The constant repetition of plot elements.
          • Many unaddressed issues on to how Mewtwo managed to create his clones as well as New Island itself.
          • Weak ending; magical Phoenix Down tears and Mewtwo erasing everyone’s memories, therefore no one learned a thing in this movie.
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