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Pokémon: The First Movie

Review by: Adam "OMEGA" Arnold

A convergence of English dialogue with Japanese animation has brought forth the ultimate Pokemon experience, Pokemon: The First Movie.  All the television voice actors are brought to the big screen along with two of the most powerful Pokemon for added punch, Mew and Mewtwo.  Pokemon: The First Movie is actually two completely separate side-stories that can fit into the television series virtually anywhere after Togepi joins Misty.

Pikachu's Vacation (aka Pikachu's Summer Vacation) is a twenty-four minute long episode dotted with annoying cut-scenes that cram in more Pokemon so that all 151+ pokemon appear on the big screen.  Ash, Brock, and Misty drop off their pokemon for a day of fun at a theme park only for pokemon.  But, Pikachu has to play the role of the baby-sitter keeping Togapi out of trouble as the other pokemon battle it out against Raichu's team in a pokemon tournament.  Slapstick comedy and teeth-rotting cuteness prevail in an episode that couldn't possibly have made it as a television episode due to the fact that it only has about three paragraphs of dialogue in the whole short.

But, the feature Mewtwo Strikes Back, filled with pokemon battles and series mythology, is where Pokemon: The First Movie prevails.  A genetic lab has taken DNA from a fossil they have found of the legendary Mew and improved it, thus creating Mewtwo.  But, when Mewtwo rebels against his creators he discovers he is the most powerful pokemon in the world.  Meanwhile, invitations are sent out to many of the pokemon trainers, including Ash, Brock and Misty, to come and battle the strongest Pokemon Master in the world.  All this and Team Rocket too.

The translation and English scripting of the movie for a 'less mature audience' has left the movie with missing jokes (such as the 'I can't move a millimeter' joke during the opening battle between Ash and the Pirate trainer) and a revision of Mewtwo's motivation in the movie.  In the beginning of the Japanese version of the movie Mewtwo ponders his origins and who created him, as all humans do, giving extra depth to the character where a person can sympathize with the pokemon.  The English version has toned this down and made the mental speech more understandable for a younger audience. Also, the final battle has been turned into a big moral that fighting is wrong in the English version, where as the Japanese message was that 'there is no such thing as win and lose' and 'both real pokemon and copies are living beings.'  None the less, these changes were expected due to similar translations and cuts done in Sailor Moon, DragonBall Z, and the Pokemon television series.

The soundtrack for the movie's two parts has also left it with the feel of a recent American movie trend of putting in songs that mean nothing to the movie's plot.  Such as Blessed Union of Souls'  Brother My Brother song that plays during the first half of Mewtwo Strikes Back's final battle.  The song makes the heart-wrenching battle seem happy, making the whole scene lose its original meaning because the Japanese version has a errie instrumental song playing during the scene.  Also, Billy Crawford's version of the Pokemon Theme that plays during the Ash vs. Pirate trainer fight pales in comparison to even the English TV Series theme

In conclusion, the movie is a unique blend of Animation and CG that makes for a truly awesome experience when seen in a theater.  Let's just hope that when the DVD version is released that they will include a subtitled version of the movie so fans will finally be able to see a licensed subtitling of Pokemon.  Pokemon fans can expect to see the second pokemon movie, The Phantom Pokemon, X (along with Pikachu's Expedition) in theaters around November 2000.

Review Info File
Title:
Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Format: In Theaters
Production:  Pikachu Project '98
Rating:  C
Comments:
None

Image Credit:
Pokémon World

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