June 11, 2008
This was a movie that broke the box office records for an animated feature at the time. Of course, records have come a long way since then, but this was still a fun movie.
STORY – As a kids’ movie for a kids’ show, the themes in Mewtwo Strikes Back are actually quite impressive. The morality of cloning and genetic modification/enhancement is a very real debate that ripples through the scientific community now and again, and it’s interesting to see that idea translated into a Pokemon movie. Thus, as far as its target audience goes, the core plot of this First Movie is definitely doing something uncommon. The arrangement of the story around this central theme is a little more normal as it retains many typical elements from the anime series.
CHARACTERS – Let’s skip over the normal cast of the series because I’m going to assume you already know there isn’t a lot going on there. Now, Mewtwo is a fun character — his monologue presented at the beginning of the movie and the constant destruction he finds himself in is a great way to start the foundations of his character. His feelings are very logical and easy to understand while offering possibilities beyond what’s obvious. His repeated question of “What is my purpose?” highlights the deepest theme of the movie well, and I find it very exciting that the rest of the movie is based around the fact that he creates a purpose for himself, since no one else is able to provide him with one. If you take a step back and go through Mewtwo’s train of thought, it’s really not that riveting or different from what you would expect, but when you remember again that this is a movie directed towards a younger audience, I think the philosophical and moral implications of those kinds of questions and actions is very potent, thus making for a great movie character.
Mew and Mewtwo’s clones pretty much make up the rest of the movie-exclusive characters. The simplicity of Mew was a great foil to the complexity of Mewtwo, though I still wonder if they could have been more clear about Mew’s intentions because certainly she had some. The rest of the clones were rather generic, bending easily to the whims of the movie’s message with no real personality of their own. That’s perfectly forgivable though; after all, kids’ movies need morals.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – Honestly, there wasn’t much notably different from a normal Pokemon episode. Maybe things were animated a bit more smoothly, but other than that, just average.
MUSIC – I’m actually rather fond of most of the music in this movie. It was great that they used the full version of the normal TV introduction (whether in English or Japanese). There are some pretty epic tracks played during Mewtwo’s reign of terror, and many of the movie’s other background tracks are reminiscent of melodies also found in the series. Mew’s innocent little theme also comes to mind as a pretty fun and memorable tune.
VOICE ACTING – I’ve seen this movie in English, Japanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin. I’ll just talk about the first two though, lol. The English dub… well, I’m sure you already have your own opinions about Ash and the gang, but I liked Mewtwo’s voice. It suited him very well. And so did Mew’s! But I guess that really isn’t that impressive. I liked the Japanese better mostly because I like the main cast better. Especially memorable is the opening scene with Ash and his friends, during which he’s challenged to a random Pokemon battle. The Japanese version offers some brilliant Engrish that just can’t be rivaled: “OH MY GODDDDDD!!!”
OVERALL – Pokemon the First Movie is my favorite Pokemon movie (keeping in mind I’ve only seen the first three). Sure, it’s definitely a film aimed for the younger audience, but even for an older audience, as long as you can bring yourself to swallow some of the corny bits, I think it retains a lot of merits. Cloning and genetics is always an interesting subject, anyway.