Review: The First Pokémon Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back

Dear subjects, we are trying to experiment a bit with the content we are putting out, where our in depth talks about the Pokémon Mimikyu bombed last week te are trying to examine it it’s the subject or the day in question. A safe bet to always draw in people would be a review, but unfortunately for Chibi Pinkie, this is not something she can play, nor does it fall under series or toys. That means someone with the right opinion will review for once! Me! Princess Pinkie. Over the course of the next few weeks I will discuss every pokémon movie that has been released and of course we start with the first. This review will contain spoilers…for a 21 year old movie. So.. be warned… ?! Do note we rate the movie as on the japanese dvd with english dub option as it contains the first 10 minutes of the movie that got cut in the VHS version for Europe and America (the version I grew up with) 

How does it Look and Sound?

Let’s talk about the the looks and sound first. Once looks is very important , you will not buy a book with an ugly cover nor will you have a poster of Susan Boyle no matter how much you like her singing.  The First Pokémon Movie : Mewtwo Strikes Back, as this movie is called nowadays has that distinct 90’s look to it’s animation. Which is a good thing, it’s animated quite a bit better looking than the regular anime with a lot more detail and effects going on. There is an occasionally blurry Pokémon here and there but nothing to noticeable or distracting. It could have used a bit more visual spectacle near the end but overall this was quite pleasing to the eye, at least for it’s time and compared to the series. There are a bunch of neat lighting effects and it just really works. There are a few effects though that look horrible. Like the fire in the earlier scenes of the movie. There are very little frames to the fire and it has no impact on the environment.. it’s just there sometimes placed on spots that don’t even make any sense. The fire cycles through just a handful of frames, ik kind of looks like they added fire.gif  to the scene, and not a good gif either.

Soundwise this movie is interesting to say the least. Voicewise the cast does a stellar job to convey emotions, please note I watch the dub because opposed to the sub which I would have preferred had all the names been the same. With big name changes I vastly prefer the dub because i know the characters as Ash and Misty and seeing them be called Satoshi and Kasumi just feels off to me. Overall the music is quite solid with one exception. Brother my Brother by Blessid Union of Souls. People love this song but I felt it was very out of place. While it does make the scene of Pokémon battling their super clones more emotional as they battle to the death it feels .. unpokémon.  It feels like something that belongs in the Disney Tarzan movie rather than my pokéworld. The emotional build up to not fight like this is not there and only established somewhere in the middle of this song. While it calls for the right emotion and cues us in how to feel in this scene like it should it feels slapped on there. Should it have started 30 seconds earlier I might have been fine with it but this really made me wonder, what are they doing here. It’s a good song but it’s time wrong and it doesn’t seem to flow along nicely with the scene. Had the Mewtwo and Mew battle not been in the scene and it just focussed on the battle against clones it might have worked.. but for me it really didn’t now.  However by far the weirdest thing about the sound is the choice of a few sound effects. Like when Mewtwo switches on the lights in his arena you hear the actual sound of a lightsaber being ignited but only the first half (it’s not even a sound alike that’s the actual effect) when Mew flies out of the amazon he dispells his sleep-bubble with the sound of a star trek teleportation, again no sound alike it’s the actual one from the shows. It’s odd but hilarious. 

How does it feel?

Atmosphere is very important to a show, how good is the world building, any weird mistakes , does it keep your attention? This is what we discuss in this part of the review. Let’s start to say that the english dub is loaded with mistakes. One of the elite trainers calls his pidgeot and pidgeotto, a guy claims he only use water pokémon has a nidoqueen, (but it’s blue herpaderp)  and Jessie and James can’t tell an Alakazam from a Scyther, the last one while a mistake is at least credible. A trainer not knowing the name of their own pokémon though is not. So the dub can be a bit sloppy. A subplot in mewtwo’s plans for example is missing , changing him from a misguided pokémon to a classic movie villain. The dubbers believed the western audience was unable to comprehend a morally grey antagonist with more subtle motives so they made Mewtwo a lot more black and white. As a result the ending doesn’t really connect. From out of nowhere people see this villian have a change of heart and accept it without any context. It makes the movie feel more odd than it should be. Bringing up the improperly edited song, the weird sound effects the mistakes and the simplified plot makes the movie feel quite sloppy. Ash first death was quite impactful on everyone who saw it nonetheless, but did you know the whole reviving mechanic isn’t nearly as cheesy as it’s in the original version? 

The uncut version actually explains what happens and does confirm that Ash is not just petrified he is actual dead. Seeing the build up added in this version pardoned a lot of the sloppy stuff for me as at the end we do get a feeling of a well rounded story. Now all we need is a proper ending and we got a very solid movie. … ‘Wait what? It’s one of those?…… well fizzlesticks’ Unfortunately..yet understandably the movie ends with a big middle finger towards the audience. Ash and his friends get send back in time for a bit and don’t remember anything, so nothing ever really happened Such a buzzkill. With Pokémon however it does make sense, the franchise was so big that it’s young audience would wonder why no one talked about it in the anime. Since the movies aren’t cannon at least it’s placeable inside the universe we knew.. but this ending hasn’t aged well at all. Other than that it doesn’t feel all that dated actually, even knowing what we know nowadays about the franchise there is little to nothing conflicting about it there. Well .. except for one weird plot hole…

How is the plot?

The movie we know begins with Mewtwo escaping from Giovanni, but that is not how the movie actually starts. It starts with Mr Fuji  on an expedition to find Mew.. who is secretly following him but is never seen. However inside a temple Fuji finds a Mew fossil…….. Mew is a one of a kind pokémon that is the only one of his species by all existing media.. yet somehow they find a fossil of Mew. How?

Question to my readers:

How do you think Mr Fuji obtained Mew’s fossil.. while Mew is still alive?

Weirdness aside the uncut version actual dus a great job of setting up Mewtwo as a character. Growing inside a tank it mentally connects to the mental presence of Ambertwo a clone of Mr Fuji’s deceased daughter. The man tried to recreate her because he can not move on without her, causing his wife to leave him. While they explore a dreamlike state together, Ambertwo  explains Mewtwo what is is to exist and answer some of his existential questions but then she destabilizes and disintegrates dying all over again. While Mewtwo is crying for losing her she tells him what crying is and explains he should save his tears because pokémon tears contain valuable life essence. This bit is majorly important for the rest of the story but the original western version left this out. It’s probably the best written part of the entire movie! Mewtwo murders Mr Fuji and joins with Giovanni to rule the world together.


While I can see why they cut this part out of a kids movie, because it’s pretty messed up, so much in the movie never made sense to me as a kid but this version manages to tie everything together quite neatly, with the exception of the dub making Mewtwo more of a genocidal villain rather than a deluded pokémon amidst a existential crisis much like how he is portrayed in the sub. Ash has a decent arc to go trough in this story and  his famous demise is still quite impactful to me. While Brock and Misty as well as the other trainers really are throw-away characters in this movies it actually puts the spotlight on the pokémon. Again Mewtwo’s plan makes less sense in the dub, but the first 10 minutes leave enough room for us to understand both versions of the genetically superior pokémon, as he could have re-remembered Amber which wile unspoken could have driven him off the edge. He said he remembered ‘something’ so it’s plausible enough. Knowing what is to come in the franchise however I would have preferred the more nuanced version. It’s a compelling story what a nice lesson at the end about taking control of your own identity rather than taking one on at birth and about friendship versus servitude alongside the way how pokémon SHOULD and should not battle.  While that last one is quite powerful I do feel that one could have been executed a bit better, the battles between pokémon and clones felt weird.. which is how they are supposed to feel.. but for a life or death battle I expected something a bit more visceral rather than slap battles. 

What is the Verdict

The first Pokémon Movie is a great nostalgic view that is well written enough to hold some merit for those who are not watching with rose coloured specs. It’s a sparkling mix of 90’s cheese, pokémon and even a hint of disney. Fun enough for any pokémon fan to have a blast with even if it is all done quite sloppily. Yet this movie to me is more than just the sum of its parts. It is something that rises way above its mistakes. My rating system is based n the emotion I felt rather than a numerical score and I can not help but to be crazy about this movie. No matter how much I watched it as a kid.. this version, which was new to me made me appreciate it even more. This movie is an icon from my youth.. something I loved deeply as a kid and something i still treasure now. Any flaw I found was endearing to me and made me love it even more because now I know those flaws and I still love it to bits. With that being said I give this movie my highest possible rating! I love it, and always will. 

With one movie down I only have 22 more movies to go. I didn’t see a lot of them, in fact I only saw the next one in a glimpse and a few other ones in the same fashion. I can not help but wonder which of them will be the very best.

The Pinkest Poké Blogger is blasting off again
XO
Pinkie

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