Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Movie Review: Pokemon: The First Movie with Fusionator

 

Hey everyone, welcome to another movie review courtesy of Old School Lane. I participated in a special Pokemon movie review done by Fusionator from Manic Expression. I hope you enjoy!

Fusionator: HELLO EVERYONE!!! WELCOME TO AVERAGE INTERNET REVIEWS!!! IT'S FINALLY TIME!!! I can finally break my streak of 4 collabs in a row(with the exception of my april fools article!!! In doing this, I will FINALLY review, Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension!!! Yes Yes yes yes yes!!! To start...

*Zap*
Fusionater: Huh?

*pbmiranda steps out of a teleporter looking pissed*

pbmiranda: Fusionater, We still have to review the first Pokemon movie!!! What's taking you so long!?

Fusionater: I, uh...

*pbmiranda grabs Fusionater and drags him to a Pokemon themed room*




Fusionater: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

pbmiranda: Let's get this started.

Fusionater: All right...

pbmiranda: Look, I know that you don't want to do this. I don't either. Kevin and I have a lot of bunch of reviews to do for this summer and I barely have time to do posts for our blog, let alone do a collaborative review. However, you have a responsibility to take care of. It's time that you tackle this thing head on until it's super effective!

Fusionator: *sniff* fine. Fantastic Pokemon references aside, it's great to have you here, and I look forward to reviewing this movie with you.

pbmiranda: Let's begin, shall we? I'll start off with a brief history of Pokemon, how I was introduced to it, the shorts that came out before the movie, the first time I saw it, and my overall impression of it then and recently. Then you can say your story. Does that sound good?

Fusionater: That does sound good...hm...my story might not be that good though*goes to the drawing board* Ah whatever.

pbmiranda: Alright, here we go. During the late 90's, Pokemon was one of the most popular shows on television. It was based on the video game series for the Game Boy of the same name created by Satoshi Tajiri. Everyone couldn't get enough of Pokemon. They had Pokemon fever, including me and my friends from middle school. We would play our Game Boys during lunchtime and battle each other or trade off Pokemon. They would battle or trade Pokemon with their trading cards, they had t-shirts, toys, anything you can think of. It became a worldwide phenomenon that is still popular today.

Now, when there was an announcement about a Pokemon movie coming out, you cannot imagine how excited we were. Pokemon: The First Movie was released in theaters on July 18, 1998 in Japan and on November 10, 1999 in the U.S. I was able to go see this movie with my classmates as a school field trip. Yeah, that's right. A field trip. We went to a huge cinema at Manhattan, we collected the card that was given to us before the movie (more on that later), and we sat down excited to see our favorite characters and Pokemon on the big screen. Back then, I had loved it and had never seen anything like it before in theaters at the time.

But that was then and this is now. I'm not as much of a fan as I was before. I grew up and moved on to other movies and TV shows. I had not seen Pokemon in many years, since the ending episodes of Pokemon: Johto Region. Now that I've watched the first movie again for the first time in almost 15 years, does it still hold up today or does the phrase "Gotta Catch 'em All" seem ridiculous now?

Fusionator: We shall see.
I was born after the time when Pokemon was at it's peak, which is unfortunate, as I know I would have thrived in it. I cannot stress enough, I love pokemon, no ifs, ands, or buts. Of course there has always been problems with the games and the show(more so the show), but I have always pushed past them in my neverending nerdlove for it. For me, this movie was my first introduction to Pokemon(admittidly not the best place to start), but I went on to other things, and I soon became a true fan.

pbmiranda: Before we talk about the actual movie, let's briefly touch on the shorts that showed up before the movie. The first one that was shown was Pikachu's Vacation.



It starts off with all of Ash's, Misty's, and Brock's Pokemon walking into a Pokemon resort for a little rest and relaxation. Most of the Pokemon leave to do their thing with the exception of Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Psyduck, and Togepi. Togepi starts crying and the gang try to cheer it up! Finally getting it to sleep, a gang of Pokemon composed of Cubone, Raichu, Snubbull, and Marill walk by the same path laughing and joking.



Looking at this blew our minds to the moon! This was the first time that we saw Snubbull and Marill and seeing them on the big screen was mesmerizing.

There's a bit of a rivalry going on between the two Pokemon gangs: Squirtle and Snubbull have a holding breath contest, Bulbasaur and Snubbull twirl each other eyes until one becomes too dizzy, Squirtle and Marill have a swimming race, and Pikachu and Raichu run...for some reason. It kinda drags on after a while and becomes tiresome.







While the short continued on, you see a bunch of transitions of different Pokemon during the short. They're a bit pointless, but they're a tad bit trippy and somewhat fun.



When Charizard gets its head stuck in a pipe, the two gangs reconsile their differences and work together freeing Charizard.



In the end, they become friends, the day is over, and they reunite with their trainers. When I first saw it, I thought it was cute and an interesting concept. However, looking at it again, it was pointless, trippy, and it shoved the message of working together as friends down our throats too quickly. It's not really that good as it once was. The only time in which there was a segment dedicated to only the Pokemon was in Episode 17: Island of Giant Pokemon.



The second short was shown only on the VHS of the movie when it was released on video. It was about the origins of Mew and some backstory of the scientists experiementing on creating the perfect Pokemon from the DNA of Mew. It's a nice backstory, but a tad bit short and boring. It should have been in the original screening of the movie for those who were not aware of the series.



Fusionator: Ah yes, Pikachu's vacation, something that's been permenently etched into my memory with my many, many viewings of it. The plot being simple as it is, and with pbmiranda's glowing explanation of it in the text above, I won't go into detail. All I can really say for this short is that when all is said and done, it was really pointless in the grand scheme of things, it didn't serve any real purpose, and may as well have been an episode from the show rather than a short from the movie.

The second short however, is perhaps the sadest thing pokemon has ever done, painting the scientist in a brand new light. He is not simply the lacky of GIovanni, he is an upset father, trying to bring back a lost daughter through the cloning process, and he ruins his marriage because of his obsession with this.

pbmiranda: And now, without further ado, Pokemon: The First Movie.



Fusionater: Yes, It is now time to do our review once and for all.

pbm: The movie starts off with an unknown Pokemon waking up in a test tube surrounded by scientists. The Pokemon wondering where it is and who it is hears the scientists speaking and breaks the test tube. The scientists astounished, sees their creation awaken.



The Pokemon questions on what is going on. The leading scientist explains that it is a clone from a legendary Pokemon called Mew. They had decided to call the clone Mewtwo. Mewtwo questions that now the experiement was a success, what is going to be its fate. The scientist says that their experiements on Mewtwo has just begun, however Mewtwo is not happy.



Feeling unappreciated and isolated from its human creators, Mewtwo decided to destroy the lab and its inhabitants.





Rising from the ashes from the destroyed lab, a helicopter arrives and lands on the island. It's none other than Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket and his Persian. He offers Mewtwo to be his partner and together, they will work together and be equals. Mewtwo accepts. Giovanni puts Mewtwo in a mechanical suit for a more controlled usage of its powers.




FT: What's interesting about this scene is unless if you've seen the short showing Mewtwo's childhood, it all feels very sudden seeing Mewtwo destroy the humans after one thought came to mind. In my opinion this falsely set's up his character and makes him seem like an insane killer rather than a sympathetic one.

pbm: We see a montage of Mewtwo assisting Team Rocket capturing Pokemon and fighting off other Pokemon at the Viridian Gym, including Gary Oak. When Mewtwo learns from Giovanni that its purpose was to serve humans and use its powers for their needs, Mewtwo destroys the Viridian Gym, destroys its mechanical suit, and returns to the island where the lab once was. Mewtwo then vows that it can trust no one, no human or Pokemon. It will be control its destiny and it vows to rule the world! Now the movie begins.



FT: What's terrible about these scenes is that when Giovanni tells Mewtwo this, he can't possibly have been expecting speaking to the most powerful being in the world(this is the first series! The likes of Dialga and Palkia don't exist yet!!!) I suppose you could argue that Giovanni believed Mewtwo to be a weak minded simpleton that wouldn' rebel, but I still think this is a low point for a character that's supposed to be a successful criminal mastermind, but that's just me.

pbm: From what we can gather from the beginning of the movie, the story takes place shortly after the events of Episode 61: The Battle of The Badge.

FT: Ah yes, remember the cameos Mewtwo briefly had in the series before the movie came out, they were marketing the hell out of this movie in the best way they could, and I applaud.

pbm: before Ash enters into the Indigo League. Ash is feeling tired and lazy from lack of food and is sitting around doing nothing. Misty is complaning about Ash's laziness and Brock is busy cooking lunch. A Pokemon trainer named Raymond challenges Ash to a battle and he accepts. The first Pokemon he calls out is Donphan, which also has its first appearance on this movie before the season involving the Johto Region begins a few years later.



Ash summons Bulbasaur and, one Solarbeam later, Donphan is defeated. Next, Raymond summons Machamp and Ash summons Squirtle. Same thing occurs when Squirtle uses Bubble and the Machamp is defeated!



Okay, I have to address something with this. Now, I can understand the reason why Donphan was defeated by Bulbasaur so easily. Donphan is a Ground-type Pokemon and Ground-types are weak against Grass-types like Bulbasaur. That makes sense. But a Fighting-type Pokemon like Machamp shouldn't be taken down so quickly by a Squirtle. Water-type Pokemon are not the weakness of Fighting-type Pokemon. Psychic and Flying-types are.

It must mean one of two things: the people who wrote this movie forgot about that or that Raymond's Machamp just plain sucks!

FT: Well, Raymond did try cheating later on, so he can't have been all that good of a trainer.

pbm: Finally he summons three Pokemon and Pikachu uses its ThunderBolt to defeat them. With no more Pokemon left, Ash wins the battle. While Ash and the gang enjoy lunch, Jessie, James, and Meowth from Team Rocket think of a way to swipe Pikachu to give to Giovanni.

FT: Well, you have to at least hand that to the filmakers, no matter where Ash goes, Team Rocket will always be close on his heels.

pbm: Along the way, they meet up with a group of Vikings willing to give them a ride to New Island. But it's really Team Rocket in disguise, obviously. They row them all the way to New Island through the roughened storm.



FT: And that is something I never got, it's outright dangerous any other way in the storm, yet a canoe(It might be another type of boat, I'm not really all that confident in my boat terminology), can get as far as it did before FINALLY capsized.



The way they were hyping up this storm, you'd think sticking your finger in the water would immediately cause you to go under, let alone jumping in an old canoe.

pbm: I know. That's ridiculous! I know how to sail a boat, paddle a canoe, a kayak, and control a small motorboat. Riding a canoe in a big storm like that is complete suicide, especially one that is that old fashioned. 

There's one line in this scene that really bugs me.



Okay, here's the deal. As far as traveling's concerned for when the Norse explored lands to settle in, the closest to America they landed was Newfoundland. Everywhere else that they settled in was mostly Europe, especially Iceland and Greenland. So from an educational stand point, it's inaccurate. If they were trying to make it as a joke, it doesn't work. It just makes it confusing.

FT: Lol, it's actually a reference to the football team(the vikings), I'm don't know all that much about sports, I just happen to know someone who's a big fan. So yeah, big waste of a historical analysis in this movie pb.

pbm: Oh, so it was a football reference. Well, I completely missed that! I grew up watching baseball, so I know nothing about football. My bad!

So, afterwards, a big tidal wave crashes the boat and leaves our heroes stranded in the sea.



FT: At last!

pbm: Misty summons her Staryu and Ash summons his Squirtle to swim them through the storm and arrive at New Island safely. I'm not sure how they were able to do it since they're small Water-type Pokemon, but trust me, consistency is pretty much thrown out the window from this movie. Get used to it!



FT: Yeah, didn't they specifically say that they're water type pokemon were to weak to swim through the storm earlier on? Oh well.



pbm: So, now, the main plot point can start to begin as we enter in the mysterious Pokemon master's lair.



Here's our first mistake in the movie when it comes to the name of the Pokemon. One of the three trainers named Corey who have made it to New Island without the assistance of Officer Jenny and the owner of the boat docks thanked his Pidgeotto for flying him there. First of all, that is NOT a Pidgeotto. That is a Pidgeot, the evolved form of Pidgeotto. So, he said the incorrect name for this Pokemon.



FT: you would think a big shot pokemon trainer who's apparently so good to train a gyarados(It only takes me 10 minutes in the games chump!) would at least be good enough at this to get the names right wouldn't you?

pbm: When Team Rocket enters the cloning room and sees the Pokemon on screen, they name two of them wrong. They called Corey's Scyther and Sandslash an Alakazam and Sandshrew. According to the audio commentary of the movie, 4Kids decided to leave those mistakes because "it would give kids something to notice and because in context that Team Rocket could make a mistake". Um, bullshit is what I say! How stupid do you think kids are?

FT: I can easily buy Jessie and Meouth screwing up a few of the Pokemon's names, but I have a hard time swallowing James doing so, he's practically team Rockets pokedex! But if 4Kids wants to cover it up as some sort of lame easter egg, than so be it.



pbm: I mean, in every single episode of Pokemon, during the middle of the episode, there's a segment called Who's That Pokemon? Are you trying to say that you purposely put that mistake in there to get the kids' attention. I mean, how bored do you think kids would get when watching your movie?



FT: well, to be fair, Who's that pokemon is pretty entertaining.

pbm: Also, Jessie and James work for Team Rocket, an evil organization that is dedicated to stealing Pokemon, both rare and common. So they should know each Pokemon's name and their characteristics. Making a mistake of misnaming a Pokemon not only once, but twice, is unacceptable.

FT: As I said, this is a forgivable mistake for Jessie and Meouth, but not james.

pbm: Just say that you screwed up, 4Kids. Be honest with us! Don't give us these lame excuses. We're better than that.

With the clones and the original Pokemon fighting, the trainers can't help but look in shock and begin to realize that fighting violently is wrong. This is sort of ironic since the whole point of the Pokemon series, video game, and trading cards is fighting against other Pokemon. You train your Pokemon to fight other Pokemon to get stronger and use them to get badges and enter into the Leagues to defeat the Elite Four, your rival, and then become a Pokemon Master. That's it. The End.



FT: It's all a very simple plot when you think about it, yet the movie tries to sell the entire selling point of the game as a bad thing. But ignoring that, it's still a rather lazy moral, especially when they try and shove it in your face like you can't possibly get the point.

pbm: Now, you can argue that those fights in the TV show and games were for training purposes, not to kill them, but still, fighting is fighting. The message that they're putting in the movie that fighting is wrong isn't executed well enough, so it sort of falls flat.



Now, that Ash has been revived by Pikachu and the other Pokemon's tears, Mewtwo sees the error of his ways and decides to take the clone Pokemon to a place where they would be safe. He also takes Ash and the gang back to the docks with no recollection on what happened. So that would make it that the lesson they had just learned about fighting being the wrong solution to many problems is pretty much thrown out the window. The "message" that this movie tried to teach kids when watching it was even more pointless. It's like the ending to Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 Edition.

FT: hm...so I was wise to not buy that game? Go me.

pbm: Absolutely! This was back when I was a naive gamer who didn't read the reviews online before purchasing video games. Ugh, worse $60 I ever spent. I couldn't even sell the game back for even half that amount.

Oh well, who cares, right? As long as our heroes are alive and safe, then we don't have to worry about petty things like that.



FT: Go philistinism!(Thesauras.com claim this is a synonym for ignorant, and it looks fancy, so I'm using it.
pbm: In the end, Ash and the gang move on and continue their adventures to accomplish their goals. The End!



Whew! Overall, looking back at this movie many years later, this is not a good movie! It's a shame too, because for the first Pokemon movie, it had a lot of potential to be good. I liked Mewtwo as the main villain, the animation was nice, and there were some moments in which you kind of feel emotional about. I mean, admittedly, I cried when I saw Pikachu trying to resurrect Ash back to life the first time. I did. I'm guilty!



FT: *sniffle* me to. But let's face it, the bravest of the brave would become weak at the site of a crying Pikachu, it's simply an unavoidable occurance, it's like a 4 year old reading Romeo and Juliet and not being confused, it just doesn't happen. There are 4 truths in life.

1. Hitler sucks.

2. War is bad.

3. Don't eat the yellow snow.

4. Pikachu crying is damn sad.

Hm...this makes total sense.

pbm: But other than that, this movie is an inconsistent, pointless mess that was hated by the critics.

FT: It's not my least favorite of the movies, but it is down there a ways.

pbm: Also another thing to mention, the soundtrack on this movie is beyond God awful!





The majority of the songs in this movie are bubblegum pop music sung by people like Christina Aguilera, N'Sync, and Britney Spears. Not to mention forgotten pop bands and singers like M2M, B*Witched, Vitamin C, and 98°. So this makes the music in Pokemon: The First Movie extremely outdated and for the wrong reasons. According to Norman Grossfeld, the then president of 4Kids, he said that the choices of the songs for this soundtrack "would better reflect what American kids would respond to."

However, the original motion picture score soundtrack is a tad bit better. It's has the orchestrated songs from the movie and some of them are pretty good. If anything, check it out sometime.



FT: Ive always found most Pokemon music to be pretty forgettable(save for a couple opening themes), I didn't really pay attention to the soundtrack as it never really jumped out at me in a good or bad way, but that's just me.


pbm: If you stay at the end of the credits, you see the trailer of the next movie called Pokemon: The Movie 2000. But, that's for another time.

FT: Another time that is long away.

pbm: I want to thank Fusionator for inviting me to work on this review. I had a great time and I hope that we get to do this real soon. Until then, I hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Thanks for reading.

FT: Your very welcome, maybe next time I'll be on one of your blogs! lol.

*pbmiranda steps back into the teleporter, leaving the building*

FT: ...She's gone...she's gone...oh she's gone she's gone she's gone! Fun working with her, but now it's time to get down to business, ahem!

Hello everyone and welcome to average internet reviews, I know there has been some delays, but it's finally time!!!



BANG! BANG!

Oh who is it now!!!

*Goes to the door, answers, only to find Daiul standing there*

Daiul: Hey Fusionater! Time to review Pokemon the movie 2000.

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