You might be surprised to know that they're 20 main Pokémon movies. Crazy when you think about it since the Pokémon anime been around for about 20 years now -- that's a full fledged movie every year! Since the fourth movie featuring Celebi, we over in the Unova region ... I mean United States, rarely get Pokémon movies released in theaters. So when it was announced that Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You was getting a theatrical release for a limited time, I thought it'd be a nice treat to go. I casually mentioned it to my sister, and she wanted to go for her birthday. After all, we went to the first Pokémon movie in '99 for her birthday -- it'd be a nice full circle.
From random trailers and chatter online, I explained to my sister that this would be more-or-less an alternate take on Ash's original journey -- Brock and Misty wouldn't be in it, but Ash will do things like rescue a Charmander from a mean trainer and release his Butterfree. A little different than I expected, this movie was sort of new story but with random set pieces and moments in the show repeated. It felt too safe since it so heavily relied on nostalgia. For instance, Ash meets up with Verity, a sassy female Water-type trainer, and Sorrel, the medic and chef on the team. Doesn't this sound like Misty and Brock? I'm pretty sure they're just Misty and Brock but with most of their personality stripped away. Verity and Sorrel are so unforgettable, I had to look up their names on Serebii.net.
|So on the right is ... you know, just forget it.|
Like I said, Ash will go through many situations like he did in the show like letting go of Butterfree and saving Charmander. When we were first introduced to Charmander and the Pink Butterfree, my sister predicted what was going to happen next. It was clear that these moments were intentional to play on nostalgia. This movie was meant as the 20th anniversary celebration of the anime after all, so it made sense. However, events weren't always consistent. When Charmander evolved into Charmeleon, it was expected that Charmeleon wouldn't listen to Ash. However, this was never the case. It was surprising to see which moments were cherry picked for the movie.
With all Pokémon movies, we can talk about the plot of Ash being the "chosen one" or something and having to fight a legendary Pokémon or work with them to save the world. That's pretty much what this movie was about, and it honestly wasn't bad. However, the dialogue and pacing made this movie not land for either of us. There's a scene where Sorrel recounts a time when his family's Luxray died in the snow trying to protect him -- he couldn't make friends with Pokémon afterwards until he met Lucario. Ash's response? "That's awesome!" Really. That's awesome. Your friend just told you a deep and personal story about having the family Pokémon risk its life and dying, and you say that's awesome? Do you just not have any emotional intelligence? How about just keeping your mouth shut?!
With regards to pacing, the lore of the Pokémon Marshadow was pretty much rushed with the old professor's rash explanation literally in the last three minutes before the climax. I'm too lazy so I'm not going to look up the professor's name. And likewise, this movie was lazy to rely on telling rather than showing. And it did a terrible job telling cause my sister and I still were confused and had to piece it together! I told her that Marshadow attacked Ash because it didn't discriminate between humans, but I just made that up cause I wasn't sure. Don't tell her.
|Stuck forever in the shadows.|
And now, for the biggest reason why I don't choose this movie: Pikachu talks.
You've probably seen this scene floating around the Internet. Right when Ash and Pikachu are about to be obliterated by the Hyper Beams of like 6 Pokémon, Ash asks Pikachu to get in its Pokéball. Pikachu refuses, saying in the most annoying, squeaking voice that "it's because I always want to be with you." Laughter shouldn't be the response you have at the most emotional part of the movie. But yes, the entire theater abrupted in laughter. All the cringe aside, it felt that the movie was forcing itself to be emotional rather than let it happen naturally through a build up of plot. Like I mentioned, part of the explanation of the movie felt rushed, which made this scene just fall flat. Then there's this whole dream sequence of a world without Pokémon Ash goes through, and it's just weird and a lot to unpack.
Ultimately, there were a lot of missed opportunities to add context and drive real emotion. Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You relied more on nostalgia than building a plot, which made it a miss for both my sister and I. I don't really think much about Pokémon movies, but it was a bit disappointing since I was looking forward to this one. But hey, we had a fun time, and that's what counts. Besides, maybe the 21st movie won't be as bad? You really can't beat Keldeo ...
|I'd rather not talk about it.|