by Greg Muskewitz
You can tell when the critics are taking themselves too seriously, when they go on ranting for a page about a movie like "Pokémon" condemning it for being simplistic, asinine, and just a huge marketing ploy. Well duh! Isn't that pretty much the whole idea for all movies now? It works doesn't it, and in this case, it's very successful, and I think many of the critics are a little angry that they kids have gone zonkers over it and have to pay $5.18 for a pack of 11 cards. Now, it's between $4.50 and $8.50 for one card. I got Mewtwo. I love America! (And Japan, you're pretty cool too!)The biggest disappointment for me had to be the fact that my favorite Pokémon was not in the movie; Ditto. I think Ditto is too cool, but maybe they didn't have him in the movie because if he was there he would have been able to beat Mewtwo's ass right away, and then it wouldn't have even lasted the 69 minutes that it actually ran.
"Get over it, it's a kids movie!"
Okay, I know that probably sounds weird or dumb that I have a favorite Pokémon, but the people I babysit, or child supervise, or whatever the PC term for it is, watch and collect Pokémon like there's no tomorrow. I don't mind these innocent Pocket Monsters --they're harmless and funny, and I'd even go as far as to call them cute. So I've had exposure prior to the movie, and likewise, the movie was harmless and perfectly organized to stomp out all other box-office business and bring the kids in, in masses.
Aside from a stupid short which plays for 20 minutes before the actual "Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back" starts (it was called "Pikachu's Vacation") from a kid's point of view (which I'm really not that many years away from), I had fun with the movie, it even got a couple laughs from me. I referred to it as harmless before, and that's what it is. Surprisingly, it brought up some interesting ideas of predestination, fate, existentialism, etc.
Mewtwo is a bio-engeneered Pokémon, created by humans, to serve humans, and become the toughest and roughest one out there. It's DNA was extracted from Mew, the rarest PM (pocket monster) of all. But Mewtwo doesn't believe that fighting for humans should be his fate, so he sets out to take over the world and destroy all humans and PMs. Kinda sounds a little bit like "Jurassic Park" mixed with "Austin Powers" doesn't it? Well, not really. So anyway, Ash, one of the world's best trainers, sets out with 2 of his friends to find out what's going down, and the inevitable happens.
Another film this kinda, but kinda didn't remind me of was "Pleasantville." Both of these had that whole sunconscious message about how deep down we're all really the same despite how one might be in color or not, or whether they were born different, etc. It kind of surprised me all the questions Mewtwo asked about his purpose of being here, and what's his fate, or how he will change it into his own. Not something I was expecting from "Pokémon" or anything, but it's not as if it were deep or anything, don't mistake that for what I said.
True the movie was basically an extended version of the TV show. I think it would have been easier to extend the running time another 30 minutes and ditch the 20-minute short. However, the movie occasionally found itself bogged down by the amount of PMs (151 different Pokémon, gotta catch 'em all!). Obviously there will be sequels to follow, so they don't need to put all 151 on there just to have them cross the screen once, but of course MY favorite had to be left out. Ditto is the blob which can morph into any other PM, and also has the ability to use their special powers, so maybe the filmmakers were afriad that if they put Ditto in, he would have permanently taken care of Mewtwo. The creatures are fun and creative, and if there's one way to please your kids, it would be to take them to this; they'll appreciate it, and you'll see that it's not so bad itself, and that the values it promotes are better than that of most other movies out there.It's okay parents, cave in, bring the kiddies. But you better do it fast because I'm sure they'll want one of the four new cards, and believe me, they'll be gone VERY fast!
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1881&reviewer=172
originally posted: 11/11/99 19:50:43