Pokemon has been here for a very, very long time, so in celebration of the twenty fifth anniversary of the franchise a new Pokemon movie was released to celebrate the yearly tradition of releasing a pokemon movie. Unlike previous Pokemon films which are made primarily to advertise the newest pokemon, give sneak peeks to pokemon coming up in the next batch of games, and show one of the new legendary Pokemon, Pokemon I Choose You is a retelling of the first season of the franchise.
Initially many fans (myself included) thought that this was the movie version of the first three episodes or so. We were slightly wrong.
Spoilers from this point on, I can’t Mewtwo these spoilers outside of your head
There was some controversy surrounding the movie over discrepancies between what happens in the film, and what happened in the first season of the anime. The main controversy being that Misty and Brock are nowhere to be seen during the film and Team Rocket having little to no influence on the plot of the film. Another controversy is the inclusion of many pokemon not seen in the first generation of the game series.
However is this actually a good film despite what many other fanboys on forums and reviewers on YouTube say? Well it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it is better than Destiny Deoxys (gosh that movie is so dull).
As mentioned above the film is an alternate telling of the first season of pokemon, but it borrows some plots from the first season and despite being a ninety three minute film, a decent amount of what occurred the first half of the season made it into the film without it being a horrible mess. The plots borrowed from the first season include Ash catching a caterpie that would eventually evolve into a butterfree and be forced to part ways with, and Ash’s relationship with a abandoned charmander Ash rescues. Elements from the second generation of games are also brought into the film concerning the plot of the legendary pokemon Ho-oh.
Although I was a little annoyed with the approach taken for this film, I do like the alternative storyline. I feel it handled some of the aesops presented in the first season a little better with Ash learning that sometimes you can’t win them all in the film despite being a good person and the opponent you’re fighting being a bad person.
The antagonist in the film was a shocking revelation that the main antagonist was the pokemon trainer who abandoned charmander to die in a rainstorm and only desired to become a stronger trainer only catching strong pokemon. Instead of being just a jackass trainer featured in the initial episode featuring charmander in the pokemon anime, Cross (the villain for the movie) is a talented trainer, but only views his pokemon as tools to achieve his goal of catching Ho-oh rather than establishing a friendship with his pokemon.
Of course it wouldn’t be a pokemon movie without advertising one of the new legendary pokemon in the series and this time around it’s Marshadow who acts as an observer for Ho-oh to make sure Ash is indeed a worthy pure hearted trainer (I guess he functions as a PR advisor for Ho-oh or something). Unlike previous films, the plot is not focused on Marshadow and the pokemon is only featured the last ten or so minutes once again challenging the human characters and their pokemon to see if they are indeed worthy of battling Ho-oh.
I do like that the film breaks tradition and only focuses on Ash’s relationship with pikachu and his other pokemon captured in the film. I like that Ash’s relationship with his caterpie is deep, even if some parts of it were a montage, I like that caterpie was useful in each stage of his evolution. I like that charmander didn’t become a jerk as soon as he evolved into charmeleon and so on into charizard. There is even development from both pokemon as they evolve with caterpie evolving into butterfree, but wanting to stay loyal and stay with Ash despite also wanting to go and mate (contrary to a mistranslation, butterfree do not die when mating). We also see just how loyal charmander is to Ash in each stage of evolution and how this trust benefits Ash’s team in the long run of the movie.
New characters to replace Misty and Brock are also featured in the film, they are Sorrel, a young pokemon trainer who wants to become a professor of pokemon (don’t they have college in this universe? Or do all researchers and professors go through the Jane Goodwill approach?) and Verity, a young girl from the Sinoh region exploring the Kanto region for unknown reasons. They’re not too shabby.
As with many of the pokemon movies, the art and animation is beautiful with a beautiful mixture of 2d and 3d animation. The end of the film also has a piano rendition of the pokemon theme song at a slower temple that may or may not touch the hearts of long time fans of the pokemon anime.
While the film isn’t amazing, I feel it’s a pretty decent movie and there are things to like about the film despite not sticking exactly to the source material of the anime. I give Pokemon I Choose You three Pokeballs out of Five.