2017’s “Pokémon” film relives 1998 classic series
In 1998, children across the United States witnessed Ash Ketchum being late to pick out his first Pokémon, receiving a Pikachu instead and slowly befriending the stubborn mouse. At the end of the episode, after rescuing Pikachu from a horde of Fearow, he witnessed the legendary Ho-oh flying through the sky.
The relevance of this has been speculated since it happened, and now, 19 years later, it’s finally been revealed in “Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You.” But was this new film necessary, or is it better for some questions to go unanswered?
The film opens with a remake of the first episode of the show, in all its glory: Ash almost being late to get a Pokémon, the uppity Pikachu, and Ho-oh leaving a magical, rainbow feather. This shot of nostalgia was the best part of the movie by far, as it’s a new take on a classic story. It almost seems like a completely different entity to the rest of the movie and could have been its own thing, but the fact that they kept it in will be useful to people who haven’t watched the show in 15 or 20 years. It’s a near-perfect recreation, and something that fans of the classic show will appreciate.
The part of this movie that will resonate with anybody that grew up with the show is Ash’s dynamic with his Pokémon friends. These creatures, which are essentially pets that children and adults use to fight each other, each have unique personalities and while not many of them make it into the movie, the ones that do are enough to satisfy any Pokémon fan. Charmander, especially, has a major deviation from his arc in the show and the movie is actually better for it.
There are two characters from the show that are missing that might disappoint fans: Brock and Misty. These two were Ash’s first companions when he started out on his journey and are as iconic to the classic TV series as he is. However, in this movie, which takes place mostly just after Ash receives his third Gym badge, they are conspicuously missing.
There will surely be people that are disappointed in this turn of events, but his two new friends are entertaining to watch and jive better with the core message of the film: winning doesn’t matter as long as you have fun and make new friends. These two, Verity and Sorrel (otherwise known as Exposition), are relatively likable, even if they don’t fill the void of Brock and Misty.
The animation is kind of a mixed bag. In bringing Kanto, the location of the film and the original series, to the twenty-first century, the film’s creators chose to implement some computer generated effects as well as the standard cartoon animation. This doesn’t hurt the movie much, but there are certain scenes, especially in the third act, where it is incredibly noticeable and somewhat jarring. If you’re simply seeing the movie to revisit the days of the TV show, it won’t be too annoying, but to die-hard fans it could be difficult to watch.
Once you get past the animation and the character changes, though, the plot of the film and character dynamics of everyone in it are enjoyable. Some moments are funny, while others might be action-packed, and there are even some truly sad moments that happen, some of which are taken straight out of the TV show.
The plot, without giving anything away, is reminiscent of “Pokémon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back,” while also being different enough from anything in that movie or the original series to satisfy everyone that liked the show when it originally aired.
While this movie changes some things from the original, sometimes improving it and sometimes hindering it, this movie is entertaining and poignant and will resonate with most anyone who loved the classic series.