Inspired by the first episode of the original Pokémon series, Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! was released in theaters on November 5. It was for just a few days to mark the twentieth anniversary of the anime. Instead of Ash’s original friends, Misty and Brock, he travels with two new characters, Sorrel and Verity.
Note that throughout this review, I will keep the first episode in mind in a reasonable manner for comparisons between the material. Additionally, I will discuss major spoilers about the movie. It’s also hard to discuss the material analytically without getting into the spoilers.
To start, Ash’s new friends have unnecessarily exotic names, which doesn’t attribute to the characters personalities or diversity. Ash, Sorrel and Verity seem like the same character: overly enthusiastic, one-dimensional Pokémon trainers who have to keep clarifying statements to the audience. The general viewership doesn’t need these unnecessary explanations. Some humor would have been nice instead. The animated franchise used to have a humorous charm to it but lost it around its fourth generation.
To be fair, I did not see Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! from the very beginning. So I’ll start off from what I did see, which was Cross abusing Charmander. Ash saved Charmander and then evolved him into a Charizard after a few battles, including a few with Cross. There are several points in the film where I felt the writers were trying too hard to evoke emotion. This was one of those moments. The sequence didn’t have the emotion or charm the original did and the pace was too fast.
The next point of interest is the portion with Butterfree. We have a similar experience with Butterfree as we did with Charizard. The Pokémon starts off from its first evolution and evolves its way through the film. When Butterfree reaches that final stage, he meets another Butterfree of the female gender. They become attached to one another and then on their final quest, Butterfree finds others of its kind and desires to migrate with them. Ash releases Butterfree to be with the others of his kind in a tearful moment for the both of them.
The last part between Butterfree and Ash was off-putting. It was, again, too much forced emotion for the audience. Ash wound up squealing as he was weeping. Even Butterfree cried. If this scene was more subtle, I would have appreciated it a lot more.
Our favorite Pokémon trainers were then shown exploring the mountain, the final destination of the film. They are here to summon Ho-Oh through use of his rainbow feather at the peak. Unfortunately, Cross steals the feather in an attempts to summon the legendary Pokémon. Cross has a dark heart and only pure hearts can attempt this. As a result, Marshadow retaliates and manipulates all other Pokémon on the mountain to attack the intruders.
Ash and Pikachu get hurt over the course of these events. Ash is on the verge dying and asks Pikachu, “Why won’t you go in your Pokéball?” Pikachu surprisingly responds in English for the first time with “Be-because I always want to be with you.” Ash then dies but is later revived.
Ash vocalizing his feelings was fine but Pikachu speaking in English was a big problem for me. The writers didn’t need to have Pikachu do this to evoke an emotional reaction. It could have been anything other than Pikachu speaking. Hell, I’d have taken Pikachu speaking in his normal Poké-tongue but with subtitles. This was simply done for shock value and to generate attention towards the film. Which it will likely do. A complete “jump the shark” moment.
After that, the movie ended with Ash and his friends parting ways on their own separate journeys. Overall, I would say that Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! was decent. It was enough to keep my attention with the aesthetics, artwork and how it would compare to the original episode, but that was it.
The dialogue was cornier than I remembered for the anime series, and way too simple and explanatory. The movie’s pacing was too fast, overlooking monumental moments for the series. Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You!‘s biggest failure is that too many moments throughout the film tried to evoke emotion when it just didn’t work. All in all, while I do think it was decent, they could have done a lot better.
During the week of the premiere, those in attendance received Pokémon cards, which can be seen below.Tweet