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Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages UK Anime DVD Review

10 min read

hoopa-coverPokemon never went away, so before the return of the old, let’s see how the new holds up…

What They Say:
In a desert city by the sea, Ash, Pikachu, and their friends meet the Mythical Pokémon Hoopa, who can summon all sorts of things including people and Pokémon through its magic rings. The little Mischief Pokémon likes to use this talent to play harmless tricks on people…but when its true power is released, it loses control and becomes the towering and terrifying Hoopa Unbound! Long ago, a brave hero stopped its rampage by confining its power in a special bottle. Now that the bottle has been rediscovered, Hoopa must confront its greatest fear! Can Ash help his new friend overcome the darkness within or will this dangerous struggle erupt into a clash of legends?

The Review:
There are no audio settings for this release, but from checking out on the screen via my PC it is an English 2.0 release only. No real problems with the audio as it synchs in with the visual (no subtitles though even for English hearing impaired) fine and no adjustments was made surprisingly – just very basic and standard.

Set in animated PAL format in wide screen, I must admit Pokémon animation has definitely changed over the years with the movie combining animation with some great colours with CGI–, no pause lag which I expected (see what happens when we get the first 3 Pokémon movies) is a quality release especially for what it is, and shows the (forgive the pun) evolution of Pokémon movies since the late 90s.

There was no packing for this test release.

The menu is very basic – no music even in the background – on the left a shot of Ash, on the right his companions Serena, Clemont and Bonnie, a mischievous looking Hoopa on the top right on a bright blue background with the sign of the movie in the middle – below it are the selections which are just Play Movie and Scene Selection. You are able to return to the main menu easily when watching the movie and it does its job but it is more basic than pretty much any menu screen have seen in the last year.

There are no extras on this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I was there when the initial Pokemon craze happened – late 90s, the anime was on Sky One (before getting over to terrestrial channel ITV – yes, I remember the Ant & Dec stuff…^^) and the first two games got released to huge acclaim and pizzazz. Over 15 years later, the craze never truly died with new games out every few years and the anime still going on to this day, but thanks to Pokemon Go, Pokemon has had a bit of a resurgence as you get to catch your old favourites in ‘reality’. With this, the first 3 Pokemon movies have recently been released in a set (review to come soon) but before that, we have the latest Pokemon movie which in Japan…did surprisingly bad. Not in terms of money, but in terms of the amount – it is the 2nd worst Pokemon movie in terms of the amount of yen in made in Japan – so was the craze actually mellowed out there or is it just not that good a movie?

To be fair, Pokemon movies are never going to have a huge plot – certain ones however are well loved more than others (2000 and Pokemon 3 are good examples) for various factors – so how does this one compare? Is there a major selling point?

Well, if you have been following Pokemon since day one, the amount of legendaries from all generations will be a big thing and it is fun seeing how Ash seems to have become smarter now a days (I stopped watching the Pokemon anime a while back so not sure how much of his character has changed) – I will say it is a movie you can actually get back into as a Pokemon fan if you have been away from the scene for a bit like I have, as despite having to research a fair few of the Pokemon, the actual story is surprisingly easy to get into and make sense.

We start with a flashback of our central Pokemon Hoopa, known in this form as Hoopa Unbound about 100 years prior to the movie, who is able to summon legendary Pokemon and defeat them – but also destroy the area it is on just to showcase its power. However, a man manages to almost genie in a bottle him to seal him in what is called a Prison Bottle stopping the attack. Fast forward to present time, we are introduced to a man named Baraz who is searching for the Prison Battle to at the moment unknown reasons. However, when he finds it, he gets possessed by some evil inside the bottle…

Cut to our heroes – Ash is still 10 years old, but his companions have changed (I stopped around the time of Dawn so researching some episodes for the new crew was fun ESPECIALLY Serena considering she seems to be the one girl who actually might have a chance in the whole shipping Ash with female companions? Ah, the days of Pokeshipping ^^) with the main female sidekick Serena, a Pokemon former and kind of childhood friend of Ash, a smart young boy/gym leader with a passion for science Clemont, and his younger sister Bonnie (comparisons to May and Max are obvious though reversed) – the gang are relaxing when portals appear and steal/replace donuts for mischief – one of them though grabs an Ash and his Pikachu instead. The Pokemon, Hoopa in his original form, can talk to them and is very mischievous, even conjuring a ton of Pikachu to try and confuse Ash (which fails miserably ^^). However the point is the introduction of a new character, Meray as one of the trainers/carers of Hoopa. They get the rest of the gang there though it turns out Hoopa can’t go through its own rings for some reason…

Baraz comes around as he knows Meray, but instead of a greeting, he greets with the opening of the Prison Bottle – which transforms Hoopa back into his Unbound form. This snaps him out of his trance though as it seems they wanted to give Hoopa his power back, but then regret it once he begins destroying things again (this is also viewed by Team Rocket who definitely haven’t changed over the years) so they reseal the power again but if anyone touches it they can get possessed. Clemont manages to solve this problem with one of his inventions and explain Hoopa Unbound’s history being a very literal genie at times yet others destroying towns – as it turns out the man we saw in the beginning was Meray and Baraz’s great grandfather. He had a Nexus with the Pokemon symbol of Arceus on to control Hoopa so the two got to play with the powered down and playful Hoopa as a member of the family yet want to see if can control its power.

Unfortunately, all Team Rocket saw was the fact the bottle powered up Hoopa and want it – they manage to steal it but of course, when Meowth takes hold of it, he opens the bottle – Hoopa manages to resist it, but that aids the problem as Hoopa Unbound becomes a separate entity and the bottle goes boom. After TR is sent blasting off, we begin the selling point of the movie as Hoopa is able to send in Pokemon to try and fight Unbound – the first one being Lugia who was a selling point of the Pokemon 2000 movie. So now they have to try and make a new bottle in an underground area using the elements of earth, fire and water. Fortunately Serena has a Braixen and Ash a Frogadier, whilst Bonnie goes and finds a Hippopotas to help as well being an adorable child. This leads into what I call ‘Ash is the chosen one’ Again, from Pokemon 2000 but it seems the kid is able to command almost any Pokemon when the world is in danger…

We get Latias, Latios and Rayquaza joining in the battle with Ash in charge, but Hoopa Unbound can now also summon, and we get Groudon, Kyogre, Dialga, Palkia, and ones wasn’t familiar with in Giratina and Kyurem…with the others working on the bottle, we get my first look at Mega Evolving in the Pokemon universe (which looked amazing) but when the bottle is formed and is in Ash’ hands, he does get possessed – fortunately Hoopa manages to snap him out of it (there was a great moment earlier when Hoopa asks Ash what his wish is and he will grant it, but Ash refuses to have his wish as a Pokemon Master helped by magic, he wanted to do it himself showcasing to Hoopa the kid is pure) which removes the evil but with all the Legendary Pokemon around, the warp magic is fading, so Hoopa now as Hoopa Unbound without the evil makes sure all the Pokemon and humans escape with a last effort with all his new friends (and an appearance by Arceus), he manages to get through a portal as well. Hoopa at the end definitely is sorry for his deeds and begins fixing things as the gang go on their journeys separately…

It has been a while since I’ve seen Pokemon, and even longer for a movie – there are definitely things that remain the same – Ash has his companions, Team Rocket are still comic relief (and actually are the cause of all the trouble), Pikachu is still adorable (what level must he be at though by now? ^^) and Ash somehow becomes the saviour needed for the crisis of the world. That said, there are things that have definitely changed and I actually liked a fair bit.

The main thing is how Ash seems to have changed a bit now – he was always a bit of an idiot back in the early generations but now he seems to have matured quite a bit – his instant recognition of Pikachu was a good example as well as the fact he wants to have his dreams his way – the fact he seems to be quite a leader at times now (the sequence with him leading the legendary Pokemon is a good example, albeit one that might be a tad farfetched) – the movie is a lot of focus on him rather than his companions, which is a good thing in one respect as shows his over the years characterization, sadly this does push his companions out (Serena for example seems to be one of the more well liked female companions, perhaps second only to Misty, yet didn’t get to know anything about her, and Clemont/Bonnie only got one real moment each in the movie to prove their worth) and surprisingly for a Pokemon movie, there is actual little Pokemon when it comes to the kids teams used…

…but that is made up with Hoopa and the Legendaries. The chances are when you see the images or trailer for this, you would be hyped as a Pokemon fan seeing so many in one place. Granted, some barely do anything or are in it slowly, and Arceus coming out of nowhere to stall the time-space warp at the end is definitely a case of deus ex machina, but with the updated animation and CGI, it is a joy to behold this as a Pokemon fan. (Though am aware the anime took some liberties with the game mechanics, but let’s be honest – this has been happening since Day 1 of the Pokemon anime…Pikachu beating rock and ground Pokémon with electric attacks anyone?) The film’s climax as well being caused by just how many legendaries are around is also quite weak but you’re not expecting huge plots with a Pokemon film – it doesn’t make it a good film plot wise, but visually and Pokemon fan wise, it is a treat.

Unfortunately I do feel it is a weak film overall despite the enjoyment I got through it – the fact all the characters bar Ash are pretty much sidelined is a big thing – it ruins the tension of the film as nothing is really at threat anymore especially in comparison to Hoopa Unbounds’ initial reign of destruction, and whilst it was cool to see all the legendaries fight, there really was no real reason to which probably is a reason why this was one of the weaker Pokemon movies financially in Japan. It is very flimsy plot and character wise unless you are Ash or Hoopa, whereas in previous Pokemon movies, there was at least some good interactions with other characters – heck, Team Rocket are barely in it and whilst they caused the mess, you wondered if they’d make a reappearance or not but nope, literal comic relief…

So it is a bit of a toss off. The updated animation, the back-story of Hoopa and Ash’ characterization combined with a true mon off with legendaries does make it a good movie for Pokemon fans. Whether it is a good movie however is a different story especially if you were a fan of any of the other characters – and combined with some flimsy plot reasons and a literal flying God just saving the day for no apparent reason or foreshadowing, I’d safely say this is just one of those movies for Pokemon fans just to enjoy it for what it is and to not think too deep.

In Summary:
Hoopa And The Clash of Ages is a definite treat for modern day Pokemon fans. Legendaries all around, some great animation and Ash being surprisingly the good hero and role model for kids makes it an enjoyable experience. As a movie, it is quite weak – the plot of the background isn’t too bad but the legendaries appearing is just more for fan service, and the fact most of the cast are put to the side removes any sense of danger and tension this could have had. It is a fun little blast, but it is just really for either modern day Pokemon fans.

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: October 24th, 2016
MSRP: £7.99
Running Time: 76 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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