What They Say:
POKÉMON: THE FIRST MOVIE
The adventure explodes into action with the debut of Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokémon created from the DNA of Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon of all. After escaping from the lab where it was created, Mewtwo is determined to prove its own superiority. It lures a number of talented Trainers into a Pokémon battle like never before and of course, Ash and his friends are happy to accept the challenge!
Ash s excitement turns to fear and anger when Mewtwo reveals its plan for domination, creating powerful clones of our heroes Pokémon so it can even the imbalance between Pokémon and their Trainers. Despite Ash s protests, Mewtwo refuses to believe that Pokémon and people can be friends. But faced with the determination and loyalty of a young Trainer, Mewtwo just might have to reconsider…especially when pitted against the power of the mysterious Mew!
POKÉMON THE MOVIE 2000
Just one person can make a difference…
In the Orange Islands far south of Kanto, a Trainer named Lawrence is on a sinister quest: catching the Legendary Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres in an attempt to awaken Lugia, guardian of the sea! When Ash and friends arrive, the islanders ask him to gather three elemental orbs from different islands. As the weather across the world goes out of control, it becomes clear that the capture of the Legendary trio has thrown the environment out of balance! With Lugia s help, can Ash find the orbs, restore the balance, and be the chosen one that everyone turns to?
POKÉMON 3: THE MOVIE
A crystal catastrophe is unleashed upon Greenfield, and Ash, Pikachu, and friends must figure out how to undo the damage to the once-beautiful town. But the unthinkable happens when Ash s mother is kidnapped by the powerful Entei, a Pokémon thought to have existed only in legend. Now Ash must go to her rescue, uncertain of what he ll uncover when he unlocks the real secret power behind the unbelievable turn of events: a young girl whose dream world is being turned into a nightmarish reality by the mysterious and unstoppable Unown!
There are no audio settings for any of the DVD movies, 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, it doesn’t seem like they have remastered any of them significantly, maybe some minor clean up here and there but these are the movies as they originally were. This in my opinion is kind of disappointing but they still look good on HDTV (especially the thirds movie, the CGI gets less obvious by then), and much better than the VHS versions I had when they first came out (though I remember the DVDs were available so no idea how different they are to those original releases in terms of visual quality). That said, there are still definite grainy areas when the movies are paused that the animation kind of crosses through so it hasn’t been a full update or remastering and seems more just a straight re-release.
The three discs are very similar bar the initial shot (Mewtwo vs. Mew on the first movie, Lugia on the 2nd and Entei on the third) – all of them have only Play Movie and Scene Selection as options (no audio choices or extras) so incredibly basic.
There are no extras for this movie which is a bit annoying considering the original releases did have extras (I seem to remember at least two of the movies having commentaries) – it doesn’t even have the original Pikachu shorts that the movies did so again, very bare-bones.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Pokemon, as mentioned in a previous review, was kind of the gateway to anime for me back when I was younger. And like mostly everywhere else, the UK got Pokemon fever due to the anime, and thus the games, cards, merch, etc was skyrocketing. One of the things that also happened was the movies came over – these 3 being the central of nostalgic cinema as all 3 of these movies did get big cinema releases compared to more limited ones that the current movies do.
With anime movies based on long running shows (especially for kids) you get the idea that these are going to be a) basically a longer extended filler episode and b) guaranteed to get more interest over a new Pokemon. If I remember, when the movies came out, if you went to see it you got some sort of gift (a promo card I believe it was for Mew, Entei, Lugia?) which definitely helped its success (the 1st movie was number one for a few weeks though the other two didn’t get the same access they still did get into the top 10 of the UK). They also included some quick shorts involving Pikachu and other Pokemon, some new, some old, and usually just played for cute and/or fun.
So what happens nearly 20 years later?
Well, this release is basically the very bare bones. It is the 3 movies, but none of the Pikachu shorts (you can argue if that is a good or a bad thing) which shortens the movies to about 75 minutes each. And yes, they still feel like they are pretty much filler. But do any of them actually hold up?
If you go by logic, then the most successful movie of the franchise should be the best and the least successful the worst. In actually, it feels like the movies got better and yet didn’t do so well at the box office. And in the case of at least one of them, it’s actually surprising decent.
So the 1st one is in my opinion, the weakest of the three. It does however give us the iconic first super rare Pokemon in Mewtwo, and the even rarer Mew where it cloned from, and Mewtwo for all the movies weaknesses, is still the Pokemon badass. And also to the movies credit, it’s the only one that directly references the anime (the initial plot is that Mewtwo is created via a fossilised eyelash of Mew by some scientists, Mewtwo is pissed that they wish him to be an experiment, blows up the factory, is found by Giovanni, the 8th original gym leader and leader of Team Rocket, and makes him a super Pokemon featuring a cameo by Gary Oak being beaten by it which DID happen in the anime series as well) – Mewtwo basically is angry at humanity for treating Pokemon like slaves and wishes revenge against humanity. This brings us to Ash and co, who gets an invite from a mysterious woman to travel to somewhere called New Island to battle the world’s greatest Pokemon Master. This turns out to be Mewtwo, who is trying to wipe out humanity, leaving just Pokemon (real and the cloned ones which he creates).
Ash being Ash, the lovable idiot hero, doesn’t accept this and in an actual touching scene runs to save Pikachu from being cloned, manages to destroy the cloning machine, leading to something more of a street fight with Pokemon than a Pokemon battle – which leads to a bit of a broken aesop of Pokemon fighting…but not like this. Considering the theme of the game is fighting each other’s Pokemon it is a bit redundant and hypocritical. You can see what they are getting at, but it doesn’t really work. Add to that some errors in the dub in getting Pokemon wrong, some poor CGI and a sad moment when Ash is turned to stone and is brought back by Pokemon tears (the tender moment suddenly becoming quite corny and only mentioned very briefly near the beginning), it definitely doesn’t seem strong especially with the message.
It does give us Mewtwo, and a really good battle between Mewtwo and Mew, which would later set up another movie in Mewtwo Returns, but the Aesop combined with the broken message means it is the weakest movie of the three.
The 2nd movie some would argue as weaker but in many ways it is better which will explain. The first movie did tie into the anime and was all about the first gen whilst the 2nd movie focused on Lugia who was unknown at the time as the star with a movie involving the three legendary Pokemon, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. Again, there is a weird Aesop involving the fact that the main villain, a collector named Seymour is capturing Pokemon for his collection yet the characters argue about that his way of collecting is more than just similar to stamp collecting – er…isn’t the catchphrase of the show ‘Gotta catch em all?’ (To be fair, Seymour’s way of doing what he’s doing whilst not well explained is just there to be the antagonist for the ongoing plot…)
Lawrence is trying to capture the three legendary birds which via prophecy will make the beast of the sea, Lugia appear. He captured Moltres, but the balance over the world’s climate disturbs the Pokémon and causes natural disasters and weather issues – which Pokemon are more in tune with nature with due to their naturalistic tendencies. Here, Ash is in the Orange Islands phase (so this movie is the one which replaces fan favourite Brock with not as much favourite Tracey though again I think Tracey really got the short end of the stick simply because he was Brock’s replacement) and caught in a storm, they wash ashore an island where a legendary festival is about to occur. This in term leads us to easily the most memorable movie character of the three movies as a character of the day way in Melody. Why?
Because she directly instigates the very then popular Ash/Misty pairing – which is why on some logic, this movie maybe considered better than the 1st because just of the Misty/Melody commentary throughout combined with Ash being the ‘chosen one’ – in what starts as a game in grabbing three balls from the islands of the three legendary birds (guarded by a very memorable talking Slowking – ‘I could use pants’), not only does this movie have more direct action outside of the Pokemon and focus more on the humans, but it also gives Team Rocket some moments of glory – Team Rocket were always the comic relief but likeable villains and they get their due in this movie the most.
The movie succeeds even with tension when Lugia does appear to stop the birds fighting as Ash then realises the treasures can be used to seal the birds back to their islands and stop the natural phenomena – this movie has some fun moments, some sweet moments (Misty: Ash isn’t really alone because he’s got…me) and some surprisingly heroic moments. Granted, there are still problems (along with the contradiction in what is collecting, some dub issues whilst not as bad are still there – like how did Melody know Misty’s name before her introduction?) but for me, it is an enjoyable movie, even more so if you’re a fan of the Ash/Misty pairing.
The 3rd movie…is genuinely good.
Whilst the first two movies have convoluting reasons for Ash to get involved with the plot, this is the one where he directly has to take a role to save something important, in this case, his mother. We are introduced to a scientist, Professor Hale who is research the Pokemon, the Unown. However, when trying to discover them in a ruin, he is sucked into a portal caused by them…
His young daughter who was told stories by Professor Hale of the legendary Pokemon Entei as well as the Unown, missing her father, looks through his papers and finds tiles of the Unown, which are shaped like letters. Doing this, she actually summon the Unown who can make her wishes come true, creating her own world and creating Entei in the role of her father…and she wants to have a mother. And she sees an old picture of when as a toddler, she was playing with a certain young Pokemon trainer and his mother…
Ash and co (now returning to Brock along with Misty) meet with a trainer named Lisa who they travel to Greenfield (The Hale’s residence) but it appears to have been crystallized – with the disappear of the Professor, his old colleague Professor Oak also visits there along with Ash’ mother Delia Ketchum. Suddenly, Entei appears, knocks out Delia and kidnaps her – but thanks to Oak, Lisa and Hale’s research partner Skyler, they set to track her. Using their Pokemon to enter her world, Molly sees them in action and wishes also to be a Pokemon trainer – with Entei’s powers, she becomes a more adult form and heads to take out the 3. Both Brock and later Misty try to hold her off whilst Ash heads off to save his mother, but eventually Entei catches on and stops Ash. He nearly kills Ash(!) as well which leads to both the worst and best moment of the movie.
Worst? It basically involves Ash’s Charizard, perhaps Ash’ most beloved Pokemon ever aside from Pikachu saving the day. Now, earlier in the movie there is a scene where we see Charizard at Charizard Valley and he briefly senses something, but other than that, it leaves the plot hole of how Charizard knew where Ash was, how the heck he got into Molly’s dream world, and how he got there at that exact moment before Ash plummeted to his death…
Best? CHARIZARD FIGHTS ENTEI. This is the best Pokemon fight in all 3 movies (more so that Mewtwo vs. Mew) – Entei looks set to defeat and even kill Charizard, but thanks to Delia and seeing the carnage, Molly realises this isn’t what she wants and also that Entei isn’t really her father and this is due to the Unown. Because of the realization, the Unown’s powers weaken and they have to escape (including Team Rocket who are sadly not used that much this movie, it’s even lampshaded by Meowth) – Entei saves them and manage to reverse the effects of the movie, saving Professor Hale (and even another member of the family if you watch the end credits) as the gang leave to their next adventure.
The third movie definitely kicks it a notch with action, better animation (the CGI is easily the cleanest in this movie) and whilst the loophole of Charizard saving Ash and the lack of Team Rocket are a bit disappointing, the fact this movie does have Ash having to fight for something more for him is actually quite different. Yes, Pikachu and his Pokemon were in danger in the 1st movie and yes, in the 2nd movie he was the chosen one for the fate of the world, but both of those times he was either forced or tricked into these situations. Here, he is trying to save a loved one that got kidnapped, and the risks he tasks are on similar levels, but somehow have more of a purpose. The animation is slicker, the voice acting whilst still has parody involved doesn’t have any noticeable errors, and the journey feels more rewarding.
It’s a bit hard to rate the movies as a full package but going for a total review of the grade below, and whilst 3 is good, 2000 is definite nostalgia fodder for me being an Ash/Misty fan back in the day so for selfish reasons I still love that movie. The first one, whilst doesn’t hold up as well, still gave us Mewtwo and the start of a monster of a franchise. Add the cheesy classic dub as well, and it is a nice collection of nostalgia. I do feel whilst not horribly expensive, the lack of extras or the Pikachu shorts bumps it down a little and it’s certainly not Princess Mononoke, but for Pokemon fans or those that grew up with it, it is a welcome bit of nostalgia.
The three Pokemon movies came in the late 90s/early 2000s during the initial boom of Pokemon. And whilst it is still going strong, these titbits of nostalgia do give you smiling memories. Whilst they may not have held up that well (though 3 is surprisingly good), they still bring great moments whether for the Pokemon themselves (Mewtwo), the fandom (the Ash/Misty shipping) or the awesome (Charizard vs. Entei) if you can pick this trio as a bargain, it may be worth the trip down memory lane…
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: November 11th, 2016
Running Time: 218 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.