Pokemon: The First Movie

"Terrible"

Pokemon: The First Movie Review


Until I was debriefed at length by the father of a 5-year-old girl sitting in front of me at the preview screening of "Pokemon: The First Movie," all I knew about this Japanese-import cartoon phenomenon was that there was a cute, yellow cat-like character with a lighting bolt-shaped tail I kept seeing all over the World Wide Web.

Before I could stop him, the addicted daddy explained to me that there are 151 Pokemons -- a menagerie of mutant pets, each with special powers employed to defeat others in non-lethal, kiddie versions of cock fights. He told me about Poke-trainers and Poke-masters -- the Pokemon's human owners who care for them and train them for said battles, which come across like Dungeons and Dragons showdowns between Hello Kitty characters. He told me all about ambitious, heroic Poke-trainer Ash and his loyal Pokemon named Pikachu, the aforementioned cute yellow thing that communicates only by repeating its name with a series of different pronunciations.

"Pika-CHU! Piiiiiiiikachu! Pikachu-pikachu-pikachu! Pi-KA-chu!"

But anyone reading this review probably knows all this already because they have a child like this gentleman's adorable five-year-old, who kept interrupting with "That's not right, daddy!" before explaining where he went wrong with each of his Poke-mistakes.

The reason I'm telling you this is to make the point that listening to this loquacious fellow and his little girl explain Pokemon (an compound word from the Japanese for "pocket monster") to me for half an hour was endlessly more entertaining than the movie itself, which is nothing more than a (very) cheap way for Warner Bros. to cash in on a hot kiddie trend.

Even the kindergarten target audience will be hard-pressed to sit still for this elementary and lumbering Saturday morning reject adventure about the battle between a batch of benevolent Pokemons and an evil, bio-engineered super-clone Pokemon named MewTwo, spliced from a legendary, all-powerful Pokemon and bent on enslaving the world.

It's silly, psychological tripe about science run amok, with a half-hour of low-end, anime battle scenes (Pikachu screws up his face in concentration and lighting shoots from his whiskers!) that stop suddenly when the original Mew shows up to teach MewTwo the error of his ways (the practical upshot: Fighting Is Bad).

The first 20 minutes of the movie -- actually a short, featuring Pikachu and many of his fellow Pokemon on vacation -- is far more amusing than the dreary story that follows. That part is a semi-psychedelic romp through a summer camp-like amusement park, with a variety of Pokemons -- creatures based on dragons, turtles, cats, mice, ducks and half-hatched eggs.

It's dull, frankly, but not when compared to the main feature.

In short, you'll thank yourself if you can convince your kids to wait for the "Pokemon" movie on video (it won't be more than a few months). Then, at least, they can watch it without you.

And if you need an alternative, take them to "Elmo in Grouchland," which is more positive, more laughs and almost as much fun for grown-ups as for kids.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 29 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th March 2012

Box Office Worldwide: $163.6M

Budget: $30M

Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Satoshi ("Ash Ketchum"), Mayumi Iizuka as Kasumi ("Misty"), Yūji Ueda as Takeshi ("Brock"), Ikue Ōtani as Pikachu, Satomi Kōrogi as Togepi, as Musashi (''Jessie''), Shin'ichirō Miki as Kojirō (''James''), Inuko Inuyama as Nyarth (''Miaouss''), Masachika Ichimura as Mewtwo, Kōichi Yamadera as Mew, Tōru Furuya as Sorao (''Corey''), Aiko Satō as Sweet (''Neesha''), Wataru Takagi as Umio (''Fergus''), Raymond Johnson as Raymond, Ayako Shiraishi as Nurse Joy, Chinami Nishimura as Junsar (''Officer Jenny''), Sachiko Kobayashi as Voyager (''Miranda''), Yōsuke Akimoto as Dr. Fuji, Hirotaka Suzuoki as Sakaki (''Giovanni''), Unshō Ishizuka as Narration

Also starring:

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