12th of October saw the UK release of Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 on the Nintendo DS. So as I’m sure many Poké fans will want to rest their blister covered hands for an hour or two a day, we’ve been covering each and every Pokémon film in celebration. Check out past articles here.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Cast: Veronica Taylor, Rachael Lillis, Eric Stuart, Madeleine Blaustein, Ikue Ootani, Amy Birnbaum, Sean Schemmel, Megan Hollingshead, Jason Griffith, Rebecca Soler
Plot: Centuries ago a large battle was fought between humans, who used Pokémon as their soldiers. As the warring armies began to fight, a Pokémon known as Lucario was deserted by his master and trapped within a staff. There Lucario stayed until Ash Ketchum and friends release him during a festival to celebrate Lucario’s old master, who is now considered a hero. However, a Mew has been spotted, and has teleported away with Pikachu and Meowth. Can Lucario help Ash and friends discover the mystery behind Mew?
And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain… tissues at the ready ladies and gentlemen as this is the last film in which we can experience the excellent vocal talents of our original cast. By the time the next film rolls around they will have all been replaced. Veronica Taylor brought so much life and innocence to the role of Ash. She was able to give him a certain sense of arrogance and obnoxiousness at times, but never made him unlikable. Eric Stuart was a wonderful Brock, and also had a difficult task in making his constant flirtations with members of the opposite sex comical rather than creepy. Rachel Lillis, Madeleine Blaustein, and many others did great work over hundreds of episodes and 7 movies. But that’s getting too far ahead. Let’s enjoy their final cinematic work as it is a bit of a corker.
POKEMON: LUCARIO AND THE MYSTERY OF MEW starts centuries ago, in a time before Pokéballs. So how did people train and battle Pokémon in these times? We’re about to find out, as we are shown two armies of Pokémon headed towards each other. They are armoured up and the scenes are reminiscent of the pre-battle moments in great fantasy epics. This is AMAZING, my eyes opened wide the first time I saw this sequence and I wish there were games, other movies, and novels exploring this world before Pokéballs. In fact, just remake LORD OF THE RINGS and add in some Pokémon. Instead of facing up against The Balrog, Oak The Grey can face a Groudon. The huge eagles can be Pidgeots and so on. What would Gollum be? Maybe a Mr. Mime?
Amidst this huge confrontation we meet a speedy and agile Pokémon named Lucario (I like him because he has my name in his name). He is a swift and noble warrior, probably a ninja type Pokémon if they had those. He darts through the terrain and we learn of the battling nations and a castle caught in the middle. Lucario meets his master Sir Aaron, but Sir Aaron announces he is abandoning the kingdom and he traps Lucario inside his staff. Meanwhile Mew is floating about and for some reason the fighting stops and everybody goes back to their normal lives.
Hundreds of years pass and Sir Aaron is now believed to be the hero who brought peace to the town of Rota. Now every year a great celebration is held, and guess who’s coming to join it. Ash Ketchum certainly knows where to find those legendary Pokémon. Ash, Brock, May, and Max, all dress up in traditional costumes and Ash takes part in an opening credit battle sequence. He wins his battles and thus he is scheduled to play the role of True Guardian Of The Aura. You see, Sir Aaron was a master at using Aura, which he also taught Lucario to use. Aura is like The Force. It allows you to sense different life forms. The addition of Aura to the mythology of Pokémon is quite a sensible and interesting addition. I found this addition to, in many ways, add the magical element that has always been present in Pokémon. The fact Pokémon can breathe fire or are captured in Pokéballs. It’s an idea I think fits well and should be expanded upon. As for the town of Rota, it is a splendid creation based on Germanic and Bavarian landscape and architecture. The insides of the palace are brought to life with hanging chandeliers and oil paintings of legendary Pokémon.
As True Guardian Of The Aura, Ash is allowed to hold Sir Aaron’s staff and Lucario is soon released. As Lucario steps into our world he is unaware that time has passed him by. He is confused and angry as his last memories are of the betrayal he suffered at his master. He feels out of place and the emotional weight Sean Schemmel brings to the role is very impressive. Meanwhile Pikachu and Meowth have run into a Mew which simply loves to play, but after Kidd Summers, a woman who has broken the record for breaking the most records, tries to place a tracer on Mew, Mew teleports himself, Meowth and Pikachu to the Tree of Beginnings.
Lucario agrees to use Aura to track down the missing Pokémon, and what follows is an eye opening roadtrip for all involved. Lucario shows himself to be one of the most complex Pokémon we’ve seen. He feels great distrust after being abandoned, and believes Ash will one day do the same to Pikachu. Lucario is more of a human character than a Pokémon, and this allows for great interactions between him and the rest of the cast. You get a real feel for how somebody transported through time must feel, especially as it is not likely their questions will become answered. Lucario is also slightly aggravated by the hero status that has been appointed to his master, which means since Lucario is still willing to help out other humans, he is a creature of great honour and integrity.
The gang soon end up at The Tree of Beginnings, closely followed by Team Rocket, who actually have a place in this plot as they are searching for Meowth. Pikachu, Meowth, and Mew share some delightful sequences that reminded me of the best Pokémon episode ever Pokémon Shipwreck. We see how the Pokémon act without human intervention, which leads to amusing moments. But they never allow us to forget the strong bond between Ash and Pikachu. They truly miss each other, and it is Ash’s loyalty that inspires Lucario to proceed. Once inside The Tree of Beginnings, which is actually a rock formation, our heroes soon come across Regirock, Registeel, and Regice and a number of great battles take place as the truth behind Mew, Lucario and Sir Aaron are all finally revealed.
POKEMON: LUCARIO AND THE MYSTERY OF MEW is a fantastic adventure for the whole family. The vibrant animation is brought further to life by the expansion of the Pokémon mythology in terms of history and mysticism. None of the characters seem forced into the film and the plight of our main character, Lucario, intertwines nicely and plays off the characters we all know and love. It’s also a wonderful farewell to the voice cast, and I’m glad they got to go out on a high. After the action and intensity of POKEMON: DESTINY DEOXYS it would have been easy to try and emulate that once again. Instead this 8th cinematic journey goes for characters, magic, and mystery to ensure it explores its running time at an enjoyable and deliberate pace.
Best Performance By A Pokémon: Easily Lucario, and not just because of the name thing. No points are awarded for guessing the nickname I gave him in the game. Lucario goes through a lot in this film. We see him taken in by Sir Aaron and having to lower his guard in order to accept a master and a friend. He trains valiantly to gain the power of Aura and there’s a sweet flashback that shows how hard it is for him to lower his formal demeanour and enjoy simple pleasures such as soaking his feet. His betrayal is a hard one to take, but he learns to stand up for himself whilst still being able to trust others. The end is a powerful moment that shows his faith rewarded in the end, and a great sacrifice details his nobility and strength.
Best Battle: Could you ever really top that opening of thousands of Pokémon charging into battle? Onyxes clash and flying Pokémon soar through the skies above. It doesn’t last a really long time, and the budget means we don’t get the incredible animation such a scene deserves, but just the idea of it allows our imaginations to run away with us. It’s a simple scene that creates an entire universe in the viewers mind, and there aren’t many films, let alone single scenes, that can capture the imagination in such a way. Give us a live-action, medieval, Pokémon movie now.
Come back tomorrow for our next PokéMovie Marathon article. Gotta read them all here.