A week ago it hit shelves and and it was a bloody corker. The latest Pokémon games, Pokémon X & Y are now 1 week old. Yesterday saw the premiere of the latest Pokémon movie and here are my thoughts on the newest instalment in an epic saga.
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Cast: Sarah Natochenny, Ikue Ootani, Jason Griffith, Eileen Stevens, Miriam Pultro,
Plot: Ash and friends have travelled to a New York looking city. Once there they discover a strange Pokémon known as Genesect. However, this Genesect isn’t alone and is part of a team lead by a ruthless and very angry Genesect. Fortunately for Ash, a Mewtwo is aware of Genesect’s anger and looks to stop him.
As the first lead-in movie for the brand new X & Y generation, POKEMON THE MOVIE: GENESECT THE LEGEND AWAKENED has a lot to live up to. For Japanese audiences it was released theatrically over the summer and grossed over $40 million in the territories where it was released. For the US and UK premiere, it’s once again dubbed and going straight to TV. It’s also had the disadvantage of being released after the release of the incredible new games which are both familiar and innovative. The same can’t really be said for the latest feature film offering, but at the same time the use of hints towards the latest generation are exactly those, hints. Gamers will already be familiarised with Mega Evolutions and the stunning Kalos region, so the new Mega Evolution of Mewtwo may not hold the same level of excitement.
The film starts with our old friend Mewtwo flying through the sky with some bird Pokémon. Only, this isn’t our old friend but supposedly a completely new Mewtwo who has also been created at some point. This Mewtwo is female (at least in voice) and isn’t quite as aggressive as our former friend. Sure, she still has an issue with humans, but she isn’t too concerned with clone dominance and human destruction. Now I say ‘supposedly’ because we get very little information concerning this Mewtwo throughout the entire film. Ash recognises her as a Mewtwo, but never seems shocked that she is a different one to the creature he has met previously. He also, in a rather jerkish kind of a way, never even tells her that she isn’t one of a kind. Considering she has identity problems, that may have been a nice thing to point out. There’s also no talk about her Awakened Form/Mega Evolution. It just happens and we’re supposed to accept it.
Mewtwo 2 (as I like to call her) responds to a call for help originating from a baby Genesect. Genesect are a group of Pokémon that existed 300 million years ago. They have been resurrected and have been genetically modified and had weapons added to them. Like Mewtwo they are a case against playing God and manipulating nature. Mewtwo 2’s aid isn’t exactly welcomed by the leader, Red Genesect, who considers any suggestion to be an attempt at an order. Genesect don’t follow orders, and instead decide to blow stuff up.
Meanwhile, Ash, Iris, and Cilan have arrived in a nameless city which is pretty much the Pokémon equivalent of New York. The use of such a city scape is the perfect contrast of nature and modernism. Although they are constantly surrounded by huge buildings and the hustle bustle of the city, right in the centre of the city is a park filled with wondrous nature. It also fits in with the characters of Mewtwo and Genesect, who are both from nature but have been changed by modern science. In this version of Central Park, where the majority of the action takes place, there is a sweet little hideaway for all the Pokémon, and after the traditional release of all the Pokémon along with a cheesy song about friendship, we can finally move the plot along.
While playing with Pikachu, Ash discovers the baby Genesect from earlier, as the Genesect have mistaken this city as their home from 300 million years ago. There’s a quick playful sequence in which Ash surfs on the Genesect, only for Red Genesect to see Ash stroking the baby, which he perceives as an act of aggression. Red Genesect is able to convince the baby to follow orders, and attack Ash. It shows the merciless and unrelenting hatred of Red Genesect as well as its power. Ash’s attempted murder ends in Mewtwo 2 showing up and saving the day. This plot mechanic becomes overused throughout the course of the film, with Mewtwo 2 showing up during every attack and fighting off Genesect. Mewtwo 2 has perfect timing, and shifts between forms in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure if there is a limit to her Mega Evolution, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. Being too powerful sucks a lot of tension from action sequences as she can stop Genesect without too much trouble.
The Genesect soon begin to build a nest in the heart of the Pokémon sanctuary, but it’s clear they will not be willing to share this space with anyone else. Mewtwo 2 on the other hand reveals that she was only trying to save the Pokémon and that human lives mean nothing to her. Through a series of flashbacks we learn a little extra about Mewtwo 2, but some is very similar to that of the original Mewtwo, you start to wonder why not have just kept the original. Is it to not alienate new viewers? Most likely, as Pokémon like to keep things simplified and focused on their present target audience.
The finale sees the Pokémon already living in the sanctuary, join forces against the Genesect. This is a rare Pokémon film where the human element is very minimalistic. Most of the fighting comes from a group of Pokemon we are not familiar with, while Ash, Iris, Cilan, and their Pokemon just sort of stand around. Fortunately, Ash’s actions prove to some of the Genesect that humans can be caring and kind, which makes them turn against their Red leader. Still failing to see the good in anyone, Mewtwo 2 rockets Red Genesect into space, but far from being a dark and cold ending, Mewtwo 2 explains that everyone on Earth is a friend, which doesn’t make a lot of sense as there is still plenty of evil, with the likes of Team Plasma and Team Rocket. Red Genesect immediately accepts this information and returns to Earth telling everyone they are his friends.
POKEMON THE MOVIE: GENESECT THE LEGEND AWAKENED is a bit too saccharine in those final moments, and the films doesn’t have as much going on as previous instalments. This would have been perfect had there been some exploration into the pasts of these legendary Pokémon, but instead we are treated to repetitive action sequences. Like I said earlier, it would have been more enjoyable as a bridge between Generation V and VI, and a good tease for the recently released games. Unfortunately it’s arrived with us a little too late, where the ingenuity and perfection of the newest games has spoiled us beyond belief. No doubt this is still a very enjoyable entry, but whereas other films have given some wonderful visuals and excellent storytelling as a respite from the formulaic game mechanics, the newest games require no such respite.
Best Performance By A Pokémon: The vocal performance and general attitude of Mewtwo 2 is a clear winner here. She is strong willed, but also very caring when needs be. She has the underlying anger from the previous Mewtwo, but hasn’t allowed her trauma and torment to dictate her life. Voiced by Miriam Pultro, this female incarnation of Mewtwo holds a great amount of wisdom and gravitas in her voice, and we can but hope she’ll find the other Mewtwo one day for further adventures.
Best Battle: The battle within the Pokémon sanctuary is very exciting. Mewtwo and Genesect’s battles are almost too overpowered, making it refreshing to see some less powerful Pokémon give it their all. The band of Pokémon brothers spans all generations. It’s much more satisfying seeing a Persian trying to use bite on a Genesect and a Feraligator using Watergun to protect other Pokémon.
Come back tomorrow for our next PokéMovie Marathon article. Gotta read ‘em all here.
Pokémon X & Y released for the Nintendo 3DS are out now.