Pokémon: The First Movie
April 20th, 2008
NC: I DON'T wanna review this movie. I really don't. There are just some things in this world you don't wanna watch, and you don't think you ever have to... but SO many people have requested that I review it that I simply have no choice. I have to review Pokémon: The First Movie.
Pokémon theme song and footage
NC (voiceover): First of all I should point out I did NOT grow up with Pokémon as a kid. I was a junior in high school when this show came out, so I was well past the stage of watching children's cartoons. What I do know is that it was based on a Japanese video game that was turned into a CARD game that was turned into a TV show. And for those of you who don't know what it's about, I can't help you. Because NOBODY knew what the hell it was about. I guess there's these three kids who collect monsters that kinda look like Beanie Babies except they kill one another and they're being chased by these two gay people or some shit like that.
NC: Nobody could follow it. The only people who understood it at all were the kids. And they turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. So naturally, a movie was in the works. And I have to tell ya, I had a hard time FINDING this damn film. Not because it's rare or anything, but because there's like a million of them!
Showing all the various Pokémon movies
NC (voiceover): How the hell am I supposed to know where to start? There's one called Pokémon Heroes, is THAT the first movie? There's another called Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back*, is THAT the first movie? There's another one called Pokémon 2000, but what the hell does that mean? Is it the date it came out, or is it the 2000th film? There's so damn many of them I'd believe either ONE! Finally, I found it, a VHS copy of the movie that is LITERALLY titled "Pokémon the First Movie."
*Mewtwo Strikes Back actually is the first movie. The movie's full title is Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back.
NC: I mean, how cocky do you have to be to literally call your first movie THE FIRST MOVIE? It's like they KNEW they were gonna have a bajillion sequels so they decided to call it the FIRST movie just to make it easy for us. That's like naming the first Lord of the Rings movie "Lord of the Rings: Don't Worry, We're Gonna Have a SHIT Load of Sequels."
NC (voiceover): But not only that, there's also a million versions of this one film. There's the version that starts off with a short film, there's the version with a deleted opening, there's an English version, a Japanese version, I couldn't keep track. So I'm just gonna review what's on the original VHS American release.
NC: Now the nice thing about a movie is they USUALLY give you a lot of background information so that any newcomers can follow along. They do this USUALLY to broaden their audience a little bit. With that said, let's take a look at Japan's cinematic opus: Pokémon the First Movie.
WB Kids logo pops up
NC (voiceover): Oh, that's a good sign.
NC (voiceover): Oh, that's even better.
4Kids Entertainment logo
NC (voiceover): What, are they gonna show the people who catered the movie next?
Movie begins, finally
Explorer: Today my colleagues and I will reach the site where an ancient civilization may have created a shrine to Mew, the most powerful Pokémon to have ever existed.
NC: Okay, what's a Pokémon?
Explorer: Giovanni is financing the expedition.
NC: Who's Giovanni?
Explorer: He wants to control the most powerful Pokémon the world has ever known.
NC: What are those things? (referring to Butterfrees that are on screen)
Explorer: I, of course, want something more.
NC: Who are you?!
Explorer: Our team is bringing back what we believe to be a Mew fossil.
NC (voiceover): Where are we?
Explorer: Perhaps then we can unlock the secret to restoring life itself.
NC (voiceover): What, you mean like bring people back from the dead and stuff? What's that thing? Where am I? Is this Earth, are we in another dimension? Is this the past, the future, the present? What's going on, when does this even take place?
NC: Oh my God, I'm like one minute into this movie, already I'm totally lost! God, this is gonna suck!
James: I'm scared!
Jesse: Me, too!
NC (voiceover): Okay, so they never REALLY tell us what a Pokémon is, but from what I can gather, they're kinda like little monsters you can capture and use for fighting. The way they capture them is they throw some kind of magical ball that shrinks them down so that you can fit them in your pocket. Kinda like a Pocket Monster or something.
NC: In fact, they should've just called it Pocket Monsters, then at least things would make a little bit more sense! But apparently Pokémon is a romanized contraction of a Japanese word which translates out to...oh you've gotta be kidding me. It ACTUALLY translates out to Pocket Monster? Why didn't you just call it Pocket Monster then, I know what a Pocket Monster is, it's a monster that fits in your pocket, easy! Why would you keep Pokémon, that's ridiculous, nobody knows what a Pokémon is! It sounds like something a Jamaican shouts out when he wants to play cards.
NC is dressed as a Jamaican, holding cards
NC: Hey, would you like to play some poker, mon?
Words saying "Apologies to Jamacans EVERYWHERE!"
NC (voiceover): So the story is about the clone of the most powerful Pokémon in the world, Mew. The clone's name? Mewtwo.
Corey: Mew AND Mewtwo.
Neesha: So Mewtwo was cloned from Mew.
NC: What is this, a Dr. Seuss book?
NC (voiceover): He's upset because apparently he doesn't LIKE being a clone. So he blows up the laboratory with all the innocent scientists burning alive inside.
NC: You know, for kids! **First appearance!**
NC (voiceover): Later on, another man tries to take him under his wing, to teach him how to focus his powers. Buuut that doesn't go over well either. After his little temper tantrums he decides to set out and destroy all of humanity and Pokémon-ity alike. Why? Because the world is dark, cruel, meaningless, and can't conjure up better writers to create a better backstory.
Brock: That's progress.
NC: Meanwhile on the other side of...wherever this all takes place, we come across our three main characters: Misty, Brock and Ash, a Pokémon trainer, who I think would be a lot cooler if he were like the Ash from the Evil Dead movies.
Ash (Evil Dead version): Swallow this.
Ash fires his gun, and then it cuts to a scene of Pokémon running from an explosion
NC: Now I've heard a lot of people complain how these three characters have absolutely no personality. But I think they have PLENTY of personality! For example:
NC (voiceover): Brock has the personality of mud, Misty has the personality of motor oil, and even Ash has the distinct personality of sandpaper.
NC: Now I know what you're thinking, isn't that a little extreme? I mean, even sandpaper can be interesting sometimes.
Ash: Guess you're right...
NC (voiceover): These three kids set out to catch as many Pokémon as possible.
NC: Because...I guess somebody has to.
NC (voiceover): They're followed by the evil trio known as Team Rocket, who want steal Ash's Pokémon and use them for their own evil deeds. The human's names are Jesse and James.
NC: Oh I get it, like Jesse James the famous outlaw, yeah. That's... that's, uh, really not funny.
NC (voiceover): And there's also Meowth, a Pokémon who for some reason can speak English, unlike the other Pokémons*, who can only say their names over and over and over.
* The correct plural of "Pokémon" is simply "Pokémon".
Montage of exactly this happening
NC: Which sounds pretty annoying at first, but after you head dialogue like this:
Brock: She's really small, but really pretty.
NC: ...you'll be PRAYING for one-word sentences.
NC (voiceover): So Mewtwo sets up a tournament of the Pokémons, which is just a trap so he can make clones of all of them to take over the world. Our three heroes try to make it to the tournament but a dangerous storm threatens their way. So clever Team Rocket pretends to help them out, disguising themselves as... Swedish vikings?
Jesse (disguised, with accent): Ve getcha to Mew Island faster than you can say farfignugen!
Brock: I didn't know vikings still existed!
Ash: They mostly live in Minnesota!
Words saying "Apologies to Minnesotans EVERYWHERE!"
NC (voiceover): But Team Rocket's plan backfires and our heroes make it safely to Mewtwo's fortress. There they discover his evil plan as Mewtwo captures all the Pokémon and makes clones of them down below. But the Pokémon are later freed and ready to kick some Poké-ass!
NC: And the rest of the movie is pretty much this:
Montage of Pokémon fighting their clones
NC: It's NOTHING BUT FIGHTING!
NC (voiceover): It's just Pokémon running, zapping, jumping, ducking, screaming...and since they're fighting their own clones, I can't even tell which one I'm supposed to be rooting for! The only interesting thing that happens is that the original Mew shows up to challenge Mewtwo. And I don't know if it's because I don't watch the show, but... is Mew supposed to be retarded? I mean he doesn't do anything. He just bounces around making mumbling noises to himself. Is that normal?
Mew gets hit with an attack and is sent flying
NC: Thank you.
NC (voiceover): While looking over all these Furbies beating the shit out of each other, Ash finally comes to a stunning realization.
NC: Fighting must be...bad!
Scenes of Pokémon fighting make NC react dramatically
NC: When will we learn?
NC (voiceover): Oh, even Pikachu is getting horribly beaten.
NC: No, Pikachu, no! Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself! Talk about self-abuse. So what are we supposed to learn from this onslaught of violence?
Misty: This just proves that fighting is wrong!
NC: Yes, violence is never the answer in any situa-
Nurse Joy: Pokémon aren't meant to fight... not like this.
NC: Oh, you're still going. Sorry.
Nurse Joy: What can come out of it?
Neesha: Nothing... but pain.
NC: You done? Okay, so after we discover that-
Brock: Why can't Mewtwo understand it's not right to force Pokémon to battle this way?
NC looks around, confused, but allows them to continue
Misty: They're all living creatures.
James: Now I can see how horrible fighting really is.
Jesse: Even the best of friends'll fight sometimes.
Meowth: Maybe if we started lookin' at what's the same, instead of always lookin' at what's different...well, who knows.
Ash: Someone's gotta take a stand. Someone's gotta say no!
James: I was prepared for trouble... but not for this.
NC: Okay seriously, ya done? Are ya sure? There's no other obvious life lessons you wanna cram into our heads? Okay, so after that we find out that there's-
Nurse Joy: I'd rather risk my life out in Mewtwo's storm-
NC: SHUT UP! Goddammit, shut up! We get it, violence is bad, don't fight, we will not fight, how many times do you have to hammer this shit in? I mean, talking about it doesn't make us LESS violent, it makes us more violent!
Scenes of Pokémon battling
NC (voiceover): I mean, am I the only one who finds it a little ironic that a franchise that's made it's whole profit on nothing BUT fighting, is suddenly telling us that it's BAD to be fighting?
NC: How fucking hypocritical is that? That's like O.J. Simpson going around telling everyone that it's bad to kill people.
Brock: At least his mouth is working.
NC (voiceover): Amidst all the violence and chaos, we see that Ash gets caught in the middle of a laser blast and is transformed into a stone statue. I know I should feel bad, but all I can think about is how great it would be if *I* actually got stoned right now.
Mewtwo: You are as pathetic as the rest.
NC (voiceover): So the Pokémon stop fighting and have a good cry at the loss of their fallen hero. But wait a minute! ... Oh no, they can't be.
NC: I mean I knew this movie was bad, but... no no, it's impossible, this movie can't POSSIBLY be that stupid.
NC (voiceover): Oh my God, they are. They're using their tears of unfathomable sadness to bring their fallen hero back to life. Suck my balls.
NC: I mean how more clichéd can you possibly get? And on top of that, what kind of lesson is that to teach your kids? If you cry hard enough, dead people will come back from the grave? Bullshit! I mean, in Disney films at least, when somebody is dead, they stay dead! I mean how would you like it if in Lion King you heard, say:
Shots of The Lion King
NC (voiceover): "Don't worry, Simba, if you cry hard enough, your father will come back from the grave! ... I don't see his eyes opening. I guess you're not crying hard enough."
NC: Go on, Simba, cry, CRY! Don't you want your father to come back to life? Do you want him to stay dead forever? Cry harder Simba. Harder. Harder! HARDER! I guess you don't love your father enough. Oh well, that's the circle of life, kid, tough break. You see? It's fucking creepy!
Misty: Something's not right!
NC (voiceover): So after Ash is brought back from the dead, Mewtwo decides he doesn't want to fight anymore. He wants to take all his clones to live a good and peaceful life. Unfortunately, he also takes all the human characters back in time and erases their memories, so they can totally forget the lesson that we spent an hour and half learning IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Misty: Well, that sure was a shocking ending.
NC: So now they can go back to their normal ways, fighting all they want, because they can't remember that fighting was bad. What type of message is that? It's okay to fight as long as you know that fighting isn't good? What a rip-off! I mean, how about a REAL lesson, like, uh... uh...
Scene of Batman Begins
Batman: It's not who I am underneath... but what I DO... that defines me.
NC: Yeah, that's pretty good. Thanks, Batman! What a nice guy. BUT HE HAS A POINT! Just because you know something is bad doesn't excuse you from doing it. A real lesson from a real hero.
Fergus: NO WAY!
NC (voiceover): Bottom line? This movie is stupid. It's stupid because it's boring, it's boring because it's confusing, and it's confusing because it's stupid. Even the moral makes no fucking sense, so how am I supposed to trust the rest of it?
NC: I never watched Pokémon, and I'm glad I never did. We had GOOD shows in our day. Like the one about the mutant reptiles who ate pizza and practiced... ninjitsu... or the one about the three chipmunks that got together and got their own... rock... band... or the one about the bears who... made people feel better by shooting hearts out of their... stomachs... THOSE WERE THE DAYS! I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to.