So, you people like Pokemon reviews, huh?
In 1999, the Pokemon craze had hit it zenith. Already there was a hit movie out and now a sequel was coming out in the summer. Fans couldn’t get enough of Pokemon and were not even satisfied when both the Gold and Silver games were released. Clearly, another movie was justified and would be shipped to movies in a year. Thus beginning the nasty trend of releasing a Pokemon film every damn year. Well, no time to waste. Let’s get Plinkett on this mother because we’re in for another case of cynicism. Again, it helps if you have watched the movie beforehand. It’s funnier that way.
The movie starts out with a prophecy detailing the end of the world being read by a man whom we’ve never met before. This mysterious person reads the prophecy verbatim and he sounds like he believes every single word of it. Which is odd because to me, the whole wording is rather vague as the prophecy never gives any explicit instructions on how to stop the end of the world, only that it will occur. Guess the writers forgot that little tidbit, eh? Maybe it made better sense in the Japanese version (Too late! I’ve already booted the English version up, now we’re stuck.) The man is eventually revealed to have a passion capturing rare Pokemon as he is shown to have a flying fortress complete with a Michelangelo-styled roof. Um…where did he get that ship? Who built it? What is this guy’s name? I’m so confused and it hasn’t even been five minutes yet.
It turns out that if you went to the theater, you got a pamphlet giving the man’s name (Lawrence III) and yes, his name is not mentioned at all in the film. No backstory whatsoever, this guy, Larry, just has a flying castle that captures Pokemon. Hard to swallow but I’ll stomach it for now. With his castle of doom, Larry proves to be quite adept at catching a Moltres on one of the Orange Islands. (If you accept the games as canon, then you have to wonder why the hell was Moltres out on the islands when it’s supposed to be based in Kanto). After a good gloat, Larry details his future plans to no one else except the audience: that he intends to capture Zapdos and Articuno before moving on to the big prize, but we’ll get to that later. Time for the opening title!
My God, is this opening over the top. Just a smattering of digital effects aimed at the face accompanied by an electric guitar that sounds like the guy playing it has Parkinson’s. Keep still, idiot! Also, why is this movie called The Power of One in the title? I thought it was Pokemon The Movie 2000….
Head-scratcher behind us, we are reintroduced to our protagonists: Ash, Misty, and Tracey. Wait, who the hell is Tracey? Where’s Brock? As someone who stopped watching Pokemon past season 1, I am already lost on the particulars on how Ash acquires new “squadmates.” Having already characterized Ash and Misty in previous reviews, it would be pointless to do so here. Tracey, on the other hand, is hated by fans simply because he replaced Brock and was the first (in a long line) to do so. As a character, he’s kinda dull but nowhere near as grating as some of Ash’s new recruits will get. But now we have to give the staff credits with an incredibly lame theme song (the remix of season 2’s title). And no Pokemon adventure would be complete without the inclusion of Team Rocket, depicted as still trying to capture Pikachu for Giovanni. Any sensible person would have given that quest up long ago but Team Rocket is not exactly rich in the brain department.
A storm randomly whips up and conveniently dumps our heroes onto the shores of the island Shamouti (possibly misspelled, too lazy to check). The inhabitants apparently hold an annual festival dedicated to the legend mentioned earlier about the end of the world (even though they admit they no longer believe in it). Ash is celebrated as the Chosen One, partly because the legend contained the line, “…and thus the earth shall turn to Ash.” However, the natives advise Ash to not take the title too seriously as it’s usually “just for the tourists.” Also, going back a little, why exactly is Ash THE Chosen One? There could be hundreds of others named Ash, or the prophecy could have been mistranslated (sounds like another book I know…) as in, “…and thus the earth shall turn to ash.” I don’t think that the prophecy was specifically predicting a person but an event and that the idea of Ash being the Chosen One is too coincidental and ludicrous. Unfortunately, this interpretation is played throughout the film, rendering my previous argument pointless.
During the festivities, the frontrunner of the show, Melody, recites the legend (as per tradition) heralding Ash as the savior of the world. She tells him that to prevent such destruction, he must find three “treasures” of the guardians of three islands. Ash, being the harebrained idiot that he is, believes the legend and immediately runs off to fulfill his destiny. Of course, this worries the others, so Melody, Misty, and Tracey follow Ash in another boat.
While all that is going on, Larry’s involvement in capturing Moltres has led to something of a power struggle with the remaining legendary birds and the weather patterns start fluctuating as a result. This is because the ocean currents are destabilizing due to the absence of Moltres. For some reason, now all of the birds hold animosity towards one another and now attack on sight. Their battling over the islands is the source of the weather that threatens to destroy the world, that part of the prophecy. Because Pokemon can sense weather patterns better than humans (this bullshit was made up on the spot, I swear) all of the Pokemon (in the world, maybe) rush towards the Orange Islands because……the plot demands it?
Ash and co. crash and burn on Fire Island, the site of one of the three treasures, which looks like a red Dragonball, to be honest. After retrieving the sphere, Zapdos arrives and proceeds to claim Fire Island for himself (which makes Zapdos’ own island now defenseless as it cannot logistically claim two islands at once). Larry then crashes the party by capturing Zapdos, along with Ash and his friends, sucking them up into Howl’s Flying Castle (albeit accidentally, you’d think that his capturing items would distinguish humans from Pokemon). On board this steampunk garbage hauler, it appears that Larry has a copy of the prophecy all to himself, which is again hammered in when Melody reads the damn thing. Shut up! We’ve heard it six damn times already! Larry then arrives to gloat about his “collection” to the group after coming down to see why his contraption hauled in the wrong game. He identifies himself as a collector of Pokemon and emphasizes that by having both Zapdos and Moltres on display in his study. But….wouldn’t the same objective be achieved if he had captured them with a Pokeball? You don’t have to cage the fuckers, they can be transported easily….with a Pokeball. There’s no reason to flaunt both of them like trophies, you can do that with any capturing device, like a fucking Pokeball! He also says that he started his collection with a Mew card and that, inexplicably lead to where he is now. Nope, still no explanation on how he got the fortress, only that he started out with a Mew card.
Wait, what? This isn’t Yu-Gi-Oh, so what the Christ is a Pokemon card doing in a Pokemon movie? Pokemon cards don’t exist in this world, there’s no precedent for that! On top of that, what does this Mew card actually do? What, is it psychic? Does it make you last longer in bed? Does it give you Space Obama? I don’t know, we never find out!
Larry, being a doofus, releases his captives and proceeds to be distracted while trying to hunt Articuno down to complete his “set.” Oh gee, it would be a shame if said recently freed prisoners would release the Pokemon you have caged up in your study, and that those Pokemon would proceed to destroy your entire ship, costing mill—
Oh, wait. That actually happens. Duh.
Quite conveniently, the ship crash lands on Thunder (or Lightning, Electricity, one of the three) Island and Ash collects the second sphere. Now that Moltres and Zapdos are free, they proceed to immediately battle one another, with Articuno joining in earnest, wanting a stab at the mosh pit. Not surprisingly, the gang elects to get the hell out of Dodge and escapes in their boat. When the boat is about to be hit by an attack, a whirlpool lifts the boat to safety, depositing it onto another island where the spheres are to be placed. Using basic math skills, Ash finds out that he is short one sphere (the placement of which would supposedly stop the infighting amongst the legendary birds….riiiiiight.) But that can be shunted to the side at the moment because we need our mascot reveal. The towering whirlpool appears and temporarily halts the fighting, revealing that its conjurer is none other than Lugia (again, suffering from a case of writer misplacement, as it is supposed to be in the Whirl Islands, not the Orange Islands). Lugia holds off the birds for all of 30 seconds when they realize that teaming up is more effective, sending Lugia to the bottom of the sea. Boss fight over, the birds turn on each other again (just like politicians!)
Melody, however, whips out her Ocarina and plays the cheat code for an immediate respawn and Lugia rises from the sea to address the group. I really like this Pokemon. Apart from having a monumentally epic design, I also like the voice that they got to play it. It’s a very calming but dramatic tone that fits into the Pokemon’s characterization. Lugia explains that by being the Chosen One, Ash has had the ability to “activate” the spheres he has collected simply by holding them, which awakens their power. It then explains that Ash is the only one to retrieve the last sphere. I’ll address one nagging bit related here later.
After a bit of convincing, Ash is persuaded to go get the final treasure, while Misty, Melody, and Tracey bravely stay behind. Ash chokes up a pun at his predicament, “Right now I feel more like the Frozen One.” After a bit of MacGuyver-ing, Ash constructs a sled towed by his Pokemon towards Ice Island (or Snow Island, Cold Glop Island, it makes no difference at this point). The three birds, jealous at Ash’s engineering skills proceed to wreck his ride, but Team Rocket arrives in a Top Gear’d propeller-driven raft and they make it to the island rather speedily. I like the fact that Team Rocket has a moment when they’re helping Ash, even though their motivation is purely selfish, “If the world was destroyed, there’d be no one left to steal from! We’d be out of work!”
After Ash retrieves the final sphere, the three birds, in an attack of convenient timing, arrive to destroy the raft, causing Ash and Team Rocket to flee the summit on foot. Lugia offers Ash a lift (which would have been easier if he’d offer to fly him to the island when he was traveling there to start!) Team Rocket, having hitched a ride on Lugia, sacrifices themselves because they were weighing the Pokemon down by hanging off of its feet. (talons? paws?) And if it was anyone other than Team Rocket, they would have been killed by the fall. But seeing as this IS Team Rocket, they manage to fall from an altitude of a mile, through thick ice, and through a thick layer of water, without dying, breaking bones, or suffering any noticeable injures.
Lugia explains to Ash that the reason for all of the Pokemon gathering below, watching the carnage, is because they traveled here in case that they could help avert the world’s destruction. Weak. Lugia does mention that the presence of the Pokemon was entirely pointless because Ash fulfilled the duty of the Chosen One. Um…no….. There was never a single moment in the movie where Ash didn’t require help obtaining any of the spheres from the islands, he wasn’t a pushover by any means, but the results of the day were not entirely influenced by him. As the Chosen One, Ash should have done his duty to the point where he would have received all of the credit, but circumstances in the film prevented that from ever happening, so by saying that the person that made all of the difference today was Ash is dead wrong. Sorry, pal. You done goofed.
Forgotten by the rest of the movie, Larry reveals himself to have survived the crash landing of his fortress and makes an attempt to capture Lugia. Lugia, in response, destroys Larry’s castle for good (didn’t think of that outcome, did you, idiot?), one hit K.O.’ing Zapdos and Moltres (oh, NOW you choose to use your Hyper Beam), but the effort causes Lugia to faint and crash into the ocean, taking Ash with him. Now Ash is floating on the fucking icy cold water. Okay, I take it back, the mob of Pokemon isn’t completely pointless after all. Hey, idiots! The Chosen One needs to be fished out of the drink! Guys? Um, hello? Oh, what the fuck! Goddamn it movie, if you’re going to make a big deal of having all of the Pokemon migrate to this one spot, at least give them something to do rather than being an audience to the gladiatorial games.
Having witnessed this monumental cock-up, Misty and Tracey finally take the initiative (after a strong hint from Misty that there may be something going on between her and Ash) and pull him out of the water. Ash, not a fan of CPR, immediately awakes and inserts the final treasure. The legendary birds are calmed, the weather dies down, and the mob of Pokemon floats back home, the crisis averted.
Despite the number of fatal flaws this movie has, it remains my favorite Pokemon movie (that does not mean it is a good movie, don’t get smart with me). I like the inclusion of Lugia, I like the design and concept of Larry’s flying castle, and I kind of like the huge, world-shattering stakes that no other Pokemon movie has topped at this point. It has enough action to keep the average Pokemon fan satisfied and any and all plot holes can be ignored with a case of beer and bunch of critical peers to laugh at the lapses in judgment throughout the film. Watch with extreme prejudice.
I am not bothering to give a score to any more Pokemon films as there is just no point to it. They’re all on the “bad” end of the scale and would get repetitive over time. Instead, I will compare it to other Pokemon films in an effort to be descriptive in their ranks.