Netflix just got the rights to stream the latest Pokémon flick and as a hardcore ‘Mon fan, I decided to sit through it. What a waste of time that was.
Having released nearly two years ago on my birthday, Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! seemed like a fun, revitalisation and perspective on a franchise I have held dear to my heart since 1995 when Red & Blue were released in the states. Back in 2017, I was quite excited to see what the new flick had in store for Pokémon fans. Unfortunately, due to a string of unforseen circumstances, I was not able to catch it before audience reviews came out and clips of the film leaked on the internet. What I saw was a travesty, a tragedy, and downright infuriating. Since then, I have not given it much thought. That was until Netflix started streaming it this month. So, I figured sure, why not? I love Pokémon, some of the fan criticism, while valid, can’t prove to meet my ideal expectations but maybe won’t destroy my views on the anime franchise. It was never that great to begin with, but I remember it fondly as a kid coming into the teen years. Boy, was I wrong. So, so, wrong.
Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! is without a doubt, the worst Pokemon movie I have ever seen (I skipped a few of the direct to home video releases). It not only shatters the origin story of Ash and Pikachu (the first few minutes of the movie were okay, I guess), it alters their journey so much that I felt like had this been the first few episodes of the Pokémon anime, I may never have sat through more than an episode or two. Even as a kid, I accepted the silliness of Ash and Gary and Team Rocket, but this movie throws a pile of stink all over that, that I simply cannot excuse.
The only thing I liked about this movie, were its promotional materials. Unfortunately, the art style you see above is not what is in the movie. Part of me feels betrayed by this, as I figured I could have been more lenient on my over all criticisms of ICY if the animation was better. Instead, the story is bad, the animation is boring, and the whole thing just sort of sucks.
The story begins with a similar beginning- Ash wakes up late, arrives to see Professor Oak and finds the only ‘Mon left is Pikachu. They don’t hit it off right at the beginning, and only begin to bond after a run-in with a flock of Spearow that attacks them. Ash saves Pikachu and thus their friendship is born. Ash sees a flying Ho-Oh along the way and gets a feather from the legendary bird, the Rainbow Wing. At this point, things get weird. Pokémon from all generations appear, therefore ignoring the limitations of knowing of the only 151 in the beginning of the journey (save for Ho-Oh being no.250).
Ash eventually meets a couple of trainers that are out to catch a legendary Pokémon, Entei, before they all bond together and go on a journey as a trio. During this time, Ash meets a Charmander who is left behind after being abused by an obnoxious trainer named Cross, who serves as the sort of primary antagonist (Team Rocket is here a little here and there, but Ash and his new friends never actually see them in-person). Cross is out to track down and catch the Legendary Pokémon, and wants to become the “Rainbow Hero”, a legend/prophecy of sorts that says Ho-Oh will leave behind a feather, the Rainbow Wing, to a trainer it has a fondness for. As to what, exactly is unclear. It’s sort of a destiny thing, but as to what that means, I really don’t know. Ash isn’t shown catching Ho-Oh or doing anything outstanding like catching any legendary Pokémon, or saving the world or something. There’s a sort of happy ending that is cut short where Cross admits he wasn’t the right one for the role of “Rainbow Hero” (whatever the hell that is) and then they become friends. Or whatever.
The plot direction was never clear, and I have no idea what they were doing other than just trying to find Ho-Oh, just to like, see it or prove it exists. This original story seems uninspired, not really well-thought out and didn’t do anything to serve the nostalgia I was hoping to meet at some point in this movie. The animation did little to inspire or impress, and the constant recurring theme friendship overcoming all really grew stale by the halfway point. But perhaps the biggest criticism is one we all know about. Pikachu talking to Ash about how he wants to always be together. It was weird, forced, unnecessary, creepy, and ruined any hope for redemption that this movie could have had.