Opinions and Stories

Meggy’s Movie Thoughts – Pokémon: The First Movie

Mewtwo Strikes Back was a controversial movie for critics back in the late 90’s, but most fans thought it wasn’t *too* bad.

Meggy’s Movie Thoughts is a fortnightly series created by Axeliira. She will talk about Pokémon movies one by one, leading to the most recent release.

Welcome to the first edition of Meggy’s Movie Thoughts. I’m Meggy; let’s get started!

Today’s review will be about the classic movie that started it all: Pokémon – The First Movie.

Mewtwo, the focus of the first film in the franchise.

Pokémon: The First Movie, titled Mewtwo Strikes Back came out in Japan on July 10, 1998, with the North American adaptation coming out later on November 10, 1999. The movie became a box-office hit worldwide – it topped the box office charts in its opening weekend and grossed a total of US$163.6 million, despite critics giving the movie a thumbs down.

Fans sure enjoyed it despite these reviews, with many people still loving it today for nostalgic purposes.

To the average Pokémon fan, it’s a start-to-finish action-packed movie, with viewers curious to learn more about Mewtwo, and how powerful it was. We also got to learn more about Pokémon #151, Mew; depicted as the “rarest and strongest Pokemon”, and also extremely adorable. It was advertised as “the Pokémon match of all time”, as Mewtwo, cloned by a scientist at the beginning of the movie faces off against Mew.

Why did the media criticize it back then?

A lot of Pokémon featured in the first film.

There were several factors. One critic said they disliked it because of the amount of “violence” the movie contained, especially during the battle between Mewtwo and Mew, and Ash Ketchum’s near-death experience that made every fan cry (and it still makes me cry to this day). Despite that, it received a rating of G (General Audiences). A PG rating would have been sufficient for the amount of so-called “fantasy” violence, but it boggles me now as an adult that it was awarded the lowest rating.

Another factor was that the theme was easily misinterpreted as a religious prophecy. When Mewtwo came to the conclusion that the fighting between Pokémon and their clones was wrong, he realized that “fighting to the death is a fight no one can win”. Children could easily grasp the fact that fighting is okay as long as it is never-ending, but parents would disagree. As someone who saw the movie at nine years old, I was only fascinated by the powerful clone fights between the real Pokémon and their clones.

However, some parents wouldn’t allow their kids to see this movie as it was rumored to show “acts of evil”, as well as “defying the bible”.

Before the start of the movie, it began with Pikachu’s Vacation, an animated short that depicts of Pikachu and his Pokémon friends visiting Pokémon Square while Ash, Misty, and Brock were taking a rest in the background. It was an all-Pokémon animated short, which was a great change of pace. I was delighted by the sounds of “Vacation” by Vitamin C, as well as the introductions of several Second Gen. Pokémon.

The short was a feel-good story, as Pikachu and his friends clashed against his rival Pokémon Snubbull, Marill, Raichu, and Cubone in several competitions, including a race that led to an unfortunate accident for Charizard. Luckily, with a bit of teamwork and setting each other’s differences aside, every Pokémon stepped in to help.

To conclude, it’s a great first movie for Pokémon, and I’m happy that I still own the original VHS copy. I do plan to show it to my future kids no matter what. Despite all the critics who thumbed down the movie, I still watch it for the nostalgia. To me, the theme has always been “people will turn around for the better”.

Score – 8.1/10

Edited by bobandbill and Rabinov.