Pokémon: The Movie 2000

Directed by Kunohiko Yuyama (English soundtrack directed by Michael Haigney)
Starring: Voices of Veronica Taylor, Racheal Lillis, Eric Stuart, Ikue Ootani.
MPAA Rating: G

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
July 22, 2000

When the first Pokémon movie came out last year, I knew that the sequel had already been released in Japan. After seeing The First Movie (as it was audaciously subtitled), there was no future film that I dreaded more. Luckily, they made Pokémon: The Movie 2000 so much better, it's almost tolerable -- the key word being "almost".

If you're unfamiliar with the continuing Pokémon phenomenon, you can read my review of the last film for a quick introduction. This time, Ash and company are out to sea, but a horrible storm washes them up at Shimuti Island, just in time for the Legend Ceremony. Ash is given the honor of being The Chosen One by the island's leader, which means that he gets to collect the three spheres, each one from a different island, representing the elements of fire, lightning, and ice.

Little do they know that some British guy in a hovering lair is responsible for the weather. He's trying to collect the Pokémon that reign over each of the islands in order to capture Lugia, the great Pokémon of the sea -- the fourth and most powerful element. This causes bickering between the three island-based Pokémon, which has created a powerful undersea river, which has brought about this violent weather, ultimately drawing all the Pokémon in the world to this area. They are trying to save the world, and it turns out that Ash is not only the ceremonial Chosen One, but the real McCoy, and is alone responsible for the sake of planet.

You get all that? It's quite complicated, especially for a kids' movie, but at least it's a plot, which the first film lacked. The animation has improved as well, including some rudimentary, but effective, computer imaging. There is a deep connection to common mythology, which actually impressed me, but this film still can't get around the inherent emptiness of its subject.

Certainly, the kids shouldn't mind this. These movies only exist to give them a feature-length fix of Pokémon, which includes special cards given out at the box office. My concern, though, is for the parents, and not only if they will be able to sit through it, but whether it is the kind of film they want to take their children to. If the kids are into the craze, then reading this review would be pointless, because you have either seen the film already or will be forced to see it soon. If you are just looking for a good family film, this is one to avoid.

You should just go see Chicken Run, which is thankfully still hanging on in wide release. Unfortunately, its receipts this weekend will be severely depleted, so take the opportunity while you still can.

Opening Short: Pikachu's Rescue Adventure (a.k.a. "The Pikachu Exploration Party")
Just as last time, there is an all-Pokémon short to satiate the rabid children at the beginning. This one is also a major improvement over Pikachu's Vacation -- the worst animated short I have ever seen. This one steals heavily from Alice in Wonderland in the beginning, as Pikachu and friends take after Takopi and Meowth, who fall into a very deep hole. There is much cavorting, reminiscent of early Silly Symphonies, followed by an exciting rescue. The major detraction here is the lack of movement in the characters, many of whom only exist as still drawings taken directly from the trading cards. This is meant to promote the new cards that Nintendo had printed, which kills any enjoyment you could get from the short.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Poketto monsutaa: Maboroshi no Pokemon X: Lugia bakudan (1999) -- original Japanese title of feature
Poketto monsutaa: Pikachű tankentai (1999) -- original Japanese title of short

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (2000) -- VHS
Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (2000) -- DVD
The Art of Pokemon: The Movie 2000, by Takeshi Shudo and Hideki Sonoda -- Paperback
Revelation Lugia [IMPORT] -- Compact Disc

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan