Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! [rating=4]
Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You! takes viewers back to where it all began, as 10-year-old Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town sets off on his journey through the Kanto region to become a Pokemon Master in a retelling of the first episodes of the Pokémon: Indigo League series. I will warn that this review will contain some spoilers so look away now if you are looking to avoid them.
Ash is introduced to Pikachu, the electric-type Pokémon, who at first is completely disobedient and reluctant to join Ash on his journey. After being attacked by a flock of aggressive Spearow, a flying-type Pokémon with a bad attitude, Pikachu saves them both by using a powerful enough thunderbolt to scare them away. it is at this point in the film where viewers are introduced to the Legendary Pokémon known as Ho-oh whom viewers may remember briefly appearing in the first ever episode of the Pokémon anime and never being shown again. As Ho-oh flies overhead it drops a Rainbow Wing, an incredibly rare item bestowed only upon those Ho-oh deems worthy of becoming the “Rainbow Hero”. The pair continue on their journey and meet trainers from different regions, Sorrel from Veilstone City and Verity from Twinleaf Town in the Sinnoh region. With his new friends, Ash sets out to once again encounter Ho-oh and challenge it to a Pokemon battle to prove his worth as the “Rainbow Hero”.
I had a lot of fun with Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You!, so much in fact that I saw it twice. It’s a lovely commemoration of the Pokémon franchises 20 years that has a lot of heart and brought back such fond memories. That said, while I enjoyed most aspects of the film the pacing was quite lacklustre which left no room for new character development. The plot is simply a retelling of the original episodes squeezed into an hour and a half of screen time so the pacing is pretty forgivable. The scenes they chose to retell were some of the shows most emotional. We see Ash say goodbye to Butterfree as it goes off to be with it’s kind and hello to Charmander (who throughout becomes Charizard), a Pokémon that was left to die in the rain by it’s awful trainer, Cross. They gave Charmander’s story a lot more detail than they did in the show as Ash on a few occasions crosses paths with Cross and each time they do battle Charmander evolves – wanting to prove to Cross he was not worthless. It’s a nice addition to the story and they decided to ditch Charizard’s disobedience which while it may annoy long time fans, it does work well in this version of the story. One thing I wish they did differently however is Team Rocket’s inclusion in the story, because they were only in it for a very short amount of time for comic relief and Ash never actually meets them. There are also more Pokémon from other regions throughout Kanto in this film which I was pleased to see. If you grew up playing (or still play!) Pokémon you’ll know that in every new game a new generation of Pokémon are introduced so the total number of Pokémon got higher and higher every couple of years, yet, the Pokémon from other regions were rarely shown in Kanto. Now that there a six more generations of Pokemon since the anime first aired we have a whole cast of new Pokémon appearing in Kanto and it’s great to finally see.
My biggest pluses for the film is it’s stunning new animation style and original music score. Both are beautiful and something they should continue for any future Pokémon titles and the animation is visually a lot more appealing from what we’ve seen previously. They make some changes in the film that maybe weren’t a great idea, with one being met with groans by most people in my cinema hall. In one scene Ash has a near death experience and during this a delirious Ash hears Pikachu speak to him in unfortunately the most cringey voice they could have went with. Personally I’d have liked if they just didn’t have Pikachu speak but I get where they were going with it. The theme of the movie is undoubtedly friendship and the words he speaks fit well with that, but sometimes actions speak louder than words…
Overall I’d highly recommend checking out Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! It’s a delightful trip down memory lane for long time fans of the series, but also very accessible for newcomers. I saw the film with friends who had never watched the original or played the games and they really enjoyed it for it’s fun battles and stunning animation.