Last weekend, I finally got around to watching a movie I've been curious about since I was less than ten years old, but procrastinated on actually watching: Mewtwo Returns.
It said Mewtwo would have to submit to the cruel rule of humans, or stand by and watch as its followers were executed.
I was a bit surprised by this, since it seemed rather dark for Pokemon. I was also intrigued, because it looked like it would be a stirring movie, and what little I knew of Mewtwo suggested that it was an interesting character.
There was just one problem: it was a Pokemon film.
To be honest, I was never fond of the show. I didn't watch it as a kid, so it never had a chance to gain a place in my heart before I was old enough to be bothered by the so-so animation, OK-to-terrible voice acting, and damage-as-the-plot-demands (as far as I could tell) battles.
Admittedly, I never really gave it a fair shake. A few pieces of episodes that I happened to catch while other people were watching it, and I was done. So despite my curiosity about Mewtwo Returns, it took me over 15 years to actually watch it.
Ultimately, Mewtwo Returns proved to be a credit to my powers of prediction. Despite my lack of familiarity with the franchise, it was almost exactly what I expected.
Mewtwo itself was the main point of interest. Its contemplations on the nature of a clone's place in the world, and of the moral dilemma of leadership - to force its followers to stay safe against their will, or to honor their freedom even if it endangers their lives? - made it the deepest and most thought-provoking character in the movie, and by far the most interesting one to watch.
I also liked the way it and Pikachutwo played off each other, with its dedication to peace and seclusion clashing with the smaller Pokemon's determination to fight for equal rights.
Unfortunately, most of the deep issues that I mentioned were only briefly glanced upon. Forced safety vs. dangerous freedom, peaceful retreat vs. fighting for one's rights... things like that, that could have made for some great character development, were touched upon, but never really explored.
Not that I really expected much depth from a Pokemon story, but I always hate to see potential like that wasted.
Another source of frustration came in the form of James and Jessie, who seem more like caricatures than actual characters. Jessie's brief imaginary romantic fling was fairly entertaining, but James annoys me every time he opens his mouth. His voice actor seems to be bending over backward to make his voice sound soft and mopey, in a way that sounds about as genuine as a 3-dollar bill.
The battles, such as they were, also bothered me. For being powerful fantasy creatures, these Pokemon SUCK at fighting. When the bad guys arrived, much standing around and getting hit ensued.
The animation, where it existed, was OK, but they seemed to avoid said animation as much as possible. If something could stay perfectly still, or change position relative to other things on the screen without actually moving, they did that in lieu of actually making things move.
In contrast to the carefully static animation, the movie's sole romance moved at a suspension-of-disbelief-breaking pace. I won't name the characters, but I WILL say that they spent a very small amount of time together, and suddenly he's staying with her.
If this kind of love story is what people are being fed as children, it's no wonder that so many people seem to expect relationships to just fall into place in the first few meetings. *Old fogey voice* Pokemon is corrupting our kids. :P
I enjoyed the parts of the movie that focused on Mewtwo, and tolerated the rest. It's an OK film - not great, not terrible - and while I'm glad I watched it, it certainly didn't change my mind about the franchise as a whole.
Now it's your turn to share your opinion.
Do you watch the Pokemon TV series and/or its movies?
What did you think of Mewtwo Returns?
I look forward to reading your comments.