Pokémon: I Choose You! Review

(Beware! Movie Spoilers ahead. You will be upset if you read any further)

Pokémon has been one of my favourite shows growing up in the 90’s. I remember when the show first aired back in 1997, I was religiously hooked. If you were there with me from the start, I bet you memorized all 151 Pokémon which included the mighty Mew & Mewtwo.
Now it’s 2017 and to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon, a new feature film Pokémon: I Choose You! has been made. The film’s storyline is about the start of Ash’s journey to becoming a Pokémon Master, reflecting the first episode of season one of the show. The movie focuses on the relationship between Ash and his Pokémon, especially his first one, Pikachu.
The movie showed in theaters this past weekend on November 4-5. The film was SOLD OUT on both days; luckily I purchased my family’s tickets a month in advance.

 

(Video Source: Pokémon)

What did I think of the movie?

This is where the SPOILERS come out. After watching the film, I was disappointed on so many levels. There was this one moment in the movie that made the whole theater erupt with disbelief. I will get to the part later in this review. The overall movie was a 5/10 for me, and my kids felt the same way also (ages 10 & 11). My kids have watched all the shows and featured films in the Pokémon franchise, so their rating is fair.

Before I list my apparent disappointments with this film, read the full synopsis of Pokémon: I Choose You! You need to know this version of the story to understand what I will be going to reveal to you.

Movie Synopsis

Ash Ketchum wakes up late one morning after having tossed his alarm clock in his sleep. He makes it Professor Oak’s lab but is told that the three starter Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander) have already been taken by trainers who were on time. However, Oak reveals that he has one more Pokémon, an electric type named Pikachu. Despite its volatile and feisty personality, as well as its refusal to get inside a Pokéball, Ash happily takes the Pikachu for his journey. Outside of Pallet Town, Ash encounters a Pidgey. When Pikachu refuses to fight it, Ash tosses a rock at it, but it hits a Spearow that mistakes Pikachu as the culprit. Soon, more Spearow shows up forcing Ash and Pikachu to run. Injured and tired, Ash tells Pikachu to get inside its ball, but it once again refuses. Instead, Pikachu defends Ash from the Spearow by summoning a large thunderbolt that scares them away. As the storm ceases, a Ho-oh flies above and drops a feather called the rainbow wing. Ash and Pikachu decide to meet the legendary Pokémon.

During their travels, Ash catches a Caterpie, and the group eventually settle at a Pokémon Center. A trainer bursts in claiming that it encountered an Entei, a legendary fire Pokémon, causing Ash, as well as several other trainers, to rush into the woods to look for it. Ash finds the Entei but ends up fighting over it with a trainer with a Piplup named Verity. They are also joined by an aspiring professor named Sorrel who uses a Lucario to fight. When Entei escapes, Ash and Verity get into an argument and Sorrel leaves telling them that they need to find shelter soon. As Ash and Verity fight, they accidentally disturb an Onix that starts chasing them. They manage to get it to leave just as it begins to rain. As they look to find shelter, they find a Charmander that has been left out. They quickly learn that it belongs to a ruthless trainer named Cross who, along with his Lycanroc, left it out in the rain. He carelessly refuses to take it back, calling it weak, and Ash and Verity are forced to find it shelter.

They come across a cave where Sorrel and Lucario just so happen to be and help Charmander back to health. Entei and several other Pokémon arrive to sleep for the night, and Ash reveals the rainbow wing. Sorrel reveals that the Ho-oh only gives the wing to the “rainbow hero” who is destined to fight it as a shadow Pokémon, named Marshadow, watches. The next morning, Ash convinces Charmander to join them. The group venture on with Caterpie evolving into a Metapod and Charmander evolving into Charmeleon. Sorrel studies more about Ho-oh and the legendary Pokémon while Verity spots Suicune. Eventually, while battling other trainers in town, Cross returns and challenges Ash’s Charmeleon with his Incineroar. Charmeleon is savagely defeated causing Ash much grief.

Upset over his loss, Ash openly admits that he could have won with Pikachu and later states that he wish he had gotten Bulbasaur or Squirtle. Alone in the woods, Marshadow puts Ash in a sleep-like state as the wing turns dark. Ash has a dream where no Pokémon exist, and he attends regular school with Verity and Sorrel. Realizing something is missing, he remembers Pikachu and wakes up to his friends, and the wing regains its color. After escaping some angry Primeape, Metapod evolves into Butterfree. They rescue a pink Butterfree from a Fearow and realize that Ash’s Butterfree needs to mate. Saddened but happy, Ash lets his Butterfree go. The group soon spot Raikou and realize they are getting close when the wing begins to glow in the direction of Mount Tensei.

The group make it there and meet Bonji, an old researcher who has been studying Ho-oh. They make it to a crystal-like structure but are interrupted by Cross who wants to fight Ho-oh himself (he too saw Ho-oh, but it did not give him the wing). Cross’ Incineroar fights Ash’s Charmeleon which quickly evolves into Charizard and defeats Incineroar. Cross, refusing to accept his loss, grabs the wing and places it on the crystal, but it turns dark causing Marshadow, Ho-oh’s agent, to turn the local Pokémon evil and attack Ash and his friends. The trainers fight back but are overcome by the severity of the situation. Ash once again has Pikachu get in its ball as the Pokémon destroy Ash, turning him into pure energy as Marshadow notices the wing has disintegrated.

However, Ash finds himself in a grey world but is brought back, presumably through Ho-oh’s power when Ash protected Pikachu. Ash takes the newly formed wing and places it on the crystal structure. Ho-oh arrives and Ash challenges it with Pikachu to battle. However, the outcome is never shown. The gang return to the Pokémon Center as Bonji states that Ho-oh will find a new trainer to leave its wing with. Cross leaves on good terms with the group and eventually Verity and Sorrel leave to achieve their own dreams. Ash and Pikachu decide to continue their journey in the world of Pokémon.
(Source: Wikipedia)

 

Reasons why I rated the movie 5/10

 

  1. The pace of the movie was sped up several times, only to realize that nothing was accomplished. Ash still needed a lot of gym badges to become a Pokémon Master.
  2. In the anime, Ash met Misty and Brock at the beginning of his journey and in this movie he met Verity and Sorrel.
    Photo Credit: Pokémon

    Photo Credit: Pokémon

  3. The Pokémon theme song was renewed! I think the original had more energy to it. Listen and see for yourself.

    (Video Source: Pokémon & Jimmy Paige)

  4. The evolutions of Ash’s Pokémon happened too quick, and it wasn’t as cinematic and exciting as the TV series.
  5. Pokémon from every generation up to the current generation VII appeared in this movie. This was way before Ash could collect all of the gym badges originally from season one of the TV series. The timeline was messed up in this movie.

Now for the biggest upset that triggered everyone in the theater.

  1. In the scene near the end of the movie, Ash and Pikachu sustained a lot of damage from the attacks by the possessed Pokémon. Pikachu still refused to get in his Poké Ball, and then something shook the Pokémon world. Pikachu spoke to Ash!!! That’s right, Pikachu can speak! Ash said something along the lines of, ” Pikachu, why won’t you get into your Poké Ball?” Pikachu replied, “It’s because..… it’s because I always want to be with you.” The whole theater howled in confusion with a bit of cursing and WTF’s.

via GIPHY

Check out the actual spoiler footage of Pikachu speaking and more.

Courtesy of  Twitter user: @broderick

Final Thoughts

I feel that this movie was rushed and it didn’t capture the exact origin of Ash’s journey to becoming a Pokémon Master. The upsetting scene with Pikachu speaking ruined Pikachu’s image. To my knowledge, Meowth was the only Pokémon who could talk. There is also Mewtwo that could communicate, but he was doing it telepathically. Pokémon when they speak, say their names repetitively which only the trainers learn to understand. Too bad I can’t unsee that part of the movie. I remember another show that decided to make their characters speak and that was Tom & Jerry. When I’ve seen that episode, I was in shock, and I lost interest in the show.
I hope you enjoyed all the spoilers and my opinions on the movie Pokémon: I Choose You! Please share this post if you liked my review or comment below if you have something to add.