Pokémon: The First Movie (also referred to as Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, originally released as Pocket Monsters the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back! (劇場版ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲 Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā: Myūtsū no Gyakushū), is a 1998 Japanese anime film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, the chief director of the Pokémon television series (who would later direct the long-running series of Pokémon films), based on the video game franchise of the same name.
It was released in Japan on July 18, 1998. The English-language adaptation, produced by 4Kids Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, was released in North America on November 12, 1999.
When a group of scientists are offered funding into genetic research, they agree to try and clone the greatest-ever Pokémon, Mew. The end result is a success and Mewtwo is born. However, Mewtwo is bitter about his purpose in life and kills his masters. In order to become the greatest, he throws out an open challenge to the world to battle him and his Pokémon. Ash and his friends are one of the few groups of trainers who pass the first test and prepare for battle. However, they soon find out about further cloning and Mewtwo's ultimate plan for the Earth.
Why It Sucks
The majority of these points only apply to the English version.
- The English version removed all scenes from The Story of Mewtwo’s Origin, making the English version incredibly confusing for both fans and critics alike.
- The English version of the movie uses footage from the Japanese "Kanzenban" version (basically a "Special Edition"), which, in addition to animation being redone, made certain objects and backgrounds that were originally hand-drawn into computer-generated effects, which can often feel out-of-place.
- The English version also changed Mewtwo's personality from the Japanese version. In that version, he was bitter, misunderstood, and was just trying to find a purpose in life. The English version changes him into a generic, over-the-top villain, just so that the kids could have a bad guy to root against.
- Poor grasp of the source material, only following the television show.
- Extremely crazy and confusing plot.
- The music is very out of place. "Brother My Brother" by Blessid Union of Souls is played while the original Pokémon and their clones fight, for instance.
- Being a 4Kids production, everyone talks like they're in the United States, being very out of place. In one notable instance, Ash references the NFL's Minnesota Vikings (Brock: "I didn't know Vikings still existed." Ash: "They mostly live in Minnesota.").
- Everyone's memories are erased at the end of the film. In other words, the film basically retconned itself out of existence (kinda like that one Sonic game).
- All the original background music composed by Shinji Miyazaki was replaced by American style music composed by Ralph Shuckett.
- The characters try to hammer in the message that fighting is wrong, even though the entire franchise is focused on fighting. This ends up making the whole movie absolutely hypocritical.
- The characters can get really annoying very quickly.
- There is a really clichéd scene near the end where Ash is killed by Mewtwo and turns to stone before the tears of the Pokemon revive him. Not only is it clichéd, but it is also completely unrealistic.
- Somewhat poor grasp of the source material as to how battles work in the original Pokemon games made for the Game Boy. One notable (and the more infamous) example is at the beginning of the film where Ash battles a random trainer, after losing two of his Pokemon, the trainer gets desperate and cheats by throwing all three Pokemon at the same time, those three being a Pinsir (a Bug-type), a Venomoth (a Bug and Poison-type) and a Golem (a Rock and Ground-type), Ash sends in his Pikachu and uses his Thunderbolt attack to OHKO all three of the trainer's Pokemon, Pikachu being able to knock out all three Pokemon in just one hit is not the issue as Pikachu is one of Ash's strongest Pokemon, but there is one problem, Golem is part GROUND-TYPE, so he is IMMUNE to Electric-type attacks! It's worth mentioning that while the original anime (and on words) did do a similar thing, those are few and far between.
- About 3/4 of the whole movie takes place in the same bland building.
- Great animation with beautiful backgrounds.
- The soundtrack is still decent.
- The action scenes are great.
- The voice acting is pretty good.
- While a bit dark, there are some good funny moments.
- While unoriginal, Mewtwo is still a fantastic villain.
- The scene where Meowth and his clone are about to fight, only for them to stop to think about what they're doing and understanding each other is a very touching moment.
- The battle between Mew and Mewtwo is awesome.
- After the film's release, Mewtwo became so popular that he appeared as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Melee and as DLC in Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U.
- Mewtwo realizes that he made a mistake joining Giovanni.
- The original Japanese version is far better.
- In the Japanese version, the Winds of Water legend did not exist. Scriptwriter Takeshi Shudou said in an interview that Satoshi (Ash) was not killed, and the Pokémon tears didn't revive him. Basically, he was paralyzed in a petrified state, and the tears cured him.
Pokémon: The First Movie currently holds a 14% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic consensus that reads "Audiences other than children will find very little to entertain them." Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film a two out of four stars and stated in his review "It's just a sound-and-light show, linked to the marketing push for Pokémon in general." On Roger Ebert & The Movies, Roger Ebert gave the film a thumbs down while guest critic Joyce Kulhawik gave the film a thumbs up. On Roger Ebert's Worst of 1999 program, guest critic Joel Siegel of Good Morning America deemed it as his worst film of 1999 while Roger Ebert deemed Baby Geniuses as his worst film of 1999.
Pokémon: The First Movie opened at #1 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $31,036,678. The film's domestic gross would later be $85,744,662. In foreign markets, the film made $77,900,000. Overall, it made $163,644,662 against its $30 million budget making it a box office hit.