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. Guest critic Joel Siegel of Good Morning America stated on At The Movies that it was his worst film of 1999 while Roger Ebert's worst film of that same year was Baby Geniuses.
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
This only applies to the English version.
- The English version removed all scenes of 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 a bitter and misunderstood anti-villain who 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.
- This movie can get dark and take itself way too seriously.
- 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. Almost like that one Sonic game.
- All the original background music composed by Shinji Miyazaki was replaced by American style music composed by Ralph Shuckett.
- During the "big" battle, the Pokémon fight their own clones, but the viewers can't tell which ones to support since they all look incredibly similar.
- The characters try to hammer in the message that fighting is wrong, when the whole 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 cliched 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 cliched, but it is completely unrealistic.
- While not as bad as Pokemon Zoroark Master of Illusions later on, this movie can get rather mean-spirited at times. It repetitively shows us that Team Rocket are two-dimensional, treats Ash and his friends like total garbage, and there are several scenes where Mewtwo beats up Mew. Do you know how adorable Mew is?!
- Somewhat poor grasp of source material to how battles work in the original Pokemon games made for the Game Boy, one notable (and the more infamous) example is in 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 Pincher (a Bug-type), a Venommoth (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, that's not an issue, but there's one problem, Golem is part GROUND-TYPE, so he is IMMUNE to Electric-type attacks! It's worth mentioning that while the original cartoon series (and on words) did do a similar thing, those are few and far between.
- In the original version, most of the characters swear, and are changed in the dub. For intense after Ash defeated the trainer from the beginning of the film he says "OH MY GOD!", while in the dub he says: "OH NO!", and when Ash tries to free Pikachu in the original version, he says: "Damn it! Let go of me! Let go of my Pikachu!" while in the dub he says "Let go, stupid machine! Give me back my Pikachu!".
- Great animation with beautiful backgrounds.
- The soundtrack is still decent.
- The acting 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.
- Much like Tom and Jerry: The Movie, this movie has gained many sequels, and these (while a little bit flawed) are much better and are worth watching.