Back when I was seven years old, Pokémon was my entire life. It is not even mildly exaggerated. From the moment I saw the first episode, I was hooked and on a quest to catch them all. When teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said Pokémon trainer. There was no other option for me. I wished with my entire heart that one day Pokémon would be real.
The first ever film I saw in theatres was Pokémon The First Movie. I recall being heartbroken that the theatre had run out of Pokémon cards, but still I adored every minute of the film. Fast forward two decades. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the film Pokémon I Choose You was released into theatres. A limited release, but when I saw this I just had to get some tickets. Luckily many of my friends also still love Pokémon, so we went to the theatre together.
The room was filled with 20-somethings. It was obvious that Pokémon was still very much alive. Basically, the film is advertised as a trip down memory lane and it starts with the first moment Ash meets Pikachu and goes on a journey together. However, they then disregard everything that ever happened in the anime. Ash sees Ho-Oh, receives a rainbow feather and must go on a quest to meet the legendary bird. He meets new companions and encounters Pokémon from other regions, which original Ash did not even know existed. I think the creators made a mistake doing this. It would have been much better if they had either chosen nostalgia or a completely new story. Now the film just missed the mark more often than not, which was a bit sad.
Apparently, our world is a nightmare
I Choose You has some genuinely sweet moments, and I found myself emotional especially near the end. Although it was a bit strange to hear Pikachu speak in a normal voice.
Another strange moment in the film was when Ash had a nightmare about a world without Pokémon. He just had to go to school like us normal people. It is kind of depressing that apparently the world we live in truly is fuel for nightmares.
The film also does not have a strong antagonist. Ash’s rival in this is your typical bad guy, and a legendary Pokémon said to protect the rainbow feather to make sure everything is ok, suddenly is against humans and wants to destroy them. That came completely out of nowhere and it seems like the creators could not make up their minds. Of course, it is a film which is aimed at children, but even so, attention to detail is important.
Team Rocket’s not really rocking
Many people in the audience were solely present in order to get their daily dose of nostalgia, but the fact that Misty, Brock or even Gary were not present was a missed opportunity. Furthermore, everyone’s favourite villains Team Rocket made a brief but forgettable cameo. It felt as if they were merely there because they had to be for Nostalgia’s sake. In the beginning of the anime, Team Rocket were not as comical as they were later on in the series, but the film disregarded that fact completely.
Pokemon I Choose You is an entertaining watch, but it feels more like a stretched episode of the anime than an actual feature-length film. Only if you are a die-hard Pokémon fan (regardless of age) will this be worth watching.