Pokémon The Movie 2000


   The curse of the sequel is a well-known problem with movies, and considering the less than spectacular reaction to the first Pokémon film, Pokémon the Movie 2000 seemed more likely to be an Ikari Warriors 2 than a Terminator 2. Add in a tidal wave of critical bashing from the press, and you had one scared agent on his way into "Pokémon 2K."

    Ninety minutes later, you had one surprised agent.

   Pokémon 2K starts out with the animated short "Pikachu's Rescue Adventure," where Pikachu and his cohorts must rescue Togepi (a small egg-like Pokémon) after it rolls down a hill and into a cave. Though lacking the famed LSD sequences from last year's Pokéshort, which featured hallucinogenic backgrounds complete with sitar music behind strangely floating and chanting Pokémon, it does feel like a more polished piece of work. A larger variety of characters are used, including new stars from Pokémon Gold and Silver, and the pace is faster due to more action sequences. Most importantly, the same sense of complete randomness is in full effect.

    The main adventure, subtitled "The Power of One," kicks off with the echoing words of a demented Pokémon collector, Lawrence III. He makes an ironic villain for this uberfranchise and one that fits much more naturally into a story than the first movie's randomly destructive Mewtwo. His plot is to capture Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno, the three legendary birds of fire, lightning, and ice, respectively. This will throw the world's weather off kilter, and more importantly to Lawrence III, lure the mysterious Pokémon "Lugia" out of the ocean to be captured as well.

Lugia in action

    Meanwhile, Ash and the more familiar human heroes relaxing on a bucolic boat trip, joined by a green-haired couple that I didn't recognize. The movie wastes absolutely no time in hitting them with a storm, and the plot virtually never lets up from that point onward. Even the clichéd idea of Ash being "the chosen one" who can save the planet is established with such conviction that the viewer can easily play along.

    Gone are the anti-fighting speeches and melodrama that marked the first Pokémon movie, along with any introduction to the characters or the entire Pokémon concept. The movie plays it very straight, making a more satisfying experience for those who don't need a lesson on what a Pokéball is, but a much less accessible one for those who might. Hence the critical bashing of what is easily a more balanced and better-made film than the first - I doubt I would've enjoyed the movie if I was 45 and reviewed films for a living.

    Pokémon 2000 also displays a healthy amount of CG, and the impact when switching back to traditional animation is acceptably smooth. The animation quality is about what you would expect from Pokémon. Pikachu still looks the same and his lightning bolts still crackle with the same simple energy, all drawn in a basic and familiar style.

    The only real problem with Pokémon 2000 is that while diverting, it never tries to be much more than that - just diverting. It is a Pokémon movie, which means inevitable moments of tripe that may grate on the less patient viewer. Ash's mother makes an appearance, Misty repeatedly denies her feelings for our hero, and there is also a moment when Cloud, er, Ash must be convinced to lead the fight. Overall, though, there is a great deal less mugging and posing than one would expect, and even a few surprising lines that may have nothing to do with the plot, but are still hilarious. A reference to James's ambiguous sexuality is even left intact.

    Some of my enjoyment may have been drawn from the fact that the GIA's E3 photographer and I were the only ones in the theater, as the movie was still showing on two screens and the crowd had chosen the earlier show. But even if we hadn't made shadow puppets in front of the projection booth or egged two female characters to "get it on," the movie made for a fine way to waste an afternoon. If you should have more hours than ways to fill them, Pokémon the Movie 2000 comes surprisingly recommended.

Review by Ed McGlothlin, GIA.
Pokémon The Movie 2000
Producer 4Kids Entertainment
Distributor Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Genre Adventure
Running Time 99 minutes
Platform Movie
Release Date  07.17.99
Second Pokémon movie receives official title
New trailer / 42 new trailer stills
Japanese poster