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POKEMON

SYNOPSIS:
A group of scientists succeed in creating a super Pokemon (Pocket Monster) from a DNA sample of legendary Pokemon Mew. Possessing supernatural powers, the new creature, Mewtwo, rebels against his creators and vows to take revenge on the world. Mewtwo's invites a group of talented Pokemon trainers to his island headquarters with the intention of cloning their monsters and setting his duplicate army against them. With friends Misty and Brock, trainer Ash Ketchum (Veronica Taylor) travels to Mewtwo's island, unaware of the danger in store. With the help of his favourite Pokemon Pikachu (Ikue Ootani), Ash faces up to Mewtwo in a battle to save his beloved Pokemons and the world.

"OK, I trawled through dozens of the hundreds of internet sites dedicated to the Pokemon phenomenon but do you think I came any closer to understanding what it's all about. One thing I do know is that kids love Pokemon for reasons that include the fact that parents and teachers can't figure it out. So let's go with what's up there on screen. First, a ten minute warm-up film called Pikachu's Vacation, added to the bill presumably as a primer for adults unfamiliar with the Pocket Monster craze other than via what it's cost them at toy store checkouts. Creature introductions are made and Pokemon facts revealed while the loveable monsters engage in holiday hi-jinks. Then the main feature arrives with an ominous The First Movie under the title and a voice-over in the best educational film style. "Life is the great miracle and the great mystery...since the beginning of time humans and Pokemons have searched for its meaning." What follows is par for the course Japanimation with plenty of philosophising about the need for tolerance and harmony as the battle between the "real" Pokemons and their nasty clones is staged in a sports arena on Mewtwo's island hangout which has the same dank, greenish tinge found in The City Of Lost Children. The result is a sort-of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome monster mash, which has plenty of good scares for youngsters before the triumph of wholesome values and promises of sequels. For adults who haven't made the Pokemon connection with the kids this won't be as easy to sit through as Toy Story 2 or A Bug's Life, but provides enough distractions to be at least tolerable. The kids in the preview screening I attended seemed happy enough, although one did comment he thought it was a dumb idea for the monsters to be fighting each other."
Richard Kuipers

"OK. So I'm one of the lucky or unlucky ones (read it how you will) who, up until now, has somehow missed the entire Pokemon phenom. Call me a social philistine, but if you're like me, what you need to know is that Pokemon is the latest pre-teen fad that is sweeping the world - the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles of the late nineties. In a piece of brilliant marketing, it started with a Nintendo game then quickly followed with toys, a TV show, highly contentious swap cards (a child in the US was stabbed over one), and now Pokemon, The First Movie. Yes that's right, it's there in the title: the first movie. There are three ways to approach this review. As an adult, I found the pace excruciatingly slow with little to offer of the nudge and wink to the grownups variety that Disney and the Muppet people routinely incorporate. Impressive though was the film's message, that violence is wrong. This is a little hard to figure though, as the Pokemons (Pocket Monsters) seem to exist to fight. The second approach for the hapless reviewer is to find the seven year old within. This wasn't so difficult (say what you will) and I soon found myself enchanted by the cute characters and in there cheering for Pikachu and very sad that these Pokemons seemed to be treating each other so badly. The third and possibly best way to review such a piece is to recognize that it's made for a specific audience and watch their reactions. The kiddies in the audience were enthralled by every minute of it. Enough said."
Lee Gough

"It's said all great art is eventually debased. So it is that manga, once a subversive underground animation movement, is now co-opted into the service of children's entertainment. If you have no kids and haven't read a newspaper or seen a TV set for the past year, you might be unfamiliar with Pokemon; the phenomenon which began as a video game and has swept the world. Now the sensation comes to the big screen in this fairly standard tale of the Pokemons' battle against an evil force bent on world domination (aren't they always?). The animation is at times spectacular, especially some of the storm sequences. But (and don't tell my kids I said this) I found the Pokemon themselves maddening - especially Pikachu, the main one who has no vocabulary but to say "Pikachu" in various unnervingly cute tones. The story itself is quite simplistic, as you'd expect from a film squarely aimed at pre-teens. And yes, there is a message; but it's a very muddled one. Perhaps you need a better understanding of the Japanese psyche to grasp it, but I found its moral position confusing at best and hypocritical at worst. There is a fair amount of violence; and while most of it is fairly tame, it might affect younger kids. Pokemon - The First Movie will delight kids caught up in the craze; but there's not much here for adults. Hopefully the whole thing will fizzle out before we have Pokemon - The Second Movie inflicted on us."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 3

See our DVD REVIEWS

POKEMON (PG)
(Japan/US)
Animation

VOICES: Veronica Taylor, Racheal Lillis, Eric Stuart, Ikue Ootani

DIRECTOR: Michael Haigney, Kunohiko Yuyama

PRODUCER: Tomoyuki Igarashi, Takamoto Mori

SCRIPT: Takeshi Shudo, Norman J. Grossfeld (English version)

CINEMATOGRAPHER:

EDITOR: Toshio Henmi, Yutaka Ita, John Loeffler

MUSIC: Manny Corallo

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Katsuyoshi Kanemura

RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: December 16, 1999







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