If I had to name one thing that has been consistent and is still relevant from my childhood, it would be Pokémon. I love Pokémon. I watched the anime series as a kid and I still play the handheld games. When I heard that Pokémon: I Choose You would be in cinemas, I leaped at the opportunity to see it.
Pokémon: I Choose You revisits favourite moments from the original animated series. Despite being nostalgic, Pokémon: I Choose You also adds new elements, new Pokémon and new characters to the film. Ash Ketchum returns but original series characters Misty and Brock do not. Instead we are introduced to two new characters; Verity and Sorrel that follow Ash on his journey to becoming a ‘Pokémon Master’. Along the way, Ash’s relationship with Pikachu becomes strained and Ash discovers he’s the ‘Rainbow Hero’ chosen to fight legendary Pokémon, Ho-Oh.
Whilst Ho-Oh is my favourite Pokémon legendary and I’m glad there’s finally a movie about him, this movie has many flaws.
For starters, Ash and Pikachu’s relationship being strained to the point of Ash abandoning Pikachu is completely out of character. It doesn’t matter how old you were when you jumped on the Pokémon bandwagon, everyone knows Ash wouldn’t abandon Pikachu the way he does in this film.
Ash and Caterpie/Metapod/Butterfree’s relationship isn’t as developed as it is in the animated series. While there were many scenes that were made to replicate the significant scenes from the original anime, time was not properly spent developing the amazing relationship Ash and Butterfree are supposed to have for each other. Which is a pity because the “Bye Bye Butterfree” episode is my absolute favourite from the entire series and I still cry when I re-watch it.
I did not feel that Ash’s friendship with both Sorrel and Verity were well developed either. We hardly know anything about their back stories and Verity was even reluctant to share her past. I’m assuming this was because the film didn’t want to go into detail about these characters and that Verity and Sorrel were merely cheap replacements for Brock and Misty.
The storyline was extremely hard to follow. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of Marshadow was in the film. And despite the film being mainly about ‘Ash meeting Ho-Oh’, we didn’t even get to see them battle it out at the end which is the whole point of Pokémon, isn’t it?
During the credits, the past companions of Ash make a brief appearance, not to interact with Ash, but just as smiling photos which made me mad. If they can have these characters in the credits, I don’t understand why they couldn’t have these characters in the actual film.
Lastly, I found it weird and disappointing that Team Rocket did not interact with Ash and his new friends. They seemed more like side characters and did not influence the story at all, as if they were an afterthought. Team Rocket‘s bickering and interaction with Ash and his friends are some of the most joyous and hilarious moments in the animated series. But nothing happened between them in this film. Nothing.
The art and animation of this film is impressive and made me realise how far we’ve come since the original animated series which first screened 20 years ago. But even the most beautiful animation can’t save flawed content.
I really wanted to like this film, but it just destroyed my childhood. The film started strong, but the weird teleportation scenes and Pikachu talking put the nail in the coffin for me. Ash’s Pikachu doesn’t talk! I’m pretty sure everyone in the cinema felt unpleasant and were in disbelief when that scene happened. The only good part about this experience was obtaining a Pokémon card which was complimentary with your ticket that comes with a QR code for upcoming games Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and enjoying the Pokémon “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” theme song at the beginning of the film. That was it. I still love Pokémon but would choose to re-watch the original series over seeing this film. I never want to watch Pokémon: I Choose You ever again.