Ash, Misty and Professor Oak are invited to the mansion of Dr. Yung, a Pokémon scientist who has developed a machine to create Pokémon. However, he is kidnapped by a mysterious stranger who wishes to use the system to produce Pokémon with absolutely no weaknesses, and is enraged by the sudden presence of Mew.
Directed by: Masamitsu Hidaka
. Starring: James Carter Cathcart
, Michele Knotz
, Rodger Parsons
, Bill Rogers
, Bill Timoney
, Kayzie Rogers
, Diane Stilwell
, Rica Matsumoto
, Ikue Ôtani
, Mayumi Iizuka
, Yûji Ueda
, Kyôko Yamada
. Music by: Shinji Miyazaki
In my ongoing quest to destroy my childhood I have set out to (re)watch all Pokémon films, and see how they hold up now that I am an adult. As of writing, "Pokémon: Castle in the Sea" (as it should have been called) is still the longest film in the franchise at a not entirely justified 1h45m, and I must admit I was looking forward to this short intermezzo. I shouldn't have been, for it is awful.
The story opens the same way as the first film's did: with being invited by an enigmatic person who wishes to challenge him. Unlike in the first film, however, this invitation is the opening scene, and not preceded by 30 minutes of utterly redundant backstory.
Any relief is short-lived. Bad as "Mewtwo Strikes Back" may have turned out, at least it showed any production value. The animation here is on the same level as the TV show's, and a bit of a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, nothing shocks quite as much as the acting. How arduous would it have been to hire the same voice actors as usual for the dub? The cast has changed over the year, but this film sounds as if the translator's neighbours were invited to phone it in.
Strangely enough, I would recommend to watch the dub nonetheless. Staggeringly bad as the voice acting may be, at least it distracts in an 'unintentionally funny' way from the abominable story.
Ash and Co., as well as professor Oak and Misty, turn out to have been invited by an inventor who is so polite he introduces himself to a man he has already met, 'Yes Oak, it's been too long. My name is Dr. Yung.' The doctor has created a device that can create 'mirage Pokémon' by use of their DNA, and challenges the trainers to fight them. However, a masked villain, the 'Mirage Master', takes control of the device for his own sinister goals and must be stopped. I wouldn't dare give away the Master's identity, but since he covers his face, it is obviously someone the audience knows, and the film only introduces one new character, so do the math.
Then Ash goes ahead and stops him. That's all there is to it. Sure, the film takes a couple of detours involving Team Rocket and some legendaries -- because of the blood oath the creators have sworn that every film must contain at least one, -- but in the end, Ash goes to the Master, beats him, and that's that.
'Then what did you expect from a 45-minute TV special?' you may ask. To which I respond: "Mewtwo Returns." That film has better writing and pacing than any of the first four theatrical releases, and builded on the first film's themes without turning as indulgently melodramatic. This film is just bad and dumb.
"The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon" is presented as a 10th Anniversary Special and appears to have been cynically cobbled together for that event. Some have said it would have worked better a double episode, but even then it would have been bad. The animation is mediocre, the story awful and the acting atrocious. If you are not among the biggest of Pokémon fans or working on a silly retrospective like me, there is no reason to watch it at all.
Review by Shostakovich343 from the Internet Movie Database.