POKÉMON THE MOVIE: GENESECT AND THE LEGEND AWAKENED (2013) is the seventeenth Pokémon movie and the last one in the "Best Wishes" ("Black and White") series that's been running on TV in Japan since 2010 and in the U.S. since 2011. This time the regular protagonists' adventures take them to New York City and a brand-new Pokémon sanctuary established right in the middle of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan, making this the first time the Pokémon crew has traveled to this reviewer's hometown. It's much more of a solid action-adventure than usual for these movies, with far more Pokémon-vs.-Pokémon action than we've seen in a long time. In fact, the main characters of Ash Ketchum and his ever-present Pokémon sidekick Pikachu take something of a back seat here as the formidable MewTwo, a talking cat Pokémon created in a lab and first seen in the first Pokémon movie 15 years ago, takes on the major fighting role as he seeks to protect other Pokémon from the invading Genesects, a party of five extinct Pokémon recreated from fossils in yet another lab and then set loose on a destructive path into the world. One of the Genesects disdains fighting and laments that it just wants to go home. It soon bonds with Ash and his party and paves the way for some climactic mediation with the Red Genesect, the ruthless leader of the invaders.
MewTwo is quite a powerful creature and makes for a good match against the Genesects. Their fights dominate the film, although the other Pokémon in Central Park threatened by the invasion stand up for themselves as well, especially a muscular Feraligatr, a bipedal alligator-like Water-type Pokémon who bravely leads the resistance. It's quite a stirring sight to see an army of wildly different Pokémon fighting back entirely on their own initiative. Most of the Pokémon counterattacks take place under Central Park inside a massive power station which serves as a new nest for the Genesects. Meanwhile Red Genesect and MewTwo take to the skies over Manhattan and have some spectacular nighttime battles, slamming into high-rise buildings with alarming force. The action culminates in a high-speed trip to outer space for MewTwo and Red Genesect that leads to an unusual and highly suspenseful finale.
There's only one new human supporting character in the cast and that's Eric, the caretaker of the sanctuary, Pokémon Hills, and apparently the only one on duty when the Genesects threaten the power station and cause blackouts in parts of the city. Eric comes up with the solution that satisfies the Genesects' ultimate needs, so he plays a major role, but there isn't a lot of downtime for Ash and his friends, Iris and Cilan, to socialize with him, other than a quick meal of hot dogs, a "local specialty," as Eric tells them. Team Rocket, the series' set of regular, hapless villains (Jessie, James, and Meowth), plays a greater role in this film than they have in any of the last few films, although their efforts, as usual, come to naught.
The production design of the New York backgrounds is breathtaking, with shots of Central Park and the towering Pokémon Hills complex arising from within sprinkled throughout the film and seen at all hours of the day from afternoon to dusk to nighttime to dawn. (The story pretty much takes place over the course of a single day and night.) There is one shot of Times Square that perfectly captures the 21st century BLADE RUNNER-style configuration of giant screens and moving images arranged in sprawling formations that shower light on the area 24 hours a day. This isn't TAXI DRIVER's Times Square. The only significant difference from the actual Times Square is the predominance of Japanese lettering. (Truth to tell, the film never actually identifies the city by name.) Also, Central Park is a highly unlikely place to build a power station, particularly one that, according to Eric, powers the entire city.
This is the last movie in which we'll see Ash's "Black & White" companions, Iris and Cilan, since they're leaving the series as Ash moves into a new season, "Pokémon XY." I, for one, won't miss them, since their schtick has changed very little since they were first introduced over two years ago, with Iris constantly berating Ash for being "such a little kid" in that grating voice of hers (at least in the English dub) and metrosexual Cilan constantly waxing rhapsodic by means of forced foodiecooking metaphors to describe everything he sees. (Too bad Cilan doesn't simply stay in New York, since he and Eric seem to hit it off.) Where are Misty and Brock when we need them?
I happen to enjoy the annual Pokémon movies and while I think the best of them are found among the first seven (up to and including DESTINY DEOXYS, 2004), there've been some good ones in the last few years, with this film standing out as one of the better ones. If I have any criticism it's that it doesn't give Ash and his friends a scene where they get to explore New York and see some of its famous sights. A tourist sequence would have made this outing just perfect.
The movie was released to theaters in Japan on July 13, 2013 and was first shown in the U.S. in an English-dubbed version on the Cartoon Network on October 19, 2013. It was released on DVD here on December 3, 2013, marking the shortest period of time ever between a Pokémon movie's Japanese release and its arrival in the U.S. In the past, I'd been accustomed to seeing the Japanese version of the movie well before its U.S. release. As of this writing, my Japanese video store in Manhattan still hasn't gotten the Japanese version.
Review by BrianDanaCamp from the Internet Movie Database.