For all us fans of the Pokemon franchise, the release of a new movie is something we're all fairly excited about (not the Ryan Reynold live action one, but the anime one). Even for me, personally, although I haven't been following the anime since the Diamond and Pearl series, the movies are quite my way of catching up on what's new. It has been going on for 21 years now, at a rate of a movie per year, and this is sort of my gateway into the past, revisiting the series I loved so much as a kid. But are the movies really that great? Well, they're Pokemon movies. You just watch them to go on a nostalgia trip.
The 21st Pokemon movie titled "The Power of Us" is out on the web, and as excited as I was after watching the trailer almost a year ago, the excitement was still in me to check out what's new in the franchise. Now the Pokemon series hasn't done very well in the movie front. There were only a handful of decent Pokemon movies these last 20 years. The first movie "Mewtwo Strikes Back" is probably the most iconic and in my opinion, the best Pokemon movie made up to date. It had everything going for it, with a powerful storyline that was being hinted at and built in the anime series itself. Other notable movies were "Pokemon Heroes", "Lucario and the Mystery of Mew" and "Arceus and the Jewell of life". So that's just 4 out of 20.
Although Pokemon kinda made a smart move when they made the 20th movie, revisiting the origin of the protagonist, it didn't quite feel like the way it should have. The replacement of Brock and Misty with new characters, and the mother-of-all-cringe Pikachu talking scene, kinda held the movie back. But ever since the release of the teaser for the 21st movie, it was obvious that something was very different. It seemed more nuanced and this got me quite intrigued. So just as the movie was out on web platforms, I watched it.
I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed a Pokemon movie; something that I haven't done in a long time. The movie's success as a stand-alone movie, in my opinion, comes from intelligent decisions and good character development. The decision to change the drawing style was a good one. It was more striking that something looks different, and different might be good. This is also the only movie where Ash doesn't have his usual travel companions with him, which once again, I think is a good decision. The movie has 5 other supporting characters, all strangers, and all likeable. The lack of likeable characters has always plagued the Pokemon movies. But the way all of these characters were developed, each unique, each with their own goal, each with an obstacle they have to get over, and each with a realistic motivation. This sort of character development was a surprise, and the fact that the team behind the movie pulled this off should be commended. No character seemed forced or out of place, and each character had a purpose to be fulfilled in the plot (even Team Rocket).
Unlike previous movies, The Power of Us doesn't focus more on the Pokemon. Although the plot is centred around Zeraora and Lugia, the movie cuts back on the over the top action, while taking time to develop the characters and advance the story. This is quite a risky gamble, since the only reason we watch Pokemon is for the Pokemon, but this was a risk worth taking, because in my opinion, it paid off well. The awesome Pokemon action wasn't in any way compromised as the movie had its share of epic moments.
The movie did have a few flaws with the pacing and the dialogue (which I understand because the movie is aimed at kids). But the animation was smooth and beautifully done, and it makes the movie feel alive. The Power of Us is a very colourful movie, and I'll even recommend it to Pokemon fans who are sick of the series. Maybe this'll help heal the wounds left by hearing Mewtwo voiced by a girl :p.
This was not at all a perfect movie in any sense, but it manages to do a decent job to keep the audience engaged and actually take the plot seriously for once. In general, it might be a mediocre movie, but in Pokemon standards, it's quite good. This is a good direction in which the Pokemon company is heading. Let's see if the 22nd movie, "Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution" holds up the standard.
PS - This movie is only for Pokemon fans.
Review by isaacsundaralingam from the Internet Movie Database.