“Welcome to the world of Pokémon!” This is how the last 15 or so Pokémon movies have started, ever since the western release stopped including Pikachu shorts. With 20 years of history behind the series, including games, a TV show, and card games, I feel certain that you have heard of this Mamoswine of a franchise. So let us jump into Manga UK’s release of movie 19, and see if it’s as marvellous as the coat of a ferret.
Warning: Review contains more Poké-puns than you can shake a Turtwig at.
Set in the XY period of the Pokémon series, we see our main characters Ash, Serena, Clemont (It hurts me to type that name as someone that has had a preference for the subtitled version for the last 9 years) and Bonnie having a mock battle whilst camping out in a nondescript location. Suddenly they are interrupted by the mythical Pokémon Volcanion impacting the ground like a meteor after a heated battle against a yet unnamed character. From this battle, Volcanion has had a green ring attached to their leg and another stuck to the bottom of their foot, which after the impact clips around Ash’s body. These rings are electromagnetically charged so that if they are further than a certain distance apart, they will pull themselves together for a short period.
At this point, everyone should understand where this film is going; as Volcanion hates all humans, they needed an unavoidable way to force Ash to tag along on the main plot of the movie, this ring solves this. The main problem with using an electromagnetically charged ring to do this is that it makes no sense whatsoever. Even ignoring the fact that the reason given for the rings to function like this doesn’t actually explain anything, as even if they did attract each other, reaching a certain distance apart wouldn’t cause them to become powerful enough to pull a 10-year-old child hurtling through the air. Also, why did the villain at the beginning throw two rings at Volcanion? If they attract each other after a certain predefined distance, you would think that he was trying to stop the Pokémon from moving by trapping its legs together, but the activation distance is several times wider than Volcanion itself, so the rings wouldn’t have done anything. If Ash wasn’t the kind of protagonist that would jump on the back of a mythical Pokémon to try and help it with its problem, I could forgive this, but he’s done it without the assistance of a plot ring before, why not do it again to remove the contrivance?
Anyway; the main portion of the movie is focused on first retrieving a mythical Pokémon called Magearna, then taking it a place that Volcanion guards. Badly paced slapstick humour involving using Ash as a yo-yo, because of those wonderful rings, happens constantly throughout the run-time. The rest of the journey is filled with the phrases “I hate humans” and “Not all humans are bad” on constant repeat. Did the writer of this film not watch the first movie? Mewtwo had the same feelings towards humans and this film hasn’t handled the subject any better, or in a unique enough way to create an interesting dynamic.
As a consumer who immediately chooses to watch subtitled anime over an English dub, I went into this movie expecting it to be quite bad on the audio side. I was right, why hasn’t the quality of the Pokémon dub improved since the 90s? We aren’t talking Kyle Jones of Sentai bad, but any character that isn’t one of the main four, or a Pokémon, sounds as if they are a piece of cardboard talking to a brick wall over the phone. How am I supposed to feel when we find out the young prince is being tricked into working for the bad guy? The emotion in the voices made me think that after the scene he was introduced, we would never see him again as they had put no effort into the performance to convince me otherwise.
I would love to write a full in-depth analysis as to why the best characters in the franchise, Team Rocket, stole the show again and had a bunch of fourth wall humour, helping Ash save the day when he’s at his lowest. None of this happens. They are used in the laziest fashion; Meowth the Pokémon translator, only useful if you want to know what another Pokémon is saying, it’s not like he has a deep personality and would do more than cry and get captured. Even if Jessie and James tried to mount a successful rescue mission instead of being forced out of the story as terribly as they were pushed in, there would’ve been something to make this film enjoyable to a long time fan.
No bonus features are included in this release, but unlike Manga’s previous Pokémon Blu-rays, the 5.1 audio track has been included alongside the standard 2.0 track.
Volcanion and the mythical marvel has not given me any reason to give a Hoothoot about any aspect of it and insults my intelligence by thinking that panning shots of happy Pokémon having fun is enough to keep me entertained. If you are like me and still watch the Pokémon movies because you’ve watched the other 18 before this, and don’t want to be called a quitter, then go for it, you won’t die by watching it, and at least worst girl Serena is all but irrelevant in this tale in the world we’ve all grown up watching.