Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 3/21/00
The First Movie
Mewtwo Strikes Back
1999 (2000) - Warner Bros.
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
96 mins, G, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered,
Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, feature-length
commentary by English adaptation director Michael Haigney and
producer Norman J. Grossfeld, production notes,
Pikachu's Vacation minimovie,
2 Pokémon essays, sneak
preview of the second Pokémon
movie (note: Lord help us!), music video of M2M's Don't
Say You Love Me, film-themed menu screens, scene access
(23 chapters - 8 chapters for Pikachu's
Vacation), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles:
English, French, Closed Captioned
"You have been
summoned to the ultimate Pokémon showdown!"
Where, oh where, do I begin? Pokémon:
The First Movie is released on DVD. That should be enough
information, but since I'm a DVD reviewer, I guess that means it's
my duty to fully review this disc. There's just one problem though.
IT'S POKÉMON! But that's OK. I can handle this - I think.
There is just one other thing though. Because I'm writing this
review under duress, I must unveil a new catch-phrase. Whenever
something makes absolutely no sense in the sane universe, I will say
"WHADAFRIK!?" Brace yourself. You're about to hear that
phrase a good many times.
We'll begin with a little explanation. I will try to make this as
understandable as possible to the Pokémon uninitiated, so
bear with me. Ash Ketchum is a Pokémon trainer. In other
words, he catches Pokémon (cute little creatures with special
powers) and trains them. Then, his Pokémon fight other
people's Pokémon. If you're a parent, you'll be reassured to
know that the cute little creatures never die. When they lose a
battle, they simply get exhausted and pass out. For those of you
affiliated with PETA, you'll be happy to know that the Pokémon
are not just slaves to be pitted against each other. The bond
between a Pokémon and their trainer is like that of best
friends. OK, everybody happy now? Good. Let's move on.
In this first film outing, we have Mewtwo. Mewtwo is a clone of
Mew, a fabled and all-mighty Pokémon. Mewtwo quickly turns on
his human creators and, with a bit of trickery, summons the greatest
of Pokémon trainers to his island. Ash happens to be one of
those great ones. The plot is revealed, but Mewtwo is too strong to
be defeated, so all of the Pokémon get captured and cloned.
The culmination of this little festival of fun is an epic battle
between the "Poké-originals" and the clones. I
won't ruin the ending for you (if it is at all possible to ruin
something like this), but a happy ending with an overstated moral is
what you'll walk away with. Children love this. My response is
Believe me, though, when I tell you that my wrath is not as much
with the movie but the treatment it got for DVD. Usually, we bash a
disc when it comes up short on the extras or if the video and audio
is poor. Not this time. You see, while a full-fledged campaign has
failed to garner us a single Star Wars
disc, this piece of cow dung got a feature-length commentary track!
Whadafrik!? While Kubrick's masterpieces could look (a lot) better,
this cartoon love-in looks great! Whadafrik!? A great piece of film
in Hoosiers gets a god-awful
new 5.1 mix, and Pokémon
sounds wonderful and all-encompassing. I have to say this again.
Whadafrik!? Do I sound frustrated? I am.
The details play out like this. The video transfer is full frame
only (and thus is obviously not anamorphic). This is understandable
given the target audience, and the disc looks solid. The colors are
vibrant, and grain isn't really visible. In fact, the
three-dimensional animation looks incredibly good. The story sucks
and the characters are down right annoying, but the animation is
great. The audio is good with a nice 5.1 transfer that really brings
the emotional impact of the soundtrack home. It pains me to say
this, but the music is entirely appropriate and effective.
The extras, however, are where this disc really shines. I'm
beginning to experience massive headaches, just praising this disc,
but I have to. Aside from the aforementioned commentary (why!?),
there is a solid if forgettable music video, some bonus footage
clips (which serve as promo material and nothing else), a preview of
the sequel, and the mini-movie (Pikachu's
Vacation). There's even a healthy dose of DVD-ROM
material here, with virtual trading cards, Nintendo game guides and
genre essays. The essays alone deserve a very robust Whadafrik!?
Look, this disc is fabulous from top to bottom. I cannot deny that.
What I can do is piss and moan about why THIS movie got picked for
all of this.
In the end we have a bad movie that children will absolutely adore,
with extras out the wahzoo that most kids will not even care about.
In the meantime, so many great titles are either MIA or sitting on
shelves with bad quality or no extras. I just can't get anything
more out than Whadafrik!?