Pokémon: The First Movie
When the first film in a proposed series has a subtitle that sounds like the name of a sequel, it's a pretty good sign that it's not meant for mass consumption. That's certainly the case with Pokémon: The First Movie. Subtitled (or would it be sub-subtitled?) Mewtwo's Revenge, this one's strictly for the almost literally cult-like following that has developed around the imported Japanese cartoon, video-game, trading-card, and toy phenomenon Pokémon, which presents an alternate universe in which the main task of children is to train portable monsters to fight one another. (The real-world result has been, appropriately enough, a large group of children whose main task seems to be to train highly marketable toy versions of the same.) In this big-screen adventure, differing from small-screen Pokémon adventures primarily in the size of the images presented, the always-excitable Ash (voiced by Veronica Taylor) and his faithful companion Pikachu receive an invitation to a small island ostensibly to participate in a pokémon tournament. In fact, the tournament turns out to be an elaborate scheme on the part of Mewtwo ("the most powerful pokémon of all"), the cloned reincarnation of the extremely rare pokémon Mew. Mewtwo's revenge consists of cloning the most powerful pokémon in existence as part of his plan for world domination. Can he be stopped? And what role will the nefarious Team Rocket and its sass-talking pokécat play in the proceedings? It's difficult to imagine anyone not already immersed in the pokéverse, or over the age of 10, caring, but it's also hard to imagine the faithful feeling disappointed. Even so, a scene in which a crowd of pokémon learn the value of cooperation set to the Blessid Union Of Souls' song "Brother My Brother" doesn't exactly take the fusion of animation and music to Fantasia-like levels. Pokémon: The First Movie is preceded by the short Pikachu's Vacation, in which Pikachu takes a much-needed vacation.