Movie Review: Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

Set as an alternate universe retelling of Ash’s early adventure, branching out from his seeing Ho-oh in the first episode (from which the movie gets its name), Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is the twentieth movie in the Pokemon Franchise. Released as part of the Pokemon20 celebration, which I have written a bit about here, this film tells of Ash Ketchum (Sarah Natochenny, Ash’s second voice actor) as he begins his journey to become a Pokemon Master. Though Brock and Misty are not present as companions, Ash is joined by Verity (Suzie Myers) and her Piplup, and Sorrel (David Oliver Nelson) and his Lucario.

+ although the loss of Misty and Brock was a big gamble, I didn’t mind the chemistry between Ash, Sorrel and Verity. I guess they were essentially the same, with Sorell being the oldest, caring for the others. Ash and Verity even shared a similar rivalry Ash and Misty in the original anime
+ I really liked seeing new Pokemon in an old setting; Ash having never seen any Pokemon before, but there being Lycanroc and Lucario around was great, and it made the Pokemon world feel huge. Imagine having never seen a real Pokemon in person (sure, you’ve seen the championships on TV) but you run into a god-damn Onix in your first week. I wish Pokemon were real
+ the lack of a Pokedex, an intentional choice by movie director Kunihiko Yuyama was also really interesting, but more importantly it made sense. Because why would anybody know specifics about Legendary Pokemon enough to put them in a database for rookies
+ there were two surprisingly emotional scenes, which I certainly wasn’t expecting in this movie. One in particular will seriously tear your heart right out and stomp it flat

pokemonthemovie_ichooseyou_2
Ash and Pikachu ponder the Rainbow Wing, a gift from Ho-Oh

– Sorrel and Verity, in general, are “just companions”, in a way that Misty and Brock avoided. I know the latter two had entire seasons to flesh out their characters, but a single flashback each for these new friends was not really enough
– there is one scene towards the end of the movie that simultaneously explains a lot about the original anime, and completely flips things on its head. I won’t say anything more, but you’ll know when it happens

Should you see this film: As a Pokemon fan, this was a refreshing take on an old tale – a tale which is still going strong in the anime series. Ash my be more competent here, but we’ll have to wait and see how any sequels handle this new history. At the moment it just felt like a DC Comics style Elseworlds with little else to set it apart from any other Pokemon movie.

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