Blu-ray Review: Pokemon Movie Trilogy Collection

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Manga Entertainment UK continues to bring nostalgia to an older generation of fans and today we’ll be taking a closer look at their much-discussed Blu-ray release of the Pokemon Movie Trilogy Collection. Is it a set worth owning or is it best avoiding? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

For the first time ever! Collect the first 3 three classic Pokéemon Movies movies in one amazing box set.

POKÉMON: THE FIRST MOVIE:

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The adventure explodes into action with the debut of Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokémon created from the DNA of Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon of all. After escaping from the lab where it was created, Mewtwo is determined to prove its own superiority. It lures a number of talented Trainers into a Pokémon battle like never before—and of course, Ash and his friends are happy to accept the challenge! Ash’s excitement turns to fear and anger when Mewtwo reveals its plan for domination, creating powerful clones of our heroes’ Pokémon so it can even the “imbalance” between Pokémon and their Trainers. Despite Ash’s protests, Mewtwo refuses to believe that Pokémon and people can be friends. But faced with the determination and loyalty of a young Trainer, Mewtwo just might have to reconsider…especially when pitted against the power of the mysterious Mew!

POKÉMON THE MOVIE 2000:

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Just one person can make a difference…In the Orange Islands far south of Kanto, a Trainer named Lawrence is on a sinister quest: catching the Legendary Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres in an attempt to awaken Lugia, guardian of the sea! When Ash and friends arrive, the islanders ask him to gather three elemental orbs from different islands. As the weather across the world goes out of control, it becomes clear that the capture of the Legendary trio has thrown the environment out of balance! With Lugia’s help, can Ash find the orbs, restore the balance, and be the “chosen one” that everyone turns to?

POKÉMON 3: THE MOVIE:

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A crystal catastrophe is unleashed upon Greenfield, and Ash, Pikachu, and friends must figure out how to undo the damage to the once-beautiful town. But the unthinkable happens when Ash’s mother is kidnapped by the powerful Entei, a Pokémon thought to have existed only in legend. Now Ash must go to her rescue, uncertain of what he’ll uncover when he unlocks the real secret power behind the unbelievable turn of events: a young girl whose dream world is being turned into a nightmarish reality by the mysterious and unstoppable Unown!

Our View:

Everyone remembers the first time they ever saw a film at the cinema and for me seeing Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back in the cinema during 1999 was a memorable experience that I’ll never forget. It wasn’t just seeing the film on the big-screen that made it memorable but it was the pre-build-up, the promotion, the playground discussions and the endless times waking up early on a Saturday morning waiting for the next episode to be shown on SMTV Live. Everything built up to that one moment of seeing the film on the big screen, and when it happened it did not disappoint. Of course this is only relevant to the first film in this trilogy collection; but the memories were just as strong with the others when they received their theatretical releases.

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Fast-forward seventeen years later and Pokemon is making its triumphant return to home video courtesy of Manga Entertainment UK with the original trilogy, which consist of Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, Pokemon the Movie 2000: The Power of One and Pokemon 3: The Spell of the Unown, in the form of a single (steelbook) collection on Blu-ray. Three classic films, one epic collection and all beautifully presented in glorious 1080p High Definition. Despite being presented in high definition, and in some instances minor amendments to make it a better experience, these films are old and as such you should not expect crystal-clear animation like those seen in new releases of the Pokemon franchise. This aside the high definition quality is consistent with what you would expect and, unlike some HD remasters, it manages to maintain that authentic old-skool-feel of the film. All three films were originally released by WB Kids, a child-friendly-division of Warner Bros, and 4Kids! With each getting a theatrical release across the country and a home video release shortly after in the forms of VHS and DVDs releases.

Unfortunately none of the bonus materials presented on these DVD releases, such as the Pokemon Shorts! that were shown before the film in cinemas or the cinematic trailers for the film,  have been included but we do get to relive classic adventures of Ash, Misty and Brock (as well as Tracy) in films which have long-since gone out of print. I won’t go in-depth into each film, as you can get an idea of this from the synopsis above; but unlike recent Pokemon films they offer that ‘traditional’ movie pacing, with an introduction, a deception, some fighting, and a realisation before coming to its penultimate conclusion.  Furthermore unlike current generations of Pokemon films these movies actually make viewers question events that are transpiring, such as the creation of clones in the first movie or the isolation and depression one can find themselves in as pointed out in the third movie.

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Of course I could be looking ‘too deep’ into events of each film; but from my perspective each offer a deeper meaning than films released today which in some aspects are just used as promotional assets to sell merchandise. Yes these films are entertaining and fun to watch, as with all Pokemon films, but the story presented seems more theatrical than those released nowadays and give each film a sense of identity and purpose; even if you don’t realise it.

Of course nostalgia plays an important role; I grew up watching these films and the original anime series and as such it is a trip down memory lane; but to new viewers these films could seem alien with its different art-style and voice cast. Veronica Taylor and Eric Stuart are the main voice actors for these Pokemon Movies, as they were with most 4Kids Productions at the time, and so those who have only seen recent generations of Pokemon may seem like they are watching an unknown cast of actings lending their voices – which is not the case. It’s the original voice cast, in the original films, remastered in High Definition for a new generation of entertainment and thanks to Manga Entertainment it’s now available within a single ultimate collection.

Extras:

Unfortunately this Blu-ray release of the Pokemon Movie Trilogy does not include any bonus materials; however from my knowledge neither did the Australian or American releases of this trilogy (albeit maybe with the exception of a distributor related trailer).

Specs:

Media:  BD 25 x3
Region: B
Running Time:  1:14:25 (Disc 1), 1:20:04 (Disc 2), 1:13:26 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: N/A
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

There is no denying it; Pokemon is a big part of our lives and with this release of the original Pokemon Movie collection we can now reclaim parts of our childhood/history that was once thought lost in a newer more presentable format but unfortunately that’s only half of the story being told. These Pokemon movies use High Definition masters from Japan however as a result of this minor changes can be found between different versions of the film; most of which are just aesthetic pieces rather than any life-changing issues.

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A perfect example of this would be the opening and ending segments of the film as well as the films title after the opening segment. The first movie has an unaltered opening and as such not only does no text appear on screen, such as Animation Director, Story, Actors and such, but the ‘replicated scene’ from the original WB Kids version is not present (a scene which pans up Machamp twice in quick succession). Another example of minor differences would be the title of the film as during the third movie, specifically between 8:54 to 8:59, the film changes from – what I assume – to be an upscale of the original opening segment to the newer High Definition remaster (if you watch carefully between 8:58 to 8:59 the colours and environment change change from dark to vibrant colours). It’s worth mentioning that this was only noticeable on a Panasonic Blu-ray Player and not when viewed on my PC.  This is not a bad thing, as I have seen it done several times before with films of an older age, but it is something that is noticeable to those with keen eyes.

Ironically enough the changes just don’t stop there; due to music licenses expiring songs that were used in the ending credits for films have been replaced with generic music – a feat which I originally saw when CITV broadcast the films on TV several months ago.  Finally some ending animations, which display the credits and so forth, feel as if they were encoded for a 4:3 screen as opposed to a 16:9 transfer as at times they look squished and slightly obscure to read. Of course these are just minor inconveniences in to a collection that, from my recollection at least, costs less than one of the films at the time it was released all those years ago on a less dominant format.

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The Pokemon Movie Trilogy Collection is an ideal set for any fan, be it anime or Pokemon; but some advisories must be given. For starters the films are presented in Stereo only which is a big disappointment (from my perspective) considering that the original releases were in 5.1 (and 2.0) as well as the Australian of this set release featuring 5.1 audio on two of its movies. Another potential advisory is that the discs have been encoded by MangaUK themselves so not only are the chapter markings not as useful as you’d hope but the menu is rather bland and static (it features no background music at all). Ignoring these personal complaints then this collection is an absolute bargain that must be owned by all. It has three great movies, one large piece of nostalgia, and all of it is presented in a gorgeous looking steelbook that is sure to please any Pokemon fan in the world. It It’s simply a must buy.

Score: review-stars-4

Pokemon Movie Trilogy Collection is now available on Blu-ray, as a Limited Edition Steelbook Collection, and as a Standard Edition DVD Collection.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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