DVD Review: Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

Following on from its limited cinema release last November, Manga Entertainment UK now brings us the ‘DVD’ release of Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You; but just how good is this DVD release and more importantly does the film hold up? Let’s find out in our review!

Synopsis:

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is an origin story highlighting Ash & Pikachu’s first meeting and their adventures as they search for the legendary Pokémon Ho – Oh.

The iconic pair encounter familiar faces along the way, new characters including Trainers Verity and Sorrel, and even a mysterious new Mythical Pokémon, Marshadow.

Challenges and epic Pokémon battles abound in this unique story about the beginning of one of the most beloved friendships in popular culture.

Our View:

Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is a film used to celebrate the franchises twentieth anniversary while at the same time retelling the origin story of how Ash Ketchum became a Pokemon Trainer and meet his best-friend, and first Pokemon, Pikachu. Unfortunately while the former might be true the latter can be heavily discussed and criticized through the use of new wannabe characters and an independent, rather uneventful, story that never existed until now.

Does this mean that Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is a bad film? Not exactly; but questionable director choices means that some parts of the film could have been presented a lot better. I’ll get to this later; but as mentioned Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is a film that focuses solely on Ash Ketchum and the beginning of his journey into the Pokemon world. For the most part this introductory sequence, of which lasts around ten minutes, perfectly recaptures the events of the first pokemon episode; albeit with the newer animation style and cameo appearances from characters featured within Pokemon the First Movie.

As such we see Ash late to collect his Pokemon, which in turn sees him introduced to Pikachu and his innate ability to take commands, as well as Ash trying to catch his first Pokemon – much to the amusement of Pikachu.  All of this builds up to the emotional moment which sees Ash protect Pikachu from a flock of Spearow, which in turn a bond between the two is formed – much like how it is presented from the original source material of the TV Anime.

So far, so good; but it’s here where the film takes a drastic turn of events as after witnessing Ho-Oh! Fly over head Ash receives a rainbow feather. Cue a remixed version of the “Gotta Catch Them All” Pokemon theme song and fans are treated to a montage which see Ash and Pikachu bonding over various playful locations as well as working together to catch their first pokemon, a caterpie, with the montage ending after Ash and Pikachu defeat Erika and her tangela in their third gym battle of there journey.

As good as this montage is, especially with the remixed ‘Gotta Catch Them All’ theme song playing in the background, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. In my mind this montage should have shown Ash and Pikachu defeating the other Gym Leaders and recapturing moments from the original TV anime, as doing so would have fulfilled the nostalgia for older fans and set the tone for the next portion of the film; the new story. Shortly after this montage we find Ash at a Pokemon Centre and he overhears that a legendary Pokemon known as Entei is in the area. Eager to encounter this legendary Pokemon Ash ventures off to look for it; which upon doing so meets Pokemon trainers known as Verity and Sorrel.

It’s revealed that Verity is a Pokemon Trainer from Twinleaf Town in the Sinnoh region (the same town that Dawn from Pokemon Diamond & Peral originates from) and is currently exploring the Kanto region to escape from her mother (I won’t spoil the surprise). Sorrel meanwhile is also from the Sinnoh region and is training to become a Pokemon Professor; but we don’t find these details until Ash and Verity rescue a Charmander from the rain and his arrogant trainer, later to be revealed as Cross. Yet again it’s another nod to the source material of the original series; but this time it is Sorrel who helps Ash in healing the injured Pokemon rather than Brock at the Pokemon Centre.

Now, with the main characters assembled, the true story of this film can begin; the search for Ho-Oh! and the meaning behind the Rainbow Hero. Confused? Well when Ash, Verity and Sorrel are nursing the fire-type Pokemon back-to-health Sorrel explains the legend behind the birth of Entei, Raikou and Suciune. Long-story-short Ho-Oh! created these Pokemon after a fire erupted at a bell tower in the Kanto region and that Ho-Oh! will award a rainbow feather to any it deems worthy of such an item. Those who have a rainbow feather, and are of pure heart, can head to a specific mountain and encounter Ho-Oh! for themselves.

After hearing this story, and for the remaining fifty minutes of the film, Ash, Verity and Sorrel begin a journey across kanto to learn more about the Ho-Oh! and the mysteries surrounding the rainbow feather; with the odd ‘nostalgia’ moment (such as the evolution of Caterpie to Butterfree) and notable battle thrown in for good measure. The film reaches its climax, if you can call it that, when the group reach the mountain and attempt to place the rainbow feather in its place; as the original trainer of Charmander arrives to take what he believes should be his.

A short battle later, one which newcomer Marshadow ends up controlling, and a questionable scene involving a talking Pikachu, Ash finally manages to do battle with Ho-Oh!; but even this is short lived with the scene fading out and our group of characters returning to the Pokemon center on where this whole scenario started.

Sure enough my summary of fifty minutes worth of film was notably shorter than the first forty minutes; but it’s not without good reason. Partly to avoid spoilers; but mostly because nothing noteworthy happens during this timeframe – as mentioned it’s a journey across the land with some nostalgia moments thrown in and a deceptive battle at the end.

Of course we do get a bit of back story for the characters that Ash is travelling with, but as they are not integral to the story it doesn’t really matter, and we do have some bizarre moment in which Ash dreams he is in a world without Pokemon. Not entirely sure why this occurs; but I assume it is something to do with his loss with Cross (charmanders previous owner) earlier in the film– although it is hard to imagine Ash hadn’t lost a battle at this point in the film seeing as he only has a maximum of THREE Pokemon and has battled against three Gym Leaders.

Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is one of those films where the more I think about it the more I begin to dislike it, which is a similar experience i had with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. For instance Team Rocket, yes they are in the film, are introduced through a wanted poster in a Pokemon Centre and then chase after Ash and Verity after they hear about Entei. What is Team Rocket’s agenda within the film? Nothing. They simpy follow Ash and Verity, then later Sorrel, in a bid to capture a legendary Pokemon; but never engage them – they are simply there to get thrown off screen.

Speaking of which the second time we see Team Rocket in the film we hear them shout “we’re blasting off again” despite the fact that it is the first time it has happened. Another example of potentially poor story telling is Cross; from my recollection Cross is completely unaware of the Rainbow Hero theory and that Ash has a Rainbow Feather, yet he spontaneously appears on the mountain ready to take the feather away in an attempt to challenge Ho-Oh! Why exactly? Because storytelling – and I guess the film needed a bad guy.

Another notable aspect of the fllm is that, much like newer seasons of Pokemon, the films context has been diluted with the prospect of death being insinuated but not expressed. For instance when Ash and Verity discover Charmander in the rain, Verity asks Ash “do you know what happens when Charmanders flame goes out” but the answer is quickly ignored with a scene change. Another scene meanwhile, which sees an emotional backstory of Sorrel and his families Luxray, once again has a scene change with the character trail off and say “I was afraid of Pokemon until I met Lucario”. Naturally these do not ruin the film, but – from a long time fan of the franchise – it does disrupt the experience slightly.

Regardless of the criticisms Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is a decent film and provides a completely new storyline; but it could have been a lot better.

Extras:

Unfortunately this DVD release of Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You does not contain any ‘on disc’ bonus features, not even the promotional trailers released by The Pokemon Company, however it does have 5.1 Surround Sound (in addition to 2.0 Stereo Sound) as well as English subtitles for the Hard of Hearing.

It is worth noting that this DVD release of Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You will also come with Pokemon The First Movie on a separate DVD inside the case; this means for one purchase you will be granted two different Pokemon films – the original and the latest.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:32:47
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English) & Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English)
Subtitles: English Hard of Hearing (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Celebrating twenty years of the franchise Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is a film that provides nostalgia and new experiences in a single package. It’s a film which recreates the first episode of the Pokemon TV anime, along with notable moments from the first seasons (such as Charmander’s Rescue and Butterfree’s freedom), and combines them with the improved animation style and a brand new storyline thats different and inventive. It’s a fun film that will please both new and old fans; but its not without a few issues and these are not just relegated to the progression of the story.

In regards to this DVD release by Manga Entertainment UK the disc is encoded in PAL format, so occasionally interlacing-styled-issues can be seen on screen. Furthermore during selective scenes, especially during the fight towards the end of the film, the frame-rate drops. I’m not sure if this occurred during its showing in the cinema (if so i must have forgotten), is intentional or is as a result of poor encoding; but it’s like playing a game on the PC and the frame-rate dropping to below 10 FPS whereby instead of a fluid animation it looks like individual pictures. Of course it could be intentional (i.e. a way of reducing the violence shown on screen); but it disrupts the experience and flow of the fight.

These are not the only disappointments either; as this DVD disc does not feature any supplementary content; but on the plus side it does have Hard of Hearing Subtitles (which can be comical when Pokemon talk) and 5.1 Surround Sound; a sound option which is missing on some other releases of Pokemon titles.

Overall this DVD release of Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is average at best but disregarding the issues I experienced it’s an acceptable release that brings the latest Pokemon film to DVD. Obviously the upcoming Blu-Ray should be better; so it will be interesting to see how that release will be presented.

Score: review-stars-3

Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is now available on DVD within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock 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, PS4 or Xbox One.

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