Pokemon: The First Movie

1999, Movie, G, 75 mins

Review

POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE | MEWTWO STRIKES BACK | POKEMON 1
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Okay, so it's anime, which gives it a certain built-in cultural cachet. And yes, the target audience is once and future eight-year-olds, which means it's sort of silly to criticize it for being anything other than what it is. All that said, it's pretty hard to sit through this feature-length expansion of the wildly popular kids cartoon series without having dire thoughts about late 20th century capitalism's apparently boundless ability to make people buy utter crap. The movie per se is preceded by "Pikachu's Vacation," a short cartoon in the style of the Pokemon TV show. What's it about? Hard to say, but we can stipulate that it features several pokemon — unbearably cute beasties with all the expressivity of colored tennis balls — getting in each other's faces and making incomprehensible squeaking noises while an annoyingly voiced narrator babbles inanities about their care and feeding. As an experience, this has all the hyperkinetic incoherence of a very bad acid trip. The movie that follows is more linear — in the sense that it sort of has a story, involving a genetically engineered, Frankensteinian pokemon — but it's equally brain dead, and the visuals feature the sort of badly animated explosions and highways that move while a car stands still that have been a staple of the Japanimation genre since the 60s heyday of Astroboy. In other words, this totally sucks. Oh, make no mistake, your kids are going to want to see it, but any adult who can sit through this shameless TV commercial masquerading as an entertainment experience without immediately joining the Communist Party is, frankly, morally dead. leave a comment --Steve Simels

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