Review: Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

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It's not the nostalgia trip that older fans were promised, but I Choose You! is a fun history lesson for the current crop of wannabe Pokémon Masters.

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I love Pokémon. I’ve loved it since that fateful day in 2005 when I first got my hands on Pokémon Emerald. It’s my favourite video game franchise and something I cherish from my childhood. However, Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! wasn’t made for the likes of me.

When I first saw the trailer earlier this year, I was hyped beyond belief. Pokémon was returning to its roots to tell a feature-length version of Ash Ketchum’s origins? Sign me up! It seemed like the perfect time to retell the character’s backstory too, the original Pokémon anime debuting exactly 20 years ago. However, while I Choose You! recreates a handful of beloved moments, it’s far from the nostalgia trip that was promised.

It begins identically to the anime’s first episode; Ash Ketchum is late to pick up his first Pokémon and is forced to choose a misbehaving Pikachu. However, the rest of I Choose You! breaks heavily from its source material and gratuitously rewrites history by removing fan favourite characters in favour of new characters sporting Pokémon from the latest games. It’s made abundantly clear that it isn’t meant as a nostalgia trip for older fans, but a history lesson for the current crop of wannabe Pokémon Masters.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I loved Pokémon when I was 12 and it wouldn’t be fair to rob today’s kids of the same fun. The majority of the audience were under 14 and they were whooping and cheering whenever a new Pokémon appeared onscreen. I might not have loved the film, but it was great to see that kids love the franchise just as much as I did back then.

Ignoring a bit of dodgy CGI, Pokémon has never looked better than it does here. Battles are fluidly animated and just impressive to watch. But I wish I could say the same about the writing. The dialogue feels clunky and mismatched, the characters often repeating each other or spouting cringe-worthy outdated slang. It’s a common problem with dubbed anime, but it’s particularly noticeable here.

If you’re a veteran Pokémon Trainer, I Choose You! might not fully scratch that nostalgia itch, but it’s still worth checking out if you feel like revisiting the beloved franchise. However, if your childhood didn’t feature Pokémon, I don’t think you’d get anything from the movie. It’s totally ridiculous and its only saving grace for a grown-up audience is the nostalgia factor.

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! (2017), directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, had a limited cinema release on November 5th and 6th, distributed in the UK by The Pokémon Company International, certificate PG.

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Culture Editor, Pokémon Master, Time Lord and occasional History student. Just don't ask me anything about music.

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