This will probably be unsurprising to anyone who has kept up with the show, but WHAT has happened to Ash's character design? "Diamond and Pearl" already mangled his appearance by giving him baggy trousers and a silly vest, but when did he start using eyeshadow? Anyone still debating Ash's age can safely assume that this was his rebellious phase.
You may call this rambling, and you would be right. It is hard to concentrate while watching a film as stupefyingly boring as "Pokémon The Movie: Black - Victini and Reshiram."
Talking about being distracted: Who are these bores accompanying Ash? Iris in Cilan? Yes, Ash switched girls for each series and Brock became increasingly caricaturistic, but whose idea was it to have such utterly uninteresting characters accompany Ash for multiple seasons?
Right-o, let's focus and try to summarise to story. The beats are the same as usual: A sales pitch, a flashback, credits, Ash and Co. visiting some curious town, a tournament (that is quickly cut once the editors realised there were no credits to play over it,) a legendary appearing, walking around, some red herrings, exposition, inciting incident, introduction of antagonist... third act climax? "Victini and Reshiram" reminds me of "Destiny Deoxys" in that the plot begins once the film starts wrapping up. That means the audience is supposed to sit through one whopping hour of nothing until something happens.
Not that matters improve when it finally does. The antagonist, Damon, is only a 'bad guy' because of a failure to communicate. He probably wouldn't want to use his MacGuffin to irrigate a piece of land, had he known this means DESTROYING THE ENTIRE WORLD. Indeed, he doesn't. Once Ash informs him of the consequences, he stops. And that's it. A simplified version of the plot could be:
Damon: "Oh, I should really try pulling that lever!"
Ash: "No, you shouldn't."
Damon: "All right, I won't."
My dislike of these films is doubled by the fact that this is no longer the Pokémon I used to know. I stopped watching somewhere during "Diamond and Pearl", and fortunately so, because it seems matters have only gotten worse since then; at least in case of the films. This opinion appears to be shared by many, as the "Black & White!" films are among the lowest-rated instalments on IMDb, and the show's character development (or lack thereof) is generally viewed with disdain on forums.
It seems the Pokémon have gotten sillier over the years too. Reshiram and Zekrom, for example, have built-in jet engines? And what am I supposed to make of Shaggy, the saggy trousers Pokémon?
Note that unfamiliarity only partly accounts for my irritation. During this retrospective, I liked only 3 of the 10 films and 2 specials I had seen when I was young, and a few parts of "Arceus and the Jewel of Life", which was entirely new to me. Over the years, something has changed in the manner in which these films are bad: It used to be mere incompetence; now this has been topped off by cynicism.
Releasing these two films simultaneously was probably the peak of the studio's corporate contempt towards its audience. Besides the replacement of some names and places, the two plots are identical, although a strange amount of effort has been made to give the films a distinct look. For example Ash and Co.'s arrival at Eindoak Town being drawn from a different angle -- a whole new experience!
What we are stuck with is two films that would be almost avant-gardist in their incongruous minimalism, had they not been such obvious cash-grabs. The fact that nothing happens is not an artistic statement, but the result of unprecedently bad writing. And unlike some other abominations (notably "Giratina and the Sky Warrior" and "Zoroark: Master of Illusions") there aren't even any charming interludes or characters to distract from it. (Brock! Come back, I miss you!)
To end with an editing note: If you read part 14A of this retrospective, you will find it to be mostly the same review with a view words and names changed. I thought this to be an appropriate gimmick for these reviews. And besides, I wouldn't want to put in more work than the writers did.
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