Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us
Ash meets five residents who come together to save the day when a series of threats endanger the annual Wind Festival and the entire population of their home, Fula CityAsh meets five residents who come together to save the day when a series of threats endanger the annual Wind Festival and the entire population of their home, Fula CityAsh meets five residents who come together to save the day when a series of threats endanger the annual Wind Festival and the entire population of their home, Fula City
To a minute extent, "The Power of Us" seems to include aspects of the second Pokémon film, "The Power of One." As its title suggests, the new film boasts a spectrum of protagonists. Among these are Ash and Pikachu, a fraudulent uncle and his family, a shy scientist, a major and his daughter, and a girl sent out to catch an Eevee while wearing rather tight pants (forgive me, but she even squats in the thing; it is really distracting!)
The film's first half is dedicated to setting up these characters and a seemingly central conflict. I say 'seemingly,' because the legendary Pokémon stalking the hills is merely a red herring. The film's real conflict is appears past the film's halfway point, and is created by our heroes themselves.
This is a real shame. The first half felt so fresh and full of good intentions, but the storytelling falters from the midpoint on. The usual climax beats are followed once again, with a Pokémon fight based around misconception -- even more redundant than usual.
When this has been talked out and the MacGuffin has been sufficiently twiddled with, the town is saved and the characters go their seperate ways. As much as I admire the attempt to give most of them a character arc, it feels like their stories never really come together, which in turn devaluates the set-up. The writing is certainly better than before, but not good enough yet.
The animation budget seems to have decreased somewhat, but the film actually looks better than its predecessors because of its new art style. The audiovisual overload of Yuyama's later work has been replaced with a more pencil-like style, vibrant character design, and a nice usage of shadows. The CGI is distractingly bad, but that has always been the case in these films. The appointment of a new director has at least visually paid off.
Despite the narrative problems that "The Power of Us" suffers from, it is a step in the right direction; superior to "I Choose You!" which was in its turn greatly superior to everything since the "Diamond and Pearl" era. It gives hope that "Pokémon" is moving on from its troubled past to a better, more original film franchise. Let's hope that godawful-looking "Mewtwo"-remake doesn't immediately shatter it.
A final note: I would advise watching this film's subbed version for two reasons: (1) The English voice-acting is far from top notch; (2) this is the final Pokémon film narrated by Unshô Ishizuka. The industry veteran died August 13, 2018 at age 67, after a decade-spanning career including roles in "Legend of the Galactic Heroes," "Berserk," "Cowboy Bebop," "Dragon Ball," "One Piece," "Naruto," and "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood." He will be sorely missed.
- Jul 24, 2019