PokemonMayuki MakiguchiTatsuya FujiwaraShoko Nakagawa
Pokemon movie #18: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages
Medium: film
Year: 2015
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Original creator: Satoshi Tajiri
Writer: Atsuhiro Tomioka, Hideki Sonoda
Actor: Ikue Ohtani, Rica Matsumoto, Ayane Sakura, Inuko Inuyama, Junko Takeuchi, Kouichi Yamadera, Mariya Ise, Mayuki Makiguchi, Megumi Hayashibara, Rie Kugimiya, Shinichi Shinohara, Shinichiro Miki, Shoko Nakagawa, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Yuuki Kaji, Chinatsu Akasaki, Hitomi Nabatame, Kensuke Satou, Kiyotaka Furushima, Megumi Satou, Noriko Shitaya, Unshou Ishizuka, Yuji Ueda
Keywords: Pokemon, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 76 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16735
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 5 January 2017
It's the worst Pokemon-related thing I've seen to date, although that's a tiny sample size. I like Pokemon, but this film strikes me as a mechanical, formulaic waste of talent. That's not the same as hating it, mind you. It's so by-the-numbers that it barely exists. It's kind, well-meaning and too empty even to dislike.
I'll summarise the plot.
0 min. = a big monster that wants to be Godzilla goes on a forgettable PG-rated rampage.
7 min. = some wannabe-Aladdin shows up and sucks wannabe-Godzilla into a magical flask. This seems sensible, but couldn't Aladdin have appeared sooner? That's seven minutes of my life I won't be getting back.
Well, never mind. At last the film has a hero!
...ah, no.
Aladdin doesn't even say anything, but just goes away again. (The film's being a bit Arabian Nights, which I quite like. Monsters look like genies, etc.)
9 min. = Okay, these must definitely be the heroes. They're the regulars from the TV show, hanging out at a luxury holiday resort and Pokemon training centre. In other words, they can talk! They can initiate and participate in drama! The film's going to unfurl a storyline soon, right?
...again, no.
Again and again, stuff happens without dramatic meaning. It's an entire script built of Pokemon Things Happening with no interest in turning that into a story. Look, a monster! Look, another monster! Are they doing anything worth noticing? Is anyone facing a challenge or making a difficult choice? No, no and no. We started with seven tedious minutes of a big Pokemon. Oooooooh. Now we have a little Pokemon. Ooooooooh. He's mischievous, he's called Hoopa and he's less likeable than the film thinks he is. We learn some backstory and discover that Hoopa's transformed giant form once destroyed a city, but I'd have preferred a story in the here and now.
Hoopa can't thrust into his own ring. You and all your friends can enter it and penetrate all the way, but he can't. (Innuendo aside, though, those rings/hoops are a space-time transportation device. That's what seems to be true in the original games, anyway, but this film sticks with spacewarps and no time travel.)
Team Rocket show up, do something stupid to kick-start the plot and then drop out of the film again. They're still more fun than anyone else here, though. There's a spectacular fight sequence from exactly 45 min. to 60 min., which might give you some idea of how mechanical this script is. The destruction looks cool, e.g. energy beams carving bits off buildings, but it got me fast-forwarding in search of something that wasn't a fight.
There's moralising. Satoshi turns evil, but this is immediately reversed with no consequences. A big black energy beam shoots from the sky, like most Hollywood blockbusters from the last ten years. Surprisingly, though, this is where the film gets okay. It's still not great and you wouldn't recommend it to anyone over six years old, but these ten minutes are at least dramatically functional and likeable. You can't beat the sky beam by fighting it! No battle scenes! Thank goodness. Hoopa has to help evacuate people from impending catastrophe, then afterwards stays to repair the devastation. I briefly amused myself wondering if his hoops might have been teleporting everyone into hard vacuum or the middle of the ocean, but they weren't.
The heroes are forgettable, but that's not their fault. They have no significant story involvement, since there's no significant story. Satoshi fights with Pokemon. That doesn't count. Incidentally, by now the TV show's on Season 18, aka. Pokemon: XY: Kalos Quest. Kasumi and Takeshi left the show ages ago. Satoshi and Pikachu are thus travelling with new friends I hadn't seen before.
This film is terrible, but mostly by omission. There's nothing unspeakably wrong with any of its individual scenes. Put together, though, I had to pause the film and give myself a break to shake my wits back to life. It's not a film. Movies tell a story. This doesn't. It's a Pokemon-shaped cookie cutter. I ended up quite liking Hoopa himself, but I'd still recommend the use of lethal force against any malefactors armed with this film. It would seem that it's also bad by the standards of other Pokemon movies, being one of the lowest-grossing releases in the series. (This is the 18th Pokemon film.)
I'm still fond of Pokemon as a whole, mind you. This is the first Pokemon I've seen that I haven't enjoyed. The TV show is apparently better than the films, which are generally better than this... but this film's still so fundamentally lacking that I can't help but be cynical about whether or not its production team really cared.