It's okay. I didn't love it as I do the Mewtwo films, but it's entertaining enough.
The story is... hang on, let's see if I can remember this. There's a dude who flies around in a steampunk zeppelin spaceship. That was amazing. His name's Jirarudan (Japanese) or Lawrence III (English), but the only way of finding that out is the end credits. He's collecting Pokemon just like everyone else in this show, but apparently the way he does it is bad because he doesn't want to train them. He's simply a collector. If he did start training his Pokemon, he'd probably want to buy a duplicate to put in a plastic bag and keep in mint condition.
Okay, I'm being frivolous. He's not geekish. He's the villain, but unfortunately he's also a forgettable one who only gets an "en passant" comeuppance that even the movie doesn't think deserves much attention. The best thing about him is his satellite-ship.
Instead of him, the movie's focus is really on three Titans. Yes, sir, definitely Titans. They couldn't possibly have been called Gods in the original Japanese. That would be WRONG and we know no wrongness has ever come from Japan. (I watched the 4Kids Entertainment dub from Warner Bros, by the way.) Anyway, these three "Titans" rule ice, fire and lightning respectively and if some git were to start kidnapping them, the result would be an unbalanced global ecosystem and massive undersea water flows that could trash life as we know it. No intelligent life would survive.
This is heavy-handed in its moralistic dialogue and based on flawed science. I liked it. It's cool and the best thing about the movie. Environmentalism is good, especially with (cough) "Titans" in the mix, while in fairness there's a clever bit in the explanation of how these undersea rivers have been caused by a fire-ice imbalance. I also liked the way in which Pokemon are more sensitive than humans to geological and climate disturbances, so they care more than us about the environment. The premise doesn't seem unreasonable to me, so the conclusion also seems logical.
However apparently if existing water flows in new directions, this will flood the entire planet despite no increase in water volume. There's also some over-earnest dialogue. "The fate of our planet is what we should really be worried about and the Pokemon know that better than any of us!"
What about the heroes? They, um, wander around a bit. Jirarudan doesn't train Pokemon, so there's no Pokemon battle. Takeshi/Brock only gets a cameo, because he'd temporarily left the show around this time. I don't think Satoshi/Ash does anything at all (possible exaggeration), while Kasumi/Misty's main contribution is to throw a snit because someone called Satoshi her boyfriend. Let me check my notes... ah yes, Satoshi has to get his hands on his balls. It's understandable. He's a teenage boy. Satoshi's balls might be hot and glowing red, but he'll still have to give them a good squeeze before anything comes out. Meanwhile Pikachu gets a good bit, where he and the Lightning Titan start blasting each other with electricity... and this isn't a fight, but a conversation. I'd never seen that before.
There's one character who gobsmacked me, though. Satoshi's mum shows up! Her name's Hanako/Delia. Satoshi has a mum? He's been wandering off on his own getting into life-or-death battles on a daily basis since he was (checks internet) ten years old... and yet his mum's an ongoing character in the series? Is she still waiting for him to come home, then? Well, I'm sure it makes sense if you're watching the TV show. She also has authentic cringeworthy mum dialogue, e.g. "remember, every day, you're my hero." What I don't understand is that we don't then see Satoshi melt into a puddle of humiliation and/or try to beat her senseless with rocks.
There's an explanation, though. Apparently the TV show follows the video games in that 10 years old is when characters come of age in the Pokemon universe. That's when they get their trainer's license and first Pokemon. Freaky. Also Hanako/Delia has a weird pet/slave that's either a gardening robot or a child's drawing of itself. Looking it up, I see it's a "Mr Mime" and it's called Mimey.
1. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were considered to play Lawrence III.
2. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain went around quoting this movie's theme song during his campaign, although it took him a while to admit that he was quoting a Pokemon film.
3. 4Kids Entertainment pulled out all the stops when it came to doing English-language music, including Weird Al Yankovic and The B-52s.
4. As with the first film, Mewtwo Strikes Back
, this was paired on release with a fluffier 20-minute episode (Pikachu's Rescue Adventure). I'll be seeking that out, obviously.
At the end of the day, it's undemanding fun. I watched it peacefully, but there's no reason to seek it out either. I love the idea of accidentally destroying the world's climate by kidnapping gods, but in practice that doesn't come across because the Titans just look like yet more Pokemon. They're birds. They fly around and show few signs of sentience. They're powerful, yes, but that's as expected. It's a movie. It just feels like more Pokemon stuff, really.
However I love the fact that this is a movie where the menace to the planet comes from the real but rarely considered phenomenon of global undersea currents. Environmentalism is good. Overall, it's perfectly good franchise filler, which isn't a condemnation at all.
"I could use pants."