Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Pokemon the Movie 2000

Still boppin' along on Fishing in the Discount Bin, watching movies and blogging about them.  I seem to have hit a run of Pokemon movies, as I'm looking at Pokemon the Movie 2000 this week.  This is in my notes at September 4, 2016.

When you're counting by the volume of episodes produced, Pokemon is the longest running cartoon in the world that's still in production.  As I write this in September of 2016, Wikipedia lists 930 episodes, 19 movies, 8 TV specials, 25 spinoff episodes, and 15 short films.  That's a lot of animation.  And it's still going strong.  As I recall one video game critic saying about the latest game in the mid-2000s, "Ya know, there stands the chance that Pokemon is making the transition from "fad" to "brand.""  In Japan, the films are produced by the legendary Japanese movie studio Toho, who also make the Godzilla films.  Toho considers the Pokemon films to be one of their major franchises, and they always release a new Pokemon film in July...just as the kids are getting out for summer vacation. 

But here in North America, the films no longer dominate our local cineplexes the way the did at the start of the 2000s.  It was truly the height of the fad when Pokemon the Movie 2000 hit theatres in the summer of 2000.  So popular it was, it knocked the first X-Men out of the #1 spot.  And no more loonie theatres for this one!  I paid the full price and saw it in its first run at the beautiful, majestic Silver City in West Edmonton Mall, now known as the Scotiabank Theatre. 

I remember enjoying it at the time.  While it is nowhere as famous as the first one, it still holds a special place.  One thing that struck me as odd about this was it was the first time that really tried to push for some kind of romance between Ash and Misty.  That's something you see pop up in a lot of the ancillary materials that are purely American-made.  It's just a Hollywood trope that, when you've got a guy and a girl together in a franchise, eventually they'll hook up.  Even in the American dub of that anime classic Spirited Away, they had to add a few extra lines to push for a romance between Chihiro and Haku.  So, it just seemed a little out of place to me. 

The summer it came out, I picked up the soundtrack album, and I was listening to it a lot.  Why?  Because Weird Al did a song. 

I did not like that song.  It strikes me very much as a "done for the paycheque" deal.  *sigh*  How do you deal with the feeling that your hero sold out?

And speaking of heroes, this Pokemon film has a prophecy, and a hero's journey, and what I think, is one of the most groan-worthy twists in a prophecy.  The final line in the prophecy is, "Alone his song will fail/and the world will turn to ash."  Seems simple, right?  Typical end-of-the-world stuff.  But as they discover at the film's climax, the final line is actually "and the world will turn to Ash," as in the proper name Ash, as it's up to our hero Ash to save the world.  I do remember doing a facepalm in the theatre. 

The plot:  Ash, Pikachu, and companions are continuing on their journey, this time in the Orange Islands.  A storm washes them up on the shore of Shamouti Island, where you can see Fire Island, ice Island, and Lightening Island off in the distance.  Turns out those three are the homes of the legendary pokemon Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos, and if the harmony between their three islands is ever disturbed, it'll mean the end of the world.  Enter pokemon collector Lawrence III (they never say his name in the movie) who wants to do just that.  For you see, according to the prophecy, when the harmony is disturbed, Lugia will appear to try to right things, and Lawrence III is out to capture Lugia. 
As the prophecy comes to pass, and it looks like all is lost, the world turns to Ash. 

As part of the end of the world, the climate goes all out of whack, and a blizzard rages through these tropical islands.  As Ash sets out through the ice and snow to save the world, he mutters, "Chosen one?  I feel more like the frozen one."  The Edmonton Journal's film critic at the time, Marc Horton, I remember he remarked in his review that that was the only funny line in the film.  Personally, I get a chuckle out of the very end.  Team Rocket decided to get heroic for once and help out Ash, because they don't want to see the end of the world either, and they lament that no one will ever know of their heroic deeds.  Then the pokemon Slowking, who's like the keeper of the prophecy, remarks that thousands of people saw their heroism, and breaks the fourth wall to indicate the audience.  I think it was on the running commentary for the first movie, the writers and directors of the English dub remarked that, whenever they did a "breaking the fourth wall" bit, that was because the joke in the original Japanese was so rooted in Japanese culture, that there's no direct translation. 

OK, I'm wrong.  There's another Slowking bit that makes me laugh.  Like most pokemon, Slowking is nude.  As the blizzard rages, Slowking looks out over the frozen wasteland and says, "I should wear pants." 

And did I remark last time how much I love the end credits sequences in these Pokemon films?  Our heroes continue their journey down that never-ending road, the guest starts stay behind in their home and start cleaning up the aftermath, and there's a sense of life getting back to normal.  It's like the stuff that happens between episodes.  The only Hollywood movie I can think of that ever did that is Ghostbusters, which features the Ghostbusters packing up their equipment and driving off into the sunset after defeating Gozer. 

So there's Pokemon the Movie 2000.  Or, as it's proper title onscreen is, Pokemon: The Power of One.  Should have stuck with its original Japanese title, Revelation Lugia.  Oh, which reminds me, I forgot to drop some trivia last time.  The proper title of the first movie on screen is Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back.  That makes it, to date, the only Pokemon film that has the same title in English and Japanese. 

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