Pokémon: I Choose You! No Matter What, We Thank You

With 19 movies under the Pokémon franchise’s belt, the 20th birthday celebrations took all ’90s kids on a trip down nostalgia lane, with a throwback to Kanto and where it all began for Ash Ketchum.

Odeon cinema screens were packed with the new generation of Pokémon fans – those yet to realise how big of an impact the Nintendo-Game Freak creation will have on their lives – to millennials sitting on the edge of their seat, movie poster and special Pokémon card in hand, excited to remember a time when the biggest stress in their life was guarding their Charizard card from the bully in the school playground.

The opening few scenes are more or less exactly like the first ever episode of Pokémon, with Ash dreaming of beginning his quest, turning up late to Professor Oak’s lab and ending up with Pikachu – side note: it feels like poor parenting to allow your child to travel the world, by themselves, at the age of 10, but we are delighted Ash’s mum is cool with her son sleeping rough, in order to become the greatest Pokémon master of all-time.

The lessons you learnt from Pokémon, as a millennial kid – ones you didn’t realise at the time – hit you with a wave of emotion at every point; from Pikachu summoning the courage to defend Ash from a flock of angry Spearow to the helpless Charmander – left out in the rain by Cross (the new Gary Oak) – being taken in by Ash and his pals.

In the final battles scenes, when Charmander – who has now evolved into Charizard – comes to his former trainer’s help, with Marshadow causing chaos, pulled at the heartstrings. However, the fact Marshadow was on the rampage didn’t fit with the storyline, and felt unnecessary – could the dual-type fighting and ghost Pokémon not have shared the same common goal with Ash and his friends on their quest for Ho-Oh and the Rainbow Wing? Marshadow’s allegiances within the film were confusing.

Team Rocket’s appearance was of course a must-have, however, with an ironic mantra of ‘protecting the world from devastation’, Jessie, James and Meowth caused zero inconvenience to Ash’s quest – the diluted role of the villainous trio just didn’t feel right, with a watered down cameo not befitting of their relationship with Ash and their desire to finally steal Pikachu.

The main aim of the film, though, was to blend nostalgia with the new generation, and for every Weedle scuttling up a tree or Metapod string-shottin’ a group of Primeape, there’s a legendary Entei or a cute Piplup; it’s the first time that Pokémon has managed to bridge the divide between team starter Pokémon of Squirtle & co, and the latest generation of Pokémon Sun and Moon.

So if you ask us, it’s a job well done.

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