- Based on: Pokémon
- Release Date: July 14, 2001
- Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
- Country: Japan
- Language: Japanese, English
- Genre: Animated
- Running Time: 81 minutes
- Rated: Guidance
Although fans will have a great time watching Pokémon 4Ever, those not familiar with the source material will find this movie, dull, repetitive and way too long.
If you’re a fan of the franchise, the Pokémon films are definitely for you. They are full of fan service, references to the TV series and games and some legendary Pokémon always make an appearance. With that in mind, it’s up to you to decide if Pokémon 4Ever is for you. Fans will probably have a great time watching it, but those not familiar with the source material will find this movie, dull, repetitive and way too long.
The first scene in the movie introduces its audience to the fascinating world of Pokémon. In this fictional universe, humans capture and train creatures known as Pocket Monsters. The introduction is very deceptive because even though it seems like you’re gradually and slowly being introduced to a franchise that may be new to you; obscure references to the series are soon made.
Not only this potentially alienates the audience, but also confuses them. Why am I introduced to Ash and his friends but not to the Team Rocket? How are Pokémon trainers different to Team Rocket? They both use Pokémon for their own selfish means, right? If you don’t know some important parts of the story at this point, I would advise you to stay as far away from Pokémon 4Ever as possible. The introduction makes an attempt to ease you into the franchise by making reference to events that took place during the first season of the series. Unfortunately, it fails miserably.
The premise on the other hand, will probably be awfully familiar to those who have watched any of the previous Pokémon movies. Celebi, one of the rarest creatures on Earth, is in a forest which is believed to have magical properties. There, the little monster is escaping from a mercenary, who wants to capture it in order to sell it to the highest bidder. Coincidentally, a young boy named Sam enters the mystical place and comes across the legendary Celebi as the monster flies away from its pursuers. Suddenly, the critter is so scared that it manages to cast a powerful spell, allowing them (Celebi and Sam) to travel forty years into the future.
Conveniently enough, Sam’s future is Ash’s present. So as these events unfold, Ash, Misty and Brock are taking a ferry to the nearest gym. While they are going to this gym, they pass by the magical forest and decide to go through the woods, hoping to find some rare Pokémon. As they make their way into the place they find Sam, who is unconscious, and they bring him back to a small nearby village. When the little kid regains consciousness, he sets out to find Celebi with the help of Ash and his two friends. They eventually find the psychic Pokémon, but it’s so scared that it instinctively refuses to accept the human’s help. Celebi is so exhausted though, that he finally accepts going with them. As the kids take care of the hurt Pokémon, a new member of the evil team rocket makes a dramatic appearance. He’s known as the Iron Masked Marauder and has desperately been looking for Celebi in order to capture it and manipulate its hidden powers.
The Film’s plot is overly predictable and if you’ve watched any of the first three movies, you may probably guess what happens in this one. In fact, the movie follows the same pattern of previous films, making it even more predictable. First, there’s a short introduction, then you meet all the new characters, right after that you are shown what Ash, Misty and Brock are up to, and then you listen to a dreadful opening song as they battle. Eventually, the protagonists find out that a Pokémon is in trouble and they need to help it.
The calm moments in which the main characters interact are always the same. In this case, that means they gleefully chat, swim, play and even fly together. I can see how this is an attempt to provide the characters with more personality and emotional resonance, allowing the viewer to be more attached to them. Unfortunately, these moments are poorly executed and feel like a missed opportunity. Suddenly, an evil character appears. The Iron Mask Marauder is so mean that he uses special dark Pokéballs which allow him to not only capture Pokémon, but also make them evil and take them to their highest level possible (apparently, in the movies Pokémon also level up… whatever that means.)
In addition, previous films (particularly Pokémon: The First Movie and Pokémon: The Movie 2000) felt like much more ambitious projects than this one. Although that’s not necessarily such a bad thing, it definitely makes this movie seem like a regular episode only longer.
In conclusion, Pokémon 4Ever isn’t a very good film. The introduction does a poor job of explaining the main premise and events take place in a very mechanical order, making everything quite predictable. Nonetheless, fans of the series will probably find something to like, but those who don’t know a lot about the source material should definitely stay away from this movie.
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