Pokémon: The First Movie—Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

pokemon the first movie mewtwo strikes back poster 1998 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Bigger story than the TV series

Largely for fans of the series

Movie Info

Movie Name: Pokémon: The First Movie—Mewtwo Strikes Back

Studio:  Kids’ WB/Oriental Light and Magic (OLM)/Shogakukan Productions

Genre(s): Animated/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  July 18, 1998 (Japan)/November 6, 1999 (US)

MPAA Rating: G

pokemon the first movie mewtwo strikes back cloning island

So I guess Mewtwo is on the anti-cloning side….

Mewtwo is born from the cloning of an ancient rare Pokémon called Mew.  Mewtwo’s power and ability is unmatched and in its ability, Mewtwo realizes something…Pokémon should not serve humans!  When Ash, Misty, and Brock receive an invitation to a special training session on New Island, they and a select group of Pokémon trainers manage to make the dangerous crossing to New Island during a violent storm.  New Island is a trap and Mewtwo has a plan.  Humanity will fall and the Pokémon clones will rise!

Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, Pokémon:  The First Movie—Mewtwo Strikes Back (劇場版ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲 or Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā: Myūtsū no Gyakushū aka Pocket Monsters the Movie:  Mewtwo Strikes Back) is an animated family fantasy-adventure movie.  The first spin-off title of the popular Pokémon television series and was met with negative reviews.

pokemon the first movie mewtwo strikes back ash clone battle

Ash is about to make a bunch of monsters fight…which is ok?

You can’t go into Pokémon:  The First Movie expecting a lot.  If you haven’t watched the series but have some general knowledge (where I would classify myself), it is a decent stand-alone adventure.  If you are a fan of the series, it probably was at the time a nice culmination of the series with a bigger story.  If you have no background, it is probably pointless…and annoying.

The movie is largely edited regarding which version you see.  The Japanese version has a different theme, order, and concept while the United States version presented a more vengeful Mewtwo…and a message that fighting between Pokémon is wrong which is completely the opposite of the series (fortunately the movie recons that so they can just keep beating each other up).

pokemon the first movie mewtwo strikes back ash stone dead pikachu

Sure…Pikachu was trying to resurrect his ruthless master Ash who keeps him trapped in a little ball…definitely not trying to finish the job with his lightning.

As a whole, it generally feels like a long and expanded episode.  The movie is rather segmented.  The movie also is seen as a darker turn since Ash essentially “dies” in the story defending Pikachu.  The death of Ash (like most of the stuff) is reversed by Pikachu’s love which of course teaches Mewtwo that he’s wrong about humans…it is pretty saccharine sweet (and of course became memes in the future).

Visually, the movie doesn’t really raise the bar of the TV series much.  It is anime and follows a lot of anime styles.  Even if you are completely ignorant to Pokémon it is probably advisable to just look into how Pokémon “work”.  The film has been remastered since its release.

Pokémon:  The First Movie—Mewtwo Strikes Back is a movie that is very targeted.  Parents can probably watch it and tolerate it, and those who grew up with Pokémon would like it.  It is not a movie you can have high expectations for, but you get what you expect.  The movie was remade as a CGI film in 2018 and released as Pokémon:  Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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