Pokémon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back Movie Review
This is a hard lesson to learn, especially for Americans, but fortunately there are always things like Pokémon: The First Movie to remind us.
No one at Nintendo thought to wonder if a video game could really provide sufficient backstory to sustain an entire movie. Nor has anyone at Nintendo ever stopped to think about whether children might enjoy childhood more if they didn't spend it mindlessly repeating nonsense words like "pikachu" made up in spare moments by Nintendo employees. Instead, Nintendo saw a chance to make billions of dollars, and moved forward monolithically with their cynical hypermarketing.
The resulting Pokémon craze is the emptiest craze yet --- a fantasy world of garbage, without plot, compelling mythology, or point.
Before now, children's literature was dominated by writers like Dr. Seuss, A. A. Milne, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Disney, etc., who took seriously the responsibility of creating entertainment that might shape the thinking of children. No longer. The content of Pokémon is probably harmful to kids in a dozen ways, but to even try to find any intellectual subtext in the movie at all is pretty iffy, so I will not waste readers' time with a lot of analysis of how the movie fosters violence, discourages environmental awareness, and so on.
This is the most cynical movie ever made. Even the movie's subtitle, Mewto Strikes Back, is cynically derivative --- the filmmakers secure in the knowledge that the film's target audience doesn't care that there is already a movie called The Empire Strikes Back (which was itself an amalgam of earlier works).
There are no redeeming qualities of Pokémon... and only one serious question: Should entertainment products be designed solely to please children too young to understand what is entertaining? In previous centuries, people thought not. Is this progress?
For an adult, the only appropriate response to the Pokémon craze is simply, ostrich-like, to try to pretend it doesn't exist. After writing this review, I'm going to try to do just that.
Followed by an equally awful sequel.
Burn, Pokemon, burn.