The world of Pokémon has come barnstorming back into people’s minds this past week with the release of The Detective Pikachu trailer but before you get to enjoy Ryan Reynolds as a sassy electric rabbit (Deadpoolachu?) you can come and cuddle up with Pokémon: The Power of Us.
The Power of Us is the second film in a freshly created alternate timeline that tells the story of young Pokémon trainer Ash on his quest to “be the very best, like no-one ever was…” by becoming a master trainer through catching and evolving ever more powerful Pokémon. This journey takes him to Fula City where the annual Wind Festival is about to kick off in celebration of powerful Legendary Pokémon Lugia who helped the city find prosperity and who comes back every year to mark the end of the festival. As well as Ash we follow a group of unconnected characters as their paths cross and weave leading to an alliance to see that the festival gets saved when disaster strikes.
The film is an incredibly sweet journey to go on. The multiple storylines are fun to watch build and intersect, plus some great laughs are chucked in along the way. It is a much gentler story than some in the canon so if you’re looking for colossal monsters beating 24 frames out of each other this may not be the Pokémon movie you’re looking for. This, however, does not mean it skimps on animated action, there are some great dust ups between Pikachu & Eevee and an awesome fight with fantastic looking new Pokémon Zeraora.
There are usually great fights in Pokémon films though so what helps The Power of Us become successful is that is leaves you with a hopeful, positive glow inside from the great character relationships. It is a paean to friendship and teamwork, both between the trainers with their bonded creatures and the humans working side by side to avert crisis. Given the awful forest fire in California recently and concern over global warming the film feels incredibly prescient too as events on the screen mirror real life, offering a timely reminder that we’re all in this together so listening and helping each other might just make us stronger.
We get to see some great character arcs too through flaws and struggles given to Risa’s never realised athlete, Callahan’s desperately sad braggart, Toren’s painfully shy scientist and Oliver holding things together for the good of the city. These journeys go some way in helping cover up an incredibly slight story as we bounce from one MacGuffin to another (Oh no sabotage! Oh no the flame! Oh no something else!) with no real sense of escalation or jeopardy for most of the film.
With the thin plot and multiple arcs to see through not everyone gets the send-off they deserve (hey Lily, where you at?) come the final credits, although the last act does bring emotionally resonant moments for a lucky few of them.
The animation looks great and takes a step back from the harder lines of the more recent anime series, it looks bright and joyful throughout, the only downside the big CG clouds dumped into the mix like a robot popping up in Corrie, you’ll still enjoy things but it looks weird. Look beyond the clouds then, your inner child will cry and your actual children will laugh at this beautiful fable.
Pokémon The Movie: The Power of Us is in cinemas on 24th November and 1st December 2018 www.fathomanimation.com