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Movies
'Pokemon The Movie 2000'

No way, mon: 'Pokemon 2000' is even worse than the first

Friday, July 21, 2000

By Ron Weiskind Post-Gazette Movie Editor

Is it hard to figure out "Pokemon the Movie 2000"? Why, a 4-year-old child could understand it. So, as Groucho Marx once said, run out and find me a 4-year-old child. I can't make heads or tails of it.

 
   
'Pokemon The Movie 2000'


Rating: G.

Director: Michael Haigney.

Web site: www.p2kthemovie.com

Critic's call: 1 1/2 stars

 
 

Oops, that may not work, either. I know some kids who were so bored or perplexed by the latest movie-length commercial for the Japanese collectible-card craze that they didn't raise a fuss about leaving early from a prerelease screening.

Actually, my teen-age son nailed it. The plot comes straight out of a video game -- actually, any number of role-playing adventures in which the hero has to collect crystals representing fire, ice and other basic elements of nature. This should come as no surprise, considering Nintendo is one of the corporations bankrolling the film.

But it's one thing to play one of these titles, which at least allows you to participate. It's another thing to just watch, as evidenced by the critical and financial failure of virtually every film based on a video game.

Maybe Angelina Jolie playing Lara Croft in the "Tomb Raider" movie will redeem the concept, although I must acknowledge that the first Pokemon movie, released last year, sucked in the young 'uns like a veritable black hole of merchandising.

On the other hand, maybe "Pokemon the Movie 2000" will kill off the phenomenon once and for all.

The first "Pokemon" film at least had a story that made some kind of sense. A cloned and powerful Pokemon, or pocket monster, is so resentful of the humans who created him that he plans to take over the world -- after putting the other Pokemon out of commission.

In the new film, an arrogant fellow named Lawrence III sets out to capture the three Pokemon birds that maintain Earth's balance by ruling the elements of fire, ice and lightning. By doing so, he plans to lure out a sea-dwelling creature as part of his evil design.

Which is what, exactly? Well, nothing, really. He's got yuppie disease -- he wants it just because he wants it. Never mind that by capturing the birds, he endangers the Earth itself. I wish I could say this was an environmental allegory, but just how many trees died to produce all those Pokemon cards?

At one point the birds start fighting among themselves, for reasons that remain unclear. All I know is that our stalwart Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum has been anointed "the chosen one" who must find the aforementioned crystals and place them together in order to restore worldwide tranquility.

Ash's pals are along for the ride, as are (of course) his Pokemon, including the incorrigibly lovable Pikachu, who is the only one that really gets to do anything. There isn't an actual Pokemon battle in the whole film, except for when Ash's charges try to subdue the birds.

In fact, the movie is so devoid of conflict that even the usually conniving Team Rocket joins up with the good guys. Yawn.

I know, if you can't say something good. ...

OK, there's this. The short subject preceding the film, "Pikachu's Rescue Adventure," represents an improvement over the awful short tacked onto the beginning of the first Pokemon movie.

Then again, so would a frontal lobotomy.



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