Pokémon has spent the day celebrating its 24th anniversary with several special events and releases. One being the release of the Netflix original Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back-Evolution. Now the original Netflix film title might be just a tad bit misleading for newer fans of the franchise. What the movie actually is, is a remake of the original 1998 film, Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. The new film is a CGI animation that updates a few things within the script to bring it up to age. This by no means makes it any less amazing. As a fan of the original film, I say this is a great remake and a must see for any fan of the franchise.
Be mindful that this review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen either film then go watch it and come back. You have been warned.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution begins with a group of scientists exploring ruins of the mysterious Pokémon, Mew. As the scientists set up camp and continue exploring, the adorable Mew is watching over them. It is here that they discover a fossil with what appears to be a strand of fur from the body of Mew. They pack up and leave immediately to head back to the lab and begin testing.
It is here where the real story begins. The scientists have used the fossil to create a new Pokémon, Mewtwo. Upon his awakening, Mewtwo is riddled with questions of his creation and why he exists. This frustration leads to anger and then to destruction as he blows up the lab using his telekinetic powers. As Mewtwo’s destruction is underway, a plane flies in and through the window we see a familiar man and his Pokémon, Persian.
The leader of Team Rocket, the villain organization within the Kanto and Johto region, Giovanni has come to claim Mewtwo as his own. Promising him that he can show him why he was created and how to protect his powers. However, Giovanni only wants to use Mewtwo to further his own agenda to capture all the Pokémon in the world and take over the human race. Mewtwo clearly isn’t happy being the puppet of the humans and uses his powers to blow up Team Rocket’s lab and escapes to an uninhabited island. It is here he declares his revenge against his creators…all of the human race.
Cue the title scene and a warm rush of nostalgia as the music plays through. This nostalgia trip continues through the next scene as the narrator introduces Ash, the main protagonist, and his friends Brock and Misty. They stop to prepare a lunch out along the water when another trainer arrives to battle against Ash. Key the official Pokémon theme song and the battle. It was beautiful. Such amazing memories.
During the battle, Mewtwo is looking over the group via a camera attached to a Fearow. The lady sitting next to him explains who the group is and asks if he wants to send them an invitation. Mewtwo doesn’t respond but you get the idea that the answer was yes. The mysterious woman steps away and next thing we know Dragonite is setting out the deliver the invitation.
Naturally, the group says yes, who would pass up the chance to meet and battle against the strongest Pokémon trainer in the world? They respond to the invitation and off goes Dragonite who almost immediately takes a frying pan to the head as members of Team Rocket, Jess, James and Meowth, try and question him about what is going on. The RSVP falls out and gives the group the information they need.
The story fast forwards as Mewtwo starts a hurricane right over the island causing all ships leaving from ports to stop running. This leaves a number of Pokémon trainers stranded and angered. A select few embark via their Pokémon to cross the rough waters and Ash and his group catch a ride with a disguised Team Rocket. Honestly, I was happy that they almost looked exactly like themselves. Reminded me of the days when I would question how Ash and his friends couldn’t figure it out.
The group manages to make their way across to the island with just a few bumps (rather large ones actually) and meet up with the mysterious woman. Obviously, Brock, who couldn’t see past the Team Rocket disguise, immediately realizes she is the missing Nurse Joy. When he brings it up, she responds that she has not clue what he is talking about and that she has been here since the beginning. The group accept this answer, to continue the plot of course, and follow her to the rest of the trainers.
After a brief introduction of the other trainers, Mewtwo arrives to declare that he is not only the strongest trainer but also the world’s strongest Pokémon. The group doesn’t believe him, and a test of strength begins. Down below, Team Rocket sneaks in through the sewers to find a lab. They discover Mewtwo has the research from the original lab and a machine that can clone. Meowth gets a bit of fur ripped out and the machine creates a clone of him. As he flashes on the screen, we get the first, ‘Who’s that Pokémon?!’. Ahh the nostalgia.
Back upstairs, Mewtwo gives his exposition on how if humans are left to govern the world, they will only bring upon it’s destruction. He also believes that the Pokémon are unfit as well. The trainers make some pretty odd decisions, like attempting to battle Mewtwo himself and then agreeing to battle his clones. The big battle between the original starters and the clone’s evolutions is pretty great, but it always seemed like a pretty odd choice since there is always talk about making sure to use Pokémon type to the trainer’s advantage.
After the clones wipe the floor with the trainer’s Pokémon, Mewtwo decides to capture them and the rest in his special Pokéballs. I spent five minutes of this yelling at my screen for the trainers to put the Pokémon back into their original balls instead of trying to just swat Mewtwo’s away. Naturally though, when Ash realizes that it is safer to have them inside, the stronger Pokéballs are able to then capture the regular ones. There are also moments that make me question how the special Pokéballs work, like when they are surrounding Pikachu, but he easily jumps away since they don’t activate right away.
Everyone gets capture, except Togepi who is tucked safely away in Misty’s bag, and get taken below to be cloned. Ash follows down below to stop the cloning. The machine finishes cloning Pikachu before Ash can break it. This leads to the other clones being released and able to return to the surface alongside their original counterparts. The real nostalgia here was the continuation of Team Rocket playing the ‘Who’s that Pokémon?!’. Ahh sweet nostalgia.
This begins the final epic battle, Mew versus Mewtwo along with the original Pokémon against their clones. The trainers upset seeing the chaos but know they can do nothing until either Mew or Mewtwo comes out victorious. Ash however, after seeing Pikachu refusing to fight his clone and taking a pretty adorable beating, is determined to bring it to an end. Cue the tears guys. He rushes out to the middle of the field right in-between Mew and Mewtwo as they unleash their next attacks. Once the dust has settled Ash is left seemingly dead on the ground.
Now anyone who has seen the original knows what happens next. Pikachu rushes out to try and wake him up but is unsuccessful. Then he tries shocking him and as he continues, he begins to cry. Then the Pokémon that have stopped fighting around them begin to cry. I begin to cry. There is a lot of tears here. But they are magical tears who help restore Ash to life. Upon seeing this Mewtwo immediately changes his mind, stops the battle takes his clones and they fly away. Just like that. As he leaves, he wipes the minds of the trainers and Pokémon involved and transports them back to the port where everything is back to normal.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution is a true to original remake and this makes me happy. When the trailer was released, I was nervous that the updated CGI would look terrible throughout the film. The humans in the film either looked great or looked very out of place. The Pokémon in my opinion look far better than the older version. Being able to see the textures of their fur and other small characteristics was fantastic. The story follows a lot of movie and tv tropes, but it works well together and knowing this is really a movie for kids (or adults who refuse to grow up…like me), I can see past the inconsistencies with things.
My one and only gripe with the film is the lack of Misty. She appears throughout yes, but I missed her sassy attitude and honestly felt like she was left out almost entirely. It has been a few years since I have re-watched the original so I am not too sure if it is the same, but I wish they could have done more with her. Outside of that, I think the film is a definite must watch for any fan of the franchise.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution is available to watch now on Netflix.