Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, May 1st 2014
Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened
Mewtwo is stretching the limits of his powers when he hears a strange call – someone wants to go home. Upon investigating, he discovers bug-like pokemon he has never seen before...and they aren't happy. He soon realizes that these are the extinct pokemon genesect, and humans have revived them 300 million years after their deaths. Mewtwo isn't sure what, if anything, to do, so when the genesects fly off, he doesn't do much. Enter Ash, Cilan, and Iris, who are continuing their journeys and have come to the Pokemon Hills pokemon resort. They're enjoying themselves there when Ash and Pikachu meet one of the genesect. Things quickly go downhill, however, when the rest of the genesects show up and try to take over Pokemon Hills. Can Ash and his friends stop them? Or will it take another pokemon who suffered at the hands of humans to make everything all right?
Note: “Genesect” with a capital letter refers to the one who is a protagonist; “genesect” refers to the group as a whole.
Pokemon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened is a pokemon film with a social conscience. While it has all of the hallmarks of the franchise that have endeared it to legions of fans – adorable creatures, exciting battles, and plucky human protagonists, to name a few – this film also takes a look at the roles that people play when their interactions with the pokemon go beyond the series' standards. Yes, there have been those comparing pokemon battles to dog fights for years, and that really isn't what this story is concerned with. Instead, Genesect focuses on those pokemon who have been physically tampered with for reasons that sort of fall under the blanket term of “science,” and it looks at how that impacts the animals themselves.
The two main pokemon for this film are Mewtwo and the newly resurrected genesects. Mewtwo, we learn through a flashback, has been somehow altered so that he can evolve (and reverse the process) at will. The experiment that caused this was excruciatingly painful, and so when Mewtwo escaped, he opted to remain free. Now he's a bit of a pokemon freedom fighter, swooping in wherever someone is being mistreated at the hands of, well, anyone. Mewtwo quickly forms a bond with the apparent youngest of the genesects, a sad little creature who just wants to go home. Unfortunately for her, “home” is 300 million years in the past, and Mewtwo and Ash have to come up with a solution that will stop the genesects from building population-threatening nests. In some regards, this is a very dark film in such a kid-friendly franchise, with the implication that the explosion that allowed Mewtwo to escape killed scientists and at least two instances where it looks as if Genesect has been killed. (Remember kids, people die, but pokemon only faint.) The cruel treatment of the pokemon is also surprising in that it is made very clear how much pain Mewtwo was in (although the scientists are shown smiling as they work on him) and the fact that no one appeared to care what would happen to the genesects once they had been revived. Ash, Iris, and Cilan, as well as the caretaker of Pokemon Hills, are almost unneeded in the movie, as Mewtwo gets most of the “hero” parts and the epic pokemon battle involves the pokemon fighting on their own with no human instruction.
Visually the movie is really stunning. The animation is smooth and the backgrounds gorgeous, with a fairly clean shift between CG and non-CG moments. The genesects all look a bit like the alien robots from the 1987 film *batteries not included, and actually move like them to a degree. They also make sounds sort of like a cat with a stuffy nose, which is presumably meant to sound like clicking. Recurring characters look basically the same, but the level of animation is still quite high, and one scene of Ash and Pikachu riding Genesect like a hoverboard is particularly good.
With only an hour and twelve minutes of runtime, Genesect spends no time lingering, but rather presses ahead quickly with its plot. It still manages to work on the emotions, however, and if Ash and his pals serve very little point (poor Iris suffers the most, as Cilan at one point does run off to get reinforcements), at least they're still less extraneous than Team Rocket, who really could have been left out of the film. The songs as well are not quite as good as some of those from previous movies, although they are still reasonably catchy.
Pokemon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened is cinematic in the scope of its art, pays attention to some of the darker aspects of the franchise's world, and as usual showcases a variety of interesting creatures against lovely backgrounds. It's the kind of kids' movie that you can either enjoy on your own or comfortably watch with a youngster (the grimmer aspects may go over their heads), and even if you aren't a huge pokemon fan, this movie still has enough going for it to make it a pretty good time.
Overall (dub) : B
Story : B
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : B
+ Engaging story with a conscience, Genesect is very sympathetic. Great animation and tons of pokemon to look at.
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