Following the rampant success of Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You last year comes a much anticipated, canonical sequel of sorts – Pokemon: The Power of Us. Whilst Pikachu might not be talking this time around, a treat reserved for next year’s Detective Pikachu courtesy of quip king Ryan Reynolds, he and the rest of the animated cast deliver a satisfyingly fluid feature that excels in all the ways a Pokemon movie should. Of the same caliber as I Choose You and visually superb, The Power of Us follows the entwined tales of Ash and an unlikely group of five, pulled together by the Wind Festival in the coastal Fula City.
To begin we’re introduced to Risa, a track and field runner coaxed into capturing a Pokemon for her dear injured brother, despite knowing nothing about them; she’s more into fashion than Feraligatrs. Then there’s the Mayor’s good-natured daughter Margot, keeping a secret from the whole town, whilst sheepish scientist Toren toils away with constant companion Chancey. Their stories collide with the brawny and boastful Calahan, whose constant lies become his undoing, as well as the embittered, elderly Harriet who despises all Pokemon, yet they seem to flock to her. It’s a fun crew who mingle and play off each other wonderfully, all receive some quite thorough character development in a light yet eloquent way, everyone getting time in the spotlight. Much like watching separate episodes of the show, the story arcs feed into each other to build a cohesive tale that’s ever ready to pose a new challenge to the gang as separate conflicts are slowly yet cleanly resolved. I never found myself bored, this is a story of people with their Pokemon, instead of Ash and his gang tackling a singular, legendary Pokemon for 2 hours. Whilst that too is an aspect of the narrative, it’s a strand the pulls the story along instead of being a dense, immovable focus, the mythic creature this time around being Zeraora, making his own animated debut.
With the timely worldwide distribution of electric-type Zeraora through Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon recently, allowing players an interactive introduction to the Mythical Pokemon, we get to finally see the bipedal tiger channel volts and plasma in some quite epic battle scenes. A long held strength of both the films and show is getting to see your favourite Pokemon waddle about and battle beyond turn-based combat, an entire menagerie of Pokemon from all generations, old and new, familiar and strange, are showcased throughout as extras, living alongside and battling with their trainers. Sunfloras dance, Xatus stare solmenly and a Tyranitar rages across the city; this may be the most varied cast of Pokemon we’ve ever seen in any of the films, and they’re all magnificently alive. Aptly tying in with the recently released Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, the adorable duo feature quite heavily, Risa tasked with catching and befriending an Eevee, who in a very touching way mirrors her own damages. The same could be said for liar Calahan who gains the unwanted adoration of a Sudowoodu, an apt partner who’s easily the star of the entire movie. The nature of the narrative, the union of people and Pokemon, slyly instills a sense of excitement for your own journey as a player in the Switch titles, having your own Pokemon and going on your own journey is that much more enticing after basking in the Power Of Us’ animated beauty.
What must also be commended is the voice acting, an enthused and deliciously deluded Team Rocket make a return, Jessie but more specifically James offer their usual wacky, yet useless spiel yet somehow manage to be directly responsible for the grand calamity that befalls Fula City towards the film’s climax. Theatrical and cartoonish, Team Rocket return, and I’ve never enjoyed their presence in any media more than here, soley based on the voice work of the trio, or quartet if we’re including Wobbuffet, which we certainly should. Additionally, the narrator’s crisp voice awakens such strong nostalgia it’ll whisk you straight back to childhood watching the show, only now the world, the sounds, the sights and the animation is that much better after 20 years. The title “The Power of Us” serves as a throwback to the second Pokemon movie “The Power of One”, with good reason as nearly 2 decades later, beloved Legendary Pokemon Lugia makes it’s return to a feature length film. Despite appearing in trailers, the towering water bird appears very briefly at the climax to save the city thanks to the combined efforts of Risa and Eevee, disappearing as quickly as it arrived, much like Cher at the end of Mamma Mia 2, but with less plastic surgery.
All in all, Pokemon movies are aimed at a younger audience. Whilst The Power of Us is no exception, it mostly transcends twee story-telling in favour of a more humble, human story, with more than enough nostalgia-laden content to make long-term fans feel right at home, it’s a gorgeous animation that any fan can enjoy. Adorable, exciting and humorous, The Power of Us is easily the most enjoyable Pokemon movie in decades, a celebration of over 20 years of fun that’ll engage fans from start to finish. It’s a particularly nostalgia heavy period for Pokemon, but with the western Detective Pikachu on the horizon and a duo of mysterious, core Pokemon titles headed to the Switch, now is the perfect time to revel with a Pikachu on your shoulder.
Pokémon The Movie: The Power of Us is in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on the 24th November and 1st December; tickets www.fathomanimation.com
Remoteplay were provided with a preview invitation by Cinevents to Pokemon: The Power of Us.
A must-see for any fan of any age wanting to relive the joy of Pokemon.