Pokémon: The First Movie centers on Mewtwo, the most powerful Pokémon in existence, and his search for the meaning of life. Genetically engineered, Mewtwo rebels against the scientists who created him, destroys the laboratory which was his home, then sets out to purge the world of all who oppose him and establish himself as ruler. He summons Pokémon trainers Ash, Brock, and Misty to his island fortress to prove himself “the Greatest Pokémon Trainer in the World” and to clone their Pokémon as soldiers and citizens of his new world. Mew, the genetic parent of Mewtwo appears in the thick of things, and an epic battle between cloned and uncloned Pokémon ensues. For a synopsis of the 20-minute short film Pikachu’s Vacation, which preceeds Pokémon: The First Movie click here.
Positive Elements: Mewtwo realizes that there must be meaning in life (“Am I only a copy? Just Mew’s shadow? But why am I here? What is my purpose?”). Ash continually shows care for his Pokémon, treating them as friends. The Pokémon trainers are told to follow their hearts if they want to become Pokémon masters. In the end, clones and natural Pokémon are recognized as both having worth and life is viewed as valuable. The fighting between the two groups for supremacy is viewed as horrible and senseless (Pikachu refuses to fight his clone; Ash gives his life to end the battle). Mewtwo ultimately repents of his meglomaniacle scheme and flies off with his clones to learn more about the mystery of life. He says that it’s not how you’re born that matters, but “it’s what you do with the gift of life which determines what you are.”
Spiritual Content: A prophecy is mentioned early in the movie and initially received with doubt, but it is proved true during the final battle on Mewtwo’s island. Mew and Mewtwo have the ability to fly, communicate without speaking, move people with the sheer power of their minds, create invisible protective shields and shoot balls of energy.
Sexual Content: None.
Violent Content: While not explicit or bloody, there is still an unusually large amount of violence for a G-rated film. In the first ten minutes Mewtwo demolishes a laboratory and a Pokémon trainer’s complex (presumably killing everyone within both structures), and fights scores of Pokémon in arena matches. Ash also fights a trainer’s Pokémon to gain his invitation to Mewtwo’s island. Ash, Brock, and Misty nearly drown to death in a storm. Mewtwo bashes up trainers and Pokémon alike when they first challenge his authority. In one terrifying scene, Ash tries to save Pikachu from the bowels of a cloning machine and is seized by scores of mechanized claws. A fierce (and lengthy) battle ensues between Mewtwo’s and Ash’s factions with numerous scenes of Pokémon being beaten into wounded exhaustion. Ash runs between Mew and Mewtwo and is struck down by energy blasts. Pikachu tries to resuscitate him with electric shocks and cannot (he is later revived through the fulfillment of the aforementioned prophecy).
Crude or Profane Language: None.
Drug and Alcohol Content: None.
Other Negative Elements: While the messages about the value of life are good, kids could easily misconstrue that one’s inherent worth is determined by what he does. Parents should remind them that our intrinsic value comes from the fact that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Summary: Pokémon: The First Movie, despite being poorly animated and having a featherweight plot, has garnered huge box office tallies and drawn in scores of fans. Rampant popularity, however, isn’t sufficient reason for parents to cart the kids to the multiplex. It’s a wonder how this film secured a G-rating. While not explicit and ending with a largely positive message, the violent scenes are bound to frighten some children and monosyllabatic dialogue will likely do the same to parents.