- Released Date
- July 2001
- 1 hr. 15 min.
- Studio Jack
Pokémon 4ever is a 2001 Adventure Fantasy anime film that many are considered to be the last of the Pokémon movie “classics”, but is it? Having grown up in the late ’90s and was succumbed to the Pokémon fever I was enthralled and will forever be part of my childhood. Although, I did enjoy the show as a child and continue to sporadically watch the movies to this day I can’t wear nostalgia goggles when reviewing anything. Considering that the movie came out in the early 2000s means that a majority of children – much like myself – grew up with the series and movies, but unfortunately that’s the most challenging.
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Since the film is a Shounen anime film (“young boy” demographic) the film’s plot isn’t that challenging to follow. Forty years ago, a boy named Sammy saved the legendary Pokémon of the forest, Celebi, from a Pokémon hunter’s hands. However, when trying to evade the hunter Celebi uses its time-traveling abilities, and transports both itself and Sammy to the present! Ash, Brock, and Misty find the duo and with the help of Celebi, Sammy is soon on his way back home – until, the sinister Iron-Masked Marauder arrives. He’s on a mission to capture Celebi, and he has a few tricks up his sleeve capable of turning any Pokémon onto his side.
Watching this film without retaining all the details of the Pokémon series – at least the very beginning – I was glad that they spent a couple of moments of “how it all started”. The story has a good amount of adult humor, but nothing outside of tame. After watching this film a few times, I noticed that although it isn’t the most intense kids’ anime film, I was quite interested in it. Whether it was the nostalgia kicking in, or that the pacing was pretty solid means that it’ll keep even the newest Pokémon lovers – or soon to be a lover – attention.
The animation of this film is well created, but that isn’t surprising considering that at the time – and arguably still is – one of the most loved franchises worldwide. Unfortunately, that is also its weakest point for example, some scenes were beautifully cinematic, unfortunately, a good majority of them weren’t. The very few scenes with great cinematography are buried under the poorly aged CGI scenes, mainly where there is fast movement. Considering that the film sets it up where the viewer knows there’s going to be a good versus evil Pokémon battle gives the viewer potentially a mixed view of the quality. Now it is understandable that from the time this movie was released to now technology is worlds different, but the point of a movie is to make sure people will want to watch and buy it right?
When you take out the low-quality CGI scenes overall the movie has perfectly aged, but unfortunately a majority of the time the forest scenes are CGI created and the main Pokémon protects the forest. Makes this movie weaker, but I will admit that the film did have a better “wow” factor then I expected. Especially when the theme song is being played, that mixed with the great use of technology and the thought of every child singing the theme song made it more enjoyable. Surprisingly when that happens it’s short-lived when it’s obvious that the film has no set theme music. It wasn’t something that would have made it better or broke it off for me, but it did make me feel a little lost without it.
The characters of this movie are pretty bland, but after so many years of having Ash, Misty and Brock together its expectable to understand that there isn’t any new ground to cover for them. No matter what though Ash, a ten-year-old Pokémon trainer whose working his way to be a Pokémon Master. By his side is his closest companion Pikachu, but even in this movie, Pikachu takes a supporting role. Misty has been in this series – up to this point – since the very first episode but has very little lines in the film same with Brock. This is unfortunate because Brock though may be girl-crazy he is the levelheaded person of the group, while Misty is a strong – yet caring – independent female of the trio. So, when the movie is revolving around Ash, a person who cares deeply for Pokémon is in the main spotlight for the entire time gives no growth.
The obvious star of the film is Celebi, which is perfect. A brand-new Pokémon should have the main focus of the film. Celebi, a two-foot green psychic and grass-type Pokémon, but don’t let its short stature fool you, this little guardian packs a wallop of a punch. Like most Pokémon in the Pokémon universe, Celebi can’t be understood by humans. Which doesn’t stop anyone from understanding it?
Now Sammy, on the other hand, is quite hard to talk about. Not because they are a bad character but due to that we only know that he’s an artist that draws any Pokémon he sees and is brought into the future. We don’t know anything much, until the last minutes of the film and quite frankly the “surprise” ending isn’t that surprising. I’m not going to spoil it due to being against spoilers, but they allude to it pretty hard in the beginning. Unfortunately, this weakens the whole thing for me and potentially any viewer because they took the easy way out. They didn’t need to bring that up or just do a slight nudge for people to watch the film again so they can catch it.
Looking at this film as a whole, I understand that a large number of people love it and could consider it a classic. I did have a decent amount of enjoyment of this film and even the messages in the film were well done, albeit not perfect there have been better films that have conquered the topics of protecting the earth like Princess Mononoke. While it isn’t a perfect film, it did make me teary-eyed a few times which shows that the movie did its job of having me care about these characters. While I don’t fully condone that this film is a classic and understanding that it was part of my childhood – and probably yours too at some point – I can’t deny that this is a lukewarm film. With all the faults this film has it does have the level of entertainment for its targeted audience. If you are wanting to get into the franchise anime series and films while also not knowing where to begin. Then this is a great starter for them, outside of that it’s a decent movie that doesn’t have enough positives to be considered a true Pokémon classic.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.