Review: “Pokémon: The Power of Us” One Of The Best Films To Come Out Of The Series
Following the success of “Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You” in 2017, another new “Pokémon” movie released in 2018 with “Pokémon: The Power of Us.” Putting a unique spin on the long-running series, this 21st anime installment is easily one of the best films to come out of the saga in years.
This time around, longtime director Kunihiko Yuyama has handed the reins to Tetsuo Yajima. Though Yuyama still retains an advisory role for this movie, Yajima’s work on the “XY” series and the acclaimed “Pokémon Origins” mini series helps make this movie a spectacular and emotionally-powerful reimagining of what has come before. Partnering with Studio WIT (“Attack on Titan,” “Seraph of the End”), the team at Oriental Light and Magic have crafted a distinct take on the world of Pokémon that uses many elements from the entirety of the series up to this point to create something of its own.
The story sees Ash and Pikachu crossing paths with a group of new characters during the annual “Festival of the Winds” in a place called Fula City. These include a young woman named Risa, a relative newcomer to the world of Pokémon who seeks to catch an Eevee for her younger brother Rick; who’s stuck in the hospital with a leg injury. There is also a timid scientist named Toren and a curmudgeonly old woman named Harriet. Other players in the story include a braggart named Callahan, his sister Mia and her daughter Kelly. Last, but not least are the city’s mayor, Oliver and his daughter Margo. Over the course of 100 minutes, their interactions flow naturally throughout the story as everyone must band together to save the city from disaster.
The film, much like “Pokémon The Movie 2000,” features Lugia in a supporting role; though this time the character is less of a plot device and more of an inspiration to everyone. There is also a new monster called Zeraora, who resembles a cat that moves as fast as lightning. On top of impressive battle scenes, the animation is full of bright colors and dynamic camera angles. The characters all have fluid movements and unique designs, and the artwork builds on the precedent set by the previous film in this new continuity (“Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution,” an all-CGI remake of the first “Pokémon” movie, is on track for release this summer in Japan).
The brief theatrical release of the film also had a reel of highlights from the history of the series, as well as some behind-the-scenes material of this May’s “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.” While not quite as dark as “Pokémon The Movie: I Choose You,” the film still has plenty of surprisingly dramatic moments surrounding the characters that shall not be spoiled here. The final battle in Fula City is among some of the best fights the series has produced over the years. The film also contains the final vocal performance in the series from longtime actor Unsho Ishizuka, who completed his work on the movie before passing away in 2018 at age 67.
Above all, “Pokémon: The Power of Us” is an excellent film that is among the best movies to come out of the series. With the success of “Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee,” more content in the wings for “Pokémon Go” and Generation VIII on the way for the Nintendo Switch, the future of the series looks brighter than ever.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars
Review by Steven Pryor
At a Glance:
Starring the voices of Sarah Natochenny, Haven Paschall, Billy Bob Thompson, Eddy Lee, Erica Schroeder, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Marc Thompson, Pete Zarustica, Michele Knotz, and Jimmy Zoppi with Ikue Ohtani and Unsho Ishizuka
Directed by Tetsuo Yajima (Based on characters created by Satoshi Tajiri)
Available on Disney XD on Demand (Coming to DVD and Blu-Ray March 19)