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I mentioned in a status update that I've been a fan of Pokémon since I was 4. As such, I have been a fan for 20 years of its currently 21-year existance in the US. People say it's just a cartoon for little kids. You know what else is? My Little Pony. And look where that franchise is today. Tom And Jerry, Scooby Doo, and SpongeBob SquarePants are "just" cartoons. That doesn't mean they aren't popular. Pokémon has had a massive impact on my life. It taught me to read. My war veteran grandfather and I played together, and even traded Pokémon! I cried at Bye Bye Butterfree, and I still do. I cried for a half hour straight after Pokémon Ranger And The Temple Of The Sea. When my cousin moved back from Michigan, the first thing we talked about was Pokémon. When my dad caught me smuggling something, it wasn't drugs. It was a copy of Pokémon Silver from his house. So, obviously, I wasn't about to miss the 20th anniversary movie.
Only 2 theatres in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida, were showing it. Hollywood 20 and AMC. I chose the AMC, as a ticket was cheaper there. 2 of my 3 younger brothers accompanied me. One 17, the other 7. There was not at all any question that we would enjoy it. The 17-year-old ordered a large slushie, and the 7-year-old had a kid's meal. I ordered a cheeseburger slider combo meal. That, unfortunately, was a bad decision. It had to be cooked, and I missed the first 2 minutes. The 17-year-old assured me that all I missed was essentially Nidorino vs. Gengar, a la the Red and Blue intro. What I did see was nothing short of phenomenal, and those 2 minutes are no longer too big of a deal. About 10 minutes in, the opening credits start, accompanied by a heart-pounding rendition of the original Pokémon theme, which I lip-synced as fervently as if I was singing it at a rock concert.
I had assumed that the movie would be a retelling of the Indigo League arc of the Pokémon anime. It was, but only partially. You all know the story by now. A 10-year-old begins a journey through the Kanto region with a Pikachu. But SO much more happens! Brock and Misty are nowhere to be seen until the end credits. But Ash has 2 friends from Sinnoh who follow him. One of them happens to be the daughter of Cynthia, the Sinnoh League champion. All 3 have aspirations. Ash, of course, wants to be a Pokémon master. The girl wants her mother's acceptance. And the boy wants to become a Pokémon professor. The girl has a Piplup, and the boy has a Lucario.
So, the 3 go on a journey, as would be expected. But Ash is in possession of a Rainbow Wing. Basically, a feather from Ho-Oh. In the first episode, Ash saw Ho-Oh. The movie is basically about him chasing Ho-Oh, as well as friends and experience. He meets an abandoned Charmander, soon seen to belong to an absolute dick who kicks it when it tries to hug him. This is based on an episode, and becomes a big plot point. Ash wants to show him there are no worthless Pokémon. Along the way, Ash is followed by Marshadow, who eventually becomes the main antagonist. Ash breaks free from Marshadow's corruption, leaving Marshadow to look elsewhere for a host. Unfortunately, in the climax, Marshadow gets ahold of the Rainbow Wing, and gains massive power from it. I won't spoil the climax beyond that. It has to be seen to be believed. I spent the last half of the movie not just crying, but sobbing. Pretty much from their re-creation of Bye Bye Butterfree to the end. My 7-year-old brother repeatedly told me "it's okay."
Do I recommend this movie? Fuck. Yes. Do you love Pokémon? You'll be on the edge of your seat throughout the thrilling, theatre-shaking battles. Do you hate Pokémon? Then watch it, to see what you're missing. It's not just a cartoon. It's a heart-wrenching masterpiece that it should be criminal to miss.