Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us (2 stars)

Pokemon The Movie: The Power of Us

The latest big screen outing for the Pokémon brand is for fans only

Pokémon fans, as many and diverse as the vast menagerie of pocket monsters they adore, have had plenty of fuel for their anime fetish since Pokémon: The First Movie arrived in 1998. Fresh interest has been stirred by augmented reality game Pokémon Go and the forthcoming Detective Pikachu live action revamp, so the 21st Pokémon movie gets a cinematic airing to raise the brand profile during the pre-Christmas toy bonanza.

The Power of Us is a direct sequel to 2017's reboot I Choose You!, taking place in an alternate reality. Trainer Ash Ketchum and his pal Pikachu head to a wind festival, where various factions are competing in a Pokémon gathering competition. Ash's empathetic bond with Pikachu is in stark contrast to the rather grasping tactics employed by his rival Callahan, but Ash shows his best side by helping novice collector Risa with her first captures before nefarious Pokémon exploiters Team Rocket interrupt the contest.

The film's Japanese title 'Everyone's Story' indicates how The Power of Us sets out to widen the franchise's appeal: Tetsuo Yajima takes over from series regular Kunihiko Yuyama as director, and has created an accessible, stand-alone film that needs no context. Despite a slew of uncalled for promotional material bolted on before the film begins properly, the concepts are simple to grasp. The cheerful co-existence of humans and creatures is the point, and the genial message makes up for the crudeness of the animated style.

Regrettably, The Power of Us offers little to convert new recruits – it's a candy-coloured advert that effectively showcases product. Those who have already bought into the mythology might find enough to enjoy; casual viewers may feel, like the cantankerous elderly lady featured here, that they have been 'buried in an avalanche of Pokémon'.

General release from Sat 24 Nov.

Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us

  • 2 stars
  • 2018
  • Japan
  • 1h 37min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Tetsuo Yajima
  • Cast: James Carter Cathcart, Megumi Hayashibara, Inuko Inuyama

The 21st movie in the Pokémon series and sequel to the rebooted Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!