Pokémon The Movie: The Power of Us (2018)

Tetsuo Yajima
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Starring: Sarah Natochenny, Ikue Ōtani, Michele Knotz, James Carter Cathcart, Erica Schroeder, Rina Kawaei, Eddy Lee, Billy Bob Thompson, Laurie Hymes, Pete Zarustica

After the successful 20th anniversary celebration that was last year's I Choose You, the new timeline following Ash and Pikachu is continued on. Lugia may be brought back, but this isn't another remake of already told tales, instead opting for an original story, while introducing a new Pokémon named Zeraora into the fold. The latest adventure sees Ash and Pikachu visiting Fura City, a city run on Wind Power bestowed by the Legendary Pokémon, Lugia. Occurring at the time is the Wind Festival, a celebration between people and their Pokémon, which sees an assortment of characters come together.

Introduced to stand along the anime leads are a mixture of original characters, including a former runner afraid to get past a former injury, a man who can't stop lying to impress his niece, a researcher lacking in confidence, and an elderly lady who dislikes Pokémon. There are great ideas here for the tales and character arcs, but there's too many characters fighting for screentime to deliver their thin plots. It's as though the screenwriters knew they didn't have enough plot for a feature length film, so kept trying to throw more in, which just feels like padding things out. A subplot about poachers especially feels superfluous, and fails to deal with the poor creatures these villains have already captured for goodness knows what nefarious purposes.

Despite that, it's a fun time had, especially for fans of the franchise. The visual animation is delivered in a stunning manner, with a great deal of life being found in these characters, and especially the various Pokémon which keep popping up throughout. There's more character found in Sudowoodo and Chansey than many big budget ensemble features deliver (looking at you, Suicide Squad), with little things like this which makes this world feel utterly believable. On top of that, there's a nice message about owning up to past mistakes and learning from them, which feels rather timely.

Pokémon The Movie: The Power of Us is a great time for returning fans, no matter the age, and a terrific showcase of visual animation in a believable world. It may not appeal to franchise newbies, but more than justifies its own existence.