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Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution Movie Review

A fully remade imagining of Pokémon: The First Movie.

Reviewed by on Mar 02, 2020
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Finally arriving overseas, Netflix has released Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution. Does the remake stand up to the original? Read our movie review to find out more!

I, like many, have a long history with Pokémon. When I saw the news that The First Movie was to be remade as a CGI film, I was skeptical. As a fan of the 1990’s anime, I just couldn’t imagine how the movie could be improved in this new style. All in all, Evolution ends up being a mostly worthy successor to The First Movie, that improves the presentation of many scenes, while losing the impact of others. How does the rest of the movie stack up?

Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution Trailer




The movie introduces us to Mewtwo, a man-made Pokémon of great power, that breaks free from captivity and unleashes his will upon the world. Caught up in that are the familiar trio of Ash Ketchum, Brock and Misty as well as their Pokémon (like Pikachu of course) in the middle of their training. Add the villainous Team Rocket organization to the mix, and you have a setup for a colossal adventure. Mewtwo was created from the eyelash of the Legendary Pokémon, Mew, and for the sole purpose of being a weapon for Team Rocket’s leader Giovanni. Mewtwo struggles with his identity, yearning to know what his true purpose is, and breaks free from the lab of his birth. Dr. Fuji, an expert on cloning was assigned to the Mewtwo project, partly thanks to a mission to try and resurrect his daughter who had passed away. Evolution greatly shrinks this opening chapter from the original film, and his motivations are less clear as a result. Evolution, instead of expanding on ideas, often shortens them, and the whole thing feels much less impactful because of it. The scenes that are here though are much more dynamic thanks to the virtual camera movements and more lifelike visuals especially in the environment. The world is incredibly colorful, with grass and nature popping out of the screen beautifully.

Mewtwo is a powerful, man made Pokémon.Mewtwo is a powerful, man made Pokémon.

The Visuals and Changes

As great as late 90’s anime looks, there are times when Evolution’s new style shines. The Pokémon themselves are often a middle ground between the show’s animated style and Detective Pikachu’s more realistic versions. They all have texture, fur, and appear as if you can reach out and touch them in a way that makes every monster’s appearance a delight. The battles themselves can be exhilarating, but the characters around them often don’t feel as lovable as they once did. The new voice actors do their best to embody their characters, but without seeing the backstories of each in this new style, it is much harder to empathize with them. Understandably, the lip-syncing is a bit off as is usually the case for Japanese films, but in some cases, the audio keeps going for a bit too long after the character on screen finishes talking. The cast is still just as recognizable as ever, with everyone’s signature quirks shining through, it just takes some getting used to. Fans who have kept up with the anime might have an easier time adjusting.  

Ash and friends are back in the new CGI visuals.Ash and friends are back in the new CGI visuals.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it is hard not to feel like Evolution is a mixed bag despite the few positive changes. In some ways, it is a step up from the original film, but more corners are cut than might have been necessary. The CGI visuals range from good with the Pokémon, to flat and lifeless with many of the human characters outside of the main cast. The world stands out as breathtaking at times, and easily makes up for some of the visual shortcomings. Pieces of the story being shortened made the film worse off in the end, but longtime fans will appreciate seeing a few key scenes updated for 2020. If you can find a copy of Pokémon: The First Movie, and are interested in the story of Mewtwo, I would recommend watching that instead. If all you have is Netflix, and just want to enjoy some Pokémon action, it is certainly going to satisfy. Also check out this fun Pokémon crossword puzzle!

Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution Movie Rating: 3

Pikachu is always cute, no matter what.Pikachu is always cute, no matter what.

Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution is streaming now on Netflix!

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think? Are you going to check out Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution on Netflix? Let us know below!

By Noah Friscopp