This review includes spoilers.
First, happy belated Pokémon Day, and second, Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution is fucking perfect. I know we’re inundated by remake upon remake, sequel upon sequel, but this particular one deserves rights! Originally released last year in Japan, Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution has made its way to Netflix. If you were a fan of the 1998 Pokémon: The First Movie, then you will love this remake. The crucial difference is that this new one is CGI-rendered, which is kind of a jarring style on the humans, but extremely cool on Pokémon. I’m of the opinion that Ash and the gang kind of look like animated Play-Doh, while the extra details on Pokémons, like being able to see the texture of their fur or scales, really bring them to life. (Yes, I enjoyed Pokémon Detective Pikachu for those reasons. I’m team furry Jiggly Puff.)
DIRECTORS: Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara
As a remake of the 1998 film ‘Pokémon: The First Movie’, ‘Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution’ is a faithful CGI adaptation and a masterpiece.
The movie is not a shot-for-shot recreation of the original, but the plot is pretty much the same: Mewtwo is made by humans, goes through an existential crisis, and then tries to prove its superiority to humans and natural-born Pokémon. Oof. First of all, Mewtwo is extremely relatable. Have we all not wondered at night about why we exist? Second of all, Mewtwo needs therapy.
Instead of therapy, Mewtwo invites trainers it deems strong to its very gothic, very dramatic island, and proceeds to challenge the trainers and their Pokémon to battle their clones. Right before everything devolves into an all-out Pikachu versus Pikachu clone fight, Mew, who is not only the most powerful Pokémon but the most adorable, makes its presence known to everybody.
Ostensibly, Mewtwo, who hasn’t sorted out its issues, views Mew’s existence as a threat to its own and believes that only one of them can exist. So Mewtwo and Mew go at it, and the rest of the Pokémons and their clones also start fighting. It’s all very sad and violent, and the saddest moment is when Pikachu is getting slapped around by its clone because the original refuses to fight.
Some other highlights of the movie: Pikachu crying and electrocuting Ash’s petrified corpse over and over again in an attempt to bring its favorite human back, Ash being brought back to life by the Pokémon’s collective sadness (you have to love kids’ movies), Misty and Brock NOT crying over Ash’s death (what the fuck, guys), and Team Rocket’s absolute uselessness.
I know Team Rocket are our favorite scammers, but they really have no role in this movie. I enjoyed their impromptu acapella when they’re “in disguise” and are offering Ash, Misty, and Brock a ride to Mewtwo’s island, but otherwise, I’m not quite sure how they contributed to the plot. Thanks, as always, to Meoweth for translating Pokémon-speak, I guess.
Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution is memorable for delivering a pretty inspirational story and asking a deep question for a kids’ movie: Do the circumstances of our birth define us or do we define ourselves? When I was a kid, I deeply sympathized with Mewtwo and was always on its side, rooting for its unconventional journey. Now, watching the remake as an adult, I honestly have to say the prototypical team Mewtwo or team Ash choice is a false binary. I’m team Mew: existential angst is real, but does it matter when you’re playfully messing with Meoweth, joyfully experimenting with a windmill, and just generally having a damn good time?
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