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What Makes a Pokemon Movie Good?

Discussion in 'Pokémon Animé Discussion' started by U.N. Owen, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night ...

    We here love to say how bad the XY movies are, especially that Hoopa Movie. Now, let's reverse it: what exactly makes a Pokemon movie good? We all know a good story does, but let's dig a bit deeper.
     
  2. Red and Blue

    Red and Blue Well-Known Member

    An interesting villain helps. The villain might either make or break your film. Of course you could always have no villain and have the conflict come from another source. Which is what they did to good effect in movie 8.

    Aside from that more originallity helps. Most of the movies in the past follows the same formula with very little variation. Despite that I appreciate that movie 20 and 21 are at least trying something a bit new with AU Ash.
     
    Pokegirl Fan~ likes this.
  3. TheWanderingMist

    TheWanderingMist Pikachu is stronger than Ash-Greninja.

    Other than a good story? But a good story is all that really matters. Because you can't have a good story unless the characters are interesting. And I've said this before, but the first 3 movies serve as well-done deconstructions of the main themes of the franchise (battling, collecting, and companionship in that order).

    Mewtwo Strikes Back is good because it ties directly into the anime, feeling more like an extended arc-climax episode than a movie. Plus, at least in the original Japanese, there was the whole "which is better, clone or natural?" debate between Mewtwo and Mew.

    Pokemon The Movie 2000 is good because it's the first movie to have a villain with entirely selfish goals that nearly cause the world to fall into ruin due to his actions.

    Spell of The Unown has the perfect antagonist for Pokemon, a show built around helping characters of the day. Since she's approximately 5 or 6 and lost both of her parents in a relatively short timeframe, not to mention gaining god-like powers from the Unown, she can't be dealt with like other villains and has to be calmly talked down until she sees what she's done wrong.

    Pokemon 4Ever already showed signs of slipping into a formula for the movies, and by Heroes that formula was basically set in stone. Since then, the movies have varied in quality of story.

    Spectacular visual effects also help, since Pokemon can't go for the "so bad, it's amazing" route, although it's a bit unfair to compare them this way, as animation improves drastically over time.
     
  4. Power Up

    Power Up A little crazy never hurt anyone

    I thought the Diancie movie was pretty decent. Maybe a 5 or 6

    Anyway, they’ve become bad because the movies have been come extremely formulaic with the same exact scenarios happening in each one of course with a bit variance
     
  5. Ignition

    Ignition Couldn't care less even if I tried

    The only movies I like are the AG & DP ones with a guilty pleasure for the Volcanion movie. I find these movies to have the best use of their movie exclusive supporting cast, the impact of the legendaries didn't feel like they're just rampaging but that they're actual beings (ik Mewtwo had that), and that the cast were all actually involved with the story (look how AG let May & Max have their own Legendary Pokémon to bond with). These are also the movies that best display the power of legends and you feel like the world is at stake
     
  6. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night ...

    I said to dig deeper than just the generic good story because 90% of responses would be good story posts.

    As for your sentiment on visual effects, I agree that they do a lot to help a good story.
     
  7. DatsRight

    DatsRight Well-Known Member

    I feel like the movies could do better giving the protagonists more personal involvement, rather than making them feel like passers by in some big plot involving a legendary and a COTD. Maybe that's why so many think the first few movies did a better job story wise, especially the first and third ones, since it felt like Ash had more motivations besides stock heroics and also a more personal complex antagonist that they couldn't just beat up.
     
  8. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie 桜咲くこの坂を 今も上っている

    I think it's a good thing for films to be stand-alone films, and for the most part Pokémon handled that well, but that doesn't seem to be the case much these days. It's a bonus if it can tie into the main anime in some form or another (which far as I can tell only the first film did this canonically), but it should be condensed in its own little thing for easier consumption and won't have to make the audience feel like they need to know everything going into it. On top of that, it just needs to act and feel like a movie that you would sit and watch in a theater, and not have it be like a Saturday morning cartoon selling you toys. It's hard for a series that was created as such from the beginning, I get it, there just needs to be something there for everyone to enjoy and not just the kids screeching about Pikachu and the newest Pokémon.

    On a character-level, there needs to be actual purpose to them when you name them. There's too many nobodies in Pokémon movies that don't do more than just give expositions and then blend into the background afterwards. Give them purpose. Make them feel like they're part of the world, which is another thing that sometimes feels lacking, the world-building. It's not enough to just have pretty backgrounds, the characters need to interact with their environments. That's why Heroes is one of my favorites in terms of Pokémon movie locations; yes, Alto Mare's based entirely off of Venice, but it feels like an actual place in the Pokémon world. Mystery of Mew may have the Tree of Beginning and Rise of Darkrai has the awesome Oracion clock tower and the garden Darkrai lives in, but I otherwise couldn't tell you what the location they're from is called without looking it up because it didn't feel important enough to remember.

    Also, bring back permanent character deaths. They're kids' films, yes, but that doesn't mean there can't be main character deaths even if they're just for heroic sacrifices. Besides, the movies feel too safe, I don't get the sensation anyone's ever in peril every time they actually try to attempt to "save the world" or what not, and therefore we're not getting any other heroes who aren't Ash.
     
    Denko Sekka likes this.
  9. Leonhart

    Leonhart Disney fanatic

    Interesting characters is a good start, especially when it comes to villains. That's what the Giratina movie excelled at thanks to Zero's involvement.
     
    Denko Sekka likes this.
  10. DatsRight

    DatsRight Well-Known Member

    I dunno, you can place in a proper emotional and threat level without killing anyone. Hell in some cases the character deaths can be just as formulaic as anything if the character blatantly just exists to be killed, and somehow the rest of the cast are immune to the same things that get rid of them.

    The anime itself suffers from this problem and it's down to plot armour, and the increased unwillingness to put the cast in tense enough situations. Hell they tend to avoid having the protagonists suffer non-slapstick pain as much as possible these days, a lot of them rarely even have their Pokemon get hurt. Not to mention the fact such situations are often very black and white and have no amount of personal conflict for the protagonist to undergo. Stop a generic bad guy (or something else stops it for them a lot of the time) and happy ending. Happy endings can still work if there is personal hardships that earn it, but too often the twerps don't do enough to make me invested in them winning.

    The Mirage Pokemon special was a good use of a character death but that was because of the effect it had on this ending compared other case, largely because the actual protagonists had to pull the trigger unwillingly, testing their moral limits to do the right thing, thus making the outcome much more bittersweet.

    I remember getting kinda sick of the Sonic franchise constantly introducing or bowing out characters for the purpose of sad death scenes, after a while it seems like a cheap way to pull on heartstrings over using proper pathos and personality.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  11. Ryu Taylor

    Ryu Taylor Unwavering beliefs

    The less obviously it exists to advertize a Mythical, the better.
    The more creative it can be (which is possible even if relying on the usual formula), the better.
     
  12. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie 桜咲くこの坂を 今も上っている

    I say that because that was something I think would've worked in a movie like Legend Awakened without feeling formulaic as it'd bring Mewtwo's character arc full circle (despite how much I and other Mewtwo fans would be heartbroken over it). The Genesect were already set up to be direct foils to Mewtwo, the Red Genesect especially. Awakening a new power would've given Mewtwo the opportunity to defeat Red after numerous attempts to get him to change his ways. But for being such an unrepentant asshole (seriously, he was, that's why the ending was so stupid) with no respect for life, he would have to be eliminated to prevent more loss of life, and Mewtwo would be that heroic sacrifice, albeit not in a traditional heroic sense.

    I'd get it if Kunihiko didn't want to work with Mewtwo's character because he was Takeshi Shudo's to work with, but goddamn it was just so insulting there was no thought put into the dynamic between Mewtwo and Genesect.
     
  13. Ashton Ketchum

    Ashton Ketchum Well-Known Member

    Well, in my opinion - BW movies are more worse. Especially - this idiotic Keldeo movie. XY movies was improvement, like for main series. Those movies have unique atmosphere, which BW movies not have. AG movies have more adventure atmosphere, DP dark atmosphere, and XY atmosphere of fairy tale. Of corse, XY movies started not so much like movies of pre-BW generations. Diancie movie more better than all BW movies, but have unused potential with 3 villain side and stupid introducing of this Cocoon of Destruction in final. Hoopa movie have problem have problem too (c'mon, Clemont! You forgot about your Bunnelby?!), but was fun, and even TRio finally do something in Pokemon movie. Volcanion movie was final improvement, with good written story, problematic with Volcanion, good villain (in one level with Lawerence III and Grings Kodai), and epic big scale in final.
    And that's make Pokemon movies good: balanced fun, strong story (of corse), unique atmosphere for each generation, interesting and/or just good COTD (character(s) of the day), not less good villain, pretty big menace and pretty big epic scale. And I hope - if Tetsuo Yajima be director for next movies (and whole series after 25th season), it growing up in new high level, and even have little bond with main story of Saga(s). Plus - Follow to trend of Marvel Studios movies, and make for each new movie post-credit scenes, for intrigue, or joke about patience ( [​IMG] ), depend of situation.
     
  14. lolipiece

    lolipiece Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Creativity? Variety? An actually good story?

    Like, most movies aren't bad (except for Diancie; that was awful), but I truly feel that, for the most part, they've lost their touch. A lot of plots end up being "evil guy wants the main Pokemon or mystical power source because they're evil" or "main Pokemon is angry because of insert reason here". It's monotonous. It doesn't help that they just stopped trying to make characters other than Ash be important most of the time. Remember when both May and Max got their own movies? Heck, remember when characters outside of the main cast actually appeared in movies outside of cameos in the ending credits?

    The last Pokemon movie that honestly tried to do something truly, completely interesting with its premise was the third movie. There was no villain, no grand epic thing the heroes need to find or rescue, it was just a story about a sad little girl, being given immense power she was too young to fully understand how to use and the consequences of such a thing happening. Everyone was helpful, both Brock and Misty as well as Team Rocket, who I question why are even in these movies if they're not going to actually do anything of note. And as a bonus, they even made Deliaa minor character that's mostly irrelevant outside of her relationship with the main characterimportant! Spell of the Unown is great...STILL want that T-Rex movie, though.

    Like, Movie 4 also did something interesting what with the Sammy plot twist (mostly in the original since they blatantly spell it out to the audience in the dub), but it still falls into the "evil bad is an evil bad guy" plot, and it slowly gets more unoriginal from there.

    I mean, I still watch them because I'm a sheep who loves this franchise despite its faults, but that doesn't mean I don't want it to improve.

    I Choose You, despite its missteps, was a step in the right direction, and I'm hoping The Power of Us is a giant leap.
     
    VoltTacklingPika likes this.
  15. Twilight-Kun

    Twilight-Kun Pokemon World Champion

    I like it when the movie is more about the pokémon than the people, such as the Zoroark and Keldeo movies

    First three movies were great

    Four was eh

    Five was cute

    Six was unrelentingly godawful

    Seven was middle of the road

    Eight and Nine were excellent

    Ten-Twelve were a single continuous narrative, which was a lot of fun

    Thirteen was splendid

    Fourteen was interesting with its two versions

    Fifteen was great

    Sixteen was a lot of fun

    Seventeen had gorgeous set pieces

    Eighteen was a godzilla movie

    Nineteen was Victorian Steampunk

    Twenty was modernized Kanto without the grimderp Shudo influence

    Twenty-one is a character piece with a pokémon aesthetic

    Twenty-two is a reimagining with modern ideals


    Some good, some bad, some memorable, others not
    There's at least one movie or series of movies for everyone
     
    FlygontheRavager likes this.
  16. Aduro

    Aduro Mt.BtlMaster

    I think Ash and the others need to enter the story naturally. For me the best movie was Spell of the Unown, because its a movie where the stakes were deeply personal for Ash. His mother was in danger and he was also effectively trying to save a childhood friend. Ash should also develop some kind of interesting relationship with one of the characters in the movie. It made him a much more believable character. I don't need most of the movie clogged down with the backstory of a bunch of movie-exclusive supporting characters before Ash gets dropped in and does nearly all the work. Half the movies would be better with its original characters, rather than Ash as the hero.

    The legendaries which the movies always focus on should be interesting, layered characters. Rather than super annoying brats or emotionaless powerhouses which act as maguffins. The gold standards are Lucario, Darkrai and Mewtwo. If they can do it through the pokemon talking with telepathy, that's okay. But if they can do well it with the pokemon showing its emotions through sounds and body language like an animal, that's even better. Basically, jf a movies is dedicating most of its runtime to selling merchandise of a specific mon, that mon shouldn't be boring.

    The stakes should also be huge. We're effectively talking about conflicts between gods, or man and god most of the time. The consequences should be awe-inspiring. Like in 2000 or Heroes.
     
  17. What makes a Pokemon movie good is the same as what makes any movie good: strong themes and ideas tied around a flawed character who changes on the course of his journey.

    I mention strong themes and ideas because I feel how well these are integrated into a story determine how good that story is. Mewtwo Strikes Back is a cheese-fest but the theme of co-existence is noticeable throughout the film. You have Mewtwo who starts out believing that humans and Pokemon cannot coexist but realises after Ash's sacrifice that he was wrong. He tries to vindicate his existence through sheer brute force but realises that the circumstances of one's birth does not determine one's value. In the end, you have a character who is flawed but changes while presenting a strong and memorable theme. It's been over a decade since I've seen it but I still remember it.

    Crucially, Mewtwo is also a compelling character. As I go through the movies, the characters become less interesting as they go on to the point where I can't even remember their names. Part of the problem is that these character are designed to be exposition machines first and actual individuals with flaws second. For example, in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (as much as I really like it), Kidd exists solely for the purpose of providing exposition about the tree and Mew. She could have been cut and nothing would have been lost.

    I largely agree with the rest of your post, but not this bit. The size of the stakes aren't as important as their meaning and relevancy to the characters. Huge stakes like saving the world or conflicts between gods will feel generic if there's nothing to ground the stakes. Anyone can save the world, so this story will always be less interesting that someone's personal journey on their way to saving the world.
     
    Denko Sekka likes this.
  18. Ignition

    Ignition Couldn't care less even if I tried

    I wish the anime did a set of movies that were one trilogy again like the first 3 DP ones. That's a reason why I like these movies
     
  19. DatsRight

    DatsRight Well-Known Member

    I find it a real shame that the SM series likely won't be getting any movies, since it's the one point in the anime's run that really seems to be trying for better, more character driven attempts at episodic plots (even if more mundane than usual). While it's true the rebooted movies we get in place of those do seem to be following that direction a little, I still would be interested in how SM's animation and premise would translate to higher budget.
     
  20. To add to my earlier post, I think a good Pokemon can also be a really fun adventure if it doesn't have thematic depth. The Power of One was like this. Kinda all over the place thematically and doesn't have the best antagonist, but it's a well-paced, tight adventure that somehow made the most normal task look amazing. I don't think any of the future movies have attempted to do anything like this.
     

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