Pokémon 2000, the second film to spin off the powerhouse child-friendly franchise of the turn-of-the-millennium, consists of the colourful if babyish human-presence free, short Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure and the more elaborate feature The Power of One. The main attraction is up to snuff animation-wise, with imaginative settings (an island lair, a huge dirigible) that crossbreed cyberpunk futurism and Jules Verne style retro-fantasy. It even has the germ of an interesting, almost subversive idea, in that the story’s wealthy villain is a green-haired fanatic who is as obsessive about collecting Pokémon as the film’s target audience–he’s after three fabled birds, Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno, but is really interested in the cute Loch Ness Monster-type being Lugia–but his philosophy is so skewed that he is more interested in owning and numbering the fabulous creatures than training or befriending them. A clever pun in a prophecy decrees that in a predestined crisis, “the world will turn to ash”–this turns out not to be a gloomy foretelling of holocaust but the revelation that human hero Ash is a messianic “Chosen One” who can restore the balance of nature when the collector’s antics have unleashed worldwide climatic change.
Adults might find the whole thing an endurance test for its shrill voicings, with Americanised kids and Japanese baby-talking Pokémon, not to mention the meld of incredibly simplistic storyline with amazingly intricate backstory. A trace of self-awareness comes in a brief snippet from a Weird Al Yankovic’s song (“Polka mon”) under the crowded end credits. —Kim Newman
DVD special features:
The nice-looking DVD (letterboxed to 1.85:1) comes with a “special edition” Pikachu card; trailers for this film and Pokémon 3; video clips of Pokémon–themed songs performed by Dream Street, Alysha Antonio and Youngstown; a snippet-like “making of the soundtrack” featurette, DVD-ROM features that won’t play on a Mac (mostly Web-site links and ads for new poképroducts–“for the first time you will be able to discover if your Pokémon are male or female”!); soundtracks in English, French, Dutch, German and Italian with subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Arabic.