Title: Pokémon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages
Production: OLM, Inc.
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Platform(s): DVD / Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
Released: Out Now!
Were you surprised? Many years after Pokémon fans had given up on seeing a new movie released in high definition, the United Kingdom’s DVD-only curse has been broken! Joining their line-up of nostalgia inducers like Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, the dedicated anime distributor Manga Entertainment have kicked off their release of the hit franchise with Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages!
The second movie set during Ash’s adventures in the Kalos region sees the young trainer and his companions arrive in Dahara City, a desert city by the sea. It is here that they meet Hoopa, a Mythical Pokémon who, despite being confined to a cute and cuddly forme now, was a fearsome giant until his power was sealed in the Prison Bottle relic by a local hero one hundred years prior. Having previously used its space-bending powers to test its strength against legendary Pokémon, the de-powered Hoopa is now simply content with using them to steal the occasional doughnut – until a well-intentioned gift goes wrong.
In a refreshing breath of air for the franchise, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages doesn’t feature an antagonistic human seeking the titular Pokémon’s power for nefarious shenanigans, but rather, the main conflict is caused by Hoopa itself. Hoping to return its lost power out of gratitude, the hero’s grandson locates the Prison Bottle, unaware of the century-long anger held by the power inside.
The resulting chaos echoes one of Japan’s other best-known film franchises, with the towering, destructive might of Hoopa Unbound giving off strong Godzilla vibes – especially with its foes largely consisting of other giant, legendary Pokémon. The gargantuan embodiment of rage’s cat-and-mouse chase with Ash and Hoopa through the streets of Dahara City would feel right at home in a disaster movie and is easily, one of Pokémon‘s most memorable sequences to date. Disappointedly, the film does little to show the consequences of scenes where Hoopa Unbound blasts or tears apart buildings (outside of one scene where distant people were seen fleeing to safety), but credit has to be given that it is a kid’s movie and Batman v Superman has already shown the disappointment that can result from dwelling on it too much.
A fairer criticism however, would be that aside from Ash, our usual main cast don’t really add anything to the story. Clemont gets a single brief scene to continue the ongoing gag about his inventions, while Serena is seemingly only here to provide a much-needed Fire-type Pokémon in the climax. This is especially disappointing for me, as I have a great appreciation for past movies that have emotionally developed other characters – such as Spell of the Unown with Molly and Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea with May.
Hoopa itself represents the emotional core of this movie instead, with the clear contrast between its earlier braggart behaviour and its newer, caring persona sharing the same reckless mischievousness sending us a powerful message that despite their outwardly differences, both the Confined and Unbound formes are both still Hoopa, who still has one more emotional hurdle to clear.
The transition to blu-ray for the United Kingdom’s Pokémon releases has been a long time coming and fortunately, worth the wait. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had to make do with the franchise VHS and DVD for most of these past 17 years, but OLM’s animation here is striking – vibrant, clear and simply pleasing to look at.
Despite my long-standing tenure with the Pokémon franchise, I must admit that my opinions of recent films have rarely deviated from pessimism. Simplicity however, has become the key to this movie’s success. There are no complicated schemes at play – just a battle against an opponent who really doesn’t want to be confined again. Instead of feeling like a movie excessively dumbed down for its younger target audience, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages presents itself as a film enjoyable to XY aficionados, lapsed fans and total newcomers alike!
And to answer your question Hoopa: Yes, I was surprised.
Disclosure: A copy of “Pokémon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages” was supplied by Manga Entertainment, the distributor, for the purposes of this review.