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Just like the once revered Pokemon cards have now slipped into that forgotten zone behind the dresser, so the latest Pokemon movie has moved from big screen to the direct-to-home video section.Film number four of the heavily merchandised franchise features the return of Mewtwo, who debuted in the original theatrical release. Just in case you don't remember that epic (because you were too young, you fell asleep, or ...gasp! ...you missed it), the first few minutes recap the story. It ended with all the characters having their memories wiped anyway.
The only person not suffering from amnesia is the evil, power-hungry scientist Giovanni, who had the pocket monster cloned from a fossil in the first place. Careful laboratory tweaking made Mewtwo the most powerful Pokemon of all time. After the first movie, the formidable catlike creature left town with a band of other cloned critters to find a place far away from mankind where they could live in peace.
But the dastardly creator discovers their refuge on Purity Mountain, the highest peak in the Johto range. Coincidentally, famous Pokemon trainer Ash, his side kick Pikachu, and their friends Misty and Broc, just happen to be touring the surrounding canyon when Giovanni and Team Rocket begin their recapturing scheme.
To keep every one in pace with the plot, Mewtwo acts as narrator, using the most melancholy tones to explain the clones' self inflicted exile. A hyperactive Meowth kindly translates any banter exchanged between the Pokemon. While there is nothing deep or thought provoking, messages of accepting those who are different, being willing to sacrifice self for others, and nature conservation are expressed.
This time the customary battling between the monsters and the bad guys is justified as protecting your homeland. The violence is typical of that seen in the TV series based on the same characters, providing opportunities for each to display their unique powers against Team Rocket's high-tech light-beam blasting machines.
Although still a bit of a yawn for parents, fans may find it motivating enough to start rooting around the house for all those lost cards.
Pokemon: Mewtwo Returns is rated Not Rated:
Studio: 2001 Warner Home Video