Mew vs Mewtwo Movie: The Biggest Differences Between Mewtwo Strikes Back and Pokemon
The 22nd Pokemon film, Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution, released on Netflix recently completes a full circle by referencing the first film in the series, Pokemon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. Many millennials’ formative memories probably revolve around the original film (there are no doubt countless twentysomethings who were traumatized by seeing Pikachu crying as kids).
The new movie has a twist, though: it was animated completely in computer-generated form by OLM. Bringing traditional cel animation into computer-generated form is not new. There will soon be a CG-animated adaptation of the Lupin the Third manga, and Ghost in the Shell 2.0, a remake of Mamoru Oshii’s original film that came out before the Scarlett Johansson film, featured extensive CGI animation. Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045, the planned sequel to Netflix’s Stand Alone Complex, is following suit.
Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution, despite its use of this novel technique, is a lovingly nostalgic shot-for-shot remake that faithfully replicates the original’s dialogue and plot. We’ve watched both movies multiple times to pick out the few key variations, and the story mostly follows the same structure across a longer time period with a few minor tweaks. See how we think Netflix’s version stacks up against the original in the slideshow below.
All the Differences Between Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution and Pokemon: The First Movie
Mewtwo Never Communicates with Amber in Evolution
Mewtwo Strikes Back: Mewtwo’s Revenge skips the 20-minute setup of the agonizing origins of Mewtwo’s creation seen in the first film and instead focuses on the action. The introduction of “Evolution” is very brief, clocking in at roughly 10 minutes, during which the character’s tragic history is established. Dr. Fuji, the project’s head scientist, originally created Mewtwo to “unlock the secret to restoring life itself” and resurrect his dead daughter, Amber (and maybe even restore his marriage in the process; the first film is surprisingly bleak). Mewtwo’s existential crisis begins after the new Amber is killed; he begins to question the distinction between humans and Pokemon and where he fits in. He then begins to telepathically interact with Amber’s clone.
In the new film, his crisis is brought on by the realization that he was created by scientists motivated more by arrogance than by grief. Mewtwo is troubled in both versions by memories of his past with Mew and Team Rocket boss Giovanni (which also occurs in the first film). This shifts the focus away from the scientists who defied nature to create Mewtwo in the first place, and onto the tortured, vengeful Pokemon, which was absent from the first film.
Meowth Is a Ship Captain, Instead of A Masthead
As crafty as ever, Team Rocket offers to transport Ash and company to New Island, where the “best Pokemon trainer in the world” (and possibly treasure) is waiting, by disguising themselves as Vikings on a boat (with their talking Pokemon teammate Meowth bound as its figurehead). The three are first seen in Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution dressed as sailors and performing a short musical routine before conveniently arriving aboard a Lapras boat piloted by a mustachioed Meowth. In both cases, they continue to drown.
More Virtual Camera Movement, Fewer Cuts
Traditional cel animation was used for the most part to create Pokemon: The First Movie, with the help of some computer-generated imagery (CG) in specific scenes (such as the depiction of Meowth’s cloning or various background shots). There are more frequent cuts than camera movement to block out a scene, with the exception of a shot in the original that slowly rotates around Brock and Joy, despite the hand-drawn cels providing more clarity in its backdrops (and honestly, much better-looking characters than the more rubbery entities of Evolution). On the other hand, the new CG-animated picture uses more extended cuts and more complicated virtual camera movement to simulate zooms, pans, dolly shots, and more.
The Post-Credits Scene
After the credits roll for the first film, which features Ash and his friends’ continuous trip as they trek back through the country, a quick post-credits scene shows Mew returning to the mountain seen at the beginning of the film. The revised version similarly does this through still concept art but builds towards a closing moment that reemphasizes where the film’s sympathies lie the entire time: with Mewtwo. In the last moments of the film, he and his new family of cloned Pokemon leave Kanto and fly to the western region of Johto in search of a new home, which turns out to be Mount Quena, a setting from the sequel film Mewtwo Returns.
Team Rocket Are Very Clearly Fascists
Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution uses imagery as blunt as that of General Hux’s speech (and the stormtrooper’s salute in response) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to drive home the evil that Team Rocket (the organization, not the trio) represents, whereas in the first Mewtwo Strikes Back, Giovanni is portrayed more as an opulent, old-school serial villain. It’s not new terrain for the series nor Team Rocket; one episode in 2003, All Things Bright and Beautifly!, had a passage cut for the English version owing to the trio and their followers all saluting in a very unique fashion.
And One Major Similarity Between Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution and The First Movie…
The sequence of Ash turning to stone and Pikachu’s tragic reaction is devastating regardless of the animation style used to depict it.
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