Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (DVD) Review

Does More Legendary Pokemon Equal More Fun?

The 18th Pokemon Movie Featuring Groudon, Kyogre, Arceus, Lugio and Other Legendary Pokemon: Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages
Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages. Pokemon Company, Nintendo, Creatures, Game Freak, TV Tokyo, ShoPro, JR Kikaku

What They Say

In a desert city by the sea, Ash, Pikachu, and their friends meet the Mythical Pokémon Hoopa, who can summon all sorts of things—including people and Pokémon—through its magic rings. The little Mischief Pokémon likes to use this talent to play harmless tricks on people…but when its true power is released, it loses control and becomes the towering and terrifying Hoopa Unbound! Long ago, a brave hero stopped its rampage by confining its power in a special bottle. Now that the bottle has been rediscovered, Hoopa must confront its greatest fear! Can Ash help his new friend overcome the darkness within—or will this dangerous struggle erupt into a clash of legends?

The Movie

On paper, Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages looks like one of the biggest films in the entire franchise. Not only does it promise to debut the all-new Legendary Pokemon, Hoopa, but it also advertises a revisit of a large number of Legendary Pokemon from previous Pokemon movies that haven’t been seen on the big screen in years (or in some cases, decades). Unfortunately, not only does this film fail to live up to its potential, it also struggles to tell a cohesive story worth caring about.

One of the things that made earlier Pokemon movies so epic and must-see were the Legendary Pokemon. Usually these Pokemon would receive only cryptic teases in the Pokemon anime series which aired on TV and viewers would have to see a movie on the big screen to experience them for the first time. These larger-than-life Pokemon, many of which literally contained god-like levels of power, would make dramatic debuts, and their appearances would be met with awe by both the characters onscreen and the viewer.

In the cannon of the Pokemon anime series, these Pokemon were the stuff of legend (hence the category, Legendary Pokemon). They were rarely seen and often were only remembered through songs or stories passed down through the ages. Their appearances were once in a lifetime occurrences and these powerful beings often had intelligence on par with humans and were so strong that they would be impossible to capture.

Hoopa and the Clash of Ages throws all of this out the window.

Within the first few minutes of the film, not only is the Legendary Pokemon Hoopa completely shown on screen, destroying any attempt at a great reveal, but with a click of his fingers he’s summoning other Legendary Pokemon to his location and quickly beating them in battle. The massive weather Pokemon, Kyogre and Groudon? No problem. Reshiram and Zekrom? Their battle is over in about a minute. Even the impressive Regigigas is tossed aside (albeit slowly) with little acknowledgment of how important his presence actually is by the characters or script. There is no attempt at all to build tension in this opening scene and this rushed throw-as-many-Legendary-Pokemon-at-the-viewer-as-quickly-as-possible approach to storytelling continues for the entire runtime. All of the Legendary Pokemon essentially become white noise and when they’re being teleported all over the place as easily as a common Pokemon like Pikachu, their status is dramatically reduced in the eye of the viewer and their reputation tarnished.

It’s not just the Legendary Pokemon that receive the short end of the stick in this film, several other elements are also rushed through on screen with little or no explanation.

In the Pokemon anime series and games, there are super-rare alternate-colored Pokemon referred to as shiny Pokemon which are sought-after by all. In this film we get a shiny Legendary Pokemon (Rayquaza) but no-one seems to notice, which is extremely jarring. There’s also the fact that Legendary Pokemon are near-impossible to capture and train but Ash is shown immediately commanding several that, with the possible exception of Latias, he hasn’t even met before the events in this film. Hoopa appears to be using some sort of psychic power to control the Legendary Pokemon on his team but it’s never really explained why he doesn’t simply control the ones on Ash’s team too.

The premise behind Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is one that tries to pay respect to the series’ continuity and reward long-time fans but its approach contradicts so much of what the series has already established that the whole production comes off as a little cheap and an imitation of what it was meant to be.

DVD and Special Features

There has been no official English-language Blu-ray release of Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages but the image and sound quality on the DVD release are still impressive and won’t disappoint too many Pokemon fans.

The film is presented in its original 16x9 widescreen format and features both a 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround English language sound option. There is no Japanese audio track to choose from but since none of the previous 17 Pokemon movies were released with a Japanese track either, it’s hard feel like this volume is lacking.

In addition to the typical trailer, Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages also comes with a special prologue entitled, Hoopa: The Mischief Pokemon, which is a full episode of the Pokemon anime series focused entirely on Hoopa and his human friends. It doesn’t add too much to the film’s plot but it does go a long way in fleshing out some of the supporting characters. It’s well worth watching before the film itself.

Unfortunately, the Pikachu short that traditionally airs before the Pokemon movies, in this case Pikachu and the Pokemon Music Squad, was not included as an extra feature. This is extremely frustrated, especially since many Pokemon fans consider the shorts to be as part of the movie as the full feature itself, but it can be found on the Pokemon TV app or website for free.

Who Should Watch?

There’s very little content parents need to be worried about in Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages. All of the animated violence consists almost entirely of giant Pokemon smashing buildings and firing energy blasts and there are no sexual themes or imagery.

One of the main plot points revolves around a character being possessed by an evil force, and while this won’t necessarily scare young children, parents and guardians may find themselves having to explain what exactly is happening to younger Pokemon fans due to the convoluted nature of the evil force (i.e. It’s not actually an independent being but a projection of the character’s dark nature that is trying to take over the character itself and then becomes self-aware and starts to exist on its own… It really is confusing).

Older viewers shouldn’t have any trouble understanding the plot, however its overall simplicity and almost complete lack of supporting characters and subplots may bore them quickly.

Did You Know?

The song that plays during the closing credits, Every Side of Me, is performed by Dani Marcus, a voice actor for the Pokemon anime series. She has also sung the theme song for the Pikachu, What’s This Key? short film as well as the song, Open My Eyes, which playing during the ending credits for the previous Pokemon movie, Pokemon The Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction.

Overall

Pokemon The Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages may entertain younger casual viewers who have yet to see many of the previous Pokemon films, but for everyone else, this 18th entry in the series will simply be one more Pokemon movie which chooses to emphasise Pokemon name-dropping and predictable action instead of the emotional character arcs, world-building, and detailed plot that made the first 13 or so films so rewarding and worthy of repeat viewings.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Viz Media. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy. The DVD featured in this review is the Region 1 DVD release by Viz Media. Alternate releases are available in other regions.