DVD Title
 Pokémon: The First Movie
International Title
 Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Movie Length: 129 minutes Original Length: 129 minutes
Company: Warner Bros. Release: 2000
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Anamorphic: No
Region: 1Discs: 1
  
Language/Sound: Order
English (5.1 Surround)
Subtitles:
English, French
Extras
· Menus (English)
· Chapters (8/23)
· Trailers: Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (US), Pokémon: Revelation Lugia (US)
· Story of Mewtwo (English, 2 Minutes)
· Ash's Story (English, 2 Minutes)
· "Don't Say You Love Me" Music Video by M2M (4 Minutes)
· Commentary with Director Michael Haigney and Producer Norman J. Grossfeld
· Behind the Scenes: Franchise History
Captures
Review
Anthony Romero

Released during the height of the franchise's popularity, just before it began to decline from the pop culture phenomenon it had become, this disc feature the much mangled US version of the first Pokémon movie, Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back. Unfortunately, more than half a decade later, this release is pretty dated in terms of some of the transfer techniques and standards of the time. The video quality in general is lacking, for example, thanks to extreme signs of compression, while the audio notably lacks an option to hear the movie in its original Japanese. On the plus side, the disc does contain more special features than one would expect, although it does little to raise the disc beyond a fairly mediocre rating.


 Video: Star Rating

Warner Bros dropped the ball here. Suffice to say, the video quality is fairly lackluster on this DVD. Beyond the fact that it's a full frame release of a 1.78:1 aspect ratio film, the video transfer process also shows numerous inconsistencies. The largest of these is simply the huge amount of artifacting present, as the movie appears to have been heavily compressed for this release. The result, in scenes like these with Bulbasaur's face, looks almost more akin to something you would expect to find off a video found on the net than a official DVD release. The huge degree of grain present on the source used for the transfer also tends to compound this problem. On the bright side, at least the colors are vibrant; however, looking at the washed out clouds it seems this was achieved through bumping up the saturation level.

On a side note, it is worth noting that the "short" that plays before the actual movie, Pikachu's Vacation, is present on its own video track. This is also the reason why each is given a separate chapter listing as well.


 Audio: Star Rating

This disc comes with one track, which is a 5.1 presentation of the movie in English. The mix here, from a audio quality standpoint, is fairly nice as there is good range and speaker distinction present throughout the movie. The DVD also includes two subtitle options, with one in English and the second in French.

Unfortunately, this disc only contains the English dubbing. Beyond the sub par voice work, this also means that the soundtrack by Shinji Miyazaki has been totally replaced, sans the Team Rocket theme, often by mediocre compositions or incredibly out of place English pop songs.


 Extras:

To be honest, I was fairly surprised by the level of supplements here. It was certainly more than I was expecting given the quality of the release in other areas. In total, there are three video supplements on the DVD, the most interesting of which is the one that documents the history of Mewtwo. Unfortunately, it's a very short feature at only two minutes, although all the animation is brand new. The second is a kind of recap of the series, called "Ash's Story", which is also very short. Last is a music video by M2M, which includes small snippets from the movie.

The disc also includes the very misleading "Behind the Scenes" text feature, which actually just recaps the history of the franchise. The DVD also includes the US trailers for both this movie and its sequels. Finally, the last bonus feature is a commentary track with director Michael Haigney and producer Norman J. Grossfeld, both in regards to the production of the US version. Overall, the commentary track has its pros and cons. On the plus side, Haigney and Grossfeld provide a lot of insight into the changes they made to the original Japanese version. Unfortunately, they are fairly smug about a few of their "improvements", often patting themselves on the back for a version which is universally regarded as inferior to the original Japanese cut. It should also be noted that the commentary track only covers the main feature, and not Pikachu's Vacation.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, this disc wasn't bad during its initial release, when things like full screen presentations and dubbed only tracks were more tolerated, although it has aged horribly by today's standards. If you really want to see some form of English version of the movie, though, this is probably the only way to go, as I can't imagine this film being re-released with subtitles.