Pokémon Movie Review: The Deoxys movie

A non-touching movie about touching Pokémon

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on May 11th 2019
Jirachi DVD Cover
Sky-Splitting Visitor: Deoxys

The way we've been writing our series of Pokémon movie reviews has been like this: first, we watched all the movies at our leisure (usually while eating dinner), jotting down any thoughts we initially had about them. When we get ready to write the actual article, we rewatch the movie in question, again jot any new notes, and use both the old and the new notes to write the final review.

After we watched Destiny Deoxys the first time, we never wanted to watch it again. Once we published the Jirachi movie article, we knew this dreaded time was coming. So, here it is. Alas. The time has come. Let's talk about Destiny Deoxys and bite the bullet already.

This is another movie that we didn't follow during the prerelease, and that we didn't watch while it was new. The only thing we knew going in was that this movie features Deoxys... and Rayquaza. Starring together by popular demand of literally nobody. These Pokémon have nothing to do with each other. They are probably only together in this movie because they are both highlighted to various degrees in the then-upcoming Pokémon Emerald. In Emerald, Rayquaza is the game mascot and an important figure in the plot, and Deoxys... gets a new form. In Destiny Deoxys, Deoxys is the star and somewhat of an antagonist, and Rayquaza... is inexplicably an asshole? This is how they promote the supposed cherished mascot?

If you otherwise like Rayquaza, sucks to be you watching this movie, because you get to watch 100 minutes of a favorite Pokémon being dumb and mean. And it doesn't even look good while it does so. The presentation of the legendaries throughout these movies has been really decaying over time. Mew and Mewtwo are proper characters that you can respect. Lugia is a majestic bus. Suicune is an unglorified water purifier on legs. Jirachi is the god of nothing. Rayquaza gets to be an unreasonable flying asshole that nobody likes.

Rayquaza in the destroyed city
Angry Rayquaza is angry because is angry!

But even if you disregard the baffling pairing of Rayquaza with Deoxys, the main premise of this movie is a mess. A Deoxys is trying to reunite with another Deoxys, while Ash and friends are aggressively trying to cure a boy of his fear of Pokémon, and Rayquaza and Deoxys cause so much destruction that the city needs to evacuate, and then the computer system goes haywire. Eventually, the two Deoxys are reunited and return to space, Rayquaza shuts up, and the boy adopts Plusle and Minun. Does this make any sense to you?

This movie has a particular quality that we can only describe as... it makes us feel so drunk, even though we are watching it stone-sober. Even with the express goal of taking notes about the movie, actively trying to pay detailed attention to it, we find ourselves zoning out constantly. It took a lot of effort for us to write something coherent about it, because the movie isn't.

The opening

Mewtwo in the intro
Mewtwo cameo

The movie starts with a long and drawn-out "World of Pokémon" introduction sequence. Other Pokémon movies so far have had scenes like this, but they haven't been worth noting. This one, however, is worth noting, because it's... bad.

This sequence starts by showing various Pokémon flying through circuit land... and then a terrifying flowing swarm of Pokémon gushing over the hills, like a plague of locusts. Every inch of grass and sky is covered in the same five species of Pokémon. The Pokémon themselves are like, cardboard cutouts in 3D land. They look like they're gathering for the second movie's apocalypse. This is presented as being wonderful and cute, but it looks straight out scary, and makes our skin itch.

Movie 2 Movie 7
The end of the world in Pokémon 2000, vs. the feel-good opening in Destiny Deoxys.

The scene continues with various Pokémon in various environments, all in the same ugly half-CG. And it continues. And it continues. Why is the Arbok jumping at you as if you were wearing 3D glasses? They even included the ugly scenes from the Celebi movie and the Latias movie, just in case there wasn't enough bad CG. Even the scene from the Jirachi movie with Ash riding on Flygon made it in this montage, but it is strangely presented as a wonderful peaceful adventure sort of thing, while, in actuality, that happened during the tense action climax of the movie.

Arbok in the intro
Boo! Haunted House!

This opening never ends. It's over four minutes long. Throughout this part, we had several opportunities to look at each other and ask, when is this movie going to start? Is there going to be a movie at all? Can you pass me the salt?

Even more strangely, the narrator in the dub is talking about the wonderful invention that is the Pokéball, which lets Pokémon become your friend. Forcibly. What a wonderful invention, the brainwashing cage. We are not sure where 4Kids got this idea, because the Japanese narrator was just having his perfectly normal and completely inoffensive introduction of, there are many Pokémon in the world of Pokémon. Did 4Kids feel the need to add this because this scene starts with showing a Pokéball, and because they have some strange compulsion to change things for no reason?

For the record, we watched this movie in Japanese, so, throughout this article, we are going to refer to the movie-only characters with their Japanese names.

The non-specified polar region

Tooi and Spheal
Look at how non-traumatized this little cutie is.

When, eventually, the movie finally starts, we see researchers and a kid in a base in some icy asshole of the world. Is it the North Pole? The South Pole? The West Pole? Who knows, who cares.

The kid, Tooi, is the son of the head scientist, Professor Rondo. This esteemed scientist brought his toddler son along with him on his research trip to the Ass Pole. If this pole is like the North or South Pole on Earth, it has six months of darkness and six months of light. Because this scene is happening in pitch-black night, we infer it's the dead of winter on Ass Pole. This father of the year brought a toddler to Antarctica in the dead of winter, and let him just play out on the ice alone with the wild animals.

While this is very concerning, Tooi is making the best of this experience and is out playing with the Spheals, showing that he's a perfectly normal boy who likes Pokémon, as perfectly normal boys in the world of Pokémon are known to do. Suddenly there's an explosion which causes all the Spheals and Sealeos and Walreins to stampede away in fear, running right over and around the poor little kid, giving him a lifetime of trauma.

Stampede Traumatic
We can see why this would be traumatizing...
Deoxys
Such a reckless UFO pilot

It turns out the explosion was from a Deoxys inexplicably crashing to the Earth. Couldn't it have gently flown in? Why did it so brutally hit the land? In any case, it scans the ground and unearths a meteorite containing a green gem. This is what it was looking for. But since Deoxys felt the need to speed so recklessly through the sky, Rayquaza wants to give it a sky speeding ticket. So, Deoxys and Rayquaza fight while the researchers scoop up Tooi and run away. Rayquaza eventually defeats the Deoxys, throwing its purple gem core down into the icy sea.

Rayquaza with auroras
Hey! This part of the sky is a 55mph zone!

Four years later: Science Lasers

Science Lasers
For Science!

The researchers have recovered the meteorite with the green gem, and are firin' their lasers at it, for science. They are really bad at this science stuff. Like, they're firing lasers at it, why exactly?

Did the scientists read the PokéDex entries for Deoxys and note that it mentions lasers?

The DNA of a space virus underwent a sudden mutation upon exposure to a laser beam and resulted in Deoxys. The crystalline organ on this Pokémon's chest appears to be its brain.
Pokémon Ruby
Science Lasers
Do they actually know what they are doing at all?

But the PokéDex says Deoxys originally came into being because of a laser beam hitting a space virus, and that's nothing of what's going on here. The writers of this movie just latched onto the word "laser", so here you go.

Partway through firin' their lasers, the experiment fails, and the assistant looks at the screen all, "Oh, the equipment malfunctioned." What, you didn't check the status of your equipment before you started firing lasers at a mysterious alien artifact?

This meteorite plotpoint was probably inspired by the real life meteorite Allan Hills 84001, a piece of Martian rock that was discovered in Antarctica in 1984, and, in 1996, some scientists claimed it held ancient Martian fossils. Despite the massive stir such an announcement caused, the current scientific consensus is that those are just shapes in the rock. So, we suppose it is fitting that the scientists in this movie are inadvertently presented as total hacks.

Meteorite in the snow
Alien life in a meteor!

While the science experiment is going on, Tooi is out in the botanical gardens seemingly talking to his imaginary friend who is going to become plot-relevant shortly.

Tooi

Tooi is alone because he doesn't seem to have any human friends, and he certainly doesn't have any Pokémon friends. He was traumatized by the stampeding seals four years ago, so now he cannot handle the sight of any Pokémon, and freaks out if any are in his vicinity.

This is probably also why he has no human friends, since, in the Pokémon World, everyone is always so totally obsessed with Pokémon. For a similar plotpoint, see the game Elebits.

But why is Tooi scared of every Pokémon? It's not like trauma needs to make sense, but this is equivalent to someone being attacked by a dog, and then being scared of any and all animals. That's not usually how it goes.

Shouldn't he primarily be scared of Pokémon (or things) lunging toward him? It is indeed true that Tooi is most scared when Pokémon pop out at him, but he's also just scared of them existing in his general vicinity, so, they kinda did it in a way that made sense, but also not.

In general, this movie was written by people without any knowledge of trauma or how it might be addressed, and boy if it shows.

Welcome to LaRousse, the capital of dystopia

Ash and friends arrive in the city of LaRousse. What town did the movie rip off this time? By the animators' own admission, this movie was inspired by their four-day trip to Vancouver. They managed to scam their bosses out of a four-day inspiration trip. Wow.

LaRousse City
Conveyor belt
Ash must have never played that part in the Pokémon games at the Rocket Hideout.

Apparently what struck them the most about Vancouver was how high-tech it was. Denise has been to Vancouver, but she's not sure where the animators got the idea that it was a fascist dictatorship over-dependent on technology and on the verge of a cyber-apocalypse.

Birthplace of Brock
He has Pewter City in his DNA.

The city of LaRousse is covered in conveyor belts and escalators, because the people there apparently don't walk, and instead are just mindlessly pushed around by machines. Beyond the omnipresent high-tech machinery, there is also a hellish computer system running the town. In LaRousse, passports are required to enter any building and to use any facility. They also serve as a digital wallet, and are needed for any purchase. So, when Ash and friends first arrive, they must immediately get passports. To do so, their photos are snapped without permission, and their bodies are scanned to somehow obtain their names, birthdates, and hometowns. How? What sort of digital nightmare is this? Do they have a DNA database of all humanity? Can they just extract this information from their facial structure? From their brain? This is terrifying?

Let's step back and remind you that these passports are needed to buy things. So, if you don't have a passport, you can't buy food. If you don't have a passport, you can't eat. And, presumably, if you don't have a passport, you can't use any kind of service. We suspect you can't even go to the bathroom without showing your passport. Because, in LaRousse, you must identify yourself before doing anything. And the city-wide surveillance system keeps track of where you are and what you are doing and what you are buying.

Robot
A face you can trust.

To ensure the peace in LaRousse, the city is full of chipper security robots that can demand to see your passport at any time, for no reason. If you don't comply with the robots, they are equipped with tasers, which they can use at their own discretion.

Jessie, James, and Meowth find themselves in LaRousse because their Magikarp submarine malfunctioned, and they happened to wash up in this hell city. Because they didn't come through one of the main ports of entry, they don't have passports. And we doubt they could have just gone and gotten a passport, what with the invasive scan that knows everything about you. Their many crimes surely would have come up. However, now they're there, and they have to survive. But they can't eat, because they don't have passports. The wonderful city of LaRousse is structured so that anyone who isn't a model citizen is made to be homeless, exposed to the elements, and left to starve to death.

Jessie, James, and Meowth are driven to the point of attempting to break into a vending machine, so that they can eat something. The vending machine detects this and instantly summons a security robot. Jessie waggles her butt at the security robot, for which crime she is promptly tasered. Waggling her butt at a robot is a non-violent protest, but this is considered a crime worthy of tasering in LaRousse.

Jessie
We are on Jessie's side here.

When you think about this for more than three seconds, this city is a horrifying dystopia, but the movie presents it as just, very high-tech and efficient. The most it will go in this direction is the subtle critique of, when the power goes out, everything in this city falls apart, and, if the computer malfunctions, bad things happen. But, with the power on and the computer working, it's all wonderful. The invasions of privacy and the fascist dictatorship in progress are never addressed. Everyone in town seems to be perfectly happy with this system, and even the twerps think it's pretty cool. We guess they have to, considered that if they even stick their tongue out at a robot, they will be tasered, and, as we will see, there is a potentially infinite number of robot-cops, so there's no stopping them.

So, the animators went to Vancouver, and this is what they got out of it. A fascist dictatorship on the verge of a cyber-apocalypse.

It seems this movie caused a low-key international incident. After Destiny Deoxys, no more Pokémon movies were ever dubbed into Canadian French. While it is not known why the change... after this wonderful portrayal of Vancouver, we can guess. This is as close to a middle finger as Canada can possibly give.

Ash is a Monster... Coach

Battle Tower
Battle Harbour Centre

One main landmark that this movie shows over and over again is the Harbour Centre, a major tourist attraction that the animators obviously went to. In the movie, the building is called the Battle Tower, and Ash is going there for a tournament. On the way there, he bumps into a bunch of trainers. One of them is named Ryu, of all things, and Ryu half-sasses Ash, spurring an intense one-sided rivalry. Ash must win against this character of the day at the Battle Tower.

Ash is a bad person, part 1
Can't you tell the obvious cues that he doesn't want to talk to you?

Inside the tower, Ash splits from his fellow twerps and, without Brock's guidance, proceeds to get lost in the building. It's here that tragedy strikes. Ash bumps into Tooi, who was going to the library all alone like always, but now there's a Pokémon Trainer in his face, and, more importantly, his Pikachu! Accosting him! Pikachu on the shoulder, being Pikachu, cute-ing towards him! Tooi runs, screaming to be left alone. Ash pursues him. He chases him into the elevator, causing Tooi to be trapped in a small space with Ash and Pikachu. Is this making your skin crawl yet?

Ash is a bad person, part 2
In an elevator of all places...
Invasion of privacy
We thought they were already getting their PokéBalls analyzed here.

But it gets worse. Ash and Tooi get out of the elevator, and since Ash is yelling about Pokémon and tournaments, they both get registered into the tournament. All this high-tech, all this scanning passports, all this invasion of privacy, and nothing to save Tooi from essentially being kidnapped, or to detect that Tooi doesn't even have a Pokémon to battle with.

So, now Ash and Tooi are in a double battle with Ryu and his friend Shota. It is only then that Ash finally listens to what Tooi has been screaming ever since he first saw his face, which is that he doesn't want to be here, and he's not even a Trainer. Ash replies to this with annoyance, as if Tooi personally inconvenienced him, and not the other way around. He forces him to at least borrow one of his Pokémon, so that Ash doesn't have to forfeit the match against his recently-acquired rival.

Blastoise uses Rapid Spin
About the last thing this kid wanted to see today.

Tooi, understandably, does nothing, because he doesn't know the first thing about Pokémon battles, and seeing all these Pokémon being violent in front of his face is sending him into all the bad places in his mind. Ash loses and blames Tooi.

Ash is the cherished main character that we're supposed to like. This seems to be a theme with this movie, characters that we're supposed to like being assholes. One thing is letting a character fail or make mistakes, but Ash is being vile here, and his vileness is never addressed by the movie. In fact, it only gets worse, and never once Ash is called out by any one of the many characters in this movie.

On the way out of the match, Tooi's father and his assistant are there to greet him. They saw the match on TV, they assumed his participation was voluntary, and they want to congratulate him for taking such a big step in combating his Pokémon phobia. Tooi screams that he didn't want this, and runs from the room, and everyone acts puzzled, as if he did something strange and uncouth.

To apologize for Tooi's behavior, the assistant serves everyone lunch, and explains Tooi's tragic trauma. She explains that he likes Pokémon, but he's been afraid of them ever since the stampede.

Here we want to talk about this assistant, Yuko. She's always at Professor Rondo's side. Very close to his side. There is a big age gap between them, and Brock notes that Yuko is very young to be in such a high-ranking position. It seems she was promoted to being Professor Rondo's personal assistant very quickly...

Young assistant
Not shady at all.

Tooi is definitely not adopted, considering he's clearly inherited his father's anime hair. Yet, there is no sign of Tooi's mother or any mention of if she is alive or dead or what. Yuko acts like a mother figure for him, to the point of baking him cookies and stuff like that. What is going on in this family? Maybe there is more than one reason why Tooi is having emotional trouble.

In any case, Ash vows to manipulate the situation so that Tooi can meet Pokémon and get over his fears, and he has Yuko's blessing to torture this poor boy.

Ash is a monster

Plusle and Minun jump in Tooi's face
"You'll be hearing from our agent."

Meanwhile, outside, Tooi encounters the Pichu brothers -- we mean, Plusle and Minun. While multiple previous Pokémon animated shorts featured the Pichu Brothers, a mischievous and dang cute duo of little yellow electric mice, in this movie, their role has been given to Plusle and Minun, who serve exactly the same plot function and have exactly the same characterization and look pretty much the same, too. The movie people had the gall to think us fans wouldn't notice this shameless substitution of beloved recurring characters for the latest Pikachu-like Pokémon they wanted to promote. Not only is this unfair to the Pichu Brothers, but it also unfortunately means Plusle and Minun don't get an opportunity to be likeable in their own right - anything we like about them is actually something we like about the Pichu Brothers.

Plusle and Minun jump in Tooi's face
In the Pokémon world, humans are not entitled to personal space.

In any case, Plusle and Minun are in distress: Minun has gotten itself trapped in a trash can, and Plusle is desperate to find help. As it turns out, poor Tooi is the only person around - somehow this part of Vancouver is completely empty and devoid of even just one smiley-face police robot right now. And the high-tech trashcan covered in sensors would rather let Minun die for its dumpster-diving crimes.

Tooi works up his courage and uses a stick to pry open the trash can so that Minun can escape. In return, the Pokémon want to show their gratitude by invading Tooi's personal space, which forces him to run away screaming yet again. No good deed goes unpunished.

Deoxys plumbob
"You are not a tool of mind-control, I hope!"

Tooi goes back to the botanical gardens to discuss the latest plot developments with his imaginary friend. His imaginary friend is actually not so imaginary, and looks like a ghostly green plumbob. He tells it about his adventure saving Minun, and is even able to happily talk about having been in a Pokémon battle. In retrospect, and in his own time, he's able to see the good in these experiences.

Too bad Ash charges into his safe space and demands to know who was he talking to. Tooi once again tells him to mind his own fucking business, and is forced to continue fleeing from Ash. He flees into a flock of Wingulls, so he panics. Ash tries to "help him", and so does Pikachu, by getting into his face. Both of them know about his phobia, but they don't care. When Tooi shoves Ash and runs away from Pikachu, Ash reacts by taking it personally and grabbing him by the collar, like he's going to punch him in the face. It's only the rest of the twerps showing up that saves Tooi from being beaten up over being traumatized.

Ash is a bad person, part 3
Therapy.

When Ash dragged Tooi into the tournament, he was already beyond wrong for disregarding this person's clear wishes to be left alone, but at least he didn't know about his phobia. Now, he knows, and he's doubly damned. He goes from an unknowing asshole to an actively malicious asshole.

Brock cooks
Brock has the most healthy attitude towards any of this.

Brock decides to soothe the situation with food, so he makes everyone fondue, and invites Tooi. His scheming in this matter is that the Pokémon will be eating food nearby, and Tooi might be able to feel more comfortable around them this way. In this movie, Brock is the only person who understands that Tooi will need time to heal, and it's important to take it slow. His plan even does kind of work, until Ash has to force the situation by telling Tooi to pet Pikachu, right now, and Tooi has to run away again, but at least not screaming this time.

The pan over the tower
Bleeehhh

Meanwhile, the purple-core Deoxys that Rayquaza defeated at the beginning of the movie has regenerated, and it has arrived to Vancouver. It sits on top of the tower and unleashes auroras. The animators made an ass-quality CG render of the camera panning down this tower, and they were clearly very proud of it, because they will reuse this footage at least three times in this movie, even though it looks like ass.

Then Deoxys goes to the mall and reverses the escalators. Apparently, that's really really rude where Deoxys comes from. On its planet, this is the worst middle finger you can give.

Escalators
Where is your god now?

In writing this review, we've tried to consolidate plot threads, but, actually, the movie is more like... tiny chunks of disparate scenes. In actuality, the entire part above where we were talking about the tension between Ash and Tooi went like this:

Tooi is in the botanical garden with the plumbob
45 seconds
Deoxys lands in Vancouver
50 seconds
Tooi is confronted in the garden by Ash
15 seconds
Deoxys sits on the tower
9 seconds
Tooi leaves the garden, pursued by Ash
12 seconds
Team Rocket fails to get food
70 seconds
Tooi stumbles into the Wingulls and almost gets beaten up by Ash
31 seconds
Brock serves lunch and Tooi runs away
80 seconds
Munchlax steals the food
27 seconds
Plusle and Minun show up
10 seconds

No wonder we can't keep our attention on these quick cuts of wildly different things, most of which don't matter.

Pikachu's vacation?

The twerps and the twerps of the day all meet up in some... resort-playground... and watch these weird auroras. We previously mentioned Ryu and Shota, but they're also accompanied by Ryu's twin sisters, Audrey and Katharine. With them, there's also their friend Hitomi, whose fingers are permanently glued to a laptop, and who is Brock's main point of interest for this movie. While writing this, we had to look up the names of half of these people, because they're just so... barely there. Not that the main cast is of great importance in this movie (May and Max in particular are almost not there), but there's like, 1.5 characters' worth of writing spread across all these other characters. The twins in particular have no character beyond... they're twins, and Ryu's sisters. By the way, think about their parents and their naming choices. My first born, Ryu... and I'm having twins, Audrey and Katharine. Ryu, Audrey, and Katharine.

Forretress
Whee!

Hitomi is scanning the auroras with her laptop and saying how impossible they are. But nevermind that, Tooi shows up with biscuits for everyone, and it's time for the Pikachu short!

This is the first Pokémon movie without an accompanying Pikachu short, so instead they incorporated it into the movie itself. Which means that, halfway through, suddenly everyone unleashes their Pokémon for a jolly romp in the playground, while the (atrocious) song of the movie plays.

May and Max swinging on Blastoise
May, have you reverted to being two?

The previous Pikachu shorts made sense for what they were. They were a short segment, completely apart from the main movie, with some cute animation of Pokémon being cute, mainly for the purpose of pacifying the babies in the audience with the hope that by when the movie starts, all the babies will be happily asleep and not crying in the theater. The shorts had plots suitable for babies, conveyed mostly without any words (perhaps a soothing narrator, or Ash talking to Pikachu before and after the mayhem).

Blaziken down the slide
Okay, that is legitimately cute.

This thing though? Makes no sense. It's in the middle of the movie, so it doesn't really do much for the babies, and it only serves the purpose of prolonging the agony. Unlike the shorts proper, this segment has no plot, which only contributes to how bad this movie is. We're just "treated" to Pokémon doing random stuff while the song plays. The song, much like the movie, is just a mash of words, some in English and some in Japanese. We zone out once again, but still manage to get the song stuck in our heads. The only thing worth mentioning is the one split second where Blaziken goes down the slide with the twins. Even this point of note, Denise couldn't fully remember. She thought, wasn't it Plusle and Minun? She must have been so zoned out that she misremembered which pair of what Blaziken was holding.

Corphish
It's a good thing his hair is naturally white, or it would have turned white by now.

Tooi is even managing to be okay around all these Pokémon playing around, and Ash has to push the issue once again that Tooi should pet Pikachu. He's even about to give up and pet the fucking Pikachu when Ash's Corphish gets loose and jumps in his face, making him scream again.

Meanwhile, during the night, Deoxys randomly attacks a bunch of Seels that were peacefully sleeping on the shores of Vancouver. Given the beginning of the movie, Deoxys seems to have a thing against aquatic mammals. Yeah, fuck seals, minding their own business on the ice, the fuckers.

Poor Seels
That's a bit more aggressive than reversing the escalators.

The action scene

Introducing the plumbob
Ash hasn't played that part in the Rocket Hideout, nor has he played The Sims.

The next day, now that the twerps have earned Tooi's trust (??????), Tooi brings them all to the botanical gardens to meet his plumbob friend. Weird, but everyone likes it.

Meanwhile, Deoxys causes enough mayhem in the city with reversing the escalators and attacking the local fauna that the city goes into evacuation mode. But also meanwhile, Rayquaza still isn't over Deoxys's slight from the beginning of the movie, so it shows up to Vancouver specifically to yell at Deoxys over something that happened four years before. What an asshole.

To defend itself against Rayquaza, Deoxys makes a giant forcefield around the city, preventing the people from successfully evacuating. Plus, power goes out, and the twerps are all locked in the botanical gardens. They manage to pry open the doors just in time for Deoxys' inexplicable shadow clones to kidnap Shota and his Blastoise.

Clone Deoxys
Tell you what, it's because Deoxys is the Gen III Mewtwo, so clones.

Anyway, here goes an endless action scene of everyone running away and attacking the Deoxyses... we zone out, and instead discuss, what are the Deoxys clones anyway? They are like Deoxys, but clearly lesser, extremely fragile, and with no eyes and less color. Since Deoxys is based on DNA, are they RNA?

Eventually, the twerps get to the laboratory, where Yuko explains to them why Deoxys and Rayquaza are fighting. There's a plotpoint that since the system is down, Pokéballs don't work, so whichever Pokémon are out will stay out and whichever Pokémon are in can't go out. ...What exactly is the logic behind this? Is a steady power supply required for Pokéballs to work everywhere, or is this something special to LaRousse? How does Ash get such good Pokéball reception while out in the badlands of Kanto? But wait, since blackouts are one of the Pokémon anime's favorite plot devices; we must have seen the characters call out Pokémon during blackouts before. But if this is special to LaRousse, why would Pokéballs function differently here? And in a way that means that, in an emergency, no one can summon the creatures that could have protected them, not even the police and their police Growlithes. Is this just for extra dystopia?

No, it's to amp up the torture of poor Tooi. Since everyone has been fighting the Deoxys, most of the Pokémon are out, so now Tooi is stuck in the laboratory with all the Pokémon, and the twerps that have been harassing him, and outside, there are infinite clones of the exact individual Pokémon that's responsible for traumatizing him in the first place. And then even Munchlax, Plusle, and Minun show up to once again invade his personal space. Just great.

Trapped
At this point, Tooi has moved past panic and into learned helplessness.

In the night, the twerps and Tooi go out to get some food. Because of the lockdown, they can't even use their passports on the food-machines, meaning that, in an emergency situation, there is no way to get food even with your passport. Nice. Good job, programmers. Do the people in charge of this city just like to see people suffer?

Minun is probably dead
Don't blame yourself, man.

Luckily, this is the world of Pokémon, and short-circuiting every electronic in sight is just one Electric-type Pokémon away (assuming you can get it out of its Pokéball). So, with Pikachu, Plusle, and Minun, they get the hot dogs. The shadow Deoxys attack and take away Minun. Tooi tried to reach out and grab Minun to save it, but he got scared and hesitated, so, bye Minun. Tooi blames himself for this.

The next day, Yuko further explains the plot, and says that the green gem from the meteorite they've been firing their lasers at is a Deoxys brain, and it turns out that the plumbob is... the soul?... of the Deoxys in the gem.

And here is where the plot could have been, and is not.

Tooi is there learning that his friend-thing is indeed a Pokémon, when he's afraid of Pokémon. But Tooi doesn't even react to this, doesn't balk at it or realize the irony or anything. Just, oh, so that's what it is, okay. This could have been the moment that he has the realization of, I've been so scared of Pokémon, but you are a Pokémon, so I don't need to be so afraid. Or something. But no.

Aurora scan
Let's enhance.

Hitomi uses her computer to scan the plumbob and compares it with her earlier scan of the auroras, and the computer is able to somehow tell her that the aurora is the language of Deoxys, and that the meaning of the message in this aurora is "friend". How could the computer ever possibly know any of this? What, does her computer have a button of "decode alien language"? This is technobabble bullshit.

By the way, this aurora plot element is also because of the Pokédex:

When it changes form, an aurora appears. It absorbs attacks by altering its cellular structure.
Pokémon LeafGreen

But wait, it says auroras are caused by it changing form? But it changes form without auroras? And it does auroras without changing form? Where did they get the idea that the aurora was its language?

This had to be rectified in later game Pokédex entries:

DNA from a space virus mutated and became a Pokémon. It appears where auroras are seen.
Pokémon HeartGold

So now it's connected to auroras in a non-specific way, okay, whatever. Though, wait, is it attracted to the aurora, or does it somehow cause the aurora?

They also added a bit to later games' PokéDex entries about it coming from a meteor:

An alien virus that fell to earth on a meteor underwent a DNA mutation to become this Pokémon.
Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

This is a good point to talk about how there is nothing solid about Deoxys. It is a soup of ideas, but none of them make any sense. Okay, so its PokéDex entries imply that there are space viruses out in space that are not Pokémon but something else entirely. And one of these viruses got hit by a laser beam (somehow) and mutated into a Pokémon. And this Pokémon is based on DNA, and so is highly mutable and can change its form to adapt to the situation. And it was created by a laser, but it also shoots lasers. And it has something to do with auroras, but it does not learn Aurora Beam. And it is Psychic-type and an alien from a meteor, and it shows up on an island with a strange black triangle. Denise was hoping that this movie would somehow reveal the underlying story of what is Deoxys. But after watching this movie, it actually makes less sense than before.

Deoxys
We don't feel sorry for you.

In any case, the purple-gem Deoxys has just been trying to find its friend, and it has been destroying electronics and kidnapping people just because the electromagnetic radiation has been interfering with its ability to sense its friend. So Deoxys is really a good guy and a sympathetic antagonist. Aw, poor Deoxys, we should feel bad for it. Even though it exploded onto a strange planet and started trashing the place just because it felt it was too "noisy". We're supposed to forgive Deoxys for attacking everybody (and those poor Seels!), because it perceived the mere fact that they were alive as annoying.

If the electromagnetic radiation from a living thing is enough to disturb Deoxys' senses, how does it even survive? Out in the vacuum of space, there won't be living things, but there's just the constant streams of electromagnetic radiation from the sun and every star and black holes and the background radiation of the universe... Does Deoxys go around space in a constant tantrum of destroying stars, too? And we're supposed to like this thing? Maybe we do feel a little bit bad that it will never have peace and quiet at any point of its existence, but... no, not really.

The twerps, however, are sympathetic and resolve to reunite the two Deoxys by resurrecting the green-gem Deoxys with the lasers. Maybe just so they can fuck off already. But they need more power... especially considering the current blackout conditions. So, they instead go free the prisoners that Deoxys has trapped in Vancouver's Science World, and they can all manually spin the wind turbines so there will be enough power for the lasers. It's almost like the only reason the twerps bothered to help the hostages is because they needed them for manual labor. They're getting into the spirit of the dystopia.

With the power back on, they fire the lasers, but Yuko looks at the screen and sees they are short 20% of the power they need. Once again, shouldn't you have checked the screen before firing your lasers at an alien artifact that is now confirmed to be a living thing????

Oh no, we're missing 20% of the power we need!
Oh no, I just suck at my job that hard!

And where on earth will these Pokémon trainers manage to get a bit more electricity?? Meaningful look at the Pikachu, Plusle, and Minun standing right there on the floor. Like they had to be asked. Of course they use the Pokémon to get the last burst of energy to revive the Deoxys!!

Deoxys
It's alive! It's alive!

Deoxys returns to its physical form, and Tooi is just there all, oh. And Deoxys sends out the plumbob to Tooi in order to, like, confirm that it is indeed the same being as the plumbob, but we got that, thanks.

How did the writers miss the REALLY REALLY OBVIOUS resolution here?

Deoxys could have approached Tooi and extended its hand to him, so that Tooi could think, this has always been my friend, and now I know it was a Pokémon all along, and can I touch its hand despite my phobia. And then Tooi could have put his hand against Deoxys' hand for the climactic moment of the movie, with all sorts of symbolism of the alien and the human becoming friends and the Sistine Chapel and E.T. and whatever the fuck you want.

Deoxys
We believe Michelangelo would support us in this sacrilege.

But no. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Deoxys
Maybe having Deoxys and Tooi touch would have been too gay, but this is plenty gay already.

The two Deoxys reunite and synchronize their plumbob auroras. Now that they are together, there doesn't need to be any further destruction... except Rayquaza hasn't gotten the memo and is being an asshole once again, attacking the two Deoxys.

Now that the power is back on, the security robots are activated once again. They detect the destruction being caused by Rayquaza, and so the system goes absolutely haywire, flooding all of Vancouver with terrifying robotic blocks. It seems like the robots have the power to duplicate themselves infinitely. It's a feature, not a bug.

Rayquaza with the blocks
Very nice, Rayquaza, let's build a tower together.

There is no explanation for why the robots are acting this way and not listening to the commands that Police Chief Jenny is sending to them from the master terminal. The best guess we have is because Deoxys was born from a space virus, but neither of the two Deoxys ever interacted with the robots in any way, so no, that can't be it.

Professor Rondo tells Ash and Tooi that, in order to stop the robots, someone needs to present the master robot with their passport, which will cause it to need to connect to the internet and check the database of passports. While connected, Jenny will be able to do a manual override and shut the robots down. ...We can't get over how badly designed this all is. This is a security flaw the size of Vancouver.

Ash drops the passport
This was all so pointlessly drawn out.

So Ash and Pikachu are running over the floating blocks trying to reach the security robot to flash Ash's passport at it, and Ash drops his passport, so Tooi throws him his passport, but Ash drops it, but Pikachu falls and flings it back, and this time Ash catches it and is able to shove it in the grimacing mouth of the security robot and Jenny is able to do the override, at long last.

The security bot doesn't even check that Ash is obviously not the owner of this passport. What a shitty system. It's a fascist dystopia and it isn't even on point.

Now that the robots are shut down, the piles and piles of blocks are all unstable, and Plusle and Minun fall from near the top of the tower. Tooi goes to grab them, but he falls too, and now he's there falling to his death while holding two Pokémon. What a way to go.

Tooi falling
We're supposed to feel good that he's falling to his death while touching Pokémon.
Ash: Pikachu, thanks for alywas being at my side.
Tooi wishes he and Deoxys could be like us.

Deoxys swoops in and saves them, and all is happy once more in the dystopian city full of crumbling police blocks. Rayquaza has finally gotten the memo that it doesn't need to fight the two Deoxys any more, and they all say goodbye, and the two Deoxys flutter back into space (where they will presumably resume their destruction of space). Tooi barely even registers that his Deoxys friend is leaving forever. Just, okay, bye. And Ash turns to Pikachu like, you're a good friend who will stay with me forever, right? Unlike Tooi's shitty friend.

In conclusion

This is the worst Pokémon movie so far. What even was its plot? There are all these threads, none of them reach a satisfying conclusion, and they're all cross-woven with each other in ways that make the movie unfollowable. There are so many characters, and most of them are of no consequence. The main featured Pokémon never did anything useful (especially not Rayquaza). The movie missed on the obvious opportunities to make a point and reach a conclusion, and instead dragged on and on past its natural ending with more unexplained bullshit. Some subplots were completely dropped: Ash never has a rematch with Ryu, there's all sorts of forced shippings that go nowhere, and the dystopia presumably remains after the end of the movie. And, generally, this movie isn't even pleasant to look at. Everything is off-model and shoddily animated, and even the palette clashes with itself, what with all this blue and green and then bright red and orange and magenta and whatever. And then there's the goddamn CG tower over and over again.

The pan over the tower
We're using this gif again, but we're still showing it less times than the movie.

But the thing about this movie that really makes it bad, on top of its ass writing, ass animation, and ass direction, which make it confusing to follow, ugly to look at, and boring to watch... is that, this is not even a harmlessly bad movie. Its core underlying message is damaging. According to this movie, if someone has trauma, you must aggressively and repeatedly force them to interact with what causes them fear, until they have the one moment where they get over it because they realize that their fear was stupid and they were dumb for ever having it. Because Tooi touched Plusle and Minun in a moment of desperation, the movie makes it so that he now knows that nothing bad happened from touching them, and now he's 100% healed and okay with having Plusle and Minun just rub their cheeks all over him. But he was never afraid that something bad would happen from touching a Pokémon! He always liked Pokémon, and he knows in his head that they don't mean him harm. His problem is that he had a traumatic experience that he hasn't fully processed, and no one is letting him process it, because they're too busy shoving Pokémon in his face, which is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing, and they're just causing poor Tooi further mental harm.

Touch Pikachu
(chanting) Touch it, touch it!

Note how we said that the implication of how everyone is treating him and how the movie goes is that, once he touches the Pokémon, he will realize that his fear was stupid. Everyone prior to that moment (except maybe Brock) is treating him as if his fear is tragic, but stupid, and if he could just try a little harder to touch a Pokémon, he would know how stupid he was being. First of all, lots of respect here from his parental figures and his supposed new friends(/abusers). No one ever talks with Tooi and asks him why does he feel unable to touch a Pokémon. They all just assume that he's stupidly afraid, and if he could get his hand on Pikachu's forehead, he'd stop being such an idiot and fall in love with Pokémon just like everyone else.

Secondly, is it really stupid of anyone to have some fear of Pokémon? Honestly, it is strange that so few people in this world are afraid of Pokémon. These are creatures that could set you on fire or electrocute you or crush you or erase your memory just because they don't like your face. Even Normal-type Pokémon like Fearow are a menace that will tear you limb from limb just for their own enjoyment. Tooi shouldn't go around touching random wild Plusle and Minun that could leave him permanently paralyzed if they decide so. These are very powerful wild creatures, and you'd think that people would respect that fact in the interest of self-preservation. People in our world respect the fact that a gorilla or a tiger could easily kill you, and you shouldn't just go around touching random snakes and spiders. You could even be playing with your friendly domesticated cat, and get your eyes scratched out. So, really, why is everyone so weirded out by Tooi's perfectly legitimate fear of Pokémon, which was caused by an event that could have indeed killed him? If one of those panicked, 332lb Walrein bumped little Tooi into the rocks hard enough, he'd be dead. Let alone if one of them started shooting ice beams about in fear.

Despite Tooi's trauma regarding Pokémon, it's not like he's not trying to process it. He saw that Plusle and Minun were in trouble in the trash can, and there was no one else who could help, so he went to help them himself. He wasn't ready to directly touch them, so he used a stick to pry open the lid of the trash can. It's already pushing his boundaries enough to be so close to Pokémon. But he did it, and he should be proud, and take a nice rest.

But everyone, instead of congratulating Tooi for stretching his boundaries and doing a good thing for two Pokémon in need, are pissed that he isn't completely cured on their time table. Ash in particular acts as if Tooi's great achievement doesn't even count for anything, and he starts shoving Pikachu in his face, going way too fast for what Tooi can reasonably handle, especially since he clearly drained all of his willpower to help the Plusle and Minun. Ash is being extremely impatient and insensitive - which is in character for Ash, but still terrible, and this is never framed as being as terrible as it is, and Ash never learns that he was wrong, because, according to the movie, he was right.

So, what this movie is presenting as "therapy"... is actually torture.

Ending
Healed™

But then, he finally touches the goddamn Plusle and Minun, and he's completely and utterly cured. A few minutes ago, he wasn't able to touch a Pokémon, and now the Plusle and Minun are like, molesting his cheeks and grabbing his ankles and just, woah, woah, baby steps, everyone. Baby steps. He managed to touch Pokémon during an emergency situation. Realistically, he should be given some time to be able to interact with Pokémon again on his own terms. But in the movie, he doesn't need to, because, after one moment of conquering his fears, now he's cured as if his trauma never happened, and Plusle and Minun can just be all over him.

This trope of instantly overcoming trauma and then being 100% "cured" of it, as if it never happened, is everywhere, and it has real-life repercussions. This media portrayal directly harms trauma survivors, because people see things like this movie, and then they expect traumatized people to just hurry up and have their one climactic moment of getting over it, so that no one else needs to be inconvenienced with their stupid trauma ever again. And this trope also results in seeing healing from trauma as a binary state, rather than a lifelong process that can never be "cured", but only learned to be dealt with. There will be days when a trauma survivor will be able to handle their trauma more than others. But with people seeing trauma like how it was presented in this movie, if one day they have trouble again, they will be met with thoughts of maybe you're just not trying hard enough, maybe you don't really want to be healed after all, maybe I need to shove Pikachu in your face again. This is all really unhelpful, uninformed, and most importantly, harmful. You should not just stick overcoming trauma as a plotpoint in your movie without a thoughtful approach.

Tooi's Feelings
The Japanese-exclusive promotional trading card for this movie is ironically called "Tooi's Feelings" - which are not a consideration in the movie itself.
If only this movie showed everyone respecting Tooi's boundaries. There could have even been the plotpoint that, once Tooi's fears are known, everyone could keep their Pokémon a safe distance away from him, recalling them into the Pokéballs if possible. This would show that they care about their new friend, and it is important to consider his feelings. Ash would need to explain to Tooi that Pikachu won't go into its Pokéball, but he could have a sincere discussion with Pikachu about Tooi's fears and why it needs to keep a certain distance away. Maybe there even could have been a comparison in the explanation between Pikachu's fear of Pokéballs and Tooi's fear of Pokémon. We can imagine Pikachu giving an understanding nod, scurrying excessively far away, and waving happily at Tooi from that distance. And Tooi could smile and appreciate how they can still be friends without either of them needing to feel unsafe. It could have been cute rather than abusive.

Ending
Turns out you're worthless, bye!

Let's also think a little about the entire plotline with Tooi and the Deoxys. Tooi was worried about how Deoxys was alone, and therefore lonely. But Deoxys wasn't alone or lonely: it already had a friend - Tooi. Despite this fact, the movie makes the point that it's not until the two Deoxys are reunited that they won't need to be lonely anymore... So we guess they're meaning that Tooi's friendship with the Deoxys counted for nothing. Nice. For Deoxys, Tooi was just a substitute friend until it could reunite with its true friend. And then it can go back to space and not need to be stuck with just Tooi anymore. And we're supposed to feel good about this. What asshole wrote this movie?

Lonely
This is the actual dialogue.

This movie seems to have kind of a theme of two going on: there are two Deoxys, two twins, Plusle and Minun, a double battle with Ryu and Shota, each of whom has a final-stage starter Pokémon. The twins themselves have Surskit and Masquerain. The professor and the "assistant", Ash and Pikachu. The feel-good ending is about, everyone needs a friend. But Tooi's friend just left forever, and his friendship with Deoxys didn't count.

Ending
Sucker! :)

And instead of a real friend, Tooi is left with just Plusle and Minun because he touched them once, so he's stuck with them forever. We believed in his relationship with the plumbob, but the Plusle and Minun have just latched on to him, like leeches. While Tooi doesn't want to watch the Plusle and Minun die, he's not their friend... but now he's stuck with them, and has to babysit them in case their stupid antics put them in mortal danger. Actually, the way they are showing it, we even doubt that Plusle and Minun have pure intentions. Like, yes, we got this sucker to touch us, sealing the contract, and now he must supply us with food and shelter forever! Yesss.

Realistically, the events of this movie should leave Tooi more traumatized than before. Can he trust his parental figures ever again? Yuko gave a group of strangers permission and encouragement to abuse him. Can he ever make a friend again? What if they also turn out to have been a scary dangerous Pokémon in disguise? Or what if they suddenly leave and go back to space? Can he ever interact with other Pokémon ever again? What if he touches them once, and now they want to be his pet forever? Can he ever talk with another boy of his age ever again? What if he turns out to be like Ash, and beats him up?

The only few moments of this movie where we didn't completely hate the experience were the inconsequential scenes with Munchlax. Sprinkled throughout the movie are recurring scenes of Munchlax trying to kick a can into the trashcan or stealing people's food. These scenes are framed kinda like an animated 4koma. They were cute... Except we later realized that Munchlax, and especially what it does in this movie, is a direct reference to the middle-sized Totoro in My Neighbor Totoro, so we guess that what we were enjoying about it was really just... Totoro.

Munchlax Totoro
Let's go watch Totoro instead.

So, yeah, this movie is bad. Really bad. In our opinion, the worst Pokémon movie so far. Other movies before were messes, but this one is a mess and it is offensive too. The good news? This is the low point of the Pokémon movies for a while. The next few ones are not as bad. Good. We were about to just drop them after this.

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