It's my honest opinion that none of the Pokémon movies I've seen excel in terms of overall quality. To be fair, they're hardly attempting to earn a spot in the National Film Registry, but even with that in mind the lacklustre animation and dull storylines render them far from memorable. So with that said, it's even more pleasant to see a slight change in form for the series as a whole; this year's I Choose You is far from a masterpiece, but is still a fun animated adventure that can appeal to nostalgic fans as well as young newcomers.
I Choose You finds itself as a retelling of Ash Ketchum's journey from Pallet Town to become the greatest Pokémon trainer ever, joined by his initially hostile sidekick Pikachu. When their journey's rough start leads to them witnessing the legendary Ho-Oh and garnering one of its magical rainbow feathers, Ash finds himself as the chosen one for a renowned mission to uncover more about Ho-Oh and the secrets behind its inception.
You don't go into a film like this with gargantuan expectations, but the film's simplicity is appropriate; it doesn't attempt to be an emotionally powerful, poetic tale, and this certainly benefits its overall quality. The simple if still a bit rusty storytelling leads to a suitably fun and chilled viewing that kids will certainly enjoy, though adults outside of the fanbase may not quite be as engaged. What's pleasant to see at first glance is some fairly impressive animation; while it's not without some awkward integrations of cheap looking CGI, the overall art direction is still pleasant and nicely brought to life. The English cast is largely composed of existing voice actors from the television series, and while the performances are similarly cheesy, there's certainly nothing bad about them.
I Choose You does still have some narrative hiccups despite the largely solid result. As a reboot of the first few episodes of the original series, far too many narrative elements are crammed into the film's near 100 minute runtime, and the end result is a lack of focus during many key scenes and some very rushed moments. Again, you don't expect this film to be an Oscar winning drama of sorts, but it would help if some scenes weren't so blatantly glossed over; if anything, the absence of some may have actually benefited the overall story and pacing. The flaws don't end there: the characters aren't overly memorable and the script enjoys some awkward contrivances and abrupt twists, but as a fun and approachable animated effort, I Choose You generally succeeds in most aspects.