How many movies can you think of that were so confident there would be a sequel, that they had the audacity to name it "The First Movie"? That takes some real chutzpah.

Pokemon The First Movie starts off with a surprisingly dark tone. Mewtwo is a genetically engineered Pokemon based on a Mew. He has telephatic abilities, and despite having just been "born" he has the intellect and language skills of a human. Because of his intellect, he doesn't desire to be a pet. He wants to be treated as an equal, not an inferior being, He dislikes being told that Pokemon exist to fight, and he is opposed to the idea of serving a master. So he violently escapes and sets out on his own.

I was shocked by these opening scenes. Was this kids movie really about to tackle difficult subjects like whether its ethical for kids to be essentially dog-fighting with their pets, or indeed whether Pokemon should be considered pets at all? Had I just wandered into a heady Pokemon deconstruction?

Unfortunately, this potentially compelling direction was immediately scuttled the moment it was revealed that Mewtwo's rebellious streak is actually because he's evil. Come on!

Mewtwo decides that humans can't be reasoned with, so the only solution is to kill them all. He will also kill all their Pokemon, because these creatures lack the intellect to even realize they're slaves. But first he'll create clones of the Pokemon, so that he can have an entire kingdom of clones like himself in which to rule. Wait, he wants to rule them now? What happened to his desire for equality?

This leads to a climax where Mewtwo's clones battle their normal counterparts, and Mewtwo himself fights Mew. The sight of these evenly-matched Pokemon battling to exhaustion so traumatizes Ash & Co., that they all suddenly realizes that "it's not right to force Pokemon to battle." I am dead serious. We've not only gone right back to questioning the ethics of dog-fighting Pokemon, but the movie has now taken a solid stance on it being wrong.

Ash wants to stop all the fighting, and rushes in to block a blast that Mew and Mewtwo have fired at each other, which kills him. Mind you, it kills him by turning him to stone, I guess so that it would still get a G rating. Pikachu tries to revive him with electricity, but it does nothing, and Pikachu begins crying. Then the other Pokemon all begin crying at the sight of it. Then some of the kids in the audience begin crying.

Suddenly Ash is revived, because it turns out Pokemon tears actually have magical healing properties. Which makes me kind of wonder why no one is trying to bottle these to cure cancer. Assuming cancer even exists in that universe.

The sight of this causes Mewtwo to realize that he was wrong. The Pokemon really must be friends with the humans, even if they are held captive in tiny ball-shaped cages and are trained to fight. Mewtwo decides he'll take his clones and travel to some hidden land where they can all live, and makes everyone forget any of this happened, so that they won't have to suffer with the memory of this whole terrible ordeal. And will go back to dog-fighting their pets.

Wow, that's kind of depressing.