Director: Kunihiko Yuyama
Starring (voices): Sarah Natochenny, Ikue Ohtani, Lori Phillips, Ryan William Downey
Released: 24 October 2016
Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages finally sees a DVD release in the UK. The 18th film in the Pokémon film franchise, it originally opened in Japan back in the summer of 2015, and was broadcast here on CITV in December of the same year. Tied to the timeline of the Pokémon XY TV series, the film centres around Hoopa (who was ‘officially’ revealed with the release of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon Omega Ruby) .
Once again directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, Ash and Pikachu, along with his friends Serena, Bonnie and Clemont are thinking of visiting Dahara City, but find themselves transported there through a magic ring belonging to Hoopa. Looked after by siblings Baraz and Meray, Hoopa is a mysterious and mischievous Pokémon, often asking, “Were you surprised?” Hoopa uses its magic rings to transport things, be it doughnuts, or even people, but is unable to transport itself (you know that this will become a crucial point later). After coming into contact with an ancient Prison Bottle, Hoopa’s true power is revealed, transforming into Hoopa Unbound. However, Hoopa is unable to control itself in this state, destroying its surroundings.
As expected, the animation has that extra level of polish when compared to the series, yet Hoopa and the Clash of Ages follows a predictable path. Team Rocket (who are barely in the film) merely serve as a plot device, stealing the Prison Bottle. In doing so they inadvertently open it, unleashing an evil magic that Baraz refers to as “The Fury.” In trying to sum up The Fury, Baraz offers a rather muddled description, calling it, “Hoopa, yet not Hoopa. It’s a shadow of Hoopa.” As expected, Ash and his friends step in to save the day.
The film offers a nice bit of background to Hoopa before descending towards a third act that features legendary Pokémon and mega evolutions, as Ash, Pikachu and Hoopa battle against The Fury using legendary Pokémon that they have summoned. It might sound exciting, but it turns out to be a chaotic mess as characters are seen running away and hiding as legendary Pokémon battle each other, destroying buildings in the process. There’s no real sense of urgency or danger here until a time-space rift appears, slowly destroying the city.
Unfortunately the DVD release is a barebones disc with no special features. That means the prequel short, Hoopa, The Mischief Pokémon is not included. There are no additional languages (the English dub is adequate enough, though some might find Hoopa grating), no subtitles, and the sound is simply in 2.0 stereo (even the Region 1 disc had the option of 5.1 sound and English subtitles). It is a pleasing enough presentation and factoring in the lack of extras Amazon have it for a budget price of just £4.99.
While the film features a cameo of the Cosplay Pikachu (summoned by Hoopa) and even a glimpse of an evil Ash, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is a substandard entry. Being somewhat formulaic may be a staple to the franchise, yet even some of the previous films and episodes of the TV series would have their memorable moments of humour, fun and excitement, moments that are in short supply here. Feel free to skip ahead, but if you are a completest then take advantage of the low price.
Written by Shalimar Sahota.