First I would like to point out that if you have seen the original Pokémon: First Movie (1999), this is exactly the same movie. I will not go into the story as I assume most of you have watched it 20 years ago in theatres or sometime after.
But with this being the same movie, is it worth watching this new version? That comes down to you if you enjoyed the original. For me I was lucky enough to see the original movie in theatres in 1999. And I would like to point out I know this movie came out in 1998, but that was in Japanese release, the English dub came out the following year.
If you read my Detective Pikachu Impressions/Review, you would know that I live in Japan. I watched this on its release day. It was released in North America before hand at the Anime Expo 2019 in L.A. Unfortunately from what I have heard that the subtitles were not the best and used the English names of the characters, Pokémon, moves etc.
With me obviously there was no subtitles, but I am familiar with the changes from the Japanese original and English dub as they are quite different from one another, but the story itself is same.
Going in watching this is was worried that the CGI wouldn’t be pleasing but that was not the case, after the few minutes watching the movie I was totally fine on what I was experiencing. Now that does not mean everything was fine and this will depend on your preference of how you like CGI movies. I would say some characters were not that great in their CGI form while others were acceptable. All the Pokémon looked great though. And it was awesome to see them battling in a new way.
As I mentioned this movie is exactly the same, but that does not mean there are changes that I will not mention here because I think going in to compare both is really fun. There are extended moments before a familiar scene, added scenes, different camera angles, point of views and changes to make the movie feel more modern in some ways.
The soundtrack itself has had subtle changes, but if you have only watched the English dub this will be a whole new experience again because with the English release majority of the music did change, with the original release the soundtrack was more menacing and dark at places which obviously was not acceptable to be used for the English dub. Comparing the original Japanese movie and this, it has many more new different scores during the movie. There was one point during the sea adventure (I don’t want to say anymore as some people have never seen the movie) that had an excellent score, and I was totally blown away.
My final thought of the movie was that it was enjoyable; I don’t think it surpassed the original movie for me. I will always have nostalgia from the English version but I do prefer the Japanese version too. But I will say it isn’t one of my favourite first three movies from the franchise, that would be Movie 2 or Pokémon 2000 as it’s known in English, this is why I enjoyed Pokémon: Everyone’s Story (2018). If you enjoyed the original movie then it’s quite cool to see a different take on the story.