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Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution Is The Worst Kind Of Remake

Welcome back to Pokemon Movies in Review, a weekly recap of the entire Pokemon cinematic universe. This week we’re revisiting the first Pokemon movie remake: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution. Considering the major differences between the original Japanese and the English version of Mewtwo Strikes Back, it’s best to think of Evolution as the third version of this story. Instead of shoring up the messy themes and flat endings of the originals, Evolution is an odd mashup of both versions. It's a missed opportunity for the movie, which would have benefited from a narrative update to match its flashy new CGI visuals. Evolution is a fun way to re-experience Mewtwo Strikes Back, but it doesn’t do anything to fix the film’s problems, and in fact, it makes some of them worse.

In the very first column of this series, I did a detailed breakdown of the differences between the original Japanese version of Mewtwo Strikes Back and the English dub. While there are a lot of minor dialogue differences throughout the movie that change our understanding of Mewtwo and the message the filmmakers wanted to send, the big changes come at the very beginning and the very end.

In the original movie, Mewtwo befriends a little girl named Ambertwo, the cloned daughter of the Scientist who created Mewtwo. Ambertwo doesn’t survive the cloning process, and the loss of its first and only friendship is the source for much of Mewtwo’s anger and resentment. Ambertwo was cut from the English version for fear that the themes were too dark for American audiences. Instead, Mewtwo learns from the scientist that he was created to be the strongest Pokemon, but realizes that they only see it as an experiment and don’t actually care about its feelings or desires. Mewtwo destroys the lab deliberately in order to punish the scientists, whereas in the original version, he destroys the lab out of uncontrollable rage and despair.

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