The first 20 minutes borrow from the source games' sci-fi subplot to set up an exciting premise. The subsequent hour and change doesn't get the opportunity to run with any of it, and the long delay in this film's release suggests it probably went through significant rewrites, shifting from an extended OVA for the anime series, to a blockbuster spectacle meant to go along with a runaway success franchise.
Without acknowledging the nostalgia factor of the lacklustre localisation by 4Kids, Pokémon: The First Movie is saddled with the burden of being based on a woeful anime spin-off to a handheld game. The film does attempt to tackle basic metaphysics by focusing on the ethics of cloning yet this messaging is hampered by the forced resolution delivered through the otherwise bland characters of this story. Oh well.