My first novel, City of Kaiju, is available for pre-order TODAY. Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here.
Playing With Imagination is a series where I talk about video game stories and plots. Many video games have incredible stories and are often overlooked in our society. Today, I talk about the Live Action Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, coming soon from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.
What do you get when you take Deadpool, Pokémon, the uncanny valley and a movie based of a game, based off a spinoff from one of the biggest games ever? You get Detective Pikachu.
Rumors of a live-action Pokemon film have spread to Kanto and back, and during the era where video game movies were bad, fans had every reason to be concerned. Mediocre acting, miserable plots, and felt more like watching a game than seeing a typical movie. But things changed, hopefully, for the better when Warcraft hit theaters, and while critics didn’t think it was the second coming it should have been, fans LOVED it. It was the first genuinely good video game movie…possibly ever.
Fast forward to today, and we get Detective Pikachu, based on the Pokemon spin-off of the same name. The first exposure to something even resembling a live action Pokemon film was 2006’s Pokemon Apokelypse. It’s a fan film that garnered controversy for being an extremely dark take on Pokemon. Battle was similar to illegal animal fights, the dialog was mature and the story followed the anime rather than the games.
*Shudder* The rare time I’m thankful Hollywood didn’t go this route.
It cemented my belief that Pokemon should NEVER have a live-action adaptation, lest the corporate executives of Hollywood tear it down and claim yet another childhood victim in their never-ending crusade to ruin anything they get their grubby, sweaty paws on.
Maybe that was a bit dramatic, but the point is, I didn’t know if I even WANTED a live action version since the anime movies were more than enough. But Monday, we got ourselves our first real look at the upcoming live-action film and…
I’m not sure what to think. Before we delve further, let’s take a look at the story of Detective Pikachu.
The story focuses on Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a hero who hoped to one day follow in the footsteps of his father, who mysteriously vanished. A chance encounter with a Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, of all people), who only he can understand, gives Tim hope that he may find his father one day. However, the Pokemon of Rhyme City are acting strange, and it’s up to this unlikely duo to crack the case and solve numerous mysteries.
I figured I should get the elephant (or Donphan) in the room out of the way first. The Pokemon designs. This was perhaps my biggest fear when it came to a live action series. I’ve seen photoshop edits of what Pokemon looked like in real life. Some looked convincing (the Cubone one is the most popular and well known), while others look awful, and barely resemble their animated counterparts. This was a daunting task that no one could afford to screw up, lest this movie fall on its face.
Seeing them now, I feel that while some of them are convincing and look great, others go too deep into uncanny valley territory. Basically, they try too hard to make them real. In the trailer, they show Tim and Pikachu talking to a Mr. Mime, who, while he did look a bit suspicious in the games, looked super creepy in the film. Almost like some strange CGI project gone wrong. It’s not bad (hell, at least it LOOKS like a Mr. Mime), but some of them are perhaps trying too hard to be real. Seeing Pikachu for the first time, while he does have that mouse look to him, does feel like it’s coming across as too mouse-like.
So my verdict for that is…I appreciate their effort to make them true to the actual games, but they either come off as too cartoony, or just weird. I’m not sure how to place it, so I’ll consider it “acceptable” for now.
As far as the movie itself, it looks promising. The acting is okay, the plot looks fun (even if it does look a little mature for Pokemon, but nowhere near as bad as Apokelypse) and makes sense for a movie rather than cram an eight gym story into a two-hour film. I appreciate that it’s not the cliched (Pokemon come to the real world) and opted to make Pokemon a natural part of their society.
Also, I’m happy to notice that there are other Pokemon outside of the original 151. I did see a few Greninja in there, which are fairly recent, so it’s nice that the producers and writers understand that generation one isn’t the only Pokemon to exist in the world. The game featured Pokemon like Aipom, Poochyena, Chandelure, and so on. It’d be nice to see how they’re portrayed and I don’t expect all of them to be in this film since that’s one hell of a task.
My biggest concern is how this whole film will pan out. This film is directed by the same guy who did the recent Goosebumps films, which is that very same “characters from fiction in the real world” plot device that’s rarely executed well. At least from here, it’s attempting to break the mold a little. It’s how well it works and how the dialog turns out, cause trailers tend to fake the quality of the film. A film that looks impressive might be trash when you see it in theaters.
Either way, seeing a trailer does give me hope that maybe, just maybe, Pokemon will get through the “bad adaptation” curse unscathed. I’m not holding my breath, but I do feel it’s my duty as a Pokemon fan to see this film, even if it does end up being on the bad end. After all, I’m a Pokemon die-hard. If this succeeds and is a worthy adaptation, I wouldn’t mind seeing others.
So that’s my take on the upcoming Pokemon film. I might do a review on it when I can, but we’ll see.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.