Detective Pikachu - Looking Shy
Tag: opinion

Detective Pikachu looks awful, but here's how it could still redeem itself

Contributed by
Dec 4, 2018

The Detective Pikachu movie trailer is finally here, and it's hardly what Pokemon enthusiasts were hoping for. Based on the Nintendo 3DS game of the same name from earlier this March, it follows a tough little talking Pikachu who's finally found one person in the world who can understand him: a young man named Tim Goodman. The two pair up, detective and gumshoe, solving a string of important Pokemon-related cases, all the while Tim searches for his father, Harry Goodman.

Somehow, according to the trailer, the movie takes the source material and manages to mangle it beyond recognition. The film looks to follow much of what the game introduced, save for the fact that Tim is a much older character and there will be several tweaks to the project, such as the fact that the Pokemon have all been redesigned and given a "realistic" look (read: terrible).

That isn't the worst of it though. Ryan Reynolds is Pikachu, and he's doing the same tired old character he always does in movies: himself. That's about all he's capable of, and it really shows in the movie's first trailer, where Reynolds portrays a sarcastic, wise-cracking Pikachu that has little in common with the one we meet in the game. 

To be fair, the Pikachu in the game itself didn't exactly have a voice that fit, either. And no, Danny DeVito wouldn't be the "best choice ever," as many have insisted in the past. But a different voice, essentially anyone's at this point, would make for a character that's, at the very least, more faithful to the game. Unfortunately, Ryan Reynolds isn't going anywhere, and that voice is here to stay. 

I could go on and on about everything I don't like, and how it's one of the worst attempts that America could have gone with when it comes to making a live-action Pokemon movie. But there's still a way for it to be enjoyable. Forgiving the horrendous "realistic" Pokemon, the cringe-worthy trailer, and the lame jokes you just know are coming, letting the movie remain heartwarming at its core could be the key to its redemption. 

Despite all of the missteps the casting department made while bringing Detective Pikachu to life, it could still be an enjoyable movie if there's still a happiness and a feeling of "pure" joy that radiates from it. There's no telling what direction the film is going to go in. Is it going to lean hard on a few tired poop jokes or silliness like the Mr. Mime scene? Or will we see Pikachu and Tim forge a real friendship while getting to see the "real world" through the lens of characters where the monsters running around is an everyday occurrence? 

The game was a sweet, occasionally funny experience clearly meant for younger audiences, and the film adaptation is a clear attempt at giving it a more "adult" slant, hence giving Reynolds the titular role. The trailer is littered with off-color jokes obviously meant to make the adults who marketing execs think will be "dragged" to the film (because adults can't enjoy something like this, right?) giggle and share a knowing smile with the other adults in the room. 

But these are Pokemon. It doesn't make sense that a Pokemon, a Mr. Mime of all things, would be telling another Pokemon to "shove it," or even know what that phrase means. True, yes, we're living in a fantasy world where Pokemon exists and that's hardly the most unrealistic thing here – but if the property is going to be adapted, why not do it correctly?

"My problem is that I push people way and then I hate them for leaving," offers Pikachu as he throws out suggestions for what Mr. Mime is trying to convey with its charades. He eventually changes gestures, with Pikachu still not understanding.  

"He's saying you can shove it," says Tim, standing off to the side. Mr. Mime nods enthusiastically to indicate that Tim was on the right track. We're supposed to laugh, but it just feels mean-spirited and, for lack of a better word, stupid. If this is indicative of what the whole movie is going to be like, it's extremely disappointing. 

It's this part of the project, this "edgy" humor and sarcastic series of jokes that could potentially sink it entirely. Sure, it might make buckets of cash, and it could be the "best" Pokemon movie in the general public's eye, but it will also set the tone for future Pokemon projects in America. 

Ask yourself: Is this really how we want to see Pokemon? Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool playing Pikachu? So for Pokemon's sake, and for the fans' sake, let's hope what we saw in the trailer wasn't indicative of the overall movie's tone. If it can pivot from the string of haphazard sarcasm and rudeness and point toward something resembling a heartfelt narrative, then and only then will it even been the precipice of redemption. 

The Pokemon are still going to look absolutely abhorrent, though. Looks like there's no stopping that train, unfortunately. 

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