I played Pokemon Red and Blue when I was a kid, and I collected Pokemon cards for about a year or so, and I caught episodes of the Pokemon anime in the mornings before school, but that's about the extent of my Pokemon experience. I never even played Pokemon Go (well, because my phone sucked).
I have no idea what's going on in the Pokemon world. With 100+ new Pokemon released with every generation, how does anyone keep up? What is an Incineroar and why does he look so weird? Who still plays these games?
How is this franchise still going?!
Suffice it to say, I thought Detective Pikachu was just another dumb Pokemon cash-grab when it was first announced. But I've since turned around, and I'm actually quite excited to watch it when it comes out. Here's what changed my mind.
1. The CGI Looks Fantastic
Live-action adaptations of games and animes often drop the ball when it comes to depicting fantastical elements in a way that meshes with the real world. I get it: proper CGI is expensive and time-intensive. But that's why I'm so impressed with Detective Pikachu, which has already showcased dozens of varied Pokemon in its trailers, and they all strike the right balance between real and imaginary. I won't have to cringe my way through the film, and that's a HUGE plus in my book.
2. The Worldbuilding
In the trailers, we can see that the film is going to hit many locations throughout Ryme City, and we're going to see how all different kinds of Pokemon have integrated into society. Ludicolo as bartender? Machamp as a crossing guard? Growlithes and Arcanines working with the police force? And a whole lot more that I missed, I'm sure. But this kind of worldbuilding is the stuff I love in fantasy and science fiction. Sold!
3. The Tone Is Perfect
Director Rob Letterman could have gone with a bright, cutesy, nostalgia-driven aesthetic for the film—the kind of image you automatically picture when you hear "Pokemon"—but he didn't. Instead we're getting a darker and more serious take on Pokemon with a detective noir twist, with elements of sarcasm and comedy sprinkled in for levity. It worked for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I predict it'll work even better for Pokemon.
4. The Story Seems Promising
I'm stoked that this film isn't taking the traditional route with an underdog trainer who needs to beat every gym leader to face the Elite Four (or whatever it is these days). There's a real story with narrative drive and potential for character growth here. Honestly, two hours of flashy Pokemon and quirky references would get tiresome without a strong throughline, and it seems like that's the case here based on trailers.
5. It's Edited by Mark Sanger
Ever since I took up videography, I've come to respect the importance of video editors in the creative process. Bad editing can ruin a scene no matter how well it's written or directed or acted. Well, the editor for Detective Pikachu is Mark Sanger, who was editor for Gravity, a flawed film that I seriously enjoyed. If he can bring that kind of magic to this film, the results could be phenomenal.
6. I Have a Man Crush on Ryan Reynolds
I first saw Ryan Reynolds in Waiting (2005) and I've been sheepishly enamored with him ever since. He was great in Smokin Aces (2006) and Definitely Maybe (2008), and if you doubt his acting chops in a non-comedic role, go watch Buried (2010) and Life (2017). It's come to the point where I'll enjoy anything he's in and I ain't afraid to admit it.
7. I Don't Have to Wait Very Long
As of this writing, Detective Pikachu releases in just about two months: May 10, 2019. That's long enough to build up anticipation but not so long that it peters out before I'm able to watch it. Maximum excitement, engaged.
What do you think of Detective Pikachu? Excited? Rolling your eyes? Apathetic? Let me know in the comments!