It’s been many, many years since Pokémon has had a major theatrical movie release outside of Japan. Longtime fans of the series remember that during Pokémania’s hight in the 90’s, “Pokémon: The First Movie” smashed the box office, due in no small part to the exclusive Pokémon cards handed out at every showing.
Nintendo has since chosen not to adapt their properties to the big screen, including Pokémon, assumedly due to the critical and commercial failure of the bizarre live-action 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” movie. Rumors of Legendary Pictures working on a Pokémon movie have popped up over the last few years, with most people expecting a typical CGI animated kids film. However, nobody expected anything quite like what we saw in the “Detective Pikachu” trailer:
I don’t think anyone was expecting a live-action movie with realistic Pokémon designs. I think people were expecting to hear Ryan Reynolds when Pikachu opened his mouth even less. Hot off the success of “Deadpool 2,” it’ll be interesting to see Reynolds voice a much cuter and significantly less vulgar character. This isn’t actually the first time Pikachu has spoken in a movie, as shown by the hilariously baffling clip below:
It’s also surprising to see a Pokémon movie that takes place in a relatively grounded world. In one shot, you see a food vendor using Charmander’s flaming tail to cook his food, showing how in this world Pokémon aren’t anything spectacular, but a part of everyday life. There are very few mentions of Pokémon trainers, and we see dense urban environments that are infrequently seen in the games or show. The neon look of the city gives the trailer a neo-noir vibe, especially coupled with the detective characters and plot.
While the trailer is upbeat and full of energy, the grounded tone prevents the film from looking like the typical “live-action cartoon character in the real world” schlock seen in movies like “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “The Smurfs.”
It is also surprising to see the trailer feature Pokémon beyond the original 151. The Pokémon Company likes to push the original 151, which features icons like Pikachu, Charizard, Squirtle, and Mewtwo, as they are easily the most recognizable Pokémon among general audiences. Featuring Pokémon beyond Generation 1 was a smart move by the filmmakers, as it opens up the movie to more potential characters and gags. Speaking of featured Pokémon, here are all the Pokémon we spotted in the trailer:
- Mr. Mime
Judging by audience reactions, the realistic design of the live-action Pokémon was by far the most polarizing aspect of the trailer. Instead of creating new designs for the Pokémon, the filmmakers decided to keep each Pokémon’s basic silhouette and color scheme intact. This ensures each Pokémon is instantly recognizable, but it also makes certain designs stick out more in live-action. Pikachu himself looks fantastic, he looks as emotive as ever and the fur applied to his design just adds to the cuteness.
I don’t think the same can be said for Jigglypuff, whose live-action incarnation is a strange mix of cute and absolutely horrifying:
However, no design in the trailer even approaches Mr. Mime:
Featured in an interrogation scene, Mr. Mime is pure nightmare fuel. Unlike Jigglypuff and Pikachu, Mr. Mime doesn’t have cute fur, but an unholy mix of human-like skin and strange plasticky textures, allowing him to dive headfirst into the uncanny valley. In the show, Mr. Mime is characterized as a cheery and helpful Pokémon who likes to entertain people. In “Detective Pikachu,” he’s a bonafide antagonist who literally tells Pikachu to shove it, further cementing how unsettlingly horrifying he is. It’s honestly shocking that the filmmakers chose to include Mr. Mime in the first place. To be fair, it does seem that Mr. Mime is supposed to be a smarmy jerk, and the animators nailed that. Plus the scene where Pikachu plays bad cop is hilarious as well.
Are you excited for Detective Pikachu? What do you think of the live-action Pokémon? Let us know!