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Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu, or This Could Be the Beginning of a New Film Franchise

"I feel like I'm ripping off Arthur Conan Doyle with this deerstalker."

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment, two Hollywood powerhouses, join together to bring us Detective Pikachu. The official title of the movie, according to IMDb, is Pokémon Detective Pikachu, because Detective Pikachu refers to the Nintendo 3DS game. But this review isn't for the game, so there really won't be any confusion when I refer to the film as simply Detective Pikachu.

So anyway, is this movie based on the game? I don't know, I've never played it. So this review will not be referencing the film's gaming roots in any way.

I admit, I was a casual fan of the cartoons. Wait, scratch that. I am a casual gamer of Pokémon Go. So with the cartoons, what's less than a casual fan? A sporadic fan, maybe? I'm not sure. Point is, my knowledge of Pokémon isn't that solid to begin with.

Remember back in 2007, when Michael Bay released the first Transformers film (which incidentally was the very first film reviewed on this blog)? You might remember the backlash it received from fans for not staying true to the eighties TV show. Why’d they make Bumblebee a Camaro, they asked, when Bumblebee was a Volkswagen Beetle, and a Volkswagen Beetle only, nothing else. The only thing they retained was the colour, because Bumblebee can only be yellow. Wait, what was my point?

Oh yes, the fans. So the fans actually taught Hollywood a valuable lesson when it comes to adapting existing source material. If the source material is a book, then visual interpretations may be free for all, except for very specific descriptions the author used. But if the source material is another visual medium, such as a comic book, or a children’s cartoon in this case, then of course there must at least be a semblance of visual similarity, because that is what the viewers will be looking for.

And who are the viewers in this case? Although the studios may argue that these films are meant to draw in new audiences, let’s face it: these films are driven by nostalgia, and are really directed at those who were young once and now are employed and thus have money to spend at the cinema. That’s the same with every piece of adapted cinema that is released twenty years after its source material, such as Charlie’s Angels, the Transformers franchise, Inspector Gadget, and many more. (One can also argue that Mission: Impossible started off like this, but has grown so big that it has taken a life of its own now, with fans that don’t know and don’t care about the 1970s television show that inspired it.)

Wait, what are we talking about again? Oh yes, Detective Pikachu. Particularly visual similarity. Well, all I have to say is that the adaptation of the flat two-dimensional animated Pokémon into their three-dimensional computer-generated counterparts was extremely faithful. None of that “Bumblebee is a Camaro” crap. The Cubones you see on the big screen is exactly the same as the one in your childhood memories. So are the Squirtles. The Growlithes. The Gastlies. And of course, the lovable Pikachu. Except for one small thing: Pikachu’s voice.

No more “Pika Pika” cuteness here. Instead of miming and context clues, the filmmakers gave Pikachu a voice, and that is Ryan Reynolds on cocaine. I’m kidding, of course, it’s just regular Ryan Reynolds. It is of course a bit jarring at first, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

Detective Pikachu went to great lengths to give us something that deserves being called a detective flick, with the cinematographer even shooting on 35 mm film to make it feel more like Blade Runner. Aside from Pikachu sporting a deerstalker–an obvious homage to Sherlock Holmes–all the elements of classic mystery storytelling are here, albeit toned down for a younger audience. Don’t expect a great whodunit, though, because the plot’s fairly easy to predict. Just sit back and suspend your disbelief, is what I would suggest. It’s the ride that matters, anyway.

"Am I gonna get my own movie?"

Pokémon Detective Pikachu. USA/Japan/Canada. 2019.

Original rating: 7.2/10
Pikachu sounding like Deadpool: +0.1
No Kathryn Newton nudity: -0.1
Justice Smith: +0.1
Bill Nighy: +0.1
Ken Watanabe: +0.1
Psyduck: +0.1
Final rating: 7.6/10


Random Thoughts: Avengers: Endgame, or Marvel Does Time Travel Right

"Can we get porn on this thing?"

•The best part of Avengers: Endgame is not the fact that it's a superhero movie, nor is it the fact that it is the final film in possibly the first cinematic franchise of different films sharing an interconnected universe. The best thing about this flick is its genre, and that is time travel, my favourite movie genre ever. A time-heist, in the words of Scott Lang (the Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd). It even ranks itself among other great time travel movies such as Back to the Future, The Terminator, Bill and Ted, Somewhere In Time, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Time Cop, among others. Then it differentiates itself from the rest by basically saying Back to the Future was bullshit.

•Captain America (Chris Evans) is worthy of Mjolnir. Although I was a Marvel fan as a kid, my Marvel knowledge was mostly limited to the X-Men and Spider-Man. Imagine my suprise when Cap is finally revealed to be worthy of lifting both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker (although this was already hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Weapon interchangeability is kind of new to me, see.

•When we see Cap at the end, when he hands over his shield to Falcon (Anthony Mackie), he is an old man. But if he returned all the stones to the moment they were taken, then that means the original timeline was preserved. But he married Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), so that means he created a new timeline where they grew old together. That's a plot hole right there, but apparently that can be explained by having him live out his new timeline and then travel back to the original timeline to give his shield away. That is if we work under the assumption that Pym particles can make you travel not just back and forth in one timeline, but across different alternate timelines as well. But that's a stretch, if you ask me.

•Captain America is a title. Just like Black Panther is a title. And Sorcerer Supreme. Captain America is not Steve Rogers, but rather Steve Rogers is Captain America. They are not interchangeable. When Steve Rogers dies, the mantle of Captain America can be passed on to another worthy person. In the same way, T'Chaka was the previous Black Panther before he died and his son T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) became the new Black Panther. Also like how the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) held the title of Sorcerer Supreme before it was passed on to Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

•Ant-Man time-travelled, but Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) was first. Although the whole time travel idea was Scott Lang's (as well as the term "time heist"), his previous experience wasn't time travel per se, but more of getting lost in the quantum realm and realising time had passed differently for him. The first proper time traveller who travelled to a specific time and space was Hawkeye. But following the rules of time travel, he shouldn't have taken that baseball glove with him. I hope they put it back to the point it was taken so as not to mess up any timelines.

•The girl power scene would have been great with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Of course we all loved the girl power scene in Avengers: Infinity War, and we also adore the character that embodies girl power itself, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). But even before the strong female characters in the MCU, Black Widow was already whooping supervillain ass. She was the first among Marvel's lovely lady warriors, and now she is gone. Not to worry, though. I hear she's getting a prequel spinoff. Yay.

•The new Hulk is kinda weird. And I am bothered by it. Maybe it's because he speaks straight now? I don't know. I must have gotten so used to "Hulk smash" that any complete sentence, no matter how short, will sound so out of character. Or maybe it's because he just looks so damn like Mark Ruffalo. I really don't know. I am still bothered by it.

•Marvel went for misdirection in the Captain Marvel film by teasing that Captain Marvel can whoop Thanos's ass. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Captain Marvel can hold her own against Thanos, sure. But to say that she can whoop Thanos's ass implies Thanos hardly putting up a fight, which wasn't the case at all. No one single hero can beat Thanos in a one-on-one fight. It takes teamwork, strategy, strength, and a whole lot of luck.

•Regarding Captain Marvel's hair, my question is this: is she or is she not a lesbian? Yeah, I know, you can't judge a person by his or her haircut, but this is cinema, ladies and gentlemen, a visual medium. The most effective way to depict a tomboy is to show her with boy's clothes, or really short hair. It's that or showing her and her lover in the scissors position, so yeah.

•Good job, Marvel, for bringing back even the minor characters from the previous films. That's a big feat, considering Natalie Portman didn't want anything to do with it anymore. Well, Natalie Portman didn't return for Endgame; they used old footage from the Thor movies. But almost everyone came back, even Rene Russo as Thor's mom, Benedict Wong, Evangeline Lilly, and a lot more. A whole lot more.

Two of you are going to die in this film.

Avengers: Endgame. USA. 2019.

Original rating: 8.6/10
Shout-out to the great time travel movies: +0.1
Stan Lee cameo: +0.1
Ant-Man's comic book helmet: +0.1
Robert Downey, Jr.'s last Marvel film: -0.1
Final rating: 8.8/10


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