Monday, November 12 brought us two massive trailer drops. One was the teaser trailer for Toy Story 4, and the other was the first official trailer for 2019’s POKÉMON Detective Pikachu movie, based on the world-famous anime and long line of games. This particular movie is influenced by the Nintendo 3DS game Detective Pikachu from 2016.
When it was announced back in 2016 that we were getting this movie, it continued the trend of taking childhood favorites and bringing them to the big screen in live-action form. And there was skepticism surrounding the decision because it’s always a risk taking on a project like this.
Video game films do not have the best of track records, both financially and critically, and the scrutiny is heightened even more when you take and try to convert an animated property, which also happens to be a worldwide phenomenon. But the first trailer does a good job at easing our skepticism and turning it into intrigue.
The Legendary Entertainment production has a cast headlined by Ryan Reynolds who voices the iconic yellow mouse called Pikachu, with Justice Smith portraying a character named Tim Goodman, a once hopeful Pokémon trainer who will be Pikachu’s human partner throughout the movie. Famous Japanese actor Ken Watanabe also makes an appearance as a detective who worked with Tim’s father in the past. The cast is rounded out by Bill Nighy, Kathryn Newton, Karan Soni, Suki Waterhouse, and famous singer Rita Ora.
Immediately once the trailer begins, we find out that we are in the Pokémon universe. I wasn’t sure whether this was going to be like The Smurfs or Ted where Pikachu would somehow appear in our world. Instead, the setting is Ryme City, a location from the Detective Pikachu game.
We are firmly in a world where humans have their respective Pokémon as pets or training companions. And the first thing that stands out is the special effects of the Pokémon. They are excellent.
It’s a good mix of realism and remembering that these aren’t normal animals, so they have to look more exotic. They may be pets to most, but Pokémon are entirely different beasts in an altogether different world. And the Pokémon mesh nearly perfectly with the humans in that world. They simply look and fit naturally. And that was a big concern before this trailer.
The effects on Pikachu’s fur make it feel like you can almost feel it. You see a Charmander at the beginning of the trailer, and it feels organic seeing it walk alongside its trainer.
We get a peek at Mr. Mime who, although may appear creepy at times in the trailer, looks great. We see the cute, but mischievous Jigglypuff, although she may be a little too furry for what we’re used to. But, the infamous Charizard may be the best-looking one because of the detail, texture, and the fact that he looks so terrifying.
We are getting the classics from Generation I’s Kanto Region, and the poster of an Articuno vs. Steelix fight means that we may get a chance to see the legendary bird in some shape or form.
Another poster referring to the Sinnoh League and the appearances of multiple Greninjas show that the movie will be updated with Pokémon at least as far as Generation VI (Kalos Region).
And once you see them, you immediately become nostalgic, and it makes you want to turn on your Game Boy Color, Advanced, SP, or Nintendo DS and start playing once again. Especially when we see Pikachu.
Initially, when he starts talking, Deadpool comes to mind because of Reynolds’ voice. And no one can be blamed for forgetting that we are looking at Pikachu, instead, getting consumed into Deadpool wearing a costume of a strange yellow mouse because it’s not the Pikachu we are used to hearing.
Before the trailer, the biggest question was how were the producers and director going to handle the voicing. Pikachu is known for his infamous “Pika pika,” but we can’t have him say that the entire movie when he’s the main character. Even with subtitles. It would be a bad decision because the viewing experience would be mitigated for the casual moviegoer.
Nor could we have Pikachu talk like a human the entire time and lose a vital aspect of the character. Luckily the trailer cleared up the confusion.
Through Justice Smith’s character, we hear Ryan Reynolds because only he can understand Pikachu. But from everyone else’s point-of-view, we hear Pikachu’s Pokémon cry because they can’t understand him.
And the chemistry between Reynolds and Smith will be the key to the movie. If they don’t mesh, the film won’t work. But, if first impressions mean anything in this scenario, it’s that they work well with each other.
Another thing to keep an eye on his how director Rob Letterman and the screenwriters handle the tone of the film. It’s supposed to be a fun family adventure movie, but when you look deeper into the actual concept of Pokémon, it will be interesting to see what they do.
In reality, Pokémon is harsh. Humans own and train their respective Pokémon to fight it out with other Pokémon until one of them faints, to prove who’s the best. It’s an endless cycle of training, battling, fainting, and healing.
Some will say it’s animal abuse in some respect, while others will argue that it’s an entirely different universe with different rules, roles, beliefs, etc.
Ultimately, however, it’s going to be a family adventure between a young man and a talking yellow mouse attempting to solve a mystery. The chemistry between the two main characters appears good, Ryan Reynold’s humor works, and we get a live-action world of Pokémon. 2019 can’t come soon enough.