The “Pokémon” franchise has come a long way since 1996, when the “Pokémon” Red and Green editions first came out, back in the glory days of handheld gaming, when ’90s kids with frosted tips and baggy jeans snuck their Game Boys under their desk, catching and trading over 150 virtual creatures soon to be loved by everyone.
Twenty years later, “Pokémon Go” would bring the franchise into the world of augmented reality, and budding “Pokémon” fans along with nostalgic veterans of the series took to their local parks and landmarks, smartphones in hand, catching them all while getting a breath of fresh air.
The game was revolutionary in closing the gap between the “Pokémon” world and the real world, something every kid with a Game Boy dreamed of 20 years ago. The creators of the franchise have always recognized the demand for realism within “Pokémon” games, as fans want the feeling of actually being a Pokémon trainer to be as real as possible. That’s why “Pokémon Go” was initially so successful. You could literally walk around in the physical world and catch all your favorite cartoon creatures in the palm of your hand.
But now, the ideal of “realistic” Pokémon has crossed from the video game industry into film, in the form of the upcoming live-action movie “Detective Pikachu,” and many fans are at a loss.
The premise, I admit, seems decent enough: A man stumbles upon Detective Pikachu, played by none other than Ryan Reynolds, and together they uncover clues throughout Ryme City in an attempt to find the man’s father. In doing so, however, they inadvertently discover an underlying scheme that threatens the entire universe.
Regardless of the plot, fans and standard movie-goers alike are a bit uneasy over the new take on the “Pokémon” universe.
The first and most obvious reason for the unsettling response to the trailer is simply the live-action CGI, which is nothing short of disturbing, if not borderline terrifying. Pikachu himself looks like a cursed, hairy version of a plush yellow rodent supposedly derived from the beloved cartoon character and poster-child for all Pokémon.
That’s not the worst of it either. Memes have, of course, been running rampant all over social media, featuring screenshots of the creepiest Pokémon. Jiggly Puff looks like a pink, pissed off cat, Psyduck’s eyes have no life in them and Mr. Mime’s rendering is simply the stuff of nightmares. I think that if I were a 6-year-old kid infatuated with Pokémon, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night after watching this movie.
That age perspective leads me to the other reason so many people including myself find the concept behind this movie rather odd: It’s a PG-13 movie starring Ryan Reynolds.
It’s pretty difficult to imagine the innocent cartoon creatures of the old-school “Pokémon” series as anything other than that, but the presence of the man behind the notoriously foul-mouthed “Deadpool” brings up the question of how Reynolds will portray the Detective Pikachu character.
I, for one, think that the transition from playing Deadpool to Pikachu must be a far jump. I’m sure that everyone who watches the film will think, “Hey, isn’t this the ‘Deadpool’ guy?” at least once. What I’m not totally sure of however, is whether a parallel will ruin the movie, or if a “Deadpool”-esque Pikachu will be refreshingly funny. The trailer doesn’t provide much to go off on that front.
You might also keep in mind that a PG-13 rating means that the “Detective Pikachu” movie is entitled to a small handful of expletives, including one f-bomb. I honestly don’t know if I would laugh or cry upon hearing Pikachu drop the f-bomb on the big screen.
So, I am still uncertain of whether I support or despise the concept of “Detective Pikachu.” I certainly don’t love it, but who knows, maybe the film will surprise me. My mind just can’t fathom a parent having to second guess allowing their child to see the new “Pokémon” movie. There’s a chance a good many kids won’t even want to see it in the first place, because the film doesn’t seem to be targeted toward a young audience in the first place — an odd result, considering the franchise has a history of being geared toward kids.
I predict that theaters will be filled with the ’90s kids who spent their childhoods catching Pokémon on their Game Boys, and it’s likely that these fans will be left at the end credits asking, “What did I just watch?”