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– by Luca Munro

 

Let me ask you all something. Who is Miles Morales? I know a lot of you will know the answer but bear with me. Who is Peter Parker? The answer to both of those questions is, of course, Spider-Man. This is the question I posed to a friend when they asked as to why I wasn’t happy about the existence of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu when its trailer was released online on Monday.

Back when Pokémon Go began making the rounds, the possibility of a live-action Pokémon movie blockbuster looked more likely than ever, and it was something I was personally relishing. Right up until the moment that I heard they were adapting the Detective Pikachu 3DS game, and immediately my hype for the live-action Pokémon movie dropped lower than any hole a Dugtrio could ever dig.

The reason why will come in due time, but to give you all somewhat of an idea of where I am coming from, it’s probably best that you understand my background with the franchise. I bought into the games back in Generation Four, when I got Diamond and subsequently Pearl and Platinum. I was a Piplup out of water, but I got the hang of it and came to really love the games, expanding my horizons to XD Gales Of Darkness, Battle Revolution, Sapphire, Fire Red and some spin-off games that deviated from the typical formula, such as Ranger and Mystery Dungeon.

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I have remained a fan of Pokémon even if I haven’t had the motivation to continue playing the games past Sinnoh in Gen IV. I am also excited for this weekend as I will be climbing back aboard the Poké-train for Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! (it helps that Eevee is my favorite Pokémon). Despite my lack of dedication to play the games, I respect and love the formula that makes Pokémon what it is, a trainer and their Pokémon becoming companions and fighting alongside each other to achieve greatness. That is the formula that we have become familiar with for over 20 years, which is why the first live-action Pokémon movie being this cutesy little side game idea is just an insult to Pokémon fans.

Now, I know I mentioned Miles Morales and Peter Parker at the beginning of this whole thing, so allow me to explain why I have made that comparison. If you ask anyone out on the street who Miles Morales is, they likely won’t know who he is. This would be in stark contrast to if you asked them about Peter Parker. Picture, if you will, it’s the early 2000s and Sony has just announced that a Spider-Man movie was happening, but it would star Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. It’s a bit perplexing, isn’t it?

Just so you lot don’t get the wrong idea, I’ve been more onboard with Miles Morales in recent times, especially seeing the interactions Miles has with Peter in the Spider-Man PS4 game, and I am glad also we are seeing him front and center to some capacity with the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animated movie, albeit with that silly Peter Porker Spider-Ham character. Sorry to all Spider-Ham fans, I don’t mean any disrespect. The point is, they’ve already given audiences plenty of Peter Parker incarnations to where having Miles join in isn’t such a huge shock.

Seeing Sony continue to push for Miles Morales in many of their Spider-Man properties shows the amount of care they’re taking. They aren’t just pulling the rug out from underneath us and forcing us to care about this kid. It’s like acclimating a fish with similar temperature water when you’re changing and cleaning out its tank, it shows that Sony care (maybe not in many other ways, I won’t argue with that) about bringing the character of Miles to the forefront alongside Peter. More than can be said for Pokémon.

S,o the reason this relates back to Pokémon, when the people behind Pokémon had the opportunity to allow the license to be given to a big Hollywood studio, of course, they’d have apprehensions and who could blame them? Past efforts of live-action adaptations of popular Japanese derived animated properties have proven very poor in quality and reception, the track record is abysmal with such examples as Dragon Ball Evolution and Death Note.

They had a choice to make. Do they not bother at all or put their faith in it being done right? The answer is neither, they half-arse it by allowing a movie to be made of a silly little side property that, if it did fail, would be harmless enough for it to not matter in the grand scheme of things. That should be insulting to any and all Pokémon fans out there, and I hope for your sake that you aren’t just going along with it because it’s Pokémon and it can do no wrong. Just because you like something doesn’t mean you have to be okay with everything that it does.

I mean, maybe I should be happy. If the movie does well then it’s inevitable that a typical Pokémon game formula derived adaptation would be on its way, but it comes with a sour taste to know that the people behind Pokémon didn’t treat their first dip in the waters of live action movies with enough respect for the fans. If I had it my way — and I know I don’t — then this is what I would have done.

So I was listening to an interview Max Landis gave, Landis being the writer behind such films as American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein, Bright, and most famously of all, Chronicle, and he made an immensely great pitch when talking about a treatment he did for a Pokémon movie.  He claimed he felt vibes of Rocky when talking about his main character Red and his companion, a Koffing.

Now, immediately, I am not the biggest fan of Pikachu but I know fine well his version would have Pikachu instead of Koffing, we can all agree on why. But everything else he voiced, about how the main characters would rise to greatness, learn to trust in each other and grow, all those elements that make so many of those types of stories great. I can just see it now, the tone being one of an uplifting and energetic nature, teaching everyone that greatness comes from within, when you learn to reach into yourself and bring it out.

If I could see this movie being made, I’d see Ash probably portrayed by a white American because that seems somewhat inevitable (a friend of mine thinks Tom Holland is a perfect match), teaming up with his Pikachu and meeting friends along the way such as Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, battling Team Rocket with perhaps elements of the Mewtwo arc in there. Suffering a harsh first loss, digging himself out of that hole and rising up again, learning from those errors and developing his character, that gives me goosebumps just reading it back!

Watching the trailer for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, I feel a large amount of frustration. I’ve been wanting to see these live-action versions of Pokémon I’ve loved for ages, and it is incredibly annoying to know this won’t be the typical Pokémon movie, not the formula that we’ve gotten used to. You could very well say, “Well maybe you should understand that we need a change. It has become repetitive.” If that’s you, I understand your perspective, but is a Deadpool-sounding Pikachu in a detective hat looking for the perpetrator of a stabbed Aipom really that change?

I know fine well I’m going to get some flack for this. But the concept of Detective Pikachu is too ridiculous and even if the first ever live-action Pokémon movie was based on Mystery Dungeon or Ranger, I wouldn’t be happy. Maybe I’m just miserable and should just accept it, to which I say, I won’t lose sleep at night over this. The movie is going to happen and people are going to enjoy it, I just believe it has tainted the Pokémon franchise somewhat, not that they’ll care whilst they will laugh all the way to the bank.

I just wish they showed more faith and respect to the people who have made Pokémon what it is, a cultural landmark.

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