Detective Pikachu analysis and review (part 1 of 2)

Yes, that’s right; it’s time to take a break from reviewing generation VII Pokémon and take a look at THE CINEMATIC EVENT OF THE DECADE, the movie so many of us have spent basically our entire lives waiting for: Legendary Pictures’ Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (hereafter just Detective Pikachu because… come on, Pokémon Company International; just get the fµ¢£ over yourselves).  Clearly it is my responsibility, as a mad person writing about Pokémon on the internet, to discuss whether I think Detective Pikachu is a successful movie.

…I mean, [spoiler alert], the answer’s yes, but we’re going to talk about why.

I’m interested in this film on two levels.  First, this is arguably the first Pokémon movie that is meant to have mass appeal outside of just fans of the Pokémon games.  A lot of Pokémon movies are, let’s face it, vehicles for featuring legendary Pokémon that play prominent roles in recent or upcoming games, and their writing is… well, let’s call it hit-and-miss.  Guys… I love the Lugia movie as much as anyone, but Casablanca it is not.  Frankly, I think you can make a plausible, albeit facetious, argument that up until now the best Pokémon movie was actually Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Now, Detective Pikachu isn’t Casablanca either, but it is at least a decent movie in its own right (which is a high bar for movies based on video games!).  The second thing I’m interested in is that, aside from just being live action, Detective Pikachu is the first Pokémon movie that is creatively independent from the Pokémon anime (and doesn’t feature Ash Ketchum), which makes it a fundamentally new type of addition to the franchise that has its own take on Pokémon’s core themes.  So, tomorrow I’m going to talk about why Detective Pikachu is specifically a good Pokémon movie, and today I’m going to talk about why it’s a decent movie generally: in short, it’s well-cast and acted, with (I will argue) a coherent theme that ties in with the main character’s arc and its central conflict, and was, at the very least, not a commercial flop.  And, y’know, some significant flaws, which I also am going to talk about because they will eat at me if I don’t.

I was going to start this whole thing with a synopsis, but frankly I tried to write one and it was just too long, and there will be other summaries on the internet that you can read first if you don’t want to see the movie but are still interested in what I have to say, so I’m just going to get straight to analysis.  Please bear in mind that although I took some notes during the movie, quotations are from memory and may not be verbatim, and of course, it should go without saying: HERE BE SPOILERS!

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Jangmo-o, Hakamo-o and Kommo-o

Jangmo-o

I guess we’re almost at the end now, technically – today’s Pokémon are the last “ordinary” Pokémon of Alola.  On the other hand, we’re sort of not near the end at all, because we’ve got not only legendary Pokémon to do after this, but also Ultra Beasts, and I think I promised to write something about the Alolan forms as well, and… oh, let’s just get on with it.  Here’s Jangmo-o, Hakamo-o and Kommo-o: the Scaly Pokémon.

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Drampa

Drampa

I think I may have been born an old man.  I’ve always been jaded, crotchety, forgetful and averse to change, and my whole life has just been building up to the day when I’ll finally be able to use my age as an excuse for it.  It is for this reason that my spirit Pokémon is Druddigon, who lives in a cave and hates everyone, but I have a certain sympathy too for today’s Pokémon, an elderly, white-haired berserk dragon known to the Alolans as Drampa.

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Turtonator

Turtonator

Right.  Where were we?  Almost done!  I mean, perhaps not almost, because on top of the standard legendary Pokémon there’s a dozen Ultra Beasts in this generation, and then I think at some point I promised I would talk about all the older Pokémon with Alolan forms, and I need to talk about a bunch of the human characters too, and eventually those BASTARDS who DID THIS TO ME in the first place are going to announce generation VIII, which means people are going to want me to TALK about it, and I’m going to need to save up for a bloody Nintendo Switch, and-
Y’know what, let’s just do Turtonator; I feel like blowing something up.

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Mimikyu

Mimikyu

Today’s Pokémon is something of a dark horse contender for most adorable Pokémon of generation VII.  Sure, it’s so ugly that it turns the old cliché “if looks could kill” into a grim reality, but it just wants to be loved, and the well-meaning adage “be yourself” has led it to one too many tragedies.  Horrifying as it is at first glance, it’s hard not to sympathise with it once you learn the trials and tribulations that plague Mimikyu: the Disguise Pokémon.

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Komala

250px-775Komala.png
Komala

Back in the day, we had Snorlax, a Pokémon whose sole purpose in life is seemingly to eat (everything) and sleep (for weeks). Snorlax was, for many of us, an aspiration: a promise that, if we worked hard and gained enough weight to tip the scales at 460 kg, we too could spend our days in blissful slumber, waking up only long enough to blunder into a supermarket, scarf down some chips or chocolates or whatever else takes our fancy, crash out through the wall without paying, and then stumble back to bed for another month. Or… maybe that was just me. In any case, Snorlax has now been convincingly one-upped by a Pokémon that is lazier still: the coma koala Pokémon, Komala. Continue reading “Komala”