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Movie Review: Detective Pikachu – Classic Noir Meets Video Game Fun

Detective Pikachu

Pokemon has been a major cultural force for over two decades now, but other than a few animated films, it has never really broken into the cinematic realm. And then there’s the “video game curse” which has turned even the best video games into cinematic dog crap. But Detective Pikachu defies all the odds and is really good. Focusing on character and plot– borrowing its best bits from detective noir classics of the past– and letting the video game content play as the setting was the smartest choice writer and director Rob Letterman. He seems happy to borrow liberally from the video game but then also makes the film very much its own thing that everyone can enjoy.

Why is it that so many video game movies are cursed to be terrible. It’s the medium that often makes it hard (though not impossible) to adapt to film. A good movie needs great characters, and especially needs a lead “POV” character that is the audience’s “way in” to the world of the film. We see the events unfold more or less through their eyes, and these characters usually have the most depth, development, and the best character arcs.

In a video game, the POV character is. . . you. Video games not only get away with, but encourage, more bland player characters– because they’re supposed to be bland aka “universal” so everyone who is playing the game can feel like they are actually taking the place of Mario or Sonic or even more developed player characters like a Cloud Strife or Leon Kennedy. Even if the point is playing through that player character’s story, like as Shepherd in Mass Effect or Revan in Knights of the Old Republic, or any of the characters in Detroit: Become Human, it’s more like you’re playing an interactive movie than a standard video game. Even Lara Croft didn’t really become an interesting “character” per se until her most recent games, which then became very literally adapted on the screen– which is what made last year’s Tomb Raider work and break the video game curse.

As I noted in that review, the question is always, “Would I have rather watched this movie or spent two hours playing the game?” In the case of Detective Pikachu, you definitely want to watch the movie.

A lot of that comes from the performances of its leads, which includes Ryan Reynolds as the eponymous talking gumshoe pokemon mascot and Justice Smith as Tim Goodman. Goodman in the game was literally just your avatar (Good-man, get it?) but Smith does a great job imbuing him with pathos and having fun. A scene in the middle of the film where he has to interrogate a Mr. Mime by using pantomime is incredibly funny, but mostly he does his job of being our POV character and leading us through this new world of Ryme City.

The city is brainchild of billionaire Howard Clifford (an incredibly fun Bill Nighy), it’s a city where humans and pokemon exist side by side. Visually and aesthetically it seems to smash together the best parts of New York, Tokyo, and maybe a little bit of Bladerunner‘s Los Angeles and Tim Burton’s version of Gotham City in his 1989 Batman. But what’s most fun about it are all of the Pokemon easter eggs hidden in almost every scene. You could play a “Gotta catch ’em all” type game where you name off every type that you see and that would be fun enough in and of itself.

But this movie also has a plot, and it’s also quite engaging. Tim Goodman comes to the city upon learning of his estranged father’s death from his former partner, Lieutenant Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe). Tim goes to clean out his father’s old apartment and finds an overly caffeinated talking Pikachu with a case of amnesia but a nose for a mystery. You know he’s a detective because of his hat! The Pikachu is convinced Tim’s father is still alive and they need to track him down. Along the way, they discover a conspiracy involving illegal drugs, underground Pokemon fighting rings, and a mysterious MewTwo who we see briefly in the opening of the film who may be the key to all of it.

It’s a pretty great mystery. And while it moves along quickly enough for little kids, it will still be engaging for adults. Also engaging for adults? Some of the dirtier jokes that might fly over kids’ heads. In this way, the film that this most reminds me of is Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Film noir type detective story? Check. Frenetic jokes and a high energy lead? Check. Corporate intrigue and conspiracies? Check. Betrayals, twists, turns? Check. Strategic cameos and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it placement of beloved cartoon characters? Check!

The only thing missing here is the more perfected animation style of Roger Rabbit. One minor complaint is that some of the pokemon may not look exactly like either their video game or animated versions– the charizard and gyarados models specifically are a little off– but most of this is spot on and lots of fun. My Pokemon-obsessed ten year old son (the target audience for this) freaked out when they went into Clifford’s office and he had giant wooden statues of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. If you know who those are, this movie is going to make you very happy.

This is the perfect dessert sorbet to clear your palate after the heaviness of Avengers: Endgame. It’s light and fun but also has some deeper elements. If you took classics like Double Indemnity and The Third Man and added a billion cute little pocket monsters into it, you’d have this. And it is delightful. Even if you are meh on Pokemon and have never played a game, this is a lot of fun.

4 out of 5 stars

Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Both Win at the Critics’ Choice Awards

Cast of Black Panther

This Sunday the Critics’ Choice Awards were held and both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse walked away winners.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won “Best Animated Feature” repeating its Golden Globe win in the same category. The film has momentum going into the Oscars. It beat The Grinch, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, and Ralph Breaks the Internet to walk away with the latest win.

Ruth Carter won for “Best Costume Design” for Black Panther besting Alexandra Byrne for Mary Queen of Scots, Julian Day for Bohemian Rhapsody, and Sandy Powell for The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns.

Black Panther also walked away a winner for “Best Visual Effects” besting Avengers: Infinity War, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Ready Player One.

But it wasn’t all celebrations. Black Panther walked away empty handed in numerous categories as well.

Black Panther was nominated for “Best Picture” which it lost to Roma. in “Best Acting Ensemble” this film lost to The Favourite. Michael B. Jordan was nominating for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role as Killmonger in Black Panther. He lost to Mahershala Ali for his role in Green Book. Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole were nominated for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Black Panther. They lost to Barry Jenkins and If Beale Street Could Talk. Rachel Morrison was nominated for “Best Cinematography” for Black Panther and lost to Alfonso Cuarón and Roma. Black Panther was also nominated for “Best Hair and Makeup” losing to Vice.

Numerous comic films lost in “Best Action Movie” to Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Deadpool 2 were all nominated as well as Ready Player One and Widows.

In “Best Comedy,” Deadpool 2 and The Death of Stalin lost to Crazy Rich Asians. The Favourite, Game Night, and Sorry to Bother You were nominated as well.

Ryan Reynolds lost in “Best Actor in a Comedy” to Christian Bale for his role in Vice. Reynolds starred in the title role in Deadpool 2.

When it comes to music Black Panther came up empty handed as well. “All the Stars” lost to A Star is Born‘s “Shallow” in “Best Song” and and in “Best ScoreLudwig Göransson lost to Justin Hurwitz for First Man.

Comic adaptations were absent from television awards at the show.

Once Upon a Deadpool Raises Money with its Digital and Blu-Ray Release in January

From the studio that brought you Anastasia and Ever After comes a fairy tale that doesn’t go by the book. Everyone’s favorite disreputable Super Hero returns with a twist on Deadpool 2 that the whole gang can enjoy. 

Watch Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he teams up with Domino (Zazie Beet), Cable (Josh Brolin) and the rest of the X-Force to prove that family is not an F-wordWith over 20 minutes of new footage and jam-packed with surprises, you’ll wonder why the fudge they even bothered with the original version.

Not only does Once Upon a Deadpool help you deliver on that pesky New Year’s Resolution to spend more time with your family, you can also feel all warm and fuzzy about the fact that Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will be donating $1 from every Blu-ray Purchase or Digital Buy or Rent from January 1 to January 28, 2019 to Fudge Cancer (US only. Minimum donation of $100,000). Fox also donated $1 for each ticket purchased during the film’s festive theatrical release.

Once Upon a Deadpool will be available on Digital with Movies Anywhere, as well as on Blu-ray January 15.

Once Upon a Deadpool

Once Upon a Deadpool has Zero F’s Given

On December 12, Deadpool 2 is back in theaters with zero F’s given To kick off the holiday season audiences of almost all ages will soon be able to enjoy the Merc with the Mouth’s reimagining of Deadpool 2 filtered through the prism of childlike innocence.

Fred Savage will join Ryan Reynolds in new scenes for Once Upon a Deadpool in an homage to Savage’s starring role in the 1987 bedtime-story classic The Princess Bride.

For every ticket sold, $1 will go to the charity Fudge Cancer – previously known as Fuck Cancer, who have graciously changed their name to be more PG-13 friendly for the 12 days of Once Upon A Deadpool’s release.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu Gets its First Trailer

The world of Pokémon comes to life! Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the first live-action film base on the Pokémon franchise. Being released May 11, 2019, the Warner Bros. Pictures film stars Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu, with Ken WatanabeJustice Smith, and Kathryn Newton in live-action roles and directed by Rob Letterman and written by Nicole Perlman.

The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world— they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

Detective Pikachu Gets Its First Poster

Expected to be released May 10, 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures has released the first teaser poster for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.

Directed by Rob Letterman and written by Nicole Perlman, the film will be the first live-action film based on the Pokémon franchise. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu, with Ken Watanabe, Justice Smith, and Kathryn Newton in live-action roles.

Movie Review: Deadpool 2

deadpool 2 imax poster

Deadpool 2 is a triumph of the genre of R-rated action comedy whose only peers are its predecessor and a few Shane Black movies. The major problem with this is the very obvious comparison to the first, which it doesn’t quite live up to, despite patented “Maximum Effort.”

The first was such a breath of fresh air and countered so many expectations. This is another bloated summer blockbuster sandwiched between Infinity War and Solo, and maybe we’re having a bit of remorse at eating at the all-you-can-geek-buffet of the Summer of 2018. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, after Infinity War’s dour ending, Deadpool 2 is the palate cleanser many of us need.

Enter our anti-hero, Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), who has become a worldwide assassin. But when he reaps the whirlwind from a hit gone wrong, he takes up with his frenemies the X-Men as a trainee. They begin tracking a troubled teenage mutant, who is also being hunted by time travelling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin). To keep up, Deadpool founds his own team called X-Force, and. . . wackiness ensues.

Anyone who owns a trade of Deadpool and Cable knows where this movie is heading, so there shouldn’t be too many shocking plot twists. However, the movie sure takes its time getting there. It starts with an absolutely gonzo bonkers opening, culminating with a James-Bond-style opening credits scene while Celine Dion sings.

Aside — Can we please make sure this is nominated for Best Song for the Oscars?

And then. . . it sure takes its time before getting going again. The middle half of the film is packed full of jokes and even a few cool action setpieces here and there, but it doesn’t ever get back to that place of greatness until its last half hour or so. And then it’s sheer perfection. It tops it all off with the single greatest post credits sequence of all time—worth the price of admission itself.

This begs the question, why pad the middle so much? One of the best parts of the first Deadpool was its all-killer-no-filler pace and leanness. This film felt like it was waiting for something (its sudden but inevitable twist!) to take that next step.

This is also surprising for director David Leitch, whom the credits refer to as “One of the guys who killed John Wick’s dog.” Leitch’s previous work on the John Wick movies and Atomic Blonde show not only a great sense of pace, but also a visual style and flair that is missing from this film. This film felt workmanlike and studio-approved-as-safe, but never pushed any boundaries. And that’s what Deadpool is great at.

Also what Deadpool is great at is understanding he is in a movie. That has never been more clear until Deadpool 2. That humor is front and center in the movie, as Deadpool kills not only every bad guy he comes across, but also mourns the death of Logan, kills himself (multiple times), kills different versions of hmself, kills Ryan Reynolds, and on and on and on. It’s so self-aware, and pushes home that if a Fox-Disney merger goes through, Deadpool will be the king of franchise-skewering and post credits scene massacres and cameos.

And while the film lies pretty squarely on the shoulders of Reynolds and Brolin, the supporting performances are really what make the film. Julian Dennison (who was also in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople¸which is quickly becoming a major geek nexus) is Russell, our young mutant in need. Like his counterpart in Wilderpeople, he’s more likely to flip you the bird than say thank you, so he’s perfect for Deadpool.

Also pitch perfect is Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino. While Deadpool derides her mutant power of “luck” as being stupid and “not cinematic enough,” it is, in fact, her performance and powers that give the film what visual brilliance and fun it has. Unfortunately, too much of it comes too late in the film, leaving us wondering why we couldn’t have more Domino earlier.

And finally, a moment to talk about Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who it is revealed in this movie, has a girlfriend named Yukio.

Bravo to Fox, who is the first studio to reveal any sort of LGBTQIA superhero on screen in a major superhero franchise. You’d think it wouldn’t have taken this long, but it somehow did. And? It’s treated with such a non-plussed attitude, it’s refreshing. Yes she has a girlfriend. No, it’s not a big deal. At all. And isn’t that how it should be?

So this is a really fun film. It starts strong, then takes a nap for about 45 minutes while it churns through all of the plot, and then gets really great again. Deadpool fans will get everything they want and more. And it makes you even more amped for sequels featuring Cable, Domino, and everyone else.

4 out of 5 stars

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and we’re getting ready for a fun, geeky, relaxing weekend here at GP HQ. What fun things will our readers be doing? Sound off in the comments.

While you wait for the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Capeless Crusader – Marvel Movies and Star Wars Are Moving to Disney’s Streaming Service – Does this impact your viewing habits?

Newsarama – One Million Moms are Praying for Preacher’s Cancellation & Targeting Febreze & Verizon – And we’re praying for One Million Moms’ cancellation.

DC Comics – Breaking News: Titans Lands its Hawk and Dove – Who else is excited for this one?

The Beat – Drew Goddard will direct X-Force starring Ryan Reynolds – This’ll be an interested one!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Go Go Power Rangers #2

CBR – Motor Crush #6

Ryan Reynolds Drops By the X-Mansion as Deadpool

Deadpool 2 is underway and actor Ryan Reynolds is already having fun continuing a joke about the X-Mansion being empty from the first movie. The actor posted the below Tweet and also had another joke on Instagram tha you can see below as well. Deadpool 2 comes to theaters in 2018.

Ryan Reynolds Tweets Zazie Beetz is Domino in Deadpool 2

After lots of rumors and clickbait reporting Ryan Reynolds Tweeted out who will be stepping into the role of Domino in Deadpool 2.

Zazie Beetz will be taking on the role of the mutant who’s a top notch marksman and has a bit of luck. Beetz’s highest profile role is that of Van in FX’s Atlanta.

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