In February, we learned the film adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog is getting a sequel and is due next year. Which is fine; expected, even. However, considering the avid (and incredibly justified) backlash Sonic incurred over the title character’s original horrific design, I find it increasingly difficult to believe that a contemporaneous video-game-to-film adaptation which was actively lauded for its character design has received radio silence on a follow-up film.
That adaptation is, of course, Pokemon Detective Pikachu.
In one of the first scenes in the film, there’s a wide shot, and some birds flutter by. My heart leapt as I realized those birds were Pidgeots. For the next hour and forty-five minutes, my giddy delight never let up. The film exudes beautiful, immersive world-building, and every shot is packed to the brim with detail and playful touches of Pokemon mayhem.
All this detail is wonderful to see as a Pokemon fan because it’s so obviously crafted with love and deep knowledge (there was reportedly a representative from the Pokemon Company on set at all times.) One example stands out: while Tim and Pikachu walk through a lane of food stands, a Charmander in the background lights a wok with his tail. Also take for example absolutely everything about this image:
Even more shocking than the successful, loving adaptation of the Pokemon world is the story, which is… good. Like… actually good. I just rewatched it, and I was just as entertained and delighted as when I saw it on opening night. (In the theaters! Wow, good times, huh?)
Though I’m a biased Pokemon-lover, the praise was quite widespread: Pokemon Detective Pikachu has a 67% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. For a not-particularly-deep Hollywood action film of any ilk, this is very, very good. Obviously, long-time Pokemon fans were even more surprised and delighted.
There’s a big “but” here, though, especially if we’re comparing Detective Pikachu to Sonic: Sonic broke Detective Pikachu’s record for the best opening weekend for a video game film, and while its Critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is only slightly lower, Sonic’s audience score is a whopping 93%. Not going to lie, this surprised me. Maybe the crowds all like it because it’s a more-obviously kid-oriented film? It’s fine.
But, again, of course Hollywood would make another Sonic film. It likes money. So where the hell are more Pokemon movies like Detective Pikachu?
The non-Ryan Reynolds star of Detective Pikachu, Justice Smith, was asked about a sequel in a very recent interview. His response was disappointing: “I would love to participate in Detective Pikachu 2. I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I think we have to just kind of bury our hopes. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I really hope so though. Honestly, I’m such a huge fan, who knows, who knows? I hope so.”
This is a direct contradiction to the swirl of hopeful, yet baseless, rumors on the internet. Google “Detective Pikachu sequel” and you’ll feel like a Psyduck in no time.
But one wonders if a follow-up to Detective Pikachu has to be a direct sequel. After all, the plot of the film was a quite open-and-shut case. What if Pokemon started a cinematic universe based around Ryme City? Or what if there was a Planet Earth-type nature film which was all shots of Pokemon in the wild? Am I weird for really wanting to watch that?
Considering both the monetary and critical success of Detective Pikachu, it feels uncharacteristic of showbiz as we know it to not follow up on such a major IP, especially as the film approaches its two-year anniversary and the Pokemon Company maintains massive momentum after their 25th anniversary celebration.
What’s the point of writing for a video game website if you can’t use your platform to release another plea to fill up those “Detective Pikachu sequel” searches? Just give the people what they want, Pokemon.