Movie Review: ‘Detective Pikachu’ the Movie Demonstrates Its Potential Worth as a TV Show

1 Comment

CREDIT: Warner Bros./Legendary

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Rita Ora

Director: Rob Letterman

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Rating: PG for Explosions, Lightning Bolts, and Suspicious Gas

Release Date: May 10, 2019

The promise of a significant chunk of ’90s has been crystallized in the form of Detective Pikachu. Pokémon is a franchise that has endured for decades, but unlike say, Star Wars or the Muppets, it is not the sort of property that its fans continue to love, or love in the same way, as they grow older. Instead, it is tinged with nostalgia at the same time that it enthralls subsequent generations with new chapters. With its mix of live-action humans and CGI monsters and its expansive approach to Pokémon mythology, Detective Pikachu takes a rather meta stance towards a significant piece of culture. I enjoyed watching it, but I also had the sense that it was not as perfectly constructed as it could have been. It soon dawned on me that there was so much potential Pokémon goodness missing from this world that could be fleshed out in a TV version.

What I’m saying here is that I would love it if it turns out that Detective Pikachu is just the first chapter and that we get a new mystery for the adorable electric mouse to solve every week, with a few more big-screen adventures as well if anything gargantuan turns up. Surely Pika’s deerstalker hat of choice points to his sartorial inspiration as a possible model to follow for ongoing detective work. There is just so much untapped potential here in Ryme City, a land in which humans and Pokémon live alongside each other on equal terms. It’s not unlike Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but a lot more adorable. With hundreds of Pokémon available to play around with, necessarily only a small percentage are spotlighted. But more could have had their moment to shine, and hopefully more will.

But the Pokémon who do get their chance to shine give us some delightful, occasionally anarchic deployments of their unique powers, especially a frustrating charades-based interrogation with a Mr. Mime. What makes Detective Pikachu work as well as it does is its total lack of winking within its meta framework. As the voice of the title crimesolver, Ryan Reynolds is basically doing a PG version of Deadpool, which turns out to be just subdued enough to be plenty palatable. Among the rest of the cast, Kathryn Newton stands out as an underpaid digital news intern who is basically a doing an impression of a mix between a noir femme fatale and a His Girl Friday-type. Occasionally the film gets bogged down in heavy mythology that may be too much for even some Pokémon devotees, but when it maintains its full sense of playfulness, it is a commendably unique cinematic achievement.

Detective Pikachu is Recommended If You Like: Pokémon with a spritz of Minions and a soupçon of Deadpool

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Deerstalker Caps

This Is a Movie Review: Deadpool 2

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Twentieth Century Fox

I give Deadpool 2 2.5 out of 5 Baby Legs: https://uinterview.com/reviews/movies/deadpool-2-movie-review-second-time-not-the-charm-for-exhausting-sequel/

This Is a Movie Review: Life (2017)

Leave a comment

This review was originally published on News Cult in March 2017.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Rating: R for Beautifully Disturbing Blood Loss

Release Date: March 24, 2017

The paradox of life is that it requires death to be sustained. The paradox of Life is that its successes and failures are both technical, with staging both skillful and sloppy alternately sustaining and choking itself. This combination corresponds thematically with the story, but I do not think it is intentional, and it is frustrating regardless. This is a locked-room creature feature that does not show its hand too early. Once it does, it knows how to drag out the tension, but it also occasionally forgets that knowledge.

The premise here is ideal for instant dread. A six-person crew on board the International Space Station meets a life form that has hitched a ride on a returning Martian probe. Dubbed “Calvin” by a group of stargazing schoolchildren, the creature starts out microscopic but soon starts growing to the point that it is no longer a curiosity and more a threat. I know what you’re thinking: this is Alien, but in space … er, a different part of space. A part of space where your screams can be heard, if only all communication – as is so often the case – had not immediately been destroyed.

There is no escaping the comparisons to Ridley Scott’s extraterrestrial horror landmark, but Life does distinguish itself with plenty of philosophical thought lent to the creature concept. Each cell of Calvin has the capacity to fulfill any bodily function. It eventually grows to resemble a crystalline starfish, but it is very much its own new frontier, with its entire body (if that is even the right word) serving as mouth, hands, legs, and whatever else it can use to survive. Also, when it comes down to the resolution, this is more The Thing than Alien. The ISS is not in deep space, but rather close Earth orbit, so if Calvin is not suppressed, there is a very real chance he could consume the whole planet. Life does not shy away from just how nasty that implication is.

The devilish little monster flick that Life mostly succeeds at being is constantly interrupted by a survival tale that fails because no character has any room to come across as a fully realized human being. That is not necessary in a movie like this, but when there is as much dialogue as Life has, it becomes important. But the editing and cinematography seem wholly uninterested in any of that. Shots are frequently cut mid-sentence, effectively garbling the speech, and the look is so washed out, which is fine for generating unease, but annoying when attempting to make sense of facial expressions. Horror often works best by withholding its villain, but the formula is a little different when the monster is by far the most fascinating character.

Life is Recommended If You LikeAlien (though it’s not as well-crafted), The Thing (though it’s not quite as ominous), Tremors (but without the cheekiness)

Grade: 2.75 out of 5 Doomed Lab Rats