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: A Hacker Spurs a Town Into Nightmarish Vengeance in the Uncompromising ‘Assassination Nation’

Leave a comment

CREDIT: NEON

This review was originally posted on News Cult in September 2018.

Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Bill Skarsgård

Director: Sam Levinson

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Very Bloody Violence, Scandalously Lascivious Behavior, and Casual Drug Use and Profanity

Release Date: September 21, 2018 (Limited)

Assassination Nation paints the picture of what might happen if online rage riots coalesced beyond the screens. A hacker who goes by “Er0str4tus” dumps the personal files of the Salem, Massachusetts mayor, exposing him for the hypocrisy of running as a family values, anti-LGBTQ candidate while he gets up to lascivious behavior with other men. The moral calculus is a lot harder to square when the next data dump victim is the local high school principal, who gets labelled an abuser for having nude photos of his young daughter in the bath. He (justifiably) insists that he has done nothing wrong and refuses to resign, further inciting the mob that the entire town is becoming.

We see the consequences of the hacking play out through the lens of the high school, particularly four tight-knit friends: Lily (Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef), and Em (Abra). They all demonstrate their bona fides when it comes to having a social conscience, Lily especially so. She is wise beyond her years, but angry in a way that belies her youth. She has insightful thoughts about feminism, the male gaze, and just generally treating people with respect. Whenever someone is the target of rage, she considers them fairly and compassionately, recognizing that everyone is a person and contains multitudes. But she is far from perfect, as she is carrying on a rather sleazy emotional affair with her neighbor Nick (Joel McHale), the father of a girl she used to babysit.

When Lily’s secrets are exposed and evidence suggests that she might be behind the hack, she and her friends become the target of the town’s unhinged id, as a full-fledged vengeance-seeking posse takes bloody devastating form. Plenty of women have been threatened with rape and murder for the mistakes that Lily has made (or even milder sins), and the climax of Assassination Nation illustrates how terrifying it would be if a mob of people made good on those promises. While she has transgressed, it is nothing to be killed over, and her attackers correspondingly look insane and inhuman. Ultimately, Lily and her friends are able to fight back in some stylish red leather outfits. It might strain a little credulity that they are suddenly so capable in guerrilla combat, but this film is more feverish than believable, and besides, they have the power of righteousness on their side.

Assassination Nation is Recommended If You Like: The Purge, ’80s John Carpenter, American Horror Story: Cult, South Park Season 20

Grade: 4 out of 5 Red Leather Jackets

This Is a Movie Review: The Bad Batch

Leave a comment

What if Mad Max were a ditz? Suki Waterhouse gets some of her limbs amputated by cannibals in a post-apocalyptic Texas desert. But after a frantic escape, she and her winky face-branded short shorts live to see another day. She samples the rave paradise of “The Dream” (shamanistic-weirdo-in-highly-stylized-flicks specialist Keanu Reeves), but obviously what he is promising is too good to be true. Besides, ultimately she just cares about hanging out (she actually says at one point, “Do you want to hang out or something?”), preferably with Miami Man (Jason Momoa) and his young daughter. The dialogue is often laughable. Is that intentional? I don’t care. It’s delectable no matter the intent.

I give The Bad Batch 4 Unrecognizable Jim Carrey’s out of 5 Always Welcome Keanu Reeves’s.