When Pokémon launched in 1996, no one could have predicted how massive the franchise would become. Since then, there has been a long running anime, movies, multiple games and spin-offs, and an immensely popular mobile title. That mobile title, Pokémon GO, remains the number one top grossing game in the Google Play Store. Soon, Pokémon will be returning to the big screen. In 2019, Warner Bros. will release Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. One big question regarding the film is how the Pokémon will look in a live-action environment. Will they look cartoony, like in The Smurfs or Yogi Bear, or more realistic? It sounds like it will be the latter.
At the 2018 Pokémon World Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, IGN spoke with Rob Letterman, the director of Detective Pikachu. Many things were brought up (such as why Ask Ketchum was not appearing, and that Pokémon from different generations will be featured), and one topic was on how the actual Pokémon would appear on screen. It looks like fans can expect to see incredibly realistic-appearing creatures.
Rob Letterman: "They’re incredibly real, you should think of it as the way Rocket Raccoon sits in the movie as if he’s really there. It’s that technology. The same group of people that worked on that, or worked on Jungle Book. We’ve got the people on it that worked on Fantastic Beasts. They’re technically, some of the most high-end visual effects in the world," "It’s completely photorealistic, like they are alive and in the movie."
Letterman brings up Rocket Raccoon and The Jungle Book. Rocket Raccoon is a main character in Guardians of the Galaxy, and appeared in this year's blockbuster film, Avengers: Infinity War. Rocket is realized in CGI, and it looks genuine. Simply put, a standing raccoon looks like he's in the same room as real people. The Jungle Book has been praised for its visual effects; the animals look fantastic. Of course, Pokémon are fantastical creatures, making them harder to appear in a live-action environment realistically. It will be fascinating to see how photorealistic Pokémon will appear.
Detective Pikachu is based on the 3DS game of the same name. In it, a smooth-talking Pikachu teams up with a human to solve mysteries. It's certainly a unique choice for a film adaption. The film stars Justice Smith (Franklin Webb in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Kathryn Newton (Alex Nelson in Paranormal Activity 4). Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame will be voicing Detective Pikachu himself.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu will be released on May 10th, 2019. The release date itself is interesting, as it releases the same month as the fourth Avengers film and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It will be interesting to see how Pikachu fares at the box office.