After landing the rights to the Pokemon franchise last month, Chinese studio Legendary has been quietly working on bringing the first ever live-action Pokemon film to the big screen. While most details to date are very hush-hush, we do know that the movie will be based on the upcoming game Detective Pikachu (the style of which you can get a feel for in the trailer below) — and, as of yesterday, news broke that the film had found its writers!
Penning the project will be Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls) and together they'll collaborate on the highly anticipated blockbuster.
The game takes place in the real world with a darker, more urban setting than the previous Pokemon series and films, and it will be interesting to see how the writers bring this to the big screen. Both writers have distinctive styles and will add new elements to the Pokemon world. We take a look at what they might bring to the story and what to expect from the final product.
Who Are They And What Will They Bring To The Film?
Firstly, let's take a look at Nicole Perlman. An alumna of the Marvel screenwriting program, she spent two years working on the first draft of Guardians of the Galaxy, taking her time to really learn the characters and the universe inside out — so surely she'll bring the same dedication to the Pokemon universe.
The end result for GotG was a film filled with punchy, witty dialogue — but what really went down well with the fans was capturing the essence of the characters; a team of cunning criminals who make for great antiheroes.
A Bit Of Comedy Never Hurt Anyone
The narrative of the Detective Pikachu game follows the titular Pikachu who's smarter than your average Pokemon and his trainer, a young boy named Tim; together they solve crimes before setting off to find Tim's missing father. It's uncertain whether the film will follow the same story as the game but it's safe to say that with Perlman working on the characters, we can expect the trainer to be a witty outlaw who barely escapes the hairiest situations. Ash Ketchum was a great character in the original animated series but he's a bit too innocent for 2016, audiences are more into lovably complicated characters who make mistakes but who have good intentions at the core.
Both writers have a great knack for comedy, both Guardians and Gravity Falls stand out for their great comedic set pieces and rapid fire jokes. Every adaptation of Pokemon for TV or film has been quite stiff and overly serious, and while there are many attempts at humor, these remain mostly trite, childish jokes aimed at the youngest demographic. This live-action Pokemon is aiming for those of us who played the game as kids and still love them, as well as the younger generation who are discovering it for the first time. Both Perlman and Hirsch have shown that they can write great comedy that works for both kids and their parents.
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Pokemon For Americans?
Another thing to keep in mind is a cultural divide that Legendary is trying to bridge by getting two fresh American writers. We've seen a few examples of Asian filmmakers attempting to cross over; some have been successful, like Ang Lee, and others have been misunderstood and poorly received — Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights and Takeshi Kitano, for example. It's an ongoing debate, obviously there are some who believe Pokemon should remain close to its Japanese origins, and others who want to see it from a more Western point of view. The cultural references and what makes us laugh differ greatly from country to country so it looks as though this live-action film will be more American than anything else.
If the choice of writers is anything to go by, we can expect a cast and crew of American talent to bring the story to life. Legendary has yet to reveal any further details but perhaps we'll see one of the kids from Stranger Things occupy the lead role? Or maybe the creators, the Duffer brothers, could take over behind the camera to bring it to American-centric audiences? The enormous success of the Pokemon Go augmented reality lap saw a massive rise in Pokemon fans, so there is even more pressure for this risky live-action version. But, at least now fans can sleep sound at night knowing that the script is in good hands.
Who would you like to see cast in the Pokemon film?