'Pokemon Detective Pikachu' may not be a great video game movie, but it's certainly a pretty one.
I can't, in all good faith, recommend Pokémon Detective Pikachu to average movie-goers.
I recognize my own biases. I grew up during the absolute peak of Pokémon fever in the late '90s, playing Pokémon Blue every moment I wasn't in school, trading cards at lunch, and snuggling my stuffed Pikachu as I fell asleep every evening. Seeing Pokémon: The First Movie in a jam-packed theater on opening night remains one of my fondest memories. And yes, I still play every new game, so I'd consider myself a bit of a Pokémon fan.
How, then, do I approach a movie like Pokémon Detective Pikachu?
Directly based on 2016's Detective Pikachu game for Nintendo 3DS, director Rob Letterman's movie adaptation follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a depressed young man who's given up on his childhood dreams of becoming a Pokémon trainer. After learning of his estranged father's demise, Tim travels to Rhyme City, where he meets a mysterious talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) who has amnesia but is convinced that Tim's father is still alive. The pair partner up, along with a young reporter named Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), to solve the mystery of Pikachu's lost memory and Tim's father's whereabouts.
For starters, the plot of Pokémon Detective Pikachu is really, really stupid. It has a decent enough set-up for a fun detective movie, but as the machinations of the mystery unfold, it starts to rely on major logical leaps that border on plot holes. Multiple major revelations are discovered through a poorly explained hologram system that replays past events in full 3D from different angles using...maybe police footage? This massive hologram device is based out of an office building, but after Tim and Pikachu discover it, the holograms continue playing for them wherever they go—like at a crime scene on a rural bridge in the middle of nowhere. No idea how.
Tim Goodman is a bland protagonist and Lucy Stevens feels shoehorned in as a mandatory romantic interest (she wasn't in the video game), rather than as an essential part of the team. The action sequences are lackluster with boring staging and very little tension. Worst of all, the villain's motivations make no sense. I won't ruin the reveal if one could even justify it as such, but his/her master plan is actual lunacy.
And yet, despite all my complaints, I had a great time watching.
I was delighted seeing how the animators interpreted each new Pokémon that came on-screen. Some, like Psyduck, were fuzzy and cute. Others, like Lickitung, were weird and alien. It was basically what I always imagined Pokémon would look like in real life. Visually, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a treat.
Then there's Detective Pikachu himself. Pikachu is beyond adorable. He's furry and huggable and his face is super expressive. Ryan Reynolds' voice acting is electrifying, managing to land every joke and breathe life into an otherwise barren script. I want to buy a stuffed Detective Pikachu, and if it says Ryan Reynolds stuff when I squeeze it, I'm okay with that.
For someone without any affection for Pokémon, I imagine Pokémon Detective Pikachu would be a painful slog. But for Pokémon fans, even with all its many, many flaws, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is still worth your time. After all, this is the first time Pikachu has ever been live on the big screen, and he looks fantastic. Maybe the next one will have a quality story to match.
POP⚡DUST | Read More...
Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.