IR Film Review: POKEMON – DETECTIVE PIKACHU [Warner Brothers]

Heading into “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” without a necessary knowledge of the world at all doesn’t take away from its enjoyment as its metaphoric parallels definitely key into many universal themes. Going into the film with no true ideal beyond the fact that Ryan Reynolds was playing said Pikachu gave an interesting structure but not decidedly so. Justice Smith in the initial viewing does bear an undeniable resemblance to Will Smith who he is indeed not related to but this is only a compliment since the acting chops are there, though his technique needs to fall away since the inherent charisma shines through. It also makes the eventual resolution play quite well. While the reasoning of the Pokemon makes sense, it is only in later scenes including with a newspaper intern and her pokemon: a very nervous duck that it indeed registers almost as an Id of the person it connects with. This allows many of the scenes to work quite well. Reynolds did motion capture but was not on set per se but it is quite intensive how well it is created to make it feel that way. Pikachu is inherently Reynolds persona but it would have been nearly impossible to make it work in the room simply because of the size of the character.

Backing away from the technical though, a lot of the scenes feel organic while others are implemented for maximum FX effect. The ending is decidedly overwrought but the break in and escape from a facility from its trajectory to overall impact actually gives a true conception of the world, heart and all. It is in that moment that the Pokemon universe, even to the untrained, feels symbiotic. Reynolds slightly off-cut humor, which still stays inside PG bounds, works well though it would be interesting to perceive how much was improvised or actually recorded before the film shot. Justice’s reactions are fairly believable but it is interesting to debate what came first: Reynold’s performance or his. Reynolds also offers a bit of drama at one point which sometimes he downplays because there is a small divide between snarky and melodrama. Nevertheless the inherent themes of the film ring true even if the ending battle (despite having a hark back to the original 1989 “Batman” film) feels slightly empty. That said, “Detective Pikachu” plays the gamut of a complete story within the Pokemon gumshoe genre while still appealing to a multi-national and generational audience.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

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IR Film Review: DEADPOOL [20th Century Fox-IMAX]

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The beauty of “Deadpool” is in the irony of its existence..and even further in its notion of success which it rightfully earned. It should have not happened like this…but it did. “Deadpool” is not a great movie but it hit it just right. It works because it loves what it is. It is both snarky and unbelievably honest. The script has faults and the third act is fairly weak but Ryan Reynolds is a force of will where this character is concerned because he knows the thoughts of Wade Wilson in and out. It is about making fun of your own shortcomings. And that shows why Ryan is ultimately awesome and unbelievable deserving of this. Like “Guardians Of The Galaxy” which paved the way for this film, it is that bursting heart and its paradox that drives it. The opening title sequence perfectly encapsulates this the longer you think about it. “Angel Of The Morning” by Juice Newton is the most unexpected choice but so perfect with these images of death in still life. Deadpool is the harbinger of death but yet the song talks about leaving against your better will. That is what Wade has to do. If you think about it, the same can be true in other Marvel properties. It permeates with Tony Stark & Pepper Potts. When Tony’s place is destroyed in “Iron Man 3”, what resonates is Pepper screaming for him against her better sense. But here the love story despite the action package is utterly front and center in the story. Deadpool as a force of nature plays against it breaking the 4th wall. But, in a sense of reality, it is all that matters. And that is perhaps what Hollywood doesn’t understand about the success. The reason “Deadpool” bashed records this past weekend is simple. The love story. It crossed genders and age brackets. As dysfunctional as it is, love drives everything here. Wade Wilson is an asshole before for sure. But so was Han Solo. So is Starlord. That is why we like them as guys and the girls fall for them. Because there is always redemption. And that is an attractive story to tell.

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The meta thing is simply a device to show how human Wade wants to be. He loves Wham and Voltron and he falls for a prostitute who is a hell of a woman. The story itself, if you look at it, is such a bunch of tropes that it seems to be making fun of itself yet beyond Deadpool himself, the story mechanics are not really that clever. Again the irony of it lies in its reality. Granted this was done for half or less of what these films usually cost. Oddly enough, in more ways than one, “Deadpool” to a lesser extent, reminds me of early 90s superhero movies before they became big. Dolph Lungren as The Punisher for example. The films of Cannon. There is a purity in them despite obvious production shortcomings.

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Beyond these points, you have to examine the underdog nature of what the film is as well. Having met Ryan Reynolds over the years for various movies, including “Green Lantern”…even that movie (which didn’t connect with audiences), he was so earnest in trying to make it whatever it could be. But what people need to always remember is that this was the guy who made “Van Wilder” and “Waiting” (with Chris Pratt’s better half Anna Faris who herself is a force of nature if she ever got the right breakout role). Ryan made it happen. I remember also doing interviews for “Wolverine: Origins” where Deadpool was introduced. The fact that he could come back and make that character new again is 1000 to 1 shot if not more. At the time, I though Taylor Kitsch was the one going to break out as Gambit because there was a bad-ass movie in there. Channing Tatum doesn’t have that same danger that Kitsch had then. Reynolds, apparent in the movie right before this [“Mississippi Burning”], found that right groove. Whoever leaked that test footage, whoever planned it, nailed it right and thereby created Hollywood lore. Wonderful to see. Don’t explain why it happened. Just be glad it did. Love, being yourself and going for broke conquers all. Especially with Morena Baccarin. Period. Deadpool is laughing for all of us.

B-

By Tim Wassberg