Have you ever watched a video game movie and wondered how they got it so wrong? I still can’t get over the Super Mario Bros. movie’s take on Goombas. All too often, video game movies feel like they were created by some soulless machine that skimmed a Wikipedia page and just ran with it. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Legendary’s Detective Pikachu.
Earlier today, we published an article about how Detective Pikachu breaks the video game movie curse. I believe it achieves the rare feat of appealing to both core fans and newcomers. One of the ways it achieves this is by filling scenes with countless Easter eggs for fans of the games. It would have been easy to throw in one or two cynical, half-assed references and call it a day, but Legendary made sure they got it right.
Calling in the experts
In addition to casting lifetime Pokémon fan Justice Smith as the human lead, Legendary had a “Pokémon expert” on set every day to make sure the movie never strayed. Actress Kathryn Newton says they even weighed down her backpack for the scenes where her character carried Psyduck around. The Pokédex lists Psyduck at around 43 pounds.
On top of the on-set expert, Director Rob Letterman also consulted with the king of all experts on Pokémon design. Ken Sugimori drew all 151 original Pokémon, so Legendary’s team of artists made sure to get his approval for Detective Pikachu.
We worked closely with The Pokémon Company, and the original creators and original designers. We got notes, feedback—I mean, very detailed notes [from Sugimori]. We collaborated with them directly on this movie,” said Letterman, “because we want to get it right.
That’s a level of dedication to detail you don’t often see, and it paid off. It’s the exact opposite of what has happened with the Sonic movie. Sonic’s original creators weren’t consulted on his new look, and they’re not happy about it. Neither is the internet. As a result, Paramount’s artists need to redesign and replace their main character in just six months. Maybe it’s time for Hollywood executives to admit they don’t always know better.