When a non-movie property becomes insanely popular, chances are that hundreds of movie studios will be clamoring to turn it into a movie. And that appears to be the case yet again with Pokémon, whose recent game Pokémon Go has topped Twitter’s daily users and has people spending more time with it than Facebook.
According to Gamespot, the deal to turn Pokémon into a live-action feature film has been renewed and film company Legendary Pictures is trying to get its hands on it. This comes after a bidding war in April where both Legendary and Warner Bros. were fighting for the rights.
While the idea of a new Pokémon movie sounds fun, hold on to your nostalgia hats because there are a couple of reasons it could all go south.
#4. Pokémon Already Has Movies… And They’re Not That Good
Despite what nostalgia tells you, the original Pokémon movies aren’t that good. Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back!, Pokémon: The Movie 2000 and Pokémon 3: The Movie have metascores of 35, 28 and 22 respectively, with critics citing the ridiculous storylines and confused morals.
Seriously, a part where a dead Ash is revived through the power of Pokémon tears? Not exactly compelling writing. If the Pokémon movies weren’t that good to begin with, how do we have any hope that a new one would be any better?
#3. Legendary Pictures Wants the Rights
Legendary Pictures appears to be clamoring for the rights the most, and they might not be the best company for the job of creating a live-action Pokémon film. Sure, they’re responsible for great films like the Dark Knight Trilogy and Straight Outta Compton. But they’re also responsible for Warcraft, their only video game adaptation which currently sits with a pitiful metascore of 32.
Warcraft represents a problem facing video game movies to this day: they take their stories way too seriously despite them being too bland and unoriginal to care about.
One of the things that has kept Pokémon such a classic for decades was its charm. Pokémon games dealt with serious topics before, but they always carried a distinctively “Nintendo” level of bubbliness and quirkiness. But if Legendary Pictures decides to go with the dour direction they went with Warcraft for a supposed live-action Pokémon, then a major part of what makes Pokémon so loveable will be lost.
If you don’t have a person exclaiming his love of shorts, then it’s just not Pokémon.
#2. Warner Bros. Wants The Rights Too
Ever since the success of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. have been pushing grittiness in their movies. Movies like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice are so gritty despite their ridiculous storylines that you wish you could douse the movie screen in soap just so you can see the characters’ faces. Just like with Legendary Pictures’ treatment of Warcraft, the cute and cuddly world of Pokémon would be lost in translation under Dubya Bee’s trademark brand of grimdark.
The original three Pokémon movies were all released under Warner Bros., but they were made by an entirely different studio. If Warner Bros. gets the rights, they’d probably produce it themselves and smear as many lens flares and dirt clots on it as humanly possible.
#1. It’s Live-Action
Film companies like Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. would be so compelled to shoehorn some grittiness into the new Pokémon movie because the rights being bided for are for a live-action movie instead of an animated one.
The movies with the highest critical reception and almost all live action, and they tend to deal with serious subject matter. Live-action movies have a pedigree for dramatic and compelling storytelling while other mediums such as animation have a history of being looked down upon as “kids’ stuff” when the contrary has been proven time and time again with movies like Spirited Away and Up.
It’s because of this perception of live-action movies that films like Warcraft are made to be so joyless and unfeeling. Film companies believe that if the live-action movies have a serious tone, then maybe people will automatically acquaint them with something must-see.
But film companies forget that it’s not just the serious tone that makes these movies so classic. You also need compelling plots and characters, effective cinematography and more. And without those elements to back up the serious tone, the movies become superficial.
The fact that the rights to the new Pokémon movie is live-action has me worried that whatever film company acquires the rights will give it the same grimdark treatment so many other films have gone through just because it’s live-action.
And can you imagine the horror of real-life Pokémon – of realistic giant rodents pitted against each other in grueling combat? Terrifying!