Detective Pikachu film review: This is how you adapt a video game for theaters

Detective Pikachu film review: This is how you adapt a video game for theaters

Enlarge / How do you know it’s Detective Pikachu, not just standard Pikachu? Clues: the hat, the magnifying glass, the lush fur. (credit: Warner Bros. / The Pokemon Company)

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the best video game adaptation I’ve ever seen in a theater. And it’s even better than that weak praise might imply.

We could spend this entire article regretting the existence of Uwe Boll or arguing the merits of the Tomb Raider and Resident Evil film series, but Detective Pikachu is such a fun, polished film that those comparison points really don’t make sense. The more important comparison point is Pokémon itself—and the many feature-length cartoons that it has already been attached to.

Detective Pikachu is brisk, whimsical, and family-friendly, but it particularly wins out—and survives its pitfalls—by doing something really surprising: fully breaking from the Pokémon game-plot paradigm.

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Pokémon characters have their own pea-sized region in brain, study finds

Pokémon characters have their own pea-sized region in brain, study finds

The first Pokémon game was released in 1996 for the Nintendo Game Boy.

Detective Pikachu, the first live-action film inspired by the classic Nintendo game Pokémon, hits theaters on May 10. So it’s timely that a new paper has just appeared in Nature Human Behavior, concluding that people who avidly played the game as children have developed a unique cluster of brain cells devoted to recognizing the hundreds of different Pokémon species.

It’s well known that human beings are remarkably adept at visually recognizing faces, words, numbers, places, colors, and so forth thanks to a constellation of regions—small clusters of neurons about the size of a pea—in the temporal lobe, located just behind the ears. Those regions show up in the same place in most people, despite differences in age, sex, or race. There’s even a so-called “Jennifer Aniston neuron,” (aka the “grandmother cell“) discovered

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Detective Pikachu and Friends Come to Playground for Select Phones

Detective Pikachu and Friends Come to Playground for Select Phones


Four Pokemon that are set to appear to the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie are now available in Playground for Pixel phones, plus select LG and Moto phones. Once downloaded, you can have Detective Pikachu, Mr. Mime, Charizard, and Jigglypuff placed in your world using your supported device.

Apparently, these little Playmoji feature machine learning, able to react to your own facial expressions.

Thanks to ARCore’s motion tracking, light estimation and ability to understand the real world, they feel like they’re really there with you. You can even take a selfie with Detective Pikachu and share a smile as he reacts to your facial expressions in real time via machine learning.

I’m still creeped out by Mr. Mime, but Pikachu sure is cute.

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