FEATURE: Where’s Our Live Action Pokemon Film?

Feb 29, 2016


Pokémon Day is over. The free posters have been put up. Cosplay has been posted and rated. Players probably have half their badges on their new digital copies of Red, Blue and Yellow on the special edition 3DS. Time to ponder an age old question:

Where is our live action Pokémon film?

Since 1998, Nintendo has released more than 20 Pokémon films either theatrically or straight to television. However, all the films and the various television series have been traditional 2D animated with augmented computer effects here and there. This made sense when Pokémon first came out. When the Game Boy Color first debuted in October 1998, it improved on the monochrome original but was still only 8 bit. The television series and films were the only way to properly see the Pokémon like they were real characters. As technology progressed, Pokémon became more and more realistic in the games. The official Pokémon video game series employ a mix of 2D and 3D animation while other Nintendo properties like Super Smash Bros. contain only 3D Pokémon. This creates a greater chasm between the video games and the television series which still uses computer assisted 2D animation. Even recent commercials have used 3D Pokémon in a live action environment so why not take that next step into a longer form like a film?

One of the bonuses to a live action Pokémon film would be the diversity involved. Pokémon is a Japanese creation. The initial towns and cities in the game were based on the premise that the player is traveling around Japan. Later, cultures throughout the world were represented in various characters and elements but the main characters, like Ash Ketchum, remain Japanese. What a rarity it would be to have multiple Japanese actors onscreen without involving Samurai stereotypes or Godzilla!

Ketchum and Harrison

Ash and Brock

Then there’s Brock Harrison, leader of the Pewter City gym, who’s always been portrayed with darker skin than his counterparts. He’s biracial with a Caucasian mom and a dad who appears to be Polynesian. Brock could be a great modern example of someone with Polynesian heritage after Disney’s Moana showcases ancient Polynesian tales.

The only indisputable Caucasian in the series is Misty; leader of the Cerulean gym. Even though she’s a master of Water type Pokémon, her pale skin never gets any darker as though she uses SPF 1000. With orange hair, blue/green eyes and three sisters, she sounds like the typical Irish stereotype.

Although this hypothetical film shouldn’t feel constrained by the canon since the most important player is YOU and you come from all over the world. Nintendo does a great job in their advertisements of showing how Pokémon gamers come from all over; all skin colors, all ages, all genders, all abilities. Why not include Hispanic, Indian, indegenous people, African and more? It’s a fantasy setting where humans coexist with pocket monsters so filmmakers should be free to do whatever they want as long as it’s not white-washing.

Most importantly, a live action Pokémon film should be made because it would look incredibly freaking cool.

In Snow White & the Huntsman, they had this incredible Enchanted Forest sequence that felt like a screen test for live action Pokemon.

Enchanted Forest from Snow White & the Huntsman

Can you just imagine that much care put into Stantler or Ninetales or Aipom?

What about the creatures from Maleficent?


This one could almost pass for a Nidorina already…

So, come on, Nintendo give us a live action Pokemon film already…

and we’re still waiting on that Metroid film, too.

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