The trailer for Detective Pikachu was full of surprises, and not just ones related to Pikachu’s hair. The world director Rob Letterman created for his living Pokémon was futuristic and grounded, a metropolis where the impact of these creatures was felt in the nuts and bolts of the architecture. There seemed to be an obvious, if not unlikely inspiration: Blade Runner.
With some clever editing and computer-graphic add-ons, commercial director Adam Butcher took the influence to the next level with a mashup of Detective Pikachu and last year’s synthy sequel, Blade Runner 2049. The results are... magnificent. Ever since Brokeback to the Future, the clever splicing of Brokeback Mountain and Back to the Future that blew up early YouTube in 2006, many have tried and failed to weave together movie mashups out of trailer parts. Maybe it’s the Detective Pikachu hype talking, but Butcher’s stab at the genre is an instant standout.
Detective Pikachu 2049 casts — who else? — grizzly Harrison Ford as the voice of Pikachu, with Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman standing in for standing in for Ryan Gosling’s replicant K. From there, Detective Pikachu melds without too much adjustment into the grander visuals of Blade Runner 2049 cinematographer Roger Deakins. The Pokémon fighting ring could easily be a back corner of the orphan outpost seen in 2049 America’s wastelands. Mr. Mime already looked in need of a Baseline Test, so the interrogation becomes even more familiar.
Butcher adds some choice details that make the whole thing sing: a giant Pokémart as seen from a classic Blade Runner flying-car vantage point; Tyrell posters in Tim’s bedroom; the scrolling Pokédex using grimy 2049 technology — it’s all smooth thanks to amateur special-effects. The whole thing pays off with an appearance by Chancy. Beautiful Chancy.
Detective Pikachu hits theaters on May 10, 2019. Watch this in the meantime.