Since the early 1990s when Hollywood began translating video games into movies, something always seemed to get lost in the change of medium. Warner Bros.’s (TWX) latest venture in this segment, with ‘Detective Pikachu,’ does not seem to break the trend as critics criticized it for poor storytelling bordering on incoherence. The film adapted from the Pokemon video game is based on Tim Goodman’s attempts to find his missing father with the help of Detective Pikachu, a wisecracking Pokemon in a city where humans and Pokemons co-exist.
According to 350 user ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has captured 87% of the audience’s imagination but still hasn’t managed to escape the biggest criticism of film adaptations of video games: that it is less fun to watch than to play.
To date, ‘Transformers’ and ‘Resident Evil’ are the only two video game adaptations to create box office legacy. Currently, the most successful video game adaptation at the box office is ‘Warcraft’, but even that has a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, much less than the 60% benchmark for considering it ‘fresh’. Usually, scripts in film adaptations are forced and often even mishandled, which is why playing the actual game is much more entertaining than watching its film adaptation.
Yet, ‘Detective Pikachu’, even if unable to break the losing trend, may be still poised for breaking a middle ground by cashing on the Pokemon craze, the success of the ‘Pokemon Go’ mobile app and the pop culture celebrity status of Pikachu himself. Analysts predicted that the film “Detective Pikachu” could open with $70 million in the U.S.