The Sony Cinematic Universe

Taking inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony Pictures has today announced plans to launch their own video-game movie adaptation universe called PlayStation Productions – but we’re just going to call it the Sony Cinematic Universe, or SCU, because (a) I like that name better, and (b) PlayStation Productions overseer Shawn Layden is already drawing the parallels himself, saying that “[we] looked at what Marvel has done in taking the world of comic books and making it into the biggest thing in the film world”. In other words, they think they can unseat Marvel at the box-office. Which is fine – but with PlayStation?

Apparently so, and there are over 100 game titles that Layden and SCU president Asad Qizilbash are interested in adapting to the big and small screen. That probably includes best-selling games like Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider, and…Crash Bandicoot.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, this news follows the success of Detective Pikachu, which became (just barely) the best-reviewed video-game adaptation on Rotten Tomatoes. But the hard reality is that, for the most part, video-game adaptations are massive failures, critically and often financially. They also seem to attract a lot of negativity from the fans they desperately want to please, some of it so overwhelming that film studios feel compelled to cave in to pressure (looking at you, Sonic the Hedgehog).

Why would anyone want to try and build an entire cinematic universe around video-game adaptations? It’s not like this is the first time PlayStation games have been adapted – just look at Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and its 2018 reboot Tomb Raider, (oh yeah, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, how could I forget about that one) all of which were burdened with poor audience scores and staggeringly bad reviews. Even Angelina Jolie couldn’t save the franchise from a solidly “Rotten” rating. Ryan Reynolds, meanwhile, has narrowly saved the blossoming Pokémon franchise from a similar fate, but for how long? Detective Pikachu may have offered false hope to all the Hollywood moguls looking to jump on the bandwagon – are we seriously now going to get a Crash Bandicoot movie? Does anybody want that? Anybody?

Okay, well now that we’ve raised the possibility, I probably do want that, but I’m not going to admit it.

So, is the video-game movie curse officially broken with the success of Detective Pikachu? I doubt it. But then again, Angry Birds, a movie based on an iPhone app, garnered millions of dollars at the worldwide box-office – so what do I know? But maybe now is the time to start building a Sony Cinematic Universe: The Witcher video-game adaptation is going to release on Netflix later this year, and a Nintendo Mario Brothers movie is still in production at Universal – that’s something that could easily wipe out all the competition.

I’m wishing Layden and Qizilbash all the luck in the world, but the current track-record – and the curse – give me little hope for the future of their fresh new cinematic universe.

Detective Pikachu Second Trailer!

So, to be honest, I’m coming into this movie woefully unprepared: my knowledge of Pokémon is limited to a sticker book I had as a kid, and a few animated movies that I used to watch – though, granted, I watched those movies a lot, and they were quite good. Back then, when I was about ten, I could probably recite the names and skill-sets of about twenty different Pokémon off the top of my head. Now…well, I know there’s Pikachu, and…

(I’m being too harsh on myself, honestly. I did remember Mewtwo when he appeared in the trailer, even if I didn’t necessarily remember his name.)

But anyway – so, aside from the fact that I really don’t know any most of the Pokémon, I think the trailer looks pretty appealing. It doesn’t strike me as anything too fantastic, yet: Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu is undoubtedly the main draw for me – there’s something irresistibly intriguing about this new take on the fuzzy yellow critter (plus, hearing Pikachu say “hell” is somewhat endearing). This second trailer is definitely more interesting than the first, for me – here, we see some sort of secret laboratory being teased, which looks quite exciting, and the story takes more shape: we learn that Pikachu is suffering from amnesia (huh?), and the whole reason for him being a detective is given a bit more explanation. The Snorlax at 0:40 is absolutely adorable – more adorable than Pikachu, I’d almost dare to admit. We’ve got the Mewtwo reveal at 2:04, accompanied by Pikachu exclaiming “That’s a twist”. There are definitely things here that make me interested, but I’m not yet hooked to the point where I need to see this movie. It’s odd: I know Pokémon was a large part of my childhood, and, as I said, I loved the animated movies, but this doesn’t give me those types of vibes. Maybe it’s the transition to live-action and the more generic Hollywood feel to this story. Anyway, I’m interested to see more from this movie – I need something to really draw me in, and I’m not quite there yet.

Trailer Rating: 7/10