Pokémon Detective Pikachu did what seemed impossible even a few years ago: it brought the world of Pokémon to the big screen in a blend of live action and CG animation. Not only that, but it was actually good and arguably broke the curse of the video game movie adaptation. We see various Pokémon and different environments during the course of the film, but some concept art by the talented R.J Palmer- who worked on the film- shows off some of what the audience didn’t get to see.
One of the most striking pieces from Palmer is of a battle between Gyarados and Charizard. Whilst these Pokémon are used in the movie, it isn’t to the extent that we see in the image above. The Pokémon are battling it out in what appears to be the marketplace shown briefly in the film not long after Tim encounters Detective Pikachu. Gyarados stands menacingly tall and is surrounded by a surge of water. Charizard is equally large and breathes flame towards Gyarados whilst Tim and Pikachu stand helplessly in between them. The scene in the film occurs on a much smaller scale. The noticeable difference here is Charizard’s size. In the concept art, he is huge and almost on par with Gyarados whilst in the film he is much smaller and is easily overpowered by Gyarados’s water beam. A battle between two oversized Pokémon would have been fun to watch (not that the actual scene between Pikachu, Gyarados and Charizard wasn’t fun in the film) but I can understand the decision to make Charizard smaller in order to reflect the original character design.
Speaking of character design, some of Palmer’s unused concepts for other Pokémon can also be seen. A lot of his designs are interesting as they reflect real life creatures. For instance, a concept for Charizard shows a more reptilian style that almost looks like it could be a creature from the prehistoric era. As mentioned previously, he is also a lot bigger in the concept art which could have made for a more frightening version of Charizard.
There is also some Venusaur concept art that has a similar oversized reptilian style, emphasising a more realistic design. This could have made for a fascinating take on the Pokémon world. Making the creatures more realistic would have brought more believability to them. However, I am personally glad that they went with designs that were true to their original design. Pokémon isn’t about realism, it is absolute fun and fantasy and the cuter and more absurd designs of the creatures emphasises the fictional world. That being said, Palmer’s designs are amazing and I hope that they are put to use in any future Pokémon films.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital download.
For more of R.J Palmer’s work, check out his links below.