First there was the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short featuring Hollywood talent like Jeri Ryan of Star Trek: Voyager fame. It was not an official teaser of an upcoming new video game movie and more of a short film that showed the potential of retooling the franchise into something that was darker, grittier, and was more grounded in reality. The production values were excellent and the story was intriguing. Now the next video game franchise to receive a darker, grittier, and a more grounded in reality film treatment takes the form of a fan-produced teaser of… Pokemon?
In less than three minutes, the Pokemon Apokelypse short shows an older Ash Ketchum participating in some underground league of Pokemon battles resembling an underground cockfighting league. Featuring beloved supporting characters like Brock, Misty, and Team Rocket, Ash finds himself trying to make it in this league amid fixed matches, brutal Pokemon battles featuring CG rendered creatures suffering from various degrees of the Uncanny Valley effect, and a giant conspiracy that goes beyond being the very best that ever was or catching them all.
Reactions to the short have ranged from “This is a pretty cool re-imagination” to “This is very wrong” to even “What is up with those Pokemon designs?” Nevertheless, everyone is unanimous on one aspect: Nintendo will never make such a dark film with its family friendly franchise. It is admirable to see the imaginations of fans run loose to sell a realistic setting to various video games, but I wonder how long the trend will last until Hollywood picks up on it only to see marketing squash the creative efforts in an effort to sell more merchandise and appeal to the general audience. For now, we can only wait for the next fan project that gives a gritty twist on a popular video game. My bet is on Pac-Man-with a cameo by the boxer with the same nickname.
Personally, I always thought Ash was already full of dark personal issues in the original Pokemon anime and does not really need any more on his plate. He drops out of school, runs away from home, becomes bed buddies with an older man, engages in cockfighting using his loyal pet, blows all his money to support this bloodsport addiction, has an obsessive compulsive disorder that requires him to capture every species of living thing, and has to file restraining orders against a psychotic woman paired with an effeminate man.