It’s been a weird year for CGI cinematic horror-shows based on classic video game franchises, with Sonic The Hedgehog provoking gasps of revulsion from audiences—and a hastily issued “Sorry! Sorry! We’ll fix it!” from its director—and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu arriving in theaters to guardedly positive reviews from critics. But while the latter film’s director, Rob Letterman, has been sympathetic to his counterpart Jeff Fowler—telling The Verge, “I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes—they’re in a difficult spot”—the film’s cinematographer has been much happier to talk a bit of inter-franchise shit.
John Mathieson—a long-time Ridley Scott associate whose credits include Gladiator, Logan, and, now, the movie with the Big, Moist Tongue Pokémon—opened up to Newsweek this week with a comparison between the two movies: “If all we’re talking about is how these two films look, our film is better than Sonic the Hedgehog. And I’m sorry, I don’t care who I upset by saying that.” Mathieson (who also notes that he was offered the DP job on Sonic, and is now delighted that he turned it down) credits the difference to the decision to shoot Detective Pikachu on film, rather than digitally, granting his CG monstrosities a richness and depth of color that the Sonic movie’s apparently lacked.
Film hasn’t been made better by digital. People are lazier, they don’t try as hard, don’t try things out. I find it very difficult to use, especially these huge Marvel superhero films because [director of photographers] all look the same. It all goes in the computer and gets washed up. You don’t see the individuality of the photographer, and that’s a shame. It’s difficult to bring a look to a film that’s made by lots of people that’s gone through a big computer. That’s what they are, computers with lens attached to them.
Hear, hear, we say: Where, Hollywood, are the authentic computer-animated cartoon video game monsters of yesteryear?