I clearly remember the day the teaser cart for
Pokémon Detective Pikachu was released. We witnessed the modern birth of the surprised Pikachu meme. Hell, the biographical excursion suggested was in itself a meme. Ryan Reynolds is Pikachu! Merc with a mouth plays the role of a yellow electric mouse! But eventually people began to settle down (they were also distracted by Pikachus rival, Sonic the Hedgehog) and began to consider the possibilities. So, what do we have here then?
Something's up in Ryme City. A metropolis where people and creatures called Pokémon live and work together, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) there to deal with business of his missing, presumably dead father. A young man who somehow sought the life of a Pokémon trainer, Tim did not think of hanging long. But things change quickly when he meets his old man's Pokémon partner Pikachu (pronounced by Deadpool), who has no memory of the latest events and has a cute detective hat. Oh, and for some reason, Tim is the only person who can understand him, just raising even more questions. The couple quickly withdraws that Harry Goodman is still alive, and with the help of the passionate internal reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) works together to find Tim's dad. A series of events that can ultimately give them a sizable face to a certain powerful Pokémon, while revealing a horrible plot.
First, it goes smart to go into this franchise through the back door, that is detective pikachu continuity. This movie would have faced impossible storytelling obstacles if it had concentrated on the lead Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum and his adventures. It would not have survived the extra review. And there lies the film's biggest challenge: before reviewing both Pokémon fans and scoffing critics. Of which I am both.
I'm happy to report that Pokémon Detective Pikachu does a great job of standing up to.
This is not just the best video movie we've got (from a critical film-making point of view), but it's also the great live-action
Pokémon movie we could have asked for. Ryme City looks amazing. With the inevitable exception of Mr. Mime has made every Pokemon an almost perfect life. Yes, it includes Likitung. And the logistics of this world work with the larger concept of the franchise. Although thanks to a clumsy exhibition in the first law, newcomers are not left to scratch their heads on why blue turtles help to fire out.
Director Rob Letterman now has a record to successfully adapt the nostalgic 90s characteristics, his first being 2014's Goosebumps. He and his production team are working hard to tell this story and to make it work. At the same time, his film has no reason to be about monsters who live in children's pockets and who are used to fighting. This is something that most video game movies are not comfortable to do: accept that they are adapted from video games.
If things are missing, it is in the above story. The plot carries certain aspects from the detective spikachu game and while it remains coherent for the most part, the mystery that unfolds is certainly predictable. Especially the last twist. Most clues that Tim Goodman and Pikachu reveal are exposed through technology-based sequences and are not as organic as they might have been. Just giving care to the clues is not fun, you have to work for them.
The dialogue, especially that of the supporting signs, adds to this shortcoming. They themselves are a mixed bag. Ken Watanabe as detective Hideo Yoshida is a legitimate but underutilized add-on. Bill Nighy and Chris Geere work well as a father and son corporate duo. Kathryn Newton's Lucy, however, is disgusting. I can't tell if it works if it is interpreted as an anime-inspired achievement, but her character gets frustratingly fast and we're left, just appreciating her for his companion, Psyduck.
But all of this plays second and third enemies to the title character. There is a lot of Ryan Reynolds Pikachu in this movie, as it should be. He is funny. He is cute. He is fabulously written. He is the reason alone for parents not to be afraid to watch the movie with their children. He has instant chemistry with Justice Smith and Smith doing well to enable Reynolds attitude and feedback. Smith is also good at giving emotional legitimacy. He may have yet to learn to cry on command, but the weight he provides works with the greater context of the plot. This is definitely accidental, but I like how he even seems confused about his bad feelings towards his father. Time can do it for a person and their memories. Pikachu and Tim remain at the forefront of the whole movie and the film itself is entertaining all the time.
Fans may be disappointed with the lack of Pokémon battles in this movie, and the neglect of greater synopsis of this franchise. It would have been nice to see more of the coaches and their adventures. But the story and the images, as well as Reynold's vocal and facial motion recording, compensate for that lack and the film's inevitable sequel should hold the call. On a side number, compliments must be given for Henry Jackman's musical score. It reminded me of his points for Wreck-It Ralph and its technopantics do wonders for the atmosphere.
What is important to remember when looking at Pokémon Detective Pikachu is that its reach is generational. People can forget that the franchise is aimed primarily at young children, and overall implementation speaks for it. The story is simple and the characters are outlandish. Visuals are colorful and writing is never complicated. This is all good and good, but then you also have Ryan Reynolds release a joke about drug use. It works because it feels in place and is subtle enough to get away with. Pokémon's deep and nuanced moments can be few and far from (because the evidence that the franchise has such moments, I see Select you! And the power of us), but the film does not have to go so far to succeed in both a good live action action. customization and an entertaining watch.
Last updated: May 16, 2019