Pokémon Detective Pikachu is directed by Rob Letterman and it is the first ever live-action Pokémon movie. It is based off the Detective Pikachu game. In this movie a Pikachu who happens to also be a detective teams up with Tim, who is investigating his father’s supposed death. Together they will uncover the dark secrets of Ryme City. The movie stars Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton and Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu.
My childhood consisted of many shows, movies and games but the one franchise which I am still consistently interested in is Pokémon. Unlike most fans, I never played the games or collected the cards but I was a huge fan of the anime and the movies. The anime wasn’t something I was particularly fond of due to it’s repetitive nature but I was obsessed with the movies. I have watched most of them. I never hated the idea of a live-action Pokémon movie, but I always wondered how they would do it. The trailer immediately won me over and I was really excited to see it and I am super glad to say that it made me feel like a kid again for the most part.
I know what Pokémon movies are, they’re not exactly the best anime movies out there but they are extremely entertaining, have a ton of imagination and creativity put into them and they look beautiful. The movies often have this sense of awe and wonder and the fictional cities would feel lived in and real. Detective Pikachu replicates a portion of that and mixes it with a Hollywood-ized mystery and characters and it is definitely a weird combination. There are parts of this movie which feel exactly like a Pokémon movie and then there parts which feel like an average family mystery movie.
This movie should have been amazing, it had so much going for it. It’s not terrible by any means but it is cliched and mediocre in it’s story. There are things in this movie which we’ve so many, many times before and I understand, no movie today can be completely original so movie tropes and cliches are really not avoidable but these cliches are cliches because they are great moments in past movies. This movie uses cliches and it doesn’t even use them in a great way. It’s more of an eye-rolling, are they seriously going with this kind of cliche. The characters don’t really help in that regard because they are not compelling in any way, I couldn’t care less about anyone in this movie, except for Pikachu obviously.
Tim played by Justice Smith is a dull, two-dimensional character. Smith does the best he can with what he is given, the way his character is written is what makes him unlikable. He is not compelling nor energetic. Usually characters like him would end up being a changed person by the end but sadly I can’t say Tim changed that much throughout the course of the movie. Then there is Lucy, the annoyingly mandatory love interest which I honestly couldn’t care less about. Kathryn Newton’s performance is decent, her character isn’t compelling either but her performance doesn’t help the character either. Also the fact that Smith and Newton don’t have any chemistry whatsoever makes it more cringe-worthy and unnecessary.
Obviously the one reason everyone is going to go see this movie is because of Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu. He has carried this movie since he was first announced as the voice of Pikachu. He is promoting the hell out of this movie on Social Media. He has an energy and enthusiasm that is desperately needed by this movie. His presence lit the movie, I am not kidding if Pikachu was played by someone else, I can’t imagine having as much fun or any fun at all. I can’t believe I am going to say this but Ryan Reynolds was born to play Detective Pikachu and that is fact.
Even though the script is just decent, the actual mystery unfolds in a rather unexpected way, it leaves the movie to make a bold decision with the ending and I am curious to see what they do for the sequel. As I said there are parts of this movie which feel exactly like a Pokémon movie. Ryme City is amazing, I loved every scene in it. It had that sense of awe and wonder which the Pokémon movies have. I love how well utilized the Pokémon were in this movie. They did not shy away from using different types, and they use them in a clever way. Mewtwo (in the trailer, not a spoiler) is used very well and hope we see more of him in the future.
The movie was also very fun and entertaining despite it’s flaws. However I do feel like most of the great jokes were given away in the trailers which was a bit disappointing. Besides from that the humor was decent, I still laughed a couple times though. The movie was also littered with easter eggs everywhere. As a Pokémon fan, not only was it nice to catch them all (pun intended) but also to know that the crew behind this movie gave a care about the fans and source material.
Overall Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not have met my expectations but it still is a fun and entertaining time at the cinema, perfect to start off the summer movie season. With an electric lead who provides the fun, humor and heart with a setting which feels real and wonderful with the Pokémon we grew up loving, this movie offers a fun time for everyone a better time for Pokémon fans and a blast for the younger movie-goers.