It’s crazy that it has taken this long to bring the worldwide phenomenon Pokémon onto the big screen in a live action blockbuster. I mean, it has been huge for going on 20 years, barely taking a misstep. So, I was a little confused that they had gone in the Detective Pikachu direction, rather than retelling the classic tale of Ash Ketchum and his adventures on the road to becoming a Pokémon Master. But after seeing the movie, I’m glad they went that way. I’ve seen and played the Ash story over and over, and adore it. However, having new characters and a world I know very little about, I was less prejudice and was able to just enjoy the movie.
When Tim Goodman’s estranged father is reported dead in a car crash, Tim returns to the former detective’s apartment to say a final goodbye, only to come across his partner Pokémon, Pikachu. Somehow the boy and the Pokémon are able to understand each other, and the two embark on an adventure to unravel the mystery of Tim’s father’s death.
A talking Pikachu. The last time it happened in Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You, Pikachu sent me into fits of laughter at just how lame it was. But if you’re going to have a Pikachu talk, casting Ryan Reynolds as the voice is a great step in the right direction. And it doesn’t disappoint, he brings all the sass you would expect, it’s basically Deadpool as a Pokémon. It’s generally hilarious, but not unlike Deadpool, depending on your taste, some jokes will stick and others won’t, but there is enough of them to have anybody laughing.
I really love the way they’ve integrated the Pokémon into a real world. The animation style is great and you’ll find most of the big names from the cartoon in there: Bulbasaur, Ditto, Magikarp, Gyarados, Charmander and Charizard all look fantastic. Funnily enough the weirdest looking Pokémon in this style were my favs: Squirtle and Gengar, but it was still great to see them. Also, Mewtwo, the most powerful Pokémon of all makes an appearance in a big way for fans of Pokémon The First Movie. The events that occur here acknowledge that movie!
This movie is progressive in the way the humans live alongside Pokémon. The franchise has constantly been under scrutiny of basically endorsing organised animal fights, where the basis of a Pokémon trainer is to capture a creature and force it to fight other creatures. But in the city where Detective Pikachu takes place, Pokémon are out of their Pokeballs, living alongside humans. Most people have what’s now called a Pokémon partner, and Pokémon fights are mainly held in underground, shady venues.
The actual detecting part of Detective Pikachu is a lot of fun, and I found myself getting really drawn into the mystery, even if there is a convenient contraption that turns up in the narrative making it easy for our protagonists to narrow down clues. There are plenty of twists along the way though to keep you on your toes.
I really enjoyed the partnership between Tim and Pikachu, although they try to play it at the start like they’re a dysfunctional coupling. I never really believed that, but the two form a bond not unlike Ash in the original anime. They lean on each other in a way that brings quite an amount of emotional depth.
The only reason I wouldn’t give Detective Pikachu a perfect score, is some of the acting is a bit on the nose, and besides Pikachu kind of singing it, the Pokémon theme isn’t used nearly enough! Gotta catch ‘em all!
Oh, and keep an eye out for a great, if not random, Home Alone reference.
Detective Pikachu is a fantastic way of introducing the Pokemon franchise to live action, and is a must see on the big screen for fans of the franchise.
4/5 Stars – SHOULD WATCH