Film Review – Detective Pikachu


DIRECTED BY: Rob Letterman

STARRING: Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Rita Ora, Karan Soni and Josette Simon

 

SYNOPSIS

In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

Detective Pikachu follows Tim Goodman, a twenty-one-year-old insurance salesman who had giving up his childhood dream of being a Pokémon trainer due to the death of his mother and the absence of his father Harry. One day Tim gets the call that is father is dead along with his Pokémon partner. As Tim roams Ryme City he meets Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a wise-cracking, coffee-addict, suffering with amnesia and when the two find out that they are able to communicate with each other. They chase clues together to figure out what happened to Harry Goodman as well as get back Detective Pikachu’s memories.

Warner Bros. and The Pokémon Company have teamed up to bring audiences the first live-action/CGI adaptation of the popular video game franchise Detective Pikachu, based on the 2016 video game. The film focuses on Tim Goodman, a young insurance salesman who gets a call from the Ryme City Police Department that his father Harry and his Pokémon partner are presumed dead after investigating a case. Tim arrives to Ryme City, a metropolis that outlaws Pokémon battles and cites that human and Pokémon should erase boundaries thus making their bonds stronger. Whilst collecting Harry’s belongings, Tim encounters Detective Pikachu, a Pikachu suffering amnesia, one that can speak and he can understand what he’s saying. As he learns that Pikachu is Harry’s Pokémon partner, the two set off across Ryme City to figure out the mystery of the car accident, gets Pikachu’s memory back and figure out what happened to his father.

 

Having been around since 1996, it felt like it was only a question of when would we see a live-action Pokémon film on the big screen and whilst I thought we would’ve hand it a lot sooner, Warner Bros. and The Pokémon Company aren’t playing around in bringing it to life on the big screen. The film pays homage to the video games, particularly when introducing audiences to Tim and his friend Jack and they come across a stray Pokémon in a field, with the Pokémon themselves looking great in a real world setting. The Pokémon  themselves, for the most part, look terrific in CGI form with the live-action setting. The film also has a noir feel with Ryme City’s setting that Blade Runner-esque, neon lit at night for example and the Pokémon replacing Replicants. The films opening twenty minutes set up the character of Tim Goodman quite a bit, as the father he barely knew has passed away and arrives to the big city to collect his belongings and tries to keep himself shut off from those that knew his father, like police lieutenant Hideo Yoshida, as he declines his help to take him to his father’s apartment to collect his belongings. There’s weight to them early scenes and I think Justice Smith done well in the films more dramatic moments. Let’s be honest though, people can in for one character for two reasons, 1: his cuteness and 2: he’s voiced by Ryan Reynolds. I thought Reynolds was really good as Detective Pikachu, he is absolutely adorable on the big screen, there will be plenty of Detective Pikachu merchandise bought because of it and Reynolds plays it like Robin Williams in Aladdin, trying to crank out as many jokes and zingers as he can in the films one hour and forty minute runtime.

 

While the first twenty minutes will give newcomers to the Pokémon world something to attach to, any resemblance of story to follow is bouncing around the room as the film becomes very heavily-made for fans that grew up on Pokémon, as there’s so many Pokémon that pop up and so many mentioned in passing that I can see some audience members scratching their head and trying to mentally place the name with the actual Pokémon. The film also attempts to maintain the mystery of Tim’s father by having twist upon twist to the point that I’m wondering whether a young kid, whose the clear target audience here, could keep up with it. The film is also heavily reliant on exposition and I mean alot of it, right down to having convenient holograms of certain scenes to fill in the blanks. Kathryn Newton, whilst fine with her performance, her character Lucy Stevens is pretty uneven with how she is handled, as it changes from noir detective homage from her first encounter with Tim to tagging along for the story to get her reporter status created. While I enjoyed Ryan Reynolds in the role, there is certain moments where the jokes don’t land. Also there is one very-heavy CGI sequence towards the final act that doesn’t look really good and went on far too long for my liking. Also the final act is very reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Batman. We all saw it and thought it at the exact same time. Not a negative, but just thought it was worth noting. As for the villain, you see it coming a mile away and try not to think too hard about his plan because…it’s absolutely insane!

 

VERDICT

Detective Pikachu is a cute, fun time at the cinema for the special effects, especially in bringing Pokémon to life in a live-action setting, with great chemistry between Smith and Reynolds. The story can be a bit weak in the middle and those that aren’t versed in the Pokémon lore can get lost quite easily as the film is made with numerous homages for fans to pay attention to. As the first outing that could potentially start a Pokémon film franchise, it’s a decent start. Also arguably a contender for best video game to film adaptation award. 6/10

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