TL;DR – I had a smile on my face for the whole film, filled with joy and heart.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Before we start I should mention that I am probably the easiest sell when it comes to a live action Pokémon movie. I grew up with the show and the video games, so this is honestly the perfect setting for me if you want to hit that rose-tinted nostalgia that people in the industry crave. With this in mind, I walked into the cinemas with a sceptical mind, but I have to say it got caught up in the world almost instantly.
So to set the scene, we open in on Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), there was a time long ago when he wanted to be a Pokémon trainer, but that time has passed and now he is happy being an insurance claims adjuster (which I think they chose because it sounds like the most boring job in the world if you were a child … or adult). His best friend Jack (Karan Soni) is about to leave town to be a Pokémon trainer and he fears for his friend being left all alone, so they try and catch a Cubone, this way he will have a companion. After that all falls apart they walk back into town only to discover Tim has several missed messages from Detective Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) from Ryme City where his dad works. There has been an accident and his father has been killed in the line of duty and Tim needs to come to the city to settle his affairs. However, when he arrives he finds someone lurking in his dad’s apartment, a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) that only he can understand.
the outset what really impressed me with this film is how much effort has gone
into world building by creating a realistic world that still fits with the tone
of the original source material. Right at the start of the film, we take some
time to fly through the world seeing different Pokémon out and about to acclimatise
us to how they interact with the world. Each of the Pokémon (and there are a
lot of them) has been crafted in such a way that they clearly resemble their
video game/anime counterparts. What they have done is brought them into the
third dimension (not the first time this has happened) but then given them a
realistic texture. So Psyduck has feathers, and Pikachu has fur and so on. I
think of all the different Pokémon in the show, only Gengar looks really different
from the source material. This means that the Pokémon are at once both
instantly familiar and true, but also a little bit new and different, and that
was a difficult balance to get right. This shows that putting time and effort
into the designs (they were all sculpted first before being digitally animated)
really pays off. Also the whole world
around London, I mean Ryme City has been created with so much detail. When this
comes out in home release look forward to people going frame by frame to catch
them all, the Easter eggs that is.
This is also one of those films that shows just how important casting is because it can make or break a film. In here the cast is game for anything, but they also know what style of film this is and the play to that strength. The first thing of course you notice is Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the titular Detective Pikachu. He completely captures the aesthetic they are going for as this noir detective trapped in a yellow rodent that can shoot electricity from their body. It is one of those situations that is so absurd it just works. As well as this, Justice Smith excels as Tim the character that is both the straight man to Pikachu but also the one that has the most emotional growth throughout the film. We also get Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe in these sort of mentor roles that give them moments to shine, and Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens the reporter on the case with her Psyduck was a lot of fun.
it comes to the story, well if you have seen a noir film before, or well any Pokémon game then I don’t think the
story will be any great surprise. However, they do a good job of keeping
everything in motion until it reaches the climax at the end. The film seems to
be aimed at that 10 to the young teen market, and if they are into Pokémon then
this film will deliver for them. If you are like me and grew up with the
show/games there are enough little references throughout the film that should
make up for the story that is probably a little on the simple side and if you
are a parent forced to take your kid to go see it, well there is enough
references to old-timey films that it should still be entertaining. If nothing else,
you’ll get to brag how you know why they reference Home Alone in the end credits.
In the end, do we recommend Detective Pikachu? Yes, yes we do. For me, it might be the best video game adaptation I have seen, and I know that is not a large field but never the less. The actors were great, the effects were all fantastic, the story was a little on the simple side but if made up for that with some strong character growth, and it was just joyful. If you are looking for a movie to take your kids to I would recommend this one.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Detective Pikachu
Directed by – Rob Letterman
Story by – Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit & Nicole Perlman
Screenplay by – Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman & Derek Connolly
Based on – Detective Pikachu by Creatures Inc. & Pokémon by Game Freak Inc.
Music by – Henry Jackman
Cinematography by – John Mathieson
Edited by – Mark Sanger & James Thomas
Production/Distribution Companies – Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures & The Pokémon Company
Starring – Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Paul Kitson, Karan Soni, Rita Ora, Diplo & Ikue Ōtani