Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Ken Watanabe
Review Author: Shaun
Being ten years old in the late 90s, I was subjected to the core marketing of Pokémon. The games, cards, TV-Show, animated films, etc., everything was aimed directly towards me. The imagination of this media franchise is impeccable and as someone who is still invested in every media platform, this franchise has made it’s easy to say, Pokémon is dear to my heart. Now the prayers I made as a child have finally answered, WB pictures have dipped back into the world 90s nostalgia to bring the first live-action take for Pokémon.
Detective Pikachu can be easily compared to the Lego Movie and it’s easy to see this film was made due to its social and nostalgic entertainment value. It’s a film which you can tell that the filmmakers have placed most of their creative eggs into and which baskets are left emptier. One such basket is the world itself. The world of Pokémon is remarkably designed, like a mix of contemporary London and the Neon of Tokyo, for fans it is a world where you feel like you’re on Pokémon safari as you can see all different species of Pokémon in the background going about their business with their human partners, and it’s done in a way that makes it feel so natural. It’s a very active world that you can easily absorb yourself into.
The core plot mystery of the film is a little generic, again bringing back the point that this film doesn’t take any huge steps in inventing new things for the adventure, mystery genre. However, what becomes clear is how the filmmakers have carefully slotted the Pokémon property into this narrative. I think it’s safe to say the film is possibly the best video game adaptation. The filmmakers know the enormity of the franchise, it knows what the franchise promotes, and they make this the central theme with the utmost clarity. So, what needs to be said from me, as a fan, is thank you to the filmmakers of Detective Pikachu for not falling into that trap.
Unfortunately, it’s not perfect with the final act of the film showing signs of a rushed story. It feels as though at some point during development, time was working against the writers and so rushed the film’s finale to meet deadlines. The evidence is clear as there is a tone of exposition dialogue implemented to wrap up the mystery, done through various flashbacks and the existence of holographic technology in the film, which isn’t given any kind of indication earlier in the story, it suddenly just appears and we have to accept it. I think the writers went with this option to simplify what would have been a possible overcomplicated mystery, but surely a better compromise exists. It feels odd to feel like you’ve been transported from a contemporary setting to a futuristic one in the blink of an eye.
It’s no surprise that the Detective Pikachu character is an adorable, yellow puffball of fun thanks to how comedically talented Ryan Reynolds is. Granted, because of his now instantly recognizable voice, you can’t shake off that this is Deadpool without the swearing. Nevertheless, the voice and cuteness go hand in hand, and he leads the way in a fun, wholesome adventure. The voice acting is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the film and is clearly the star of the show.
The big thing to really stand out is the over the top or cheesy performances from most of the cast. While the performance of Justice Smith as Tim Goodman is at least tolerable, some characters are way too over the top like Sebastian (Omar Chaparro) who when you get right down to it, is just a typical gangster, that’s it. I felt they could have made his character more directed to the Pokémon franchise, maybe he was a member/ex-member of one of the many villainous teams in the Pokémon world, maybe acknowledge their existence in this world.
The world of Detective Pikachu is the real star of the show, it is believable, pretty and for fans, a dream come true. Sure, the acting is questionable, and the story loses its drive towards the end, maybe it even should have tugged at the heartstrings a little more, but the delight you’ll get from how imaginative the world is vastly outweighing the negatives. I had honest fun, as a fan, I was overcome with all sorts of wondrous emotions.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Coffees