Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Movie Review
On the weekend a number of the Vooks team were lucky enough to check out the new Pokemon: Detective Pikachu movie before its release this week on Thursday, May 9th.
Below are three different opinions on the movie, free from spoilers!
I still can’t quite believe that Pokémon: Detective Pikachu exists. It’s such a bizarre spin on what we’ve come to expect from the Pokémon brand, but the fact that this is such a refreshing take on the franchise is what propels this film from good to utterly delightful.
The film is loosely based on the 3DS game of the same name and centres on Tim Goodman, a young man who hasn’t connected with Pokémon like seemingly everyone else around him. After he learns of a tragic car accident involving his father, Tim travels to Ryme City to gather his belongings before encountering a talking Pikachu and quickly discovering that things with his father’s accident were not as they appear.
The story is fairly standard children’s movie fair, with some twists that you’ll likely see coming but does a good job of bringing together a number of seemingly disparate threads together quite nicely. The tone is incredibly over the top and cheesy, but the neon noir styling perfectly suits the eclectic blend mystery and off-the-wall humour.
The film excels on the back of sharp banter between Pikachu and Tim. Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast as caffeine-addicted yellow rodent, expertly conveying a sense of charm, humour and warmth that is impossible not to fall in love with. The film plays the ridiculousness of the juxtaposition between what we expect from a Pikachu and what a talking Pokémon would be like to perfection, with Reynolds’ sarcastic wit shining in this form. There are some great jokes in here for adults too that will fly over the younger heads in the audience and are incredibly entertaining to hear coming out of the mouth of Nintendo’s second biggest mascot.
The rest of the supporting cast isn’t given a lot of room to shine and are mostly forgettable, but the real stars of the movie are Ryme City and its Pokémon inhabitants. What many considered slightly jarring and off-putting initially is actually a beautifully realised style that brings these creatures to life in ways I never imagined. They are brimming with character and personality, with love and care that is evident in every unique design that graces the screen. There are so many highlights that I wouldn’t dare spoil, but you’re bound to have a favourite that you will simply adore (the barista Ludicolo is joy in Pokemon form and I wish there was more of him in the movie).
There may be some who find the corny overacted style of Detective Pikachu to not be to their liking, but for everyone else who has even a passing interest in Pokémon will undoubtedly find something to like here. If I had one complaint it’s that the huge number of trailers and TV spots give away the majority of the good jokes, but it’s hard to hold that against the movie itself. This is a unique and stunning take on the world of Pokémon and is not just a great video game movie, but a great movie in its own right.
I quite enjoyed Pokemon Detective Pikachu. I wholeheartedly believe that it serves as a great introduction to the live action world of Pokemon. Not to say that it couldn’t be better, because it can. By no means is it a bad video game movie, which isn’t really much of an accolade, but hell, it isn’t a bad regular movie. There are, however, a few things that could have made it better.
Here’s a bit of background on my history with Pokemon. I’ve never played more than a few combined hours of any main Pokemon game. In fact, Pokemon Snap is really it. I didn’t collect Pokemon cards as a kid. My love for Pokemon only comes from the cartoon.
So, What were my gripes? Well, they aren’t really anything that detracts from the movie. More along the lines of what could make it better. The biggest disappointment for me was the handling of quite a few jokes from the fluffy electric mouse himself, Detective Pikachu. The performance and delivery from Ryan Reynolds was great. Where it was let down was on the side of the writing and cinematography. On quite a few occasions It felt like a joke that was “lol” worthy could have been a “LMAO” if it was accompanied with a sight gag to complement it or even a bit of reworking.
Some of the character background and development was a little too basic, even for a kids/family movie. Maybe some of the topics were a little too heavy for kids if they were explored or explained deeper. I just had to remind myself the movie is for everyone and I was able to forgive it.
What I like most, was even though the trailers for the movie were filled with gold, they didn’t give away too much of the plot or it’s secrets. The story as a whole was quite enjoyable and fits well within Pokemon lore, even if a couple of parts felt slow or rushed.
Whether you’re a hardcore Pokemon fan or more like me and really only know the cartoon, there are a lot of things to love and a whole heap of references to the entire Pokemon franchise. Names of companies and buildings, how certain pokemon act and what they do, even just glimpses of different Pokemon that show up for a few moments in the shadows. Thankfully the movie doesn’t just rely on this to be a success. I look forward to seeing what comes next for this branch in the world of Pokemon.
Ah, the old ‘video game movie’ review, did nearly two hours of screen time manage to convey the same feeling as a game, show off the characters and pay tribute to them and was it any good – they’re usually not right?
Detective Pikachu was nothing like the game, and the characters were nothing like those in the game. As probably one of the few people who played the game and then now is reviewing the movie – I can say it’s actually a good thing. Not that the game is bad, but it’s sugary sweet, and slow, and the characters, Detective Pikachu aside are all forgettable. The movie is the exact opposite.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) who gets a call to say his father (a Detective himself) has died in a car accident and has to come to Ryme City to sort out his affairs. While sorting out his house, his father’s Pokemon partner, Detective Pikachu – breaks in only to find Tim who can magically understand him – in English. Detective Pikachu is voiced by Ryan Reynolds and he’s in full Ryan Reynolds mode, it’s Deadpool but with a lot fewer F-bombs. After reluctantly agreeing to team up to find out what happened he runs into a reporter Lucy (Kathryn Newton) who tells him he’s onto bigger story than just his father missing. I’ll leave the story at that, its a roller coaster, you can probably see parts of it coming, it is for the younger ones but leave it up to Ryan Reynolds to chuck in some adult jokes there along the way.
Aside from Detective Pikachu himself, Ryme City is the real star of this movie. We’ve got a real proper look at what a Pokémon world would look like. Pidgy and Starly in the air, Doduo, and Bulbasaur in the fields, Pokémon and people working and living together in the ‘real world’. We’re going to need another movie to see even more of it, there are many more stories to tell in there. On paper, a Pokémon movie free (mostly) of Pokémon battles and trainers sounds terrible – but it’s really not.
The quasi-realistic Pokémon also are also terrific, they’re close enough to the anime but still fit within the realistic Ryme City world. Their mix of anime voices and general grunts and noises is perfect too. There’s a fair amount of Pokémon in the movie too, but you do notice they begin to repeat after a while, animating over 500 Pokémon just isn’t possible but it would have been good to see more types represented. There’s also references to events and places from the games that might go over the head of the general population but is a nice nod for the fans.
If you’re reading our review here you’re probably a Pokémon fan, and this movie is terrific for us but it’s also terrific for everyone else too and it strikes a good balance. Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu is terrific, and Ryme City is the star – a living, breathing, real Pokémon world. There have been Pokémon movies before, but none of them portray the Pokémon world so real as this one. Bring on the next one.
Thanks to WB for allowing us to see the movie early.