Movie Review: Detective Pikachu

John Sabato, Reviewer

(No Spoilers)

Pokémon is a modern phenomenon and a staple in pop culture. When news broke of this movie being in development at Warner Brothers, everyone was a bit worried, as video game movies haven’t always been the most perfectly adapted stories. When the first trailer dropped for this movie it looked fantastic, and was something that I definitely had to catch in theaters. After seeing the movie I can confirm it brings the digitally made creatures to life well, but the movie can’t help but stumble at certain points with a lackluster story and a few predictable plot twists.

The movie’s story is heavily based on the 2016 game of the same name, “Detective Pikachu.” When Tim Goodman’s dad seemingly dies under mysterious circumstances, he returns to Ryme City, a utopia where Pokémon and humans coexist. There are no trainers or battles allowed, and he meets a pikachu living in his father’s apartment that he can shockingly understand every word the yellow rat spews. When a mysterious substance begins to infect the Pokémon of Ryme city, the coexistence between the people and Pokémon in the city is threatened. A cautious Tim Goodman and a determined Detective Pikachu must team up to get to the center of this impending catastrophic event. There’s only one thing standing in their way, the mysterious and god like Pokémon Mewtwo. The stories first half I didn’t find to be great, as some of the acting was bad and cheesy, and not the lovable kind of cheesy. Luckily the acting got a lot better right around the time Ryan Reynolds, the wonderfully, quippy and sarcastic Pikachu shows up.

The best part of this movie is the world around the story. The beautiful Neo-Noir setting of this film is wonderfully captured, and even shot on film. Just imagine Blade Runner, specifically Blade Runner 2049, and Pokémon together. Adding to this wonderful world are the Pokémon themselves, accurately brought to life through computer generated effects, to the point where some of them look like they were ripped from the games themselves. The general feeling of the movie was immersive, with watching the characters explore setting after setting and trying to spot all the different creatures and easter eggs hidden throughout the sets. It was shame when some bad acting would pull you right out of the movie or something that didn’t really make sense unfolded on screen.

The film’s cast was single handedly carried on the back of Ryan Reynolds and a CGI psyduck that only said “psyduck.” The leads, Tim Goodman played by Justice Smith and Lucy Stevens played by Kathryn Newton, weren’t all that great in the beginning, but in different ways. Either they weren’t putting enough in and they sound like a robot, or they were way too into it where it became too much and you just wanted them to stop talking. They took awhile to really find their legs, but by the end, they were at a better place than where they had started. The forced romance between the two was awful; they had no chemistry at all and had literally just met. This movie takes place over the course of a few days and the most time they spent together was being chased by Greninjas and falling off of a mountain.

Overall, Detective Pikachu is fine. It’s not fantastic and probably is not going to win any awards for anything other than special effects. The movie does have the rewatchability factor going for it, which a lot of movies don’t these days. Plans for a sequel and spin-offs are supposedly in the works, but only time and the box office results will tell.