Pokemon Detective Pikachu Review — A World We Must Defend
Detective Pikachu is a fun personal adventure in a beautifully crafted world.
Editor’s Note: Some spoilers for the film Detective Pikachu can be found in this review. Read at your own leisure.
When Pokémon Detective Pikachu was originally announced, it was an odd and unexpected choice for being the first live-action Pokémon film. Based on the 3DS game of the same name, Detective Pikachu stars Ryan Reynolds as the iconic electric mouse and Justice Smith. Smith plays a young man named Tim Goodman who goes to Ryme city after the apparent death of his father. With this taking place in the world of Pokémon, there are Pokémon trainers in the world trying to become the very best. Tim originally wanted to become a trainer himself, but due to a certain turn of events, he strayed away from his dream. But this is not what Detective Pikachu is about. It is a comedic mystery set in the world of Pokémon and it a fun-filled time.
Ryme city is different than the rest of the world. It is a place where there are no Pokémon battles as they are illegal. It is where humans and Pokémon can live harmoniously. Regularly each human has a Pokémon partner. Some are connected based on what the human’s job is similar to the Pokémon anime. You will see Growlithes with police officers or Machamps directing traffic. More creatively, Loudreds with DJs to expand the music they’re playing.
While Tim is visiting his father’s apartment mourning his loss after having a disconnected relationship with him he stumbles upon a purple chemical known as Serum R. This chemical causes Pokémon to have a mindless rage and attack any and all humans. After meeting the talking Pikachu (who is his father’s Pokémon partner) that only he can understand, he finds out that his father is still alive. Pikachu has though unfortunately lost his memory so he has no idea as to where his father is. Together, they team up to find his father and regain Pikachu’s memory.
The world of Pokémon that has been built in Detective Pikachu was wonderfully crafted. The design of each Pokémon fits the live-action world that they successfully created. Ryme city being the centerpiece location for this film feels like a real Pokémon city. Normal day to day life, but also the more scummy underground world that exists at night where illegal Pokémon battles happen. It looks and feels futuristic and has that Pokémon aesthetic that the more recent Pokémon games have done. Specifically Pokémon X and Y. How they brought this Pokémon world to life is truly beautiful and will have every Pokémon fan smiling cheek to cheek.
Where Detective Pikachu lacks a bit is in the story. While it is not bad at all, it is just convenient and pretty predictable. Almost every clue that Tim and Pikachu are given are handed to them by something or someone they previously met. The times where they had to work for it, were some of the best scenes in the movie. For example, interrogating a Mr. Mime for information and in turn being forced to mime themselves. It was clever and fun. With Ryan Reynolds being the voice of Pikachu, you get a funny line or quip out of him almost every other time he speaks. Most of the jokes hit, but some don’t and you can tell by how the film was edited that there was meant to be a small pause for the audience to laugh.
There was one specific moment in the film that I did not expect to happen where my jaw almost dropped. This instance had nothing to do with the plot directly, but it was just a spectacle moment.
The first two acts are where the film truly stands out because it feels very grounded in the world, but the third act falls apart on itself. This being a Pokémon movie, there is also a level of belief that one should suspend, but even then, it gets too wacky for its own good. It also brought upon a few discrepancies regarding how Tim can understand Pikachu when he talks.
Regardless, Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a damn fun movie that is unfortunately over before you know it. It is loyal and respectful of its fanbase and even has a quick nod to the original Pokémon film Pokémon: The First Movie to which Detective Pikachu apparently takes place twenty years later. If you’re a Pokémon fan, you will love this movie. There will be references from the show back during the times of Kanto that will make you smile and laugh.
If you know about the existence of Pokémon, but nothing much more than that, you will enjoy it too. Honestly, as long as you’re willing to turn your brain off and jump into this fantastically built world you will have a great time. It has heart, humor, action, and everything else that you’re looking for in a fun popcorn flick. Now its time to wait for the next one and hopefully it isn’t too far away.