WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2019)
Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Suki Waterhouse, Ken Watanabe, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere
That is pretty much the extent of my Pokémon knowledge (other than being told it’s Pok-EE-mon rather than Pok-AH-mon) so going into Pokémon Detective Pikachu, I had little to no expectations. I don’t know my Squirtle from my Snorlax (…hmm) or my Pokémon Go from my Sun and Moons. That said, I still had some expectations as the titular yellow fluffball looked adorable and is voiced by Ryan Reynolds, so that’s got to count for something, right?
The plot centres around Justice Smith’s Tim, a young lad who has decided to look into the mysterious disappearance of his detective father, and is joined along the way by crack Pokémon Detective Pikachu (who happened to be his father’s sidekick) and tenacious junior report Lucy Stevens – desperate to land a scoop and prove herself to her superiors. Throw in some adventure, the looming threat of a shady bad guy (played with relish by Bill Nighy), plus plenty of colourful and varying Pokémon and you have yourself the movie. First off, if you are a fan of the franchise, you will take an awful lot out of Detective Pikachu, the care taken in the world-building and presentation is superb and I have been reliably informed that there are easter eggs galore – so keep your eye out if you…want to catch them all. As a non-fan, I found this to be simply enjoyable, a slightly tedious romp through a world I had no comprehension of. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this, I did, but I was never hooked or sucked in and my desire to pick up one of the games is as low as it was beforehand.
Set in Ryme City – a contemporary yet colourful mash-up of plenty of other futuristic cities you’ve seen before – Detective Pikachu isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. The plot is wafer thin but it works in the confines of this movie. Director Rob Letterman sets out his stall early for what to expect and it’s nothing like the animated series (which is quite handy). So the movie rests on the characters and performers. Justice Smith is very good leading the movie and Newton is adept and affable too. Bill Nighy has his teeth all over the scenery and Ryan Reynolds is surprisingly good voicing Pikachu. I say surprisingly as I was expecting the voice of Deadpool to be slightly jarring coming from a fluffy arcade machine prize but the distinction was there. Also, this isn’t Deadpool and the comedy is far more suited to the target audience allowing for some decent gags throughout. Also, a few names on the cast list should think themselves lucky to appear on there at all, such was the frivolity or fleeting nature of their appearances.
Detective Pikachu is a movie for die-hards. The casual fans might enjoy some of the adventure, the performances or maybe the light jokes, however, as a non-believer, the movie didn’t really hit me. I enjoyed it whilst I watched it but won’t find myself re-watching it. Little Pikachu is cute as, the performances were decent and, boy, the visual FX were great but in terms of converting movie fans, Detective Pikachu isn’t gonna catch ‘em all.
June 6th 2019