Movie Review: Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Based on the video game of the same name (minus the obvious branding), Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a 2019 movie, part live action and part CGI. Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, Jurassic World) returns to Ryme City, where Pokemon roam free, and battling is forbidden, after learning his detective father has died in an accident. Tim soon comes across his father’s talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), and the two set out to discover the truth, with the aid of aspiring journalist, Lucy (Kathryn Newton, Supernatural) and her Psyduck.

+ I wasn’t thrilled at Reynold’s casting as the titular Pikachu, but dang it if this didn’t dissipate at his very first scene. The snark and sass Reynolds-Pikachu has is hilarious, and combined with the, frankly, incredible animation on the furry (furry!) yellow rodent make him a standout in CGI animation history
+ in fact, all the Pokemon themselves, in every way, are a huge positive. They all look fantastic, and none look out of place in Ryme City, or the greater world being crafted. A Golurk standing guard outside a police station, where Police Arcanine (or in-training Growlithe) wander around makes total sense, and looks exactly was you want it to. A group of Loudred dropping the bass a living subwoofers made me giddy like a child, and flocks of Pidgey, semi-domesticated Aipom or random bugs and grass Pokemon in the forests are just treated as every day occurrences
+ this version of a world full of Pokemon was incredible from the first moment you see Ryme City. I legitimately got a little bit emotional as the movie swept across the streets, where humans and Pokemon lived in harmony together. The larger world, both seen and only mentioned, also to really help tie this movie into the grander lore of everything Pokemon

– all the human cast, but particularly the two main character, Tim (Smith) and Lucy (Newton) are bland, and only ever seem to take the focus off the monsters around them (a phrase I could have used for the recent Godzilla II, as well). I’m a big fan of Bill Nighy, but he was not used to his potential as entrepreneur Howard Clifford, and Ken Watanabe was little more than a cameo as Police Detective Hideo Yoshida
– there are some real plot holes by the conclusion of the film, some of which are hand-waved as ‘don’t think about it’, and others which should realistically ruin the entire premise of the movie, but I guess you can just not think about those as well

> watching this movie, I had the same child-like feeling of glee as when I watched Spider-man: Into the SpiderVerse recently. They are not films for children, necessarily (though this may be more than that was), but they tap into that nostalgia percetly

Should you see this film: Absolutely, with the caveat that non-Pokemon fans may not love it as much as I did. This is first and foremost a comedy, which surely everyone can enjoy on some level, but fans of the Pokemon series will find more to keep their interest. It was a bold move not to have the first live action movie featuring Ash/Red, but I think it paid off in spades, and I look forward to whatever direction the films go in the future.


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