Pokémon Detective Pikachu is the first live-action movie from the Pokémon franchise. This is something Pokémon fans have wanted for years, but many people including myself were nervous about this film. How well would Pokémon work in a live-action setting and would the story stay true to the morals and themes that have been present in Pokémon since day one?
Luckily, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a great movie, with a charming story, and a cast of Pokémon and humans that viewers will immediately fall in love with. Even though there are some points when it doesn’t feel quite like Pokémon, it is overall a fun ride that will make old fans happy and bring in a whole new generation of Pokémon Trainers.
The story follows Tim (Justice Smith) who discovers that his detective father has died in a mysterious car crash. While looking for answers he encounters Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and they discover that they can talk to each other. The two team-up along with Lucy (Kathryn Newton) and her Pokémon partner, Psyduck, to not only solve the mystery of Tim’s father but also to figure out why Pikachu has lost his memories.
On a surface level this seems to be typical kids movie fare but unfortunately, the story becomes kind of a gibberish mess as the film goes on. While as a Pokémon fan, I didn’t have a problem with this since the franchise is known for its nonsense storylines in the past, but I can see how someone who is not used to the universe could get confused very easily.
The highlight of this film is definitely the characters. Ryan Reynolds unsurprisingly kills it as Pikachu, bringing the right of humor and heart to the role. Justice Smith also does a fantastic job and his relationship with Pikachu was the best part of the movie. They not only work really well together as detectives but they also are responsible for some really emotional moments. Kathryn Newton did a fine job with what she was given, but she never really got a moment to shine.
The production design and worldbuilding in this movie are undeniably amazing. There are so many details that make this feel like a part of the Pokémon universe; from posters on the wall of legendary Pokémon in Tim’s bedroom to signs on the streets on Rhyme city advertising the Johto Sport’s club.
The Pokémon themselves are also incredibly well designed, though I did notice after a while that there were not as many as I thought there would be. Rhyme city has a lot of Treecko and Pancham and I imagine this is because they reused a lot of the models. This isn’t necessarily a problem but it does make the universe feel a lot smaller.
The main issue with Detective Pikachu is that it doesn’t always feel like a Pokémon story. Sure there are Pokémon everywhere and it has the classic themes of friendship and hope that Pokémon has always had, but it’s lacking in a lot of the specific worldbuilding that’s been a part of the franchise for over 20 years. We see a Pokéball once and there is only one traditional Pokémon battle. As a fan of the franchise since the beginning, I just wanted to see more.
Overall, Detective Pikachu is a great time that is well worth watching in the theater if for nothing more than it’s gorgeous visuals. It’s a film that you can take the whole family to and everyone will find something to enjoy. If this is, in fact, the first film in a Pokémon Cinematic Universe, it is a great start and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with in the future.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is in theaters now.
Overall, Detective Pikachu is a great time that is well worth watching in the theater if for nothing more than it’s gorgeous visuals. It’s a film that you can take the whole family to and everyone will find something to enjoy.