Dir: Rob Letterman
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy
Genre: fantasy, comedy, family, action, video game
Growing up in the 90’s I was obviously exposed to Pokemon. Exposed might not be the right word… I was obviously obsessed with Pokemon. I had the cards, the game-boy game, toys, even a stuffed talking Pikachu on my bed. Pokemon was massive and still is. I may have grown out of it a long time ago but there is no denying that Pokemon is still a cultural phenomenon. It was always inevitable that it would get the live action big screen Hollywood treatment eventually. When the film was announced I was intrigued but skeptical. When they announced that Ryan Reynolds would be Detective Pikachu I was confused but interested. When the first trailer dropped I was, well, still confused but excited. So I rallied up my little cousin who survived the Pokemon 90’s with me and we went a long to see Pokemon Detective Pikachu.
Tim (Justice Smith) is a young dude living in the Pokemon world, who isn’t actually that interested in Pokemon. Shortly into the story Tim is informed that his hot shot, detective father Harry has been killed in the line of duty. Tim travels to Ryme City, a sort of Pokemon/human utopia where everyone lives together in harmony. While collecting his fathers belongings Tim encounters Harry’s Pokemon partner Detective Pikachu. Their weird thing is, Tim is able to understand him. Detective Pikachu is suffering amnesia and needs Tim’s help to figure out what foul play befell him and his partner. This unlikely duo team up to solve the case, and drink lots of coffee.
I can safely say my expectations for Detective Pikachu were low. Real low. I figured this move would go one of two ways. Either it would be a horrid abomination, or really really good. Thankfully I can say. It was really damn good. Detective Pikachu is a lot of fun. The story is passable and enjoyable. But the real charm comes from the Pokemon. Rob Letterman made the right choice of simply bringing the already established Pokemon universe to life. There’s none of the usual re-booting or re-designing. The Pokemon all look and act like they did in the cartoon. Fight like they did in the game. Are as cool and cute as you can imagine. They all look just like the characters you have known and loved for some twenty years. They are just now more alive than ever.
The cast is great. Justice Smith does a great job carrying the emotional weight of the film and has some solid comedic moments. Ryan Reynolds is undeniably brilliant as Pikachu. Truly inspired casting. His one liners and dry wit really shine through and the self-awareness the character as a small yellow mouse is really funny and takes some of the pressure off the film itself bringing these over the top animals to life. They all work really well. There is one scene involving a Mr Mime, and the jokes get pretty dark, pretty fast and I was in hysterics.
The visual effects are spectacular and the film really adheres to it’s own visual style. They don’t try to make photo real Pokemon. They make them as though the anime had just come to life. It’s visually refreshing and works really well with the production design of the world these characters are living in.
The plot is kind of hum-drum especially at the end with the villains final motives being a bit… Odd. But by that stage I didn’t care I was just having a great time. It’s the sort of film I can see becoming something of a cult classic and one I can’t wait to watch with my son in years to come. Just a good family film, lots of laughs, cool action and lots of Pokemon! Catch em all!
Images from Google