If you have no interest in Pokémon you will likely have no interest in this story. If you do then you'll have a blast.
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Coming to cinemas all across the country is Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. Starring Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds and Kathryn Newton Pokémon: Detective Pikachu follows Tim Goodman (Smith) who meets a talking Pikachu (Reynolds) while searching for his missing father.
Fans of the Pokémon franchise are no strangers to Pokémon films (we recently had a screening of the latest film here in Ireland) but we’ve never been given a live-action interpretation.
So you can imagine the excitement/trepidation when Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was announced. After all, films that are based on games never work except for Mortal Kombat and Warcraft (I thought the orcs were awesome) and don’t even get me started on how worthless 90% of anime adaptations are.
So Pokémon: Detective Pikachu had an uphill battle and I can say hand on my heart, this is easily the best Pokémon film ever and is also a brilliant film for the whole family. The reason that the film worked for me was the surprising depth of the story being told.
The main cusp of the story is Tim trying to find his estranged father and the only way is to follow Detective Pikachu who was his partner. This amnesiac believes that he can find Tim’s father and together they can reconstruct this broken family. Tim is resistent to the idea but as the story goes on he becomes more and more receptive to possibly reconnecting with his father if he’s alive.
This became quite emotional as Smith and Reynolds have a wonderful rapport. It’s quite electric (I had to). This further pulls you into the emotional stakes of Tim’s adventure. Along with the lads is Kathryn Newton’s Lucy a young intrepid reporter looking for that big story.
She believes the lads are on to something with their search for Tim’s father as this may lead to a much larger and more insidious conspiracy. At first, Newton came off as quite wooden but then I understood what her performance was. She was playing the type of character who is trying to act bigger than they are and when I realised that I was sold.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Now on to the question everyone is wondering. What are the Pokémon like? Honestly, they’re pretty great. The CGI is fantastic. If I had any issues it would be with an early scene with a Lickitung. It as disturbing as you expect. Apart from that one moment though the Pokémon and their place in the world is handled well. The city where most of the action takes place, Ryme City, is set somewhere in the world of Pokémon. The Kanto Region has a connection to this story and for fans of Pokémon they will swoon when they hear it.
The film is also the ultimate challenge to any fan to see if they can name every Pokémon that appears onscreen. I could literally name a third of the Pokémon I saw. The ones I could name were only from the first and second generations.
What will likely turn off audiences is that if you have no interest in Pokémon you will likely have no interest in this story. The film has an inclusive element in the theme of family but that isn’t enough to bring in everyone especially if you are not a fan of Pokémon. There is also predictability to the story. You don’t have to be a world class detective to get what is going on but I have to say this the story decisions director Rob Letterman chose were fun and at times quite balls to the wall (especially for a Pokémon film).
I respect the hell out of the team behind Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. They didn’t overexplain what Pokémon were, they didn’t teleport a Pikachu to our world, the story was quite complex (regardless of me accurately predicting where it would go) and had an emotional beat that has a direct line to your heart.
Take the Pokémon trainer in your life (regardless of age) and have yourself a blast with Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. I know I did.