POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City–a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world–they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
When it comes to my recollection of the Pokémon franchise in general, I was a fan of the franchise back when it came to America in 1998 and continued to be for a couple of years afterward, not until after 2002 did I start to lose my interest in the series and occasionally, I would check back in every once in a while but never enough to get fully invested like I was when I was a kid.
As far as the movies themselves go, I remember the first three movies very well. I saw Pokémon: The First Movie on the big screen in 1999 and in 2016 when it got rereleased, it’s very much a product of the time and its’ biggest fault is in its’ muddled message it’s trying to present that not only goes against its’ purposes of existence but then forgets about it when it’s all said and done. Pokémon The Movie 2000 was a better movie and the last one I saw in a theater. I would see Pokémon 3: The Movie but later on down the road, largely after the Suede/Linkara/JewWario review, and I was honestly surprised at how good it was, probably the best of the first three films. I never saw any of the ones after that one just because I never got the time to do so.
Which brings us back to Detective Pikachu, based off a spinoff in the franchise in which a player teams up with a talking Pikachu to solve mysteries. Seems like a very odd thing to start a live-action Pokémon film franchise with but, whatever, stranger things have happened in Hollywood before and will continue to do so afterward. It all comes down to whether or not the movie was actually worth it in the end, was it?
Well, not only was it worth it in the end but what we have here is without a doubt, the best video game movie ever made….which is not saying all that much. Most video game adaptations aren’t that great or even good, the best ones being The Angry Birds Movie and Mortal Kombat because they at least stayed true to their source material. This movie really does stay true to its’ source material and takes it to another level on some fronts.
Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu is something that should not work and yet, they make it work here, you’ve essentially got Deadpool inside of Pikachu’s body…although nowhere near as vulgar or as crude as Deadpool although I did hear that Reynolds actually did record some R rated dialogue for this so…yeah…but okay, getting off subject here, Reynolds makes this work, he’s very funny and he also creates some nice heavier moments between him and Justice Smith. Speaking of Smith, he’s great in this too, the chemistry between him and Reynolds is great and you need to have great chemistry to make this type of a film work and they make it work. Kathryn Newton is also pretty good in this as is Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy.
The visuals in the movie are gorgeous to look at, this is where they take staying true to the source material to a new level by creating this impressive visual landscape where humans and Pokémon are side by side and it does not look fake at all. Their attention to detail on Pikachu in particular, right down to him looking so fluffy with his fur, is incredible, they really did put in a lot of effort to make sure this looks as realistic as it could possibly be.
The comedy is nicely done even with some very unusual references to Seinfeld and Home Alone, with the film-within-a-film, Angels With Filthy Souls, which I don’t know why but it felt like it was a different cut of that film-within-a-film because some of the line readings seemed a little different than they did in the original Home Alone but maybe I’m overanalyzing on that front. But overall, the comedy was really funny and a lot of the jokes were very well done, they even managed to throw in some dark comical humor in a couple of scenes that got to me.
The action is also nicely done, once again, going above and beyond to make these Pokémon battles look about as authentic as they could be like these are actually happening in real life, I even heard that the Pikachu Charizard fight featured actually audio from a fight at the Pokémon World Championship in 2018.
I even like how they went above and beyond to get elements from the show into the mix right down to Mewtwo’s origins being very similar to the origin story set up in Pokémon: The First Movie as well as getting the voice of Pikachu from the series involved in the film.
The biggest overall flaw of the film largely comes into the story largely the mystery aspect of the story. As you watch the movie, you can definitely figure out who’s the bad guy is right away, it’s also one of the biggest flaws of one of my all-time favorite movies Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but at least in that movie, you kind of knew the filmmakers were in on it too, I mean, come on, the guy’s name is Judge Doom, of course he’s the bad guy. But here, there’s no big twist like Roger Rabbit because you can already tell what’s going to happen and what the evil plan is going to be, essentially doing what the Joker did in the 1989 Batman movie but the twist being that the humans would be transported into their Pokémon. It’s not that it’s bad but it would be nice if they would’ve thrown in a little bit of a more inventive twist to work with.
Even after the big action scene, when it’s finally revealed how Tim and Pikachu are able to understand each other, it’s pretty easy to figure out beforehand so that overall mystery angle doesn’t really work well if you can already figure it out right away. Though, I will admit what they do with the final scene was actually nicely done, I won’t say what happens but it does actually work much better than I thought it would.
Despite a pretty subpar story, Pokémon Detective Pikachu overall does a much better job of bringing its’ universe from the video games to life way better than most video game adaptations do, from great action to great comedy to great visuals to great performances, Detective Pikachu delivers a very entertaining and very satisfying experience that would honestly be appreciated more by fans of the franchise, past and present, than it would be for newcomers of the franchise.
Could this actually be the beginning of a new video game movie renaissance where we start to get more great video game movies than the same old crap? Probably not but only time will tell.
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