Before I begin this review I must confess that I am not a super Pokémon fanatic, but I am very familiar with the core concepts of Pokémon franchise. I have never played the Nintendo 3DS game that this movie is based on. I only played three Pokémon video games: Yellow, Snap, and Go. I lost interest in Pokémon Yellow after a dozen or so hours into the game. I actually really enjoyed Pokémon Snap because I love photography. I got bored of Pokémon Go maybe a month after it released. I watched maybe two or three seasons of the anime TV show, but I have not seen any of the animated films. I hold no negativity toward this long standing franchise or its fans. I state this only to be transparent.
Detective Pikachu is a strange movie. The Nintendo 3DS game that this movie is based on is neither a huge hit or a beloved video game. The Pokémon franchise has released several animated movies but this is the first live action film with computer generated Pokémon characters. Sadly I predict that most Pokémon fans will be lukewarm to this movie.
The story behind Detective Pikachu revolves around a young man named Tim Goodman. Tim’s father has gone missing and Tim goes searching for him when Detective Pikachu arrives. Detective Pikachu has amnesia and knows that Tim’s father is the key to recovering his memories. Detective Pikachu joins Tim‘s search for the truth. The movie has many twists and turns and is a decent family friendly adventure. Sadly, many of the key plot points are spoon feed to the viewer. The story is conveniently put together in exposition dumps. The movie has several plot holes and a terrible villain. The motivations for this villain are poorly explained and his plan doesn’t make much sense. The writing is very simplistic and generic. The movie feels a little too long. Humor is the main positive aspect of this movie. For the most part the comedy does work, but at times it can be cringe worthy. The various action scenes are compelling, and the story has some heart. The plot wraps up in a tight little package. This movie is an okay way to kill some time.
Justice Smith portrays Tim Goodman and Ryan Reynolds portrays the voice of Detective Pikachu. Justice Smith is totally mediocre in this role. Tim is not a very likeable main character. Tim is bland and is always whining about something in this movie. The only scene that I liked him in was the integration scene with the Mr Mime Pokémon. That scene was hilarious and very clever. Ryan Reynolds is his typical hilarious self in this movie. Ryan Reynolds does not change his voice in this movie and still sounds very much like Deadpool. The comedic timing of Ryan Reynolds and the good writing for his character work well for this story. In many ways it feels like a PG Deadpool movie without the forth wall breaking and set in the Pokémon universe. Another main character in this movie is that of Lucy Stevens. Lucy is portrayed by Kathryn Newton. Sadly, this character only exists to help move the story forward. I liked her performance in this movie, but it’s a very limited role. I actually liked her character more than the main character of Tim. Ryan Reynolds basically carries this entire movie on his shoulders, much like how Ash Ketchum carries Pikachu on his shoulders in the Pokémon TV show.
I need to talk about the computer graphics within this movie. The visual character design varies dramatically from scene to scene. Pikachu for example looks fantastic in this movie. Pikachu looks like a adorable cat like creature. I know Pikachu is a rat based Pokémon but in the movie his fur looks very cat like . Overall the first-generation Pokémon look great (Pikachu, Charizard, Bulbasaur , etc) but some of the newer generation creatures don’t look so good. Is this because the newer creature designs are not as inspired as the older generation? Or is it because they didn’t budget enough money to make these characters look believable? I don’t know. The various animal designs (Pokémon) just look strange and the proportions just don’t look realistic. It can be very jarring when one creature looks fantastic and another looks awful and is totally out of place. These creature character models work in a video game, but many simply don’t work in real life. The movie is filled with a diverse selection of Pokémon and not all of them look good on screen. Some Pokémon look amazing, some look totally fake, some look oddly shaped or too big, and some Pokémon don’t look like they could even exist in our world. The worst aspect of the visuals is the inconsistency of it all. The strange visuals hurt my enjoyment of the movie.
In closing Detective Pikachu is a mess of a movie. The visuals are all over the place. Despite the many flaws I still liked this movie and I had fun. Sadly, this movie is not the very best, but it’s not a total disaster either.
Final Verdict: 6/10