‘Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ provides some laughs, a basic storyline, and a whole lot of nostalgia. Conveying a story that’s fun, but somewhat forgettable, except to the most casual Pokémon fans.
Yes, I meant casual. Because the most die-hard fanatics probably won’t find much to this Pokemon film. Though the average moviegoer will probably find it entertaining – albeit also, downright condescending. The movie often takes its time reminding the audience what they’re doing per scene. Almost acting as an introduction into the world of Pokemon – while neglecting that fact that most of the people watching, already know what Pokemon are. Which is strange given the fan service to the first generation, featured.
It begins with Tim, our hero, who hasn’t been able to find a Pokemon partner throughout his entire life. Now an adult, he’s given up his dreams of pokemon and decided to focus on his career instead. That is until he discovers that his father, a respected detective working at Rhyme City, has passed in an automobile accident. While going through the motions of clearing out his dad’s belongings at his apartment, Tim then encounters his father’s fellow detective partner, Pikachu. He then discovers an investigative reporter, a mysterious chemical, and the strange ability to converse with Detective Pikachu; who like every good detective, finds that there’s something nefarious afoot about dad’s disappearance.
The premise of Detective Pikachu was predictable and formulaic. With a lot of exposition conveniently detailed through flashbacks and memories. This is a movie that sets the bar low and is an easily followed story for children. So, expect convenient plot devices and memory simulations galore. The movie pushes forward without very much conflict between-scenes. You’ll see the typical chase or hunt for clues, which is often saved by quippy one-liners and jokes by movie’s true star: Ryan Reynolds. Who besides the Pokemon, salvages just about all the enjoyable things about this movie.
Yet outside of Detective Pikachu’s scenes, the dramatic undertones conveyed feel lost to the viewer, in a film which is cuter than it is dire. Being too predictable to be of much interest. Still, I will admit that the effects were compelling to look at, which was a great distraction from some of the boring plot points. Particularly a sequence in the middle of the movie involving a laboratory and the groundbreaking techniques that were used.
There are also very few references to the anime or videogames – save for the utilization of Pokemon, itself. In this world, Pokemon co-exist with humans in harmony, living in the wonderous metropolis of Rhyme city. The blend of Pokemon and technology is beautiful to look at, though is sort of an amalgam of popular cities such as New York and Tokyo. Though I will admit, the moments that Pokemon are on the screen doing simple, and often, unrelated things, are probably the best moments of the film.
Speaking of which, the movie was shot on film. Drawing many comparisons to ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ in early reviews. The technique has been both praised and criticized yet serves two primary reasons. For one, the color scheme in the movie is more vibrant – highlighting brighter palates that recaptures the nostalgia of childhood very well. As Pokemon are diversely colorful creatures. Second, is that it makes the contrasts more believable by frame-by-frame comparison between the Pokemon and Humans. Which is good, as there wasn’t really a moment of confusion in animation, that took you out of the movie.
A common comparison of the film versus digital debate would be to look at the difference between Pikachu versus the new trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog. Film is a little more settling for my personal tastes; However, textures do seem quite better captured on Digital. Which is something critics complained about, as they were grainy for this movie.
It should be noted that a lot of the reasons this movie was made was because of the success of 2014’s Godzilla and the release of the game Pokemon Go. It’s a smart idea in terms of studio execution, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it does financially well, though the story was bad and the acting was mostly forgettable.
Which is why I’m not even going to mention the subplots or characters in this review – as anything about it might be a spoiler for a film with little substance. But hey, there’s cool-looking Pokemon.
You Can Watch Detective Pikachu in theatres right now