You gotta love the times we’re in, where a live-action Pokémon movie is a reality. For most of us under the age of 35, Pokémon has been a part of our childhood. From the games to the trading cards to the anime series, this franchise is huge and still ongoing. In the 23 years of Pokémon’s existence, we’ve grown up, went to college, got jobs, and started families of our own with some of us growing out of it. So, how is the first live-action Pokémon movie? Well, let’s find out. This is Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
A world-class detective goes missing, which brings his 21 year old son to Ryme City, where humans and Pokémon coexist with one another. While in his apartment, he comes across his dad’s Pokémon partner, a Pikachu who can speak to him, and they set out on solving the mystery of his disappearance. This movie is based more on the Detective Pikachu game that came out in 2016. I haven’t played that game, so I don’t know how faithful it is to the source material. On its own, the story isn’t anything that special. If you’re familiar with the mystery genre, you can see all of the twists and turns coming a mile away. This movie reminds me a lot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit where, while humans and toons coexist in that world, humans and Pokémon coexist with one another.
The star of the show is Ryan Reynolds as the titular Detective Pikachu. Fast-talking, quippy, and hyperactive, this character is basically a PG version of Deadpool and he’s part of most of the funniest scenes in the film. You wonder how he’s able to speak to one person until you get to the end. Our main human lead is Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith. He’s basically like all of us in our 20s, someone who had dreams and aspirations until life came into the picture. Tim wanted to be a Pokémon trainer, but losing his mom and his dad not being around shifted his priorities to something more grounded, which is why he’s hesitant to get a Pokémon partner. Let me say this: Justice Smith has improved massively as an actor after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The rest of the characters are one-note and bland like the reporter girl who’s kind of a love interest and her partner is a Psyduck (who’s a scene stealer, BTW), Ken Watanabe plays a police lieutenant accompanied by a Snubbull, Bill Nighy plays the founder of Ryme City who becomes this film’s twist villain with his son (Chris Geere) as the red herring, and Rita Ora plays a scientist in the most random out-of-nowhere cameo possible. Oh, and fucking Mewtwo is in this movie. I got flashbacks to the first Pokémon movie anytime he showed up.
Yo, the filmmakers did a great job at bringing Pokémon to live-action. It’s like they looked at all of the fanart of realistic Pokémon that was out on the internet and took inspiration from that. A lot of time, effort, and heart went into making these Pokémon look realistic and believable. There are so many Pokémon in this movie that I’m pretty sure that I missed a bunch. I also like how unique the world is and how it’s not exactly like our own. If you noticed, there’s no product placement in this film whatsoever. That’s really commendable. If you’re expecting a bunch of battles here, well, you might be disappointed. There’s only two; one where Pikachu goes up against Charizard, but I wouldn’t call that a battle really, and one in the end where Pikachu goes up against Mewtwo. I might as well talk about the third act. So during a parade, the villain releases a gas in the city that causes all of the Pokémon to go rogue and then transfers his consciousness to Mewtwo in order to use his powers to fuse the Pokémon with their respective owners. It’s really dumb, just roll with it. Remember when I talked about how Tim was the only one who could understand Pikachu? Well, it’s because Mewtwo actually fused Pikachu with his father, who’s basically Ryan Reynolds. I saw it coming.
I give Pokémon Detective Pikachu a 7/10. The story isn’t anything great and most of the characters are pretty standard, but this was a fun movie with a lot of laughs, genuine heart, and more Pokémon Easter eggs than one could count. This is one of those movies that people will watch again. Plus, this is the first live-action video game adaptation to be good. That is something you don’t see a lot of. Hopefully, this will lead to more Pokémon movies, especially ones where battles are the main focus or maybe a treasure hunt for some rare Pokémon.