I have been a fan of Pokémon since the original Game Boy Red and Blue versions from the late 90s. I recall many long drives with my gameboy and trying to collect them all. My love for Pokémon was rekindled a few years ago when the Pokémon Go craze happened. I have found myself enjoying the simple “Gotta Catch em All” mantra on both my phone with Pokémon Go and even the most recent Nintendo Switch game Pokémon Let’s Go that came out last year. With that said, I was pretty excited for Detective Pikachu. The question is … is Detective Pikachu any good.
Detective Pikachu tells the story of a young man, Tim, who has been estranged from his police office father, Harry, for many years. The reasons for this estrangement are slowly explained throughout the film so I don’t want to give too much away. Tim goes to Ryme City, a large city that where Pokémon and humans live in Harmony, following the death of his father. While at his fathers apartment collecting things he meats his fathers partner Pokémon Detective Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who he can somehow understand. This is when the movie really picks up and the mystery of what happened to Tim’s father begins. Along the way he develops a friendship with a young female reporter named Lucy who’s Pokémon is a Psyduck.
Detective Pikachu is first and foremost a kid’s movie and their is nothing wrong with that. Like most kid’s movies their is an occasional comment or joke that goes over kid’s heads that only the parents will understand. Because Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, is voicing Pikachu their is an occasional moment where something probably isn’t meant to be funny but becomes funny because it’s Deadpool’s voice saying it. If you are wanting grand story telling with Detective Pickachu you may want to pass on this one. The mystery story is fairly simply and doesn’t really hit any great curveballs at the audience.
However, if you love Pokémon or even just good world building then Detective Pikachu may be right up your alley. As a fan of the Pokémon series it was really fun to see some of my favorites in a live action move for the first time. Ryme City is a great place to start due to the unity between Pokémon and humans. I do believe this will prove interesting if they make future movies in this universe. What about all the other places in the world where Pokémon are in Poké Balls and do not live in coexistence with humans? These will be interesting narrative questions the will need to answer moving forward.
My favorite moments of the movie are when they connect more with the original videos games. Seeing a Poké Ball being thrown and the illegal underground Pokémon battle scene. I hope that future installments pull more from the earlier games and tell the story of Pokémon trainers and build on the mythology of the expansive video game and television universe.
Ryan Reynolds does a fantastic job as the voice of Detective Pikachu, but it wouldn’t work without a solid performance by Justice Smith who plays Tim. Justice is able to be our conduit to this extraordinary world. He successfully manages to feel emotionally real in a very “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” type of world. His apathetic attitude towards this Ryme City is a perfect contrast for many of the audience who may feel slightly overwhelmed by so many “new” things. During his journey we relate to him and become more excited as he does throughout the story.
I would recommend Detective Pikachu for any families or Pokémon fans. Unlike the Marvel or Star Wars movies which are able to hit many demographics Detective Pikachu doesn’t quite hit the maturity mark to be enjoyed by all. However, I think this is a very safe beginning to universe that has a lot more potential.