Fall in Love with the World of Pokemon All Over Again
It should be noted upfront that your take on Detective Pikachu will most likely hinge on your knowledge of Pokemon, in general. Although you don’t need to be a superfan of the video games and/or shows, understanding the core concepts of what makes Pokemon so fascinating is key to enjoying the movie.
Detective Pikachu stars Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, a young adult who doesn’t share the world’s fascination with Pokemon. The film does a great job at likening a vast majority of the audience to Tim. Like most of us who grew up during the peak of Poke-Mania, Tim was once obsessed with Pokemon and wanted to be a real Pokemon Trainer. As it happens, he grows up and distances himself from Pokemon as well as those around him. As his friend puts it early on in the film, he’d pair nicely with a Cubone- the Lonely Pokemon.
Detective Pikachu is at its best when it shows its self-awareness. You sort of have to acknowledge the campiness if you’re going to make a movie as silly as this. The entire world of Pokemon is built on the idea that humans and Pokemon coexist as friends. Yes, sometimes humans capture and force Pokemon to fight, but that’s not the focus here. In any other scenario this would be problematic.
As long as you can look past the blatant moral issues, Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a fun ride throughout.
How to Make a Pokemon Movie Work
Speaking of the absurdity of the source material, I was genuinely pleased with how the movie decided to address the powers that certain Pokemon possess- by not addressing it. How do you explain that a Greninja can conjure up a “Greninja-star” out of thin air to hurl at their enemies? Or why Cubone’s bone-merang explodes upon impact? Well, you just don’t. You assume that the audience’s belief is suspended enough to just go along with it… and it works!
Ryan Reynolds serves as the voice for the lovable Detective Pikachu- a wise-cracking, high-strung Pokemon with amnesia. Tim’s detective father, Pikachu’s partner, was killed while investigating a mysterious. Now Tim and Pikachu are left trying to piece together what happened the night Tim’s father was killed and Pikachu was left with no memory of the events.
Heartwarming Character Dynamic
Reynolds does a fantastic job voicing everyone’s favorite Pokemon. If you were wondering how similar it would be to his other character, Deadpool, don’t. They are almost exactly the same character- down to the occasional adult joke. Somehow this movie comes off as geared to the adult audience more than the children. Although a surprising cocaine joke must’ve flown over the children’s heads, it set the tone for what was to come.
Justice Smith gives a solid performance that’ll tug at your heartstrings as he learns to cooperate with Detective Pikachu. Older fans can relate to him as he draws from his childhood knowledge of Pokemon to help them out of some binds. In fact, the filmmakers must’ve banked on the idea that the adult audience will join Tim in re-sparking that deep knowledge of Pokemon we had as kids.
Detective Pikachu wasn’t without its flaws. There’s plot-armor sprinkled throughout and some over-the-top sequences that’ll leave you wondering about the in-world repercussions. A few twists during the last half of the film won’t make sense, but you’ll be enjoying the ride too much to care.
It was also a surprise that Detective Pikachu is seemingly canon. There’s a quick reference to the events of Mewtwo’s birth 20 years ago and his escape from the research facility. That can only mean this story takes place within the same world as the video games and/or anime. If this film is setting up a planned shared universe, they sure picked an odd starting point.
If you’re dying to see lifelike Pokemon that are both adorable and gross, you’ll want to check out Detective Pikachu. It’s definitely a wild nostalgia-ride that’ll leave you scanning each frame to see every beautifully animated Pokemon in the background of Ryme City. The positives of this feel-good flick far outweigh the negatives and I’m excited to see how this universe is expanded upon in the future.