Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Movie Title: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Year Released: 2019

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 45min

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Comedy

Director: Rob Letterman

Writer: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy, Rita Ora

Review: Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim (Justice Smith), to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry's former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds). Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

Throughout the course of time, many have tried and failed miserably at adapting video games to the big screen, but Pokémon Detective Pikachu is an exception to that rule. While the competition isn't steep, I believe this film to be the best video game movie of all time. Full disclosure, I am a huge Pokémon fan. I have been since about 5th grade whether I was trying to catch 'em all on my Gameboy or playing Pokémon cards at recess, this cartoon juggernaut has always held a special place in my heart.

To begin with, the Pokémon themselves look fantastic. Rendering these creatures for the first time in a live-action setting was done masterfully. Ryme City looked every bit of a realistic Pokémon town, and I think this film really nailed the essence of bringing these settings to life like never before. Ryan Reynolds did a brilliant job playing a talking Pikachu, which I have to admit, I was very skeptical about when I first learned of the idea. I think Reynolds brought his typical charm and exuberance that we've grown to love from his infamous Deadpool character, but without the vulgarity. In my opinion, the fit really worked, and I was pleasantly surprised. The story was also quite interesting, and captivated me throughout the film. My one criticism was that the story became a little muddy and hard to follow in the last act. Despite some of the plot ambiguity, it became clear towards the end what was ultimately happening, and led to a somewhat predictable conclusion if you were paying close attention. This is really only a minor criticism, though, as I think the visuals and the mystery behind the story more than made up for some of the clunky moments. Ultimately, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a fun, entertaining, heartfelt film. I think most folks will be pleasantly surprised by this film, and because it has such an established core audience, hardcore fans like myself will fully enjoy being transported into the world of Pokémon for the first time in a live-action setting. I can't recommend this film enough, and I hope it's a springboard for sequels and more films of its kind in the future!

Gotta catch 'em all, go see this movie, you know it's your destiny! Pokémon!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The realistic style of the Pokémon were based on the artwork by RJ Palmer. The movie's production designer discovered him while he was looking for realistic Pokémon designs on the internet, and he was so impressed by Palmer's artwork that he gave him a job as the concept artist for the movie.


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