Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Pika Pi!

Pokémon Detective Pikachu brings the long running multimedia franchise into live action for the first time. Well, the people anyway; the Pokémon are obviously CG. The result is a surprising good noir thriller that brings the Pokémon dream to life.

Tim Goodman receives news of his father- Harry Goodman’s death and meets up with a talking Pikachu that was Harry’s partner. Together, they set off to solve the mysterious circumstances surrounding Harry’s death. That’s the gist of the story at least. Of course, there are a few twists and turns along the way- but it’s generally straight forward stuff.

The real reason to watch this movie though, are the Pokémon. Never before have they looked this good, or so realistic. The task of bringing them to life in a live action world must be immense, yet the filmmakers pull it off with such aplomb that you can imagine yourself owning one of these critters in real life. Sure, the illusion isn’t sometimes perfect- but it works most of the time. And when it does, I felt like a ten year old playing red/blue for the first time again. Powerful stuff.

All the Pokémon are meticulously detailed and wonderfully animated, from the creepy Mr. Mime to the comically suffering Psyduck, whose psychic headaches are capable of knocking out crowds. Praise must be given however to Pikachu. Ryan Reynolds gives a solid performance, with the occasional “Pika Pi!” from the legendary Ikue Ōtani herself- but it’s the modelling and portrayal of Pikachu itself which deserves the most applause. It looks absolutely adorable, like a plush toy come to life, and it is easily the most detailed and animated Pokémon in the whole movie. Pikachu almost singlehandedly carries this movie, and deservingly so, given its flagship status and titular nature.

The world itself, and especially the location of Rime City where most of the main plot is set is worth noting as well. The bright neon lights, combined with the dark noir aesthetic and integration of Pokémon feel like a more sanitized version of a cyberpunk film than the bright cheerful setting where most of the familiar games takes place. It’s just a shame we don’t get to see more of it that we already have, something that hopefully is rectified in future films.

There is also a conspicuous lack of Pokémon battles. Although explained in the plot, seeing one of the main pillars of the Pokémon franchise stripped out is rather jarring. Then again, what we already get is fairly action packed, especially closer to the end once the plot points start wrapping up. Some of it makes you wonder how on earth humanity ever get the advantage over Pokémon in the first place. Even small Pokémon the size of cats can do some real hurt to a fully grown man, a point which is made in the first few minutes of the film. Later, we’re introduced to genetically enhanced Pokémon that are absolutely gigantic. That’s not the mention the fire breathing, telekinesis, electricity generating shapeshifting, and more.

But minor knocks aside, this is a sold piece of entertainment, if not the most ambitious. Is it the best movie of this year? No. Is it the best video game movie ever? It might just be. A low bar to be sure, but- baby steps, right? Detective Pikachu might be too simple and shallow for more discerning filmgoers but for fans of Pokémon, young and old, it’s a real treat seeing that world come to life outside of anime.

Objective: 7/10

Personal: 8/10


WRITTEN BY silogore