’Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ exceeds fans’ expectations


Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS

“Detective Pikachu” production still.

By Sara Nuss, For The Pitt News

Since 1996, the Pokemon franchise has enticed fans with various TV shows, movies and video games. Along with the creation of hundreds of unique Pokemon, the franchise gives fans the opportunity to collect and trade Pokemon and battle each other using the popular Pokemon cards, immersing themselves within the Pokemon universe. The immersion continued when the “Pokemon GO” phone application was released, giving fans an almost real-life experience of being a Pokemon trainer, exploring and catching Pokemon of their own wherever they go.

Video game adaptations usually seem to be a failure in the eyes of fans. The 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie disappointed many fans of the video game series, featuring terrible CGI and cheesy acting. More recently, the 2018 “Tomb Raider” movie upset many fans, who thought that leading actress Alicia Vikander looked little like the video game heroine Lara Croft. Even though video game adaptations usually do not seem to work out, “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” exceeded my expectations as a silly action/comedy in a fun-packed world where Pokemon and humans are intermingled.

The movie begins with young Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) travelling to Ryme City, a neon-lit metropolis where Pokemon and humans coexist. He is looking to find out what happened to his father, Detective Harry Goodman, who is suspected of having died in a car crash.

While sitting on his childhood bed, recollecting how his father was absent for most of his life, Tim hears a ruckus outside of the room and stumbles across an amnesiac Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), a Pokemon that is mysteriously able to talk to him and him alone. Pikachu is a hilariously witty and adorably furry sleuth who is puzzled over the suspected death of his former partner against crime — Tim’s father.

Tim and Pikachu join forces to investigate Harry’s disappearance with the help of wannabe reporter Lucy Stevens and her Pokemon partner, Psyduck. While searching for the truth behind Harry’s disappearance, Tim, Pikachu and Stevens also discover a secret plan to harm the coexistence of humans and Pokemon in Ryme City, and they make it their mission to protect all who inhabit it.

While the goal of the protagonists is serious, “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” is a wholesome and hilariously fun movie. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the CGI worked in this film, realistically blending the Pokemon into the everyday lives of humans. The intermingling of the human realm and the Pokemon realm left me wanting to explore Ryme City with my own cute, fluffy Pokemon sidekick.

Reynolds’ take on voicing the classic Pikachu was funny yet heartwarming, featuring strong character development as the fluffy Pokemon attempts to relearn his powers, recover his memory and bring Tim closer to his father. Reynolds’ Pikachu consistently brings moviegoers closer to the main characters through his dialogue, utilizing both the comedic and dramatic sides of his acting.

While Reynolds’ Pikachu was the highlight of the film, the other actors deserve recognition as well. Smith played a strong role as Tim Goodman, delivering cheesy yet laughter-inducing one-liners and developing a heartfelt relationship with his father’s former partner.

Although the characterization and world-building in the movie were admirable, the story line wasn’t the most interesting or original. A story about a missing father and the world potentially being at risk is almost cliche, but still works well in a PG movie meant for children. It also differs from the traditional Pokemon TV show storyline, introducing new characters and conflicts and capturing the interest of those who grew up on the exploits of Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu.

There were plenty of moments during the movie where the laughter of children filled the room, making adults laugh alongside them — and whether a child or an adult, every movie attendee will enjoy the free pack of Pokemon cards that comes with each ticket. The sharp comedic dialogue and character development made up for the typical children’s movie storyline, making “Detective Pikachu” a silly and fun adventure for people of all ages to enjoy, with the additional perk of seeing their favorite Pokemon come to life on the big screen.