Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Movie Review: "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" (2019)

Director: Rob Letterman
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Tim, the son of a renowned detective who wants nothing to do with his estranged father's lifestyle, teams up with a talking Pikachu to find his dad, who has gone missing.

Justice Smith Kathryn Newton Pokemon Detective Pikachu movie review
"Every step for you is a thousand for me, and my lungs are the size of grapes." (Image Source)
Pokémon! Gotta catch 'em all!...except in Ryme City, where catching Pokémon is not allowed and where humans and Pokémon live side by side in harmony. "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" (2019) is directed by Rob Letterman, who has helmed numerous family films including "Shark Tale" (2004), "Monsters vs. Aliens" (2009), and "Goosebumps" (2015), most of which are pretty decent movies. That being said, the script is written by a committee of people and is based on both the "Pokémon" animated series and the video game "Detective Pikachu." Historically, this is usually a bad sign when it comes to film adaptations: almost all video game flicks exist in the "meh" to"miserable" range. The story revolves around a young adult named Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), who receives word that his estranged, renowned detective father just died in a car wreck which, unbeknownst to Tim, was no accident. He heads to Ryme City to settle his father's affairs. While at his dad's office, he is approached by a talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), who was his dad's Pokemon partner. Shockingly, Tim can magically and inexplicably understand him, and he learns that Pikachu believes Tim's father isn't actually dead. Pikachu asks Tim to help solve the mystery of his dad's disappearance. Tim reluctantly agrees, but their investigation may lead them to a much larger conspiracy.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu film Ludicolo
"You're the only one who can hear me. It's like destiny!" (Image Source)
Both video game adaptations and animated TV series that have been turned into live-action feature films have a notorious reputation for being terrible. Video games have inspired the insufferable "Assasin's Creed" (2016), the mediocre of "Warcraft" (2016), and the absurdly goofy "The Super Mario Brothers" (1993). As far as animated series adaptations go, you don't have to think of anything other than "The Last Airbender" (2010) as an example of how awful they can be. Despite this, and even though we had a few reservations, we were actually excited to see "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" (2019), mainly because the trailer looked super fun, and because the design of the Pokémon looked both realistic and kind of marvelous. Plus, I am a huge fan of Pokémon, and BigJ and I have been playing Pokémon GO! since it was released.

It will help you immensely if you go into "Detective Pikachu" (2019) with at least a passing familiarity with Pokémon. This feature offers up a lot of fan service. It displays numerous Pokémon in the background, and the story includes a few nods to the series and the game. The opening scene is even eerily similar to "Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back" (1998). The story itself is a bit basic and predictable since it follows an often used adventure-mystery formula. Luckily, it still offers some moments of great action, some astounding visuals, and a hefty amount of comedy along the way and manages to be very entertaining and funny as a whole. The Pokémon themselves provide some spectacular eye candy and boast cool textures and intricate, sometimes cute, sometimes gross designs. We loved seeing the much-scarier-in-the-movie Ludicolo, the adorable-and-fluffy Jigglypuff, the horrific-and-semi-rabid Aipom, and creepy Mr. Mime come alive on screen. Of course, Pikachu is the real star of the show, and Ryan Reynolds proves that he can charm audiences anywhere, anytime, even in the body of a fluffy yellow electric chinchilla.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu 2019 Lickitung
"All I hear are consonants, and all I see are nipples." (Image Source)
We're not sure how non-Pokémon fans will receive "Detective Pikachu" (2019) because most of this film panders to people like us who grew up watching the mon-themed TV shows and/or playing the video games. Those of us who have rekindled our love of catching 'em all as adults via Pokémon GO are sure to enjoy the heck out of this action adventure romp. "Detective Pikachu" may not get people entirely up to speed on the vast Pokémon universe, but this is a great, fun place to start.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.0/10
RT Rating: ~64%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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