Let me start by saying I know absolutely nothing about Pokémon – let alone Pokémon Detective Pikachu. That particular craze was going in the late 90s while I was transitioning from elementary to high school. I know a lot of friends who were into it, along with something called Dragonball Z. Instead, I had Star Wars, and Star Trek, and Stargate. I would never have even considered watching this movie if it weren’t for the trailer – and I am glad I did.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu Review – The Movie
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is an absurd movie. Who would have thought to create a movie in the Pokémon universe with a straight face? In a nutshell, the movie is set in a world in which there are creatures with special powers – Pokémon – yet everybody is cool about it. The story – somewhat formulaic – follows a young man, Tim (Justice Smith), in search for his missing father. Tim is quickly sent down the rabbit whole after sampling a special gas. This gives him the ability to talk to his father’s partner, Detective Pikachu, while nobody else can.
The interaction between Tim and Pikachu (played by Ryan Reynolds) is where the meat of the movie is at. Both characters are hyper, sarcastic and in the case of Pikachu insensitive, rude and a little bit sexist. But all in good fun, the end result is a movie that by a miracle received the PG rating. I suppose the younger audience will not notice the rude jokes – for them the movie works in different ways.
And so Pokémon Detective Pikachu thrives on the absolutely absurd premise. On top of that the movie has strong visuals. Despite filming taking place in London the cityscape remains neutral, but it does play as a wonderful set piece. The cinematography has definite cyberpunk inspirations. Most notably was the scene in which Tim visit Detective Yoshida’s office. The blinds caused the scene to have a Blade Runner feel. Kudos to cinematographer John Mathieson to consider the franchise’s 80s origin.
Are there any downsides to the movie? Sure, a few. The plot is predictable, with Bill Nighy first playing what appears to be a heroic visionist but near the end turns into the villain. The whole ‘lets save the city’ comes straight out of a comic book. And yet. A deep and clever plot would also have distracted away from the character interaction. That remains front and center.
Sadly, the only significant female character, wannabe reporter Lucy Stevens (Katryn Newton), does not get the presence she deserves. Initially the character is little bit too eager and that felt tonally wrong. The character manages to find more solid footing as the movie progresses. But as the focus is on the interaction between Tim and Pikachu, she plays second fiddle.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu thrives on the absurdist humor – strengthened by its solid cast and cinematography. For those who don’t know anything about Pokémon – that would all the better. For those who want to see a strong performance by Ryan Reynolds, go and see the movie.