Pokémon: Detective Pikachu – Film Review

Given how nerdy I can be, you might be quite shocked to learn that I did not grow up a Pokémon fan – I didn’t trade cards, I didn’t play the video games or Pokémon Go and I haven’t watched any of the shows and films. Detective Pikachu is my first real Pokémon experience and I’m here to tell you that newbies can enjoy it too.

Justice Smith plays Tim, who goes to Ryme City, where humans and Pokémon live in harmony, after learning that his estranged father Harry has died. While sorting through his apartment, he discovers his father’s Pikachu and is shocked to learn he can understand him in plain English (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) when nobody else can. Pikachu is convinced Harry is simply missing and they embark on a mission to find out the truth.

Making the first live-action Pokémon movie a noir/crime/mystery was an interesting choice but it really works, against all probability. Casting Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu also seemed like an odd decision but it was a genius move. He is hilarious and his knack for witty one-liners comes in use often and he makes the movie as good as it is. Pikachu is funny and SO cute to look at. To quote Despicable Me: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”

It would be easy to assume that this is a children’s film but it isn’t really. Sure, it will appeal to children and they will like it but it felt aimed mostly at adults or those who grew up with Pokémon in the late 90s/early 00s. It is grown up (although family-friendly), smart and some jokes are definitely more for the adults in the room. The storyline is pretty complicated and confusing – I honestly couldn’t follow the plot – so I’ll be impressed if youngsters can.

There are some downsides. The third act of the film gets super messy. There is so much going on and it wasn’t told in the clearest way possible. It’s just a bit all over the place. It’s a bit too long, the CGI wasn’t always 100% (the escape from the compound springs to mind) and I didn’t think Bill Nighy‘s part of Ryme City founder Howard Clifford was written particularly well. However, he isn’t in it as much as Smith and Kathryn Newton (as reporter Lucy Stevens) and they were solid and likeable leads. I’ve always got time for Newton.

Like I said up top, I still enjoyed it despite not being a Pokémon fan. However, I think for this to be fully appreciated you need a greater understanding of the characters, their powers and their evolution. I only knew the names of some characters and that was better than nothing but not exactly good enough. The people around me really loved it when new characters appeared and battles happened so I think what excites people about this movie has escaped me a little bit. I imagine its target audience will love it and it will score a whole new generation of Pokémon fans – unfortunately, I’m just not one of them.

In cinemas from Friday 10th May

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