Is ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ worth catching?
This weekend “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” landed in theaters being one of the very few video game adaptations to receive a solid amount of anticipation. Is it the high-flying experience fans have been hoping for?
The film tells the story of Tim Goodman, a former Pokémon trainer who must come to Ryme City in the midst of receiving news of his father dying in a car accident. Soon after, Tim meets Pikachu, a Pokémon who formerly worked with Tim’s dad, and believes that Tim’s dad is still alive. With this, the two must team up to uncover a greater case than they could ever imagine.
The film’s greatest strength comes in how its world is depicted. Robert Letterman’s direction allows for a lot of room to absorb the environment. Ryme City feels like a very lived-in place and every inch feels loaded with character. The neon saturated lighting adds to this sense of personality, giving the film a neo-noir feel that permeates throughout.
What gives this film its distinction comes through with the Pokémon themselves. The vast variety of these lively creations thrown in here is insane, and fans are sure to have a ball catching them all. Not only are they all full of personality, but their designs and the effects done to bring them to life are fantastic, leaning into the fantastical appeal of these creatures rather than trying to make most of them look ultra-realistic.
Unsurprisingly, the one who steals the show is Pikachu himself. Ryan Reynolds does a great job portraying the character, even if the voice does take a bit of getting used to at first. The character is given a surprising amount of depth that makes his side of the story the most engaging as we see him trying to piece together his backstory.
The film handles the mystery plot with a surprising level of maturity at some points, simultaneously benefiting and hurting the film in the process. While the detective aspect of the film is given its time to develop and build in a way that feels appropriate, the tone doesn’t always support it, as we are always switching back and forth between sillier, absurd elements. On top of that, the overall mystery becomes rather predictable thanks to the way in which the plot itself is structured. This, in turn, kills the pacing as the film drags its way between the second and third acts. Fortunately, the third act does prove to be exceptionally energetic and makes up for it.
The human characters, while containing their quirks, don’t impress beyond a surface-level of development. There aren’t any particular stand-out performances and the arcs for the characters fall flat in creating truly engaging protagonists. With that said, the villains in the film, while also cookie-cutter, feel purposeful in how much they ham it up, but don’t push things enough to become very memorable.
At the end, “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” is a decent, enjoyable enough experience that is sure to provide some fun. The world of video game movies may not be saved all the way by this one, but at least with the love that went into a such a project proving to bring such entertaining results, there’s a chance that light may just be at the end of the tunnel for this genre.