Review – Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu [rating=4]

Pokémon may be one of the most popular franchises of all-time, but it’s take. Over twenty years for it to come to this point. Yes, after a total of twenty-two anime films and TV series’, Pokémon has finally gone live-action.

A live-action adaptation of Pokémon has been something fans of the franchise have been hoping for over the past couple of decades, but nothing ever seemed to happen except a couple of fan videos showing what could have been. It really is quite surprising nothing ever seemed to happen in that time, with many other anime properties going live-action such as; Dragonball, Bleach, Alita and Death Note to name a few. It really was only a matter of time, and I’m happy to say it’s been worth the wait.

Detective Pikachu is directed by Rob Letterman (Goosebumps, Gulliver’s Travels) and loosely follows the story of the Nintendo 3DS game of the same name. When ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his estranged twenty one‑year‑old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise‑cracking, adorable super‑sleuth Detective Pikachu. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can understand him.

It’s clear that Letterman and the rest of the team behind the film did their research, and wanted to get this right both in terms of design and story – and it really shows. The designs of the monsters themselves are fantastic, really spot on, but especially on Pikachu himself. Ryme City is a great addition to the world also, with it’s own set of rules and way of life that sets it apart from any seen before. In Ryme City people and Pokémon live side by side always outside of their Pokeballs, with many even having jobs around the city. Pokemon battles are also outlawed which is a bit of a negative as it means there are very few in the whole film. Battles are something I’d like to see more of going forward in any potential sequels, but I wasn’t too let down as what we did see of them was really a lot of fun.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else as Pikachu now other than Ryan Reynolds, who is absolutely perfect for the role. It will come as no surprise that the pint sized hero steals the show, with plenty of gags and smart talk both kids and adults will enjoy. Sure, I was one of the people hoping Danny Devito would sign on, but it’s really worked out perfectly. It’s simply too bad the human characters in the film were so…boring. So Tim’s Dad goes missing (presumed dead by most) and Tim (played by Justice Smith) just doesn’t seem to care at all. He’s ultimately not bothered, but when he meets a reporter he’s attracted to he starts to become more interested in the case, as she’s following leads on it.  This made it difficult to care as a viewer for the fate of his dad, which is what the whole film’s plot is about really. That said, the film is surprisingly very emotional at times. This is something that is handled really well with sad and sweet moments aplenty, but it’s never too much or too little.

It would be difficult for any Pokémon fan to watch this film and not find some enjoyment in it. Detective Pikachu is a silly, emotional and just plain fun caper that is far from a perfect, but is still a very fun ride. It’s clear small steps are being taken to test the water with Pokémon in live-action, and I feel adapting this game first was a smart decision for some light hearted fun on the big screen.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is in cinemas May 10.