Pokemon Detective Pikachu brings pokemon to life for the first time


Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

  Pokemon Detective Pikachu is the very first live action adaptation of the beloved franchise, Pokemon, and follows Tim Goodman who is forced into a mystery when he finds a mysterious Pikachu in his father’s apartment that he can understand and speak to. It is directed by Rob Letterman and stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, and Kathryn Newton.

  I, myself, am a fan of both the Pokemon games and TV series, so I was excited, yet skeptical about this adaptation. The creative team behind this film didn’t excite me too much, and I wouldn’t call myself a Ryan Reynolds fan, but the character designs looked great in the trailer. So I thought if there was at least some cool Pokemon stuff, I would enjoy it. However, my skepticism seemed to come true because this was a severely disappointing film for both fans of Pokemon and fans of the hard-boiled detective genre.

  Before I get into the flaws, there are some good aspects of the film that I quite enjoyed. First, the character designs and CGI were both wonderful. There are a wide variety of pokemon characters in the background, and they were all extraordinarily rendered. It’s not just good CGI; every pokemon in the film looks like a live creature in this universe. The body movements and facial expressions make the animal companions feel like an real like animal in the world instead of CGI pasted on a screen. It helps the audience ease into believing the world the film sets up and get familiar with the pokemon interacting with humans. The character designs are also just like the original designs, which I am so happy about. It’s so nice to see a video game adaptation that doesn’t completely butcher the original designs for the characters. I especially loved the was Charizard looked.

  Every time pokemon are doing cool things, the movie is, well, cool! There’s one pokemon arena battle, and it’s easily the best scene in the whole film. It harkened back to feeling of the games and the TV show with an intense battle between two super-cool creatures. It was so entertaining to watch, and had a moment towards the end of the battle that will certainly please many fans of the franchise. The final battle between Mewtwo and Pikachu was so much fun too. They did a great job at highlighting the enormous strength that Mewtwo has. The battle reminded me a lot of the recent game, Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu!, which is a game I played, and it made me wish they would’ve just adapted that game instead.

  Unfortunately, all of the cool pokemon take a major backseat to some uninteresting human characters and a poorly developed mystery. Detective Pikachu suffers from a very weak script that never allows itself to reach its full potential. The biggest issue with the script is the way it handles its mystery. Since this is geared towards children, it’s dumbed down significantly, making for a predictable and easy mystery to solve. One of the tropes I dislike most in children’s mystery films is how every character talk to themselves exactly what they are thinking. This is highlighted in a scene midway through the film where they see a flashback hologram in a pokemon tested lab. The scientist who is running the lab explains exactly what she is doing and why she is doing it to herself only, and it’s convenient that the informations she is saying is the exact information that the characters need to figure out the mystery. This happens throughout the entire movie, but this scene was the worst culprit. It made it impossible for me to get invested since every piece of information is given through an exposition dump. The way the story wraps up was clunky and convenient, and had twists that I saw coming from a mile away

  The human characters were all rather uninteresting. Tim Goodman is set up to be an interesting main character with a great backstory, but they never use that to progress him past the first act. Instead, he walks around with a dull expression on his face, which makes it hard to follow him as our lead since he shows barely any emotion. I don’t think this was entirely Justice Smith’s fault, since he didn’t have much to work with. His sidekick, Lucy, is way over the top as an aspiring news reporter. The way she talked and her mannerisms looked like they were trying to parody that type of character in the crime genre, but the mystery is taken so seriously in the script that it’s hard to believe that that was the goal. She had no backstory, and had no chemistry with any of the other actors.

  Ryan Reynolds is fine as Pikachu, and he carried most of the scenes he is in, but I didn’t really buy him as a pokemon. I understand they were trying to make it funny that Deadpool is playing a cute children’s character, but none of his lines were very funny. His greatest moment came with a heartfelt exchange between him and Tim, which was a very well-acted scene that made me feel emotionally attached to the characters for only a few minutes. I do believe most of the appeal of Reynolds’ performance is attributed to the great visual effects work.

  It was made apparent throughout that the creative team behind this film doesn’t care about pokemon at all. They tried to make a Pokemon film for people who don’t care about the franchise, and doing so lost all of the heart and fun that comes with the franchise. Detective Pikachu is a tough film to recommend, because normal audiences and pokemon fans won’t get much out of it. It has moments of cool pokemon action and great visual effects, but it’s bogged down by a poorly written narrative and boring human characters. I would say you’re better off skipping this one.

  Rating: 5/10