Monday, July 15, 2024

Movie Review: Detective Pikachu

For those who’ve played any one of the multiple Pokémon games released by Nintendo over the past two decades, Detective Pikachu is a dream come true. Here is a world of Pokémon that feels tangible and real, a Poké utopia where people and ‘mon live in perfect harmony. Pidgey fly through the skies of Ryme City; Charmander light grills with their flame tails; Squirtle aid firefighters. Every human is paired with a monster – and you will want one too.

Of course, the premise of the games has always been to battle the pocket monsters in an attempt to be the best Pokémon trainer, like no one ever was. But this film – or the central character at least – is based on the game of the same name released for the 3DS console in 2016 (Japan) and 2018 (worldwide). As the title suggests, it takes its cue from ’40s detective movies: Pikachu, everyone’s favourite mouse ‘mon, is here given an adorable detective hat as he joins Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman to solve the mystery of his father’s death, a dangerous drug in gas form, and the mysterious Mewtwo pokémon.

For all its cartoon origins, it begins on a grave note. With the death of his father, Tim is drawn to Ryme City – a futuristic, neon lit city with a hint of Blade Runner. It sets up a story about estranged fathers and broken families that, initially at least, suggests a more serious tale than expected. The realistic look of the pokémon follows suit.

Yet Detective Pikachu is a kid’s film after all. The plot, full of holes, gets wrapped up in the action; there are wooden performances from the young cast and eccentric performances from others (Bill Nighy); cameos from musicians (Diplo is having a great time, Rita Ora less so); and the main emotion the film elicits is “OMG LOOK AT THE CUTE POKÉMON”.

But wow, these ‘mon are cute. Director Rob Letterman nails the look and feel of this world, full of lifelike and adorable monsters. Fans will appreciate multiple nods (as well as great use of the theme song), but the depiction of Mr. Mime, a speechless pokémon who communicates solely in mime, will have everyone in fits of laughter. Best of all though is Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu himself. It’s an inspired piece of casting, with a sarcastic and irreverent delivery reminiscent of Deadpool. The character’s design is impossibly cute with his little nose, rosy cheeks and big eyes, yet he speaks in a wisecracking drawl and his lines seem hilariously ripped straight from a classic noir. The film simply wouldn’t be as good without him.

Detective Pikachu is a film that manages to capture the imaginations of young and old alike, full of wonder and nostalgia. Its predictable plot falls flat, but it presents a world that everyone will want to lose themselves in.


This article was first published on The Gizzle Review

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