Pokémon has captured the hearts of millions of fans both young and old since 1996 through video games, trading cards, and an ongoing anime TV series. So when it was announced that there would be a feature length live-action film based on the ever expanding fictional universe, there was some skepticism. Ever since video games were created and popularized in the 1980s, many filmmakers have tried to replicate the magic of games such as Super Mario Bros, Tomb Raider, and World of Warcraft on the silver screen, but none of them worked, with every single film based on a video game receiving very poor reception from both critics and audiences alike. But thanks to the cast and crew of Pokémon Detective Pikachu, we finally have a very successful transition from the small screen of the Game Boy to big screen cinema.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu tells the story of a detective named Harry Goodman who mysteriously goes missing. Once his 21-year-old son, Tim (Justice Smith), hears the news, he enlists the help of Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), a Pokémon that Tim can understand. The two of them join forces to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Tim’s father.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a fantastic breath of fresh air for blockbuster filmmaking and has set a new standard for what video game movies should be. The film is bursting with heart and creativity, telling a genuinely unpredictable story that has a lot of fun twists and turns. Ryan Reynolds is pitch perfect as the titular character and his charisma previously on display in films such as Deadpool can most definitely be seen here. Justice Smith, who has been featured in supporting roles in films such as Paper Towns and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, finally gets his time to shine as the protagonist and plays the part perfectly. Reynolds and Smith have great chemistry and play off each other very well, bringing a fun buddy cop vibe to the film.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu has been marketed as a neo-noir film with Pokémon, and while that may seem odd on paper, it works really well on the screen. The movie was shot on 35mm film which gives it a nice film grain to add to the overall mood/tone, and director of photography John Mathieson brings some surprisingly stellar cinematography to the table, using lighting and shadows to full effect. Furthermore, composer Henry Jackman’s score is simply delightful, using new renditions of classic Pokémon themes while also bringing fantastic new tracks to the table.
One of the best parts of Pokémon Detective Pikachu is the way it establishes the world to its audience. The film has some of the best world building I’ve seen in a movie in a long time and by the end of the opening scene, I was already invested and excited to see more of the beautiful cityscapes, towns, and locations in the fictional world. The film also isn’t afraid to get weird, delving into some especially “out there” territory (even for Pokémon), adding further to the uniqueness of it all. And while some of the acting and writing may come off as corny to some, I found it to be perfect for the tone of the film, making it feel reminiscent of the original anime. Finally, in what may feel like the biggest surprise, there is no unnecessary set up for a sequel with post credit scenes, which is a breath of fresh air for a blockbuster of this caliber.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is wonderful in every sense of the word and satisfied my inner sixyear-old that collected the trading cards, maxed out their Pokédex on the Game Boy, and watched the TV show every morning. It’s a vibrant bundle of joy that manages to be both a good Pokémon movie and a great film based on a video game, one that is sure to satisfy both fans of and newcomers to the world of pocket monsters.
Featured Image: Pokémon Detective Pikachu theatrical poster (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros, Legendary Pictures)
By: Justin Landsman, Entertainment Editor