Beth's Blockbuster Blog - Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
There's two big video game adaptation films coming out in the next few years that are going to introduce non-gamers to two of the biggest franchises Nintendo has to offer: Sonic and Pokemon. Though Sonic has been pushed back to work on his design, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu from the start had people interested and impressed with the CGI design of the character designs. Now that the film is out, people are still impressed with the design, but the rest of the film struggles to catch up with the rest.
A mysterious car crash supposedly claims the life of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith)'s father Harry and his Pokemon partner. But when his Pikachu breaks into Harry's old apartment while Tim is working on cleaning it out, Tim realizes he can communicate with him. Pikachu convinces Tim to team up with him because if he's still alive, that means his father is most likely still alive too.
The thing with this movie is that it focuses specifically on the story told in the 2016 game Detective Pikachu instead of the Pokemon franchise as a whole. So even fans familiar with the main Pokemon games may be unfamiliar with the world built in this film, as it focuses on the story of Tim and Pikachu working to find Tim's detective father.
It's no shock at this point that Ryan Reynolds is good in a comedic role. Ever since he got thrown back into the spotlight thanks to Deadpool, he's been funny in everything he's appeared in, including in real life. So him as a smart talking Pikachu is the perfect platform for him. You can tell that he's very much enjoying himself in the role. Even as just a voice role, it's easily the strongest performance in the film. But then again, that isn't saying much.
Outside of Bill Nighy as the villain, all the secondary characters and Justice Smith really struggle to match Reynolds' energy. No one's performance is particularly bad, but they struggle to escape a monotone performance. Although everyone has small moments of potential, Kathryn Newton's performance as perky journalist Lucy Stevens really fails to go above her monotone performance. But this can't completely be blamed on her.
The story struggles to set up this world properly, leading to a very slow beginning with clunky transitions. Lucy's introduction especially is poorly framed and makes her seem like a different character than she is. It also forces her character into a corner and she's not allowed to do much else than be the perky journalist tag-along. The flashback sequences are also strange, as they don't act like traditional flashbacks. Plus, after the first one it's easy to guess the twist ending, but the twist ending is still pure-hearted even if it's predictable.
Really though, people coming to this film are more concerned with the Pokemon designs and fights, and those excel. All the Pokemon stay true to their original form while being edited so they don't look as creepy and seem like pets of the citizens in Ryme City. Plus, they continued to give these characters personality to make the crisis against Pokemon feel more important.
Overall, this is exactly what a summer blockbuster should be: the top billed actor is great while the other actors are okay, and whether or not the story is good, the actions/effects are great. This film is definitely better than a lot of video game films but it does still fall into some of the same problems every other video game film adaptation has. Maybe not worth paying for a full ticket, but I'd still recommend catching this as a rental if you're a fan of Pokemon. So keep an eye on your espresso addiction and happy watching!