Finally, after much anticipation, Detective Pikachu has hit U.S theaters. This is Hollywood’s first attempt at a live action pokemon movie and with an all star cast that includes Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds, we were all excited to see what the movie had in store for us. Would it be another flop like a magikarp out of water or will it be a bolt of brilliance?
Detective Pikachu takes place in Rhyme City where people and Pokémon live together in harmony. Our main protagonist is Tim Goodman. Tim’s father, Harry Goodman, has gone missing and the only one who can help him find his father is Harry’s partner Pokémon, Pikachu. Somehow only Tim can understand Pikachu and together they retrace Harry’s steps which leads them to discover why Harry disappeared as well as a nefarious plot that threatens the peace of their world. If you want to compare the plot of the movie to the videogame, they are relatively similar in concept, but it is almost like comparing apples to oranges. They have the same concept but how the stories are told is where they differ. Of course, this is Hollywood taking creative liberty, but it doesn’t negatively impact the movie. If anything, the movie could stand on its own if the videogame did not exist.
That isn’t to say the writing was perfect though. Movie based games aren’t very famous for their writing. Most of them have a track record of insulting the audience with bad comedy, a nonsense plot, and a severe lack of character development or likeability. Detective Pikachu is refreshing in its ability to avoid most if not all these flaws. As far cons go, the plot can be predictable whether you have played the games or not. The humor can be cheesy, but it is cushioned by Pikachu’s sarcastic remarks. These writing flaws can easily be overlooked though. The humor does its best in setting the tone for awkward moments and lightening the mood. Fans who have seen the animated series and movies can feel familiar with the live action’s writing style as it captures the same effect the animation does. This allows the predictability to be obvious but not overly glaring or tedious as well as leaving room for surprise twists.
It can only be imagined how much fun acting out the writing was. Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds certainly gave us an idea though. While the other character’s writing was flat, the actors gave performances that brought some life to them, but the main characters Tim and Pikachu certainly stole the show. Smith’s performance could be over the top and dramatic at times making his character out to be silly, but as Tim’s character develops and matures it balanced out the silliness. Reynolds portrays a semi-serious, caffeine addicted Pikachu and there is no doubt this aided Smith’s performance. Pikachu’s whimsical quips and outspoken thoughts fluidly compliments Tim’s overreaction and awkward expressions which led to a smooth development in relationship between these two characters.
Nothing could make the acting better than the animation. It may be odd to say that, but the bread and butter of the film couldn’t be more obvious. The CG animation was visually appealing and made for fluid interactions between the actors. This animation painted the picture all Pokémon fans dreamed of, a world where Pokémon exist in real life. At first the CG could be a little jarring since fans are used to 2D animation from the series, but as you watch the movie the Pokémon begin to naturally fit into the live action setting. They start to appear like everyday animals that belong in the real world, even Pokémon moves begin to look natural. It’s fluid, consistent, easy on the eyes, and a blast to watch during Pokémon battles.
Weaving all these elements together is the music. Although Bonnie Tyler and Louis Armstrong introduced us to the movie in the trailer, the score was what you would expect from a Pokémon movie. Despite outliers like dubstepping loudred, which did its job in setting to atmosphere for a scene, the soundtrack had remixed classics and original music that some would agree was fit for a video game let alone a video game-based movie. The music definitely made the movie that much more fun to watch.
Out of all the Pokémon movies Detective Pikachu certainly isn’t the best but compared to other attempts at a live action video game movie it certainly is the best like no one ever was. It utilizes Pokémon lore down to pokedex entries, the animation brings childhood nostalgia to life like we’ve never seen before, the writing is what you would expect from Pokémon, and the music brings a level of fun to the already pleasing visual effects. This movie can be thoroughly enjoyed by old Pokémon fans, new fans, and audiences that have never played the games. Detective Pikachu is a must see movie of 2019.