Pokémon Detective Pikachu, by normal film standards, is decent. It’s a competently put together family film (seriously! It’s actually a PG and not 12A!), that isn’t particularly taxing and looks really cute. Plus of course, Ryan Reynolds.
But looking at it differently, as say a fan for twenty years, and you’ll see that
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is an ode to all that we love about the franchise. It shows us exactly why it’s been so around so long and continues to enthral kids and older kids worldwide. How so?
This film plays it straight, and in doing so taps into something that anyone with even a passing interest in the phenomenon can understand. That something is a thought – “How cool would it be if Pokémon existed in our world?”
On this front it’s an absolute winner. If you know your Pidgey from your Primeape, you’re going to love it. Even if you don’t, shed that jaded, adult, cynical flesh and just enjoy it.
The design work on this film is immense. We intrinsically know that Pokémon have fur etc, but they’re simple designs don’t generally account for it. Moving the designs into the real world could have made for some very upsetting images, but I didn’t see one Pokémon that didn’t feel right. From the awesomely cute Kanto starters, all the way through to Lickitung, the merge of real and CGI is strikingly effective. Weirdly the only scenes that take you out of the movie CGI-wise barely involve Pokémon.
There will be a lot about how this film performs as a video game adaptation. Generally they’ve been poor, managing to recreate scenes but rarely the feeling or emotion. That’s where Pokémon Detective Pikachu gets things spot on; it shows you what things could be like if the dream was true. That there’s a strong Ryan Reynolds performance in the shape of a fantastically realised Pikachu is the icing on the cake.
Reynolds is just one part of a cast that grab hold of the material and makes the most of it. Even Bill Nighy is game, which helps when the movie itself gets a bit messy in it’s third act.
This entire enterprise sounded ridiculous. But the final result will prove a lot of people wrong. Some people will see the story coming from a mile off, and some just won’t get the appeal. That’s ok. But for those that do, there’s a world of possibilities that has just opened up. If future films continue to tell tales that use Pokémon as a window into stories rather than using them as a crutch, we should look forward to more.
Whilst you’re here, why not check out my review of the latest game?