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‘Detective Pikachu’ Review: A Fun, Cute, and Thoughtful Entry Into the World of Pokémon

CR: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

When I first heard about the Detective Pikachu movie part of me was confused and pessimistic, even more so when Ryan Reynolds was announced as Pikachu. Hearing Pikachu talk like Deadpool, minus the swearing and innuendos, seemed strange at first. But as the marketing increased online, I was quickly warmed by the daring and bold attempt to adapt the world of Pokémon in live action.  My excitement increased as the trailers revealed more of my favourite Pokémon like

Growlithe, Eevee, Psyduck, Charizard, and eventually Mewtwo in an epic reveal.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a special screening of Detective Pikachu in London. Here are some pictures just to show you how the screening went down.

Image via Fan Fest
Image via Fan Fest

Before I jump into the review, here is a fresh reminder as to what Detective Pikachu is all about.

The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting a great story since I thought the film would be purely focused on introducing this unique world where Pokémon are real living, and sometimes dangerous, creatures. What I got was actually a well-crafted crime film that was fun, heart-warming, thoughtful, and exciting. Despite this being aimed at a younger audience… and despite knowing that a majority of the audience will, in fact, be adults, the film dealt with some really deep topics like grief, guilt, and even corruption in a way that felt reminiscent to Zootopia.

While the story was centered on Pikachu and Tim, I didn’t feel like I needed to see more Pokémon. As a fan of the original series and films and as an avid player, what I saw felt like a wonderful array that honestly requires multiple watches to ensure that you notice ‘em all. I also believe this was a good starting point. While there were certainly some well known and popular Pokémon in the film, the potential for the future in this cute universe is amazing. On one end I was completely ecstatic with what I saw and on the other, I was excited for what could come next. There are hundreds of Pokémon to deal with and Detective Pikachu is a great introduction to a mere few.

The entire film works really well. Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu was a genius move that I didn’t see coming. When someone mentions Pikachu, the last thing I would expect is Ryan Reynolds but he really is the heart and fun of the film. The additional cast members also do really well to stand out. With a film like this, the majority of the audience are there to see the Pokémon. This is the first time fans have seen live action Pokémon so it’s no surprise that everyone was pointing out every new Pokémon they saw and smiling at how they’ve been brought to life. So, the fact that the cast did really well to stand out among the cute and crazy Pokémon really highlights how much thought went into this film.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

If you’re a fan of Pokémon I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this film. In terms of Pokémon adaptations, I do believe this was an odd one to start with but it does a wonderful job of setting up this unique world that is supported by an interesting and surprising story that can be enjoyed by all ages. Despite it being mentioned and seen briefly, I would have loved to have seen more Pokémon dueling and maybe a slight focus on some Pokéball action. These are not massive criticisms, in fact, I would even call them compliments. The fact this film was able to successfully nail Pokémon without including, arguably, the most recognizable aspects of Pokémon is very impressive. However, it would have been great to have seen both in relation to Tim’s childhood.

I urge all Pokémon fans to see this. I do think that being a fan will benefit you when watching this, but I think Detective Pikachu provides a decent entry point into the wide world of Pokémon, so even if you can’t name every single Pokémon, there is a lot to love about this film. I guarantee after watching you’ll be digging out your Pokémon cards, rotating your hats backwards, and remembering the first time you encountered Pokémon. I even went and bought the first film on DVD immediately afterwards. The nostalgia hits you hard.

Detective Pikachu is due out on May 10th and stars Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens, Ken Watanabe as Hide Yoshida, and Ryan Reynolds as the cute and lovable Pikachu.

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