Disclaimer: This is the first Pokémon related media I have ever seen. Pokémon is a worldwide, massive franchise that I know little to nothing about. I never grew up playing the games, collecting the cards, or watching the show. The only thing I would know or recognize from this franchise is whatever has been referenced in other mediums of pop culture. So I am going into this movie blind and completely unbiased. What made me interested in going to see this movie was Ryan Reynolds’ involvement, an adorable Pikachu design, and some pretty great trailers. Walking out of Detective Pikachu I can say I overall enjoyed my first Pokémon experience.
Is Detective Pikachu a really great or fantastic film? No, not really, but it definitely can be a good time for families and kids to go see. I think that’s really important to keep in mind. This is a kid’s movie made for kids. That’s not to say there isn’t something for the adults to enjoy too. Ryan Reynolds is by far the best part of this whole project. He essential just plays himself, pretty much Deadpool without all the cursing, which totally works. I’m not complaining, it’s what he does best, and for this movie, it works really well. The voice work matches perfectly with the excellent character design work done on Pikachu. Ryan Reynolds’ voice never feels out of place coming out of this adorable Pokémon.
Pikachu is absolutely adorable. A part of me just wanted to see this movie just to watch how cute he was, and it did not disappoint. In fact, all the Pokémon designs here are great. I’d say that was the second best part of this movie is the world building. Ryme City feels like a lived in, inhabited world. The blend between humans and Pokémon works so well. I would really like to see more of that city and how all these Pokémon interact and work every day with humans and how they coexist. The animators took the time to make sure these beloved Pokémon were getting a proper treatment and looking their absolute best they can, unlike some movies. Sonic the Hedgehog anyone? You do not need to be a Pokémon fan to enjoy the world created in this movie or to enjoy the characters throughout. There are references and call outs to other Pokémon things that I’m sure fans will love (or at least I’m guessing, again I know nothing about this) that will go over someone like me’s head. I never once felt like I was missing anything from this movie that would ruin my experience by not being a prior fan.
As I said, this is a kids movie. Meaning a of the story and mystery is spelled out a lot to the audience. Lots of scenes where character explain how they feel and dump exposition onto us, or we get quite a few scenes of flashbacks as well. It’s also a fairly predictable mystery. I was able to guess at least the big twists and reveals of the movie right of the top. But I feel that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. The exposition got a little annoying for sure. A new clue would pop up, and I would already have figured it out, but the characters would then have to explain it out loud so that the younger kids in the theater knew what was going. Things like that were annoying, but again, it is a kids’ movie. As much explaining as they do, it never feels like they are talking down to kids. Just for adults, the explaining gets a little heavy handed.
Justice Smith is a fun, likable guy in this movie. He’s not overly annoying like he was in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I found his chemistry with Pikachu to be really fun and sweet. As for some of the other human characters, they can be a little over the top. Kathryn Newton, who plays a young reporter trying to get the scoop on the mystery of the movie, overcooks her performance. It comes across as a Disney channel, cheesy performance, especially in her introduction scene. She becomes seemingly more realistic with her performance as the movie progresses, but her first few scenes were quite cringy. Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe, well doing a good job, are underused and don’t have much to do other than a few scenes in the movie.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a fun, easy watch for families to go see and enjoy. This is a kids movie, but it has something for adults to enjoy as well. With Ryan Reynolds being a scene stealer, adults seeing this movie are sure to have a kick out of it. If you are a Pokémon fan, you will not be disappointed with the representation of the Pokémon on screen and the exciting world of Ryme City. Yes, there are some problems with how the movie relays information mainly in its overuse of exposition, but I believe Pokémon Detective Pikachu will be a good time for kids, and the adults bringing them to go see it.