I was working at Game as an idealistic 17-year-old when the first Pokemon games came out, and here we are 20 years on and I still love the games as much as I did back then. I never got into the anime heavily and now there’s like a million episodes and probably about 20 odd films now too, but I was excited at the prospect of watching Detective Pikachu when it was announced.
Justice Smith stars as Tim Goodman as he looks into the disappearance of his father assisted by his Pokemon, the Pikachu of the title who is voiced by Ryan Reynolds. The film also stars Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy but they’re very much there for support as the main focus is very much the relationship between Tim and Pikachu.
Ryan Reynolds is definitely a big get for the film, he gets to do a sort of kid-friendly version of Deadpool and it’s surprising how well it works for Pikachu. Reynolds has already proven he can work with humour while also conveying a sense of warmth, the team that made the film did very well to get him on board as he definitely adds something.
In terms of the plot it’s pretty by the book, that’s not a bad thing at all as there’s a lot to be said for a simple plot, it definitely plays it safe though. This film is more focussed on the dynamic between the two main characters and it succeeds on that front. What’s nice is that some of the jokes are definitely not aimed at kids, the Mr Mime interrogation scene is a particular highlight as it’s genuinely funny and also quite dark.
The big selling point for me was seeing the Pokemon in a real-world typesetting, it’s fun seeing them looking quite realistic and interacting with the world around them. Special effects are largely decent and the creature designs work really well, Mr Mime is utterly horrifying on multiple levels though. Obviously the stand out is Pikachu, the special effects for him are pretty amazing and I don’t think there was any point where I thought he looked out of place.
My only real complaint, aside from the plot, is that it didn’t really feature any Pokemon battling of note, though I totally understand that making it more like the main games would have potentially made it a bit more niche, whereas the film that’s been made is really accessible to everyone regardless of knowledge of the games and that’s definitely a good thing as I suspect it will make decent money at the cinema.
The film builds up enough of a world that a sequel is definitely possible, and given there are currently more than 800 Pokemon it’s got to be a marketing guy wet dream. This film is pretty great overall though, I’d go so far as to say that it’s possibly the best film based on a game I’ve seen to date, though I totally appreciate that’s something of a backhanded compliment.