Detective Pikachu: a fondness for pocket monsters required for maximum enjoyment. Part of what makes the film special is its ability to bring the famed Pokémon to the big screen without ruining anyone’s childhood or being bad, but the absence of bad does not remove the predictability of the project’s final result, and reminiscent of last year’s Tomb Raider adaptation, is nothing more than fine.
After a car accident leaves a detective killed and a partner Pikachu missing, the detective’s son returns to his father’s home in Ryme City, where human and Pokémon live harmoniously. As Tim (the son) discovers more about his father’s sudden death, a much more sinister project is found to be in development.
Why do we go to a Jurassic Park film? Or why will we be going to the upcoming Godzilla movie? For the human characters? I sure as hell hope not. Detective Pikachu falls under the same category of having that one thing drawing audiences in, and that is Pokémon. So, the most crucial thing for the film to get right will be the Pokémon and Detective Pikachu does that. Not only is the animation solid, but a variety of the more popular Pokémon show up throughout the film and are portrayed accurately (Psyduck being my favorite). And how does Ryan Reynolds perform as the face of Pokémon? Well, he’s Ryan Reynolds so the answer is perfectly fine. Reynolds brings his trademark snarky, sarcastic humor to the little, yellow guy and the contrast of his voice to the appearance of Pikachu adds another touch of humor to the pair up.
Not to rag on Justice Smith, because quite frankly it isn’t his fault, but Detective Pikachu does struggle in not only developing interesting characters but creating them. Like I said earlier, these movies aren’t about the human characters, but do we really have to neglect them? Tim is a little quirky but he’s also not much more than a grieving insurance worker. When the characters fail to be interesting it becomes difficult to invest in them, and so the more emotional moments will suffer. Pikachu is the only character worth rooting for, and I did not care about the fate of anyone else (except Psyduck).
What Detective Pikachu does well is create the world of Ryme City, home of both man and Pokémon. The city is full of lights and energy yet contrasts that with a noir aesthetic; its slick image draws inspiration from London, and feels like a living, breathing place. Everyone walking the streets has their own buddy Pokémon by their side, and the dynamic between the two groups feels more like a partnership than that of an owner and pet, although there are undertones of that type of relationship as well.
Detective Pikachu is simple fun, not much more. There is a lingering feeling of untapped potential here, but for what we got, I am satisfied. 7/10