I remember very well the day the trailer of
The detective Pokémon Pikachu has been abandoned. We witnessed the contemporary birth of Pikachu's surprised meme. Hell, the film release proposed was in itself a meme. Ryan Reynolds is Pikachu! The Merc with a Mouth plays the role of a yellow electric mouse! But eventually, people started to settle in (they were also distracted by the appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog, his rival, Pikachu) and began to consider the possibilities. So what do we have here then?
Something is preparing for Ryme. A metropolis where human beings and creatures known as Pokemon live and work together, Tim Goodman (Judge Smith) arrives there to handle the affairs of his dead father, who is believed to be dead. A young man who at one point wanted Pokémon's life as a coach, Tim did not plan on hanging around for a long time. But things change quickly when he meets Pikachu, the partner of his old Pokémon (voiced by Deadpool), who has no memory of recent events and who wears a nice detective hat. Oh, and for whatever reason, Tim is the only person who can understand it, which raises even more questions. The couple quickly deduces that Harry Goodman is still alive and, with the help of passionate intern journalist Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), are working together to find Tim's father. A series of events that could lead them to face a certain powerful Pokémon, while unveiling an evil plot.
First, it is wise to enter this franchise through the back door that is the continuity of Detective Pikachu. This film would have been confronted with impossible obstacles to tell if it had focused on Pokémon's head coach, Ash Ketchum, and his adventures. It would not have survived a closer examination. And that's where the film's greatest challenge lies: coping with the critics of Pokemon fans and mocking critics. Whose I am both.
I am pleased to inform you that the Pokemon Detective Pikachu is doing a lot of work to keep it going.
This is not only the best video game we've ever received (critically, the movie), but it's also the best live action movie.
Pokémon movie we could have asked. The city of Ryme looks amazing. With the inevitable exception of Mr. Mime, every Pokemon has been rendered to an almost perfect life. Yes, that includes Likitung. And the logistics of this world works with the broader concept of franchising. Although, thanks to an awkward exposure of the first act, the newcomers are not impressed by the reason why the blue turtles help extinguish the fires.
Director Rob Letterman has now proven himself in successful adaptation of the nostalgic properties of the 90s, the first in 2014 being Goosebumps. He and his production team are working hard to tell this story and make it work. At the same time, his film has no qualms about talking about monsters living in children's pockets and used to fight. This is something that most video game movies are not comfortable with: accept that they are adapted from video games.
Where things are not going, it's in the story mentioned above. The plot picks up some aspects of Detective Pikachu's game and, even though it remains globally consistent, the mystery that unfolds is quite predictable. Especially the last turn. Most clues discovered by Tim Goodman and Pikachu are exposed through technology-based sequences and are not as organic as they could have been. It's not fun to get clues, you have to work for them.
The dialogue, especially that of the secondary characters, adds to this gap. They are themselves a mixed bag. Ken Watanabe as detective Hideo Yoshida is a legitimate addition, although underutilized. Bill Nighy and Chris Geere are doing well as a father and son duo. However, Kathryn Newton's Lucy is obnoxious. I can not say if it works so interpreted as an anime-inspired performance, but his character quickly becomes frustrating and we only have to enjoy it for his companion, Psyduck.
But all this plays the second and third violins of the main character. There is a lot of Ryan Reynold's Pikachu in this film, as it should be. He is funny. He is cute. It is fabulously written. It is the only reason that parents do not fear to see the movie with their children. He has an immediate chemistry with Judge Smith and Smith is well able to allow Reynold's attitude and comments. Smith is also good at delivering emotional legitimacy. He may still have to learn to cry on command, but the weight he provides works with the larger context of the plot. It's quite unintentional, but I like the way he seems confused about his negative feelings towards his father. Time can do this to a person and his memories. Pikachu and Tim remain in the foreground throughout the film and the film itself is entertaining all the way through.
Fans may be disappointed by the lack of Pokémon battles in this film and by the negligence towards the synopsis of this franchise. It would have been nice to see more coaches and their adventures. But the story and visuals, as well as Reynold's voice and facial movement capture performance, make up for this deficiency and the inevitable sequel of the film should answer the call. In addition, compliments should be addressed to the musical score of Henry Jackman. That reminded me of his score for Wreck-It Ralph and his techno-pop side does wonders for the atmosphere.
The important thing to remember when watching Pokémon Detective Pikachu is that its reach is intergenerational. People may forget that the franchise is aimed primarily at young children, and the overall performance bears witness to this. The story is simple and the characters are strange. The visuals are colorful and the writing is never complicated. That's fine, but Ryan Reynolds drops a joke about drug use. It works because it feels in place and that it is subtle enough to get out of it. The deep and nuanced moments of Pokémon are perhaps rare (to prove that the franchise is one, see I choose you! And The power of us), but the film does not need to go too far to succeed to be both an excellent live adaptation and a fun watch. What it is.
Last update: May 16, 2019