Movie reviews by
2 (out of 4)
Like the Jack Sparrow of his own Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Ryan Reynolds is the recurring grace note keeping Detective Pikachu at all bearable. If it weren’t for his hapless ad-libbing, the first live-action Pokémon movie would be a true bust rather than the year's most forgettable summer flick for the whole family.
The actual narrative within the quasi-mystery of this Roger Rabbit-rip-off is pretty pitiful but Detective Pikachu thankfully doesn't rely entirely on nostalgia to secure your investment. The updated poké-politics – I suppose it is a little cramped inside those pokéballs – try to finagle the ridiculous reality of Pocket Monsters into a framework vaguely fit for live-action spaces. But nondescript lead characters in Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton, unmistakable bad guy Bill Nighy and some abysmal visual effects do not help the cause of this so-called urban fantasy. Plus no matter how many dead parents there are the film never gets even remotely emotional.
Now’s the moment to bellyache like I resemble a real fan: I grew up with Pokémon – the trading cards, the action figures, the television series and of course the video games – and had a peculiar attachment to the property. This PG movie is inspired by the 2016 game of the same name, undoubtedly placing its bets on the freshest, most susceptible generation of fans. Still, when you hope to see such fantastical delirium in a tangible setting, you'd like classic characters filling in not only the foreground but the edges as well. Favorites like Psyduck, Mr. Mime and Mewtwo are on the front lines, but the background is teeming with the most witless ideas those Japanese creators ever conceived. I could be doubly upset at the lack of an Ash Ketchum storyline but the gripes continue since Rob Letterman's film settles for a mediocre visual spirit when the bracing anime style of the original show and early films could've been cleverly converted.
But, like many mainstream blockbusters, this movie was not created with only myself in mind. Tweens and younger are probably gonna lose their minds watching Detective Pikachu. All I know is the first animated Pokémon movie from 20 years back didn’t require Pikachu to act human in order to convey the master-trainer bond with Ash. Primitive as the idea of battling is as each film in question suggests, the reverent relationship between man and the creatures of nature was always the point. Detective Pikachu has taken extraordinary effort to write its way around this crucial element of the world of Pokémon in order to have the Deadpool guy say funny things.
You’re better off watching Pokémon 3 if you want an actual story and not just placeholder plotting, weightless CGI and middling humor.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
The Current War,
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice