Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

29 May 19

It has the cuteness and nostalgia expected of a Pokémon movie, but Reynolds snark is timid at best

Ryan Reynolds has been quite rightly riding a high recently thanks to the popularity of Deadpool and Deadpool 2, and Hollywood has become obsessed with squeezing every dollar from the global audiences by inserting his ever-dry sarcastic humour into as many intellectual properties as possible. The latest involves Reynolds voice acting for anime favourite Pikachu, in the first "live-action" Pokémon movie.

Of course, live-action is a term that is bandied about with little regard to the actual true meaning (just like all those teenage girls that claim they are "literally dying" when their eyebrows aren't on fleek). Pokémon Detective Pikachu is an amalgamated film with both live-action humans and CGI where the Pokémon are involved. These are actually the two major strengths of the film; Reynolds voice acting, and the beautifully rendered Pokémon.

Granted there is a certain amount of inconsistency in how the Pokémon have been digitally designed for the movie. Many of the smaller Pokémon are incredibly adorable with soft fur, glossy eyes, and little button noses, but at the same time, many of the larger Pokémon are created with a much darker, more sinister look. It creates uncertainty when you are trying to pinpoint the demographic that the studio is trying to target. The film is clearly based on an anime that is targeted at young audiences, and yet some of the darker set and character designs could scare a younger child.

The film tries to have its cake and eat it too, attempting to service the needs of both young fans of the current generations of Pokémon, as well as the older audiences that are drawn to the film for its snarky humour and nostalgia value. The writers chose the Pokémon that would feature very well, choosing to focus mostly on the first generation Pokémon; larger roles go to the likes of Pikachu, Mr Mime, Charizard, Bulbasaur, Mewtwo, and Psyduck.

If you are happy to see animated Pokémon brought to life in a "real-world" setting, with a semi-cohesive plot, then the film certainly delivers. Pokémon Detective Pikachu is not going to win any awards for its dialogue, scripting, or character development. It's simply showing you Pokémon with a more realistic design, and when you watch Pikachu unruffling his fur, or appreciate the gorgeous vibrant colours in Bulbasaur eyes, it fills you with a sense of childish glee.

A fun, family-friendly, buddy-cop film, the plot is much more human-centric than I would have liked. The Pokémon are the highlight of the film and the poorly written script doesn't do justice to the human actors (Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy). Really, the entire film hinges on Reynolds performance, and he does really well considering the human aspect is brought to the forefront.

It's exactly what you expect. Completely predictable if you put any thought into it, with a pretty straightforward story. But with some absolutely fabulous character designs and some comedic gold from Ryan Reynolds, Pokémon Detective Pikachu succeeds at creating an overwhelmingly positive experience.