Video Game Movies Have Been Cracked – Detective Pikachu Review

GameStop, Inc.

Detective Pikachu has cracked the case of how to make a good video game movie – Detective Pikachu Review

While I won’t say this is the first good video game movie, I love Mortal Kombat, rather enjoyed Dead or Alive, and liked both first Tomb Raider movies, Detective Pikachu is easily the biggest video game movie to date. By biggest, I mean most recent big name game title movie I can think of. I am not going to do any research or any additional justification. And to be frank, Warner Bros. and The Pokemon Company has a hit, and it is super effective.

Detective Pikachu focuses on Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), an early 20’s insurance adjuster who gave up on his dream of becoming a Pokemon trainer. Tim received a call about his distant father who passed away in Rime City. Tim travel’s to Rime City and meets with his father’s lieutenant, Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe). Lt. Hide gives Tim more information on his father and his passing, but Tim just wants to get the keys to his father’s apartment to settle his affairs and move on. At the apartment, Tim is surprised by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), who wants to know what Tim’s father found. Tim knows nothing, about it and goes into the apartment. In the apartment, Tim finds a vial marked “R” and accidentally releases the chemicals within it. Soon after he meets Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and is wildly freaked out about being able to understand him. After surviving the Aipoms who went berserk after interacting with the chemical Tim released, Tim and Pikachu decide to team up to find out the truth behind Tim’s father’s supposed murder. (I’m really not a fan of writing synopsizes)

Detective Pikachu is a fun, gorgeously realized movie that will be an absolute joy for Pokemon fans. The beautifully rendered Pokemon will undoubtedly have audiences smiling from ear to ear. I cannot emphasize enough, how happy seeing Pokemon in the “real world” will make people. For Pokemon fans, that alone is worth the price of admission. The movie’s draw is hands down, the Pokemon. Seeing a world inhabited and populated by these magical creatures is a dream come true for many. Watching their behaviors in conjunction and contrast to humans is a pure pleasure. If you can watch Pikachu drink coffee and not smile, or not drop your jaw when Blastoise takes on Gengar, you are not a fan of the franchise.

Story and performance wise, it is not an incredibly deep story. Not to say it’s shallow or anything, there is enough depth and heartwarming moments tingle the feels. But, you won’t be surprised by it as you would be from Toy Story. Ryan Reynolds absolutely brings his unique brand of sarcasm, wit, and charm to Pikachu, in a way that is distinguishable from Deadpool. This is not to say, you won’t make the connection, and Reyolds developed an entirely new persona because he obviously was cast to play himself. But he does do enough that you won’t see the two as the same character. Justice Smith’s performance is solid. He is the emotional center of the movie, and Smith does a great job of getting you to empathize with him and also laugh at him for being a little awkward. I personally enjoy him as Tim as it is completely different from his character from The Get Down. Ken Watanabe is highly under-utilized. He does have some great moments with a Snubull, but is otherwise negligible. However, of all the performers, Kathryn Newton was the most underused. Lucy Stevens is a strong and capable character but doesn’t really have enough to show how capable she is. Newton brings it in the screen time she gets, but sadly it’s not quite enough to impactfully stand out. The movie isn’t hurt by her absence, but it could have definitely elevated the film a bit more. Again, everything was done well, and yes it could’ve bee better, but it is no way disappointing story/performance wise.

As smile-inducing and fun as the movie is, it has a lot of missed opportunities that I found a bit disappointing. First, there was a place called “Wynaut’s Donuts.” And I thought that was brilliant, and believed I would see tons of Pokemon based puns and wordplay throughout the movie. Sadly, that was also the last of it, as most of the other shop text were in Japanese. Secondly, there could have been more references and easter eggs. There are plenty, but very few seem to land as you would hope.  They provide a passive, “Oh, cool.” feeling instead of “WOAH, DID YOU NOTICE THAT?” Maybe if I could read Japanese, I would have noticed more. They’re there, there will be plenty of videos pointing them out, so hopefully, you will see and feel what I mean. The biggest disappointment, there are no Officer Jennys and No Nurse Joys. This stems from my second gripe, but I feel warranted a separate and specific mentioning. The main story does revolve around a Detective, so would it have been so hard to incorporate Officer Jenny? Nurse Joy, I understand a bit more, but Office Jenny seems like such an obvious fit. Sometimes, low hanging fruit should be picked, and this is definitely one of those cases.

After the movie, I noticed people were split into two camps: those who grew up on Pokemon, and those that did not. Those that did, enjoyed the movie. Those that didn’t, weren’t fans. That being said, if you are looking to get into Pokemon, this is not the film to do it. Maybe if you’re a kid and younger, yeah great way introduction. However, if you were born before the 90’s, and were not playing the games or watching the show, this will likely not suddenly make you a fan.

Detective Pikachu is a fun and joy-inspiring movie that will excite and elate fans of the Pokemon franchise. It wonderfully creates a world that fans have undoubtedly dreamed of, and gives us the best possible experience of it. Non-fans will likely feel indifferent about the movie, and understandably so. The Pokemon serve as an inside joke, and lacking knowledge and connection to the franchise keep you from being in on the joke. So if you read other reviews about not liking the movie, please keep that in mind. Yes there are some missed opportunities, and not quite enough to give all the characters their due, but honestly, none of that will matter. Fans will show up, and leave with cheeks sore from smiling. Detective Pikachu is a fun and must watch movie for Pokemon fans. My Detective Pikachu review gets a 3.5/5

Detective Pikachu releases Friday, May 10th, 2019. Tickets on sale now

 

 

Detective Pikachu Review
3.5

TLDR

Detective Pikachu is a fun and joy-inspiring movie that will excite and elate fans of the Pokemon franchise. It wonderfully creates a world that fans have undoubtedly dreamed of, and gives us the best possible experience of it. Non-fans will likely feel indifferent about the movie, and understandably so. The Pokemon serve as an inside joke, and lacking knowledge and connection to the franchise keep you from being in on the joke. So if you read other reviews about not liking the movie, please keep that in mind. Yes there are some missed opportunities, and not quite enough to give all the characters their due, but honestly, none of that will matter. Fans will show up, and leave with cheeks sore from smiling. Detective Pikachu is a fun and must watch movie for Pokemon fans.

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