"Pokemon: Detective Pikachu" Review

Updated on May 20, 2019
Logan Daniel Williamson profile image

Part-time Film Critic | Graduate Student at Columbia University


Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is a fast-paced action flick that will keep audience members engaged, if nothing else. Certainly, there are individual moments that are truly captivating, and dare I say, cinema gold. However, they are stifled by some of the cheesy, eye-roll inducing moments.

Justice Smith as Tim Goodman gives a passable performance. It is nothing to get excited about. Like he did in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, he has a sort of goofy awkwardness about his character. However, he seems to me like he is still in the rudimentary stages of his acting career, but he does, in fact, show potential. I will keep him on my radar, for sure.

Ryan Reynolds is probably the most fitting casting choice for the voice of Pikachu. He provides a lot of scintillating, quick-witted humor that we all have come to expect from Reynolds, except it doesn't quite match the tone of Deadpool (obviously), because distributors are reaching for a younger audience.

Also, Pikachu is so adorable in this film. He is seriously like a plush doll or stuffed animal come to life, and the sheer cuteness is almost unbearable. It honestly made me like the movie more, because I was so entranced by the aesthetics of the character.

The beginning of this movie is beautiful. It opens up to some "spearows" flying in formation over a meadow and swooping down over some "tauros" in a headbutt battle. The film succeeds when it shows the Pokemon in their natural habitats away from civilization and the hustle and bustle of the city. I liked the co-existence of Pokemon and humans in the metropolis known as Ryme City, but I wish the Pokemon were used more sparingly. When they were in the city, it felt like a trivia game to see how many creatures and critters I recognized and could name from the Pokemon universe. There was a bit of a Pokemon fatigue due to the large quantity of them on screen, and it often felt overstuffed.

I thought several Pokemon were used very cleverly and effectively as far as creature aesthetics and their respective moves and abilities. I only wish the filmmakers had taken a "less is more" approach in incorporating them on the screen. I know that the filmmakers were trying to service the fans, but being more conservative in the inclusion of Pokemon so they don't feel tacked on would've made for a better movie.

Oh, and speaking of being more conservative, Psyduck parroted his name one too many times in this film. It wasn't that big of a deal, but it certainly qualified as a mild annoyance.

Personally, I liked the film noir vibe that they were going for; the grays and the muted tones looked awesome, particularly in the criminal, underground world of Pokemon battles. The Charizard/Pikachu battle sequence was an exhilarating experience. As an admirer of great cinematography, that and one other birds-eye camera shot of the giant Torterras delighted the deepest chambers of my heart.

My main problem with this film is the ending. As a mystery, there are almost always elusive explanations for things, and I give the movie some latitude because it is marketed as a children's movie. However, the "twist" ending really left something to be desired for me. It felt rushed, and frankly, there were so many holes in the concept that the filmmakers should've never considered it to begin with. Also, the "big reveal" at the end was sort of predictable.

As a game-to-film adaptation, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu likely outstrips every other adaptation in every category. Certainly, it makes the Angry Birds movie seem like a bad joke, and Resident Evil can't hold a candle to it either. In any case, although there were issues in the movie that cannot be glossed over, I had a pleasurable experience watching it.

Rating: 5/10

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    © 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson


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