Detective Pikachu: The Enjoyable Video Game/Movie


Warner Bros.

Will you see Detective Pikachu in movies?

Tucker Price, Staff Writer

As a Pokemon fan, I was excited to learn that a Pokemon movie was being made…but also incredibly confused. The very first live action Pokemon movie was based on one of the least popular games in the franchise — Detective Pikachu. Despite my endless confusion, I chose to be cautiously optimistic. After finally seeing the film on Friday, May 10th, I was pleased to admit my expectations had been surpassed. However, I still had a few questions regarding the quality of the film. 

The concept is bizarre: The film follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) and his newly acquainted partner, a talking Pikachu with a knack for solving mysteries (Ryan Reynolds). Truly, the main star of the film is Pikachu. Ryan Reynolds gives the adorable creature undeniable charm and humor, though Pikachu’s design is not the one that we’re used to. The yellow ball of fur makes an incredible variety of jokes that appeal to the young and old alike, mixing crude fart jokes and much darker humor to create a comedic effect with almost universal appeal. However, the film is impossible to review without mentioning the controversial designs of the Pokemon. These new designs stray a little from the games in order to match the aesthetic of the film, but, for the most part, they are well done. When I first saw the trailer for Detective Pikachu, the designs were a little off-putting. However, the designs in the actual film weren’t nearly as bad. For Pokemon fans, it will be a bit jarring at first, but as the movie progresses, they will find themselves enjoying the film as well as the designs.

The non-Pokemon cast members are serviceable at the very least. Justice Smith relays some emotional scenes very well and delivers comedic lines exquisitely, but the semi-romantic dialogue between him and Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) falls a bit flat. Their entire romance is far-fetched yet mildly campy, giving it a small amount of charm. While the lines between them aren’t convincing, their exchanges are undeniably fun to watch.

The structure of the film is a little iffy, as everything is strong leading up to the climax but the third act gets a little too crazy. It seems that the writers were stumped on how to definitively wrap up the film, and instead decided to end the film with a discordant conclusion— an overlong action scene. The third act does not ruin the entire movie, though a flaw as large as this is impossible to ignore. Even so, the action sequence was enjoyable, despite it not making sense in the context of the story. However, as I mentioned before, I am a Pokemon fan, so take whatever I say on the subject with a grain of salt.

While the movie is not a masterpiece, it certainly is a fun watch. This is a family film, and is the first movie in a while that can actually be enjoyed by the whole family. The question still stands as to why the developers chose to start the franchise off with an concept as obscure as Detective Pikachu. The answer is simple, yet incredibly smart. This is a perfect way to introduce the average moviegoer to the world of Pokemon. Instead of focusing on the concepts of the main games (Pokemon battles, Gyms, Rivals, etc.), the movie focuses on the mystery and pure magic of the world of Pokemon as a whole, and instead of inadvertently alienating the audience with an unfamiliar world the film uses humor and intrigue to unite the audience in enjoyment and laughter. The act of setting a normal story in this world allows the viewer to acclimate to this strange new world, making the viewer curious about the world in which the story is set. This creates a sense of enjoyment in the viewer’s mind as new aspects of the world of Pokemon are revealed. After the movie has been out for a while viewers will start to hunger for more, eagerly awaiting the next film in the franchise. The makers of the film will be able to mix in some of the more obscure ideas of the Pokemon series, further immersing the viewer into this world. This possibility of enjoyment by everyone is a huge step for video game movies as a whole.

Final Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Though the concept is a little “out there”, Detective Pikachu is the best video game movie so far. The film is enjoyable despite its many flaws, as Ryan Reynolds shines, using his classic wit and voice talents. The other actors are fine, but not a great service to the movie overall. Structural as well as story issues toward the third act create a confusing and messy ending. Even so, the film is enjoyable, and is sure to please Pokemon fans and casual moviegoers alike.