Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” Review: an awe-inspiring mystery

May 10, 2019

I have never been a Pokémon fan. Even amidst the “Pokémon GO” craze, I’ve always found it difficult to get into the franchise. Yet something about “Detective Pikachu” promptly compelled me to take an immediate interest in the film. “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” is an awe-inspiring adventure that is able to authentically bring the property to life. A perfectly balanced dose of comedy and heart, the film is able to present itself in a way that can interest fans both new and old.

What really caught my eye with the film is the extremely ambitious visual style of the Pokémon world. In a time where nostalgic properties are criticized for deviating too much from the original look, “Detective Pikachu” truly manages to capture a quality that is filled with nuance while still adhering to the source material. An eye-popping combination of live action and animation, the visuals genuinely draw the audience in as it is presented to make them feel like they are a part of the world. Much of this is credited to the extensive world-building as the film quickly establishes how humans and Pokémon coexist, making the environment feel alive. A sincerely unique style that is brilliantly imagined, the film sets new standards for how animated properties can translate into live action.  

Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu. Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

In a somewhat surprising turn for Ryan Reynolds, the movie is made to mostly appeal to kids, despite the “Deadpool” actor being the lead. It’s clear that the filmmakers knew what kind of performance they would get from Reynolds as the film walks a very fine line towards adult comedy. It’s miraculous that the film was able to maintain a PG rating, especially considering some of the jokes Reynolds is able to make. Reynolds balances charm and comedy with ease, as he brings the title character to life while also amplifying the world around him.

But even a vivid world and charismatic cast cannot save the film from being overly simplistic. Although retaining much of the details until the end, the mystery of the movie can quickly be deciphered within minutes of the opening titles. Even after audiences hastily solve the main mystery, the film keeps a predictable quality throughout as the plot moves as expected. Although not as much of a problem for younger viewers, it is a dire one for older audiences because the film must fight to keep them engaged with characters or comedy.

Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton in “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.” Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” does exactly what a live-action Pokémon movie should do. The movie clearly has various nods and easter eggs that will excite longtime fans, but it is also done in a style that will welcome new fans to the franchise. It’s a film that is able to appeal to the masses while keeping the heart and spirit of the original cartoons. Mixed with charming characters, edgy comedy and dynamic effects, the film is awe-inspiring as it pulls audiences into the world that has created.

Verdict: ★★★★

“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” is in theaters May 10th.

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