May 21, 2019 – Vinz Lamorena
Pikachu doesn’t just talk, he’s got some sass. This particular Pokémon sure has evolved on the screen in ways we didn’t expect it to. In the first live-action film of the Pokémon series, moviegoers are allowed inside the head of the franchise’s undoubtedly most famous character—a cuddly yellow electric mouse.
“Detective Pikachu” is essentially science fiction for kids—and, more importantly, kids at heart. That’s what makes this movie special. It transforms the wildest of fiction into some sort of reality—a reality generations of fans have longed to be part of. As it shows a world where the fauna are different Pokémon types, it does nothing but reinforce that longtime geeky wish to have Pokemon in real life.
It also manages to pull off a meta narrative for the 90s kids through its lead, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith). Tim’s greatest childhood dream was to become a Pokémon trainer. Like the generation that grew up with this pop culture sensation, Tim has outgrown his interest for these characters. But it is in this 2-hour hyperrealistic adventure that he begins to rekindle his love for Pokémon, much like the older viewers in the audience.
The most famous cities around the world, which includes London, New York, and Tokyo meet their match in the fictional utopia of Ryme City, where people and Pokémon live peacefully together. While a new setting is introduced, the movie makes a lot of callbacks to the known Johto, Kanto, and Sinnoh regions, stringing the three places into the live-action universe.
There are no Pokémon battles in this area. Here, Squirtles are firefighters, Charmanders help cook street food, and one unique Pikachu is a detective with the voice of Ryan Reynolds—but let us reassure you that any qualms you may have regarding the personality of Deadpool bleeding into Pikachu will dissipate as the movie trudges along.
Reynolds as Pikachu isn’t as horrific as one feared. His role makes much sense in this comedic mystery film, all because Detective Pikachu isn’t supposed to be like all the others we’ve seen before. They needed a caffeine-obsessed oddball for this one. Everything about this Pikachu is off-character because the narrative required it—it wasn’t just some risky stint they wanted to pull off.
Rob Letterman’s video game adaptation is the best the Pokémon Company has ever offered. It takes its time to recognize Pokémon lore and understand just how it can be used to enrich its own plot. Much like the Nintendo gameplay which was first released in 2016, the movie has Tim searching for his estranged father with the help of Detective Pikachu. They retrace Harry’s investigations to figure out where fate has brought him.
In their search for Tim’s father, they meet news intern Lucy (Kathryn Newton), who reminds us a lot of Misty from the animated series. She even has Psyduck as her chosen sidekick. The duo uncovers that the city’s hero has been meddling with the laws of evolution to emerge as the strongest being of all.
“Detective Pikachu” definitely delivers a level of cuteness you won’t get over quickly, but it’s also the kind of family movie that will imprint its own brand of emotional warmth in you. It also rewards its longtime fans the satisfying realization of countless theories they can come up with as the story brings its viewers from scene to scene.
It isn’t much different from the games it’s based from, so the turns it takes are unequivocally predictable. However, instead of building disappointment, these turned out to be gratifying fulfillments of speculations.
Photos courtesy of Warner Brothers. Catch this flick in selected cinemas this week.
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