By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the Pokemon franchise and on the video game of the same name, this film adaptation does offer some entertaining comedy, mostly courtesy of the hilarious voice work by star Ryan Reynolds. Fans of the pop culture franchise are sure to find much enjoyment in the jokes, references and characters. As for the uninitiated audience members, there is enough solid world building and decent story telling to keep therm interested. Still, as the mystery begins to get revealed, the story begins to unravel a little. Detective Pokemon may be a fun and enjoyable film, but it definitely is not a game changer.
Justice Smith stars as Tim Goodman, a young man recently faced with the untimely disappearance and possible death of his estranged father. His father, a Ryme police detective, was investigating some underground criminal activity involving illegal Pokemon battles and an enhancement drug known as “R.” When Tim arrives to his father’s home, he encounters his father’s Pokemon partner Pikachu (Reynolds) and is somehow able to communicate with him. Though Pikachu suffers from memory loss due to freak accident, he remembers Tim’s father well and wants to help Tim find him. As the two pickup Detective Goodman’s case, they soon realize that those who stand to lose out because of the investigation will do anything to stop them.
Written and directed by Rob Letterman, who co-wrote with Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, and Derek Conolly, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is a fun movie overall, but one that lacks an original villainous plot. As the villains and their intentions are revealed, the film shows that its “big reveal” is just a rehash from plenty of other movies, and one that doesn’t entirely ake any sense. It doesn’t particularly have much logical sense, even within the fantasy world of Pokemon. I found this rather frustrating, as I had hoped this mystery actually builds to something remarkable. It doesn’t.
All the same, I still had fun getting to this point. Letterman, his writers and crew do great work to create the fantasy and even make it accessible to those unfamiliar with this universe. Granted, fans will certainly enjoy this world building much more than nonfans. Still, there is plenty of humor to be enjoyed by all kinds of audience members.
Once again, Ryan Reynolds flexes his comedic chops, but keeps it much clearer this time. His vibrant personality, comic timing, and stellar wit is perfect for the title character. Justice Smith brings much charisma and personality to his role as the “straight” human Tim Goodman. He also shows much talent when it comes to the more dramatic and emotional moments.
Kathryn Newman is also a joy to watch as the fast-talking, wannabe journalist Lucy Stephens. Ken Wattanabe performs solidly as Detective Hideo Yoshida, a friend and colleague of Detective Goodman who warns Tim not to get involved. Bill Nighy also stars as Howard Clifford, the creator of Ryme City. Though Nighy is fine as this character, it really isn’t a role that is all that interesting.
And even though mystery movies of this variety usually promise a rather interesting and shocking reveal, I can’t exactly say the same for this movie. The journey there is a guaranteed good time, but I wouldn’t expect much more than that. Detective Pikachu and Tim Goodman might discover the truth, but the truth isn’t all that exciting.