Pokémon: Detective Pikachu – Film Review

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the first live-action film in the pocket monster phenomenon. Based on the 2016 game of the same name, the film follows Justice Smith’s character Tim Goodman who is in search of his detective father, Harry who has gone missing, presumably dead. With the help of a talking Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Tim attempts to continue where his father left off and uncover the truth behind his father’s sudden disappearance.

The film follows the original storyline of the game very closely, a lot more than I thought it would. I found myself recognising many places that Tim Goodman visits in the film which are also places that Tim visits in the game; such as the Hi-Hat Café, the PCL and Ryme City. Without giving too much away, in the games the story is inconclusive, leaving things wide open to make room for a possible sequel. In Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, the film comes to a decisive conclusion, but in a way that stays true to the original content it is based on.

With the films giving Tim Goodman more backstory to the relationship with his parents, Tim is does have his problems and reservations, but he sets them aside to follow his heart and do what is right. In the games, Tim isn’t Caucasian, but it really doesn’t matter at all because Justice Smith is wonderful as Tim Goodman. Smith is so effortlessly expressive, you really relate to his character, feel his every emotion throughout the film and truly believe that he is conversing with Pikachu.

Ryan Reynolds is also great as the voice of Pikachu. In the game, the character is already quite witty and sassy, but Reynolds turns it up a notch to provide extra ‘punny’ one-liners and it really works. Despite Reynolds’ other popular roles on-screen, I was never distracted nor felt he was anything else other than Pikachu when watching this film. I also throughly enjoyed the chemistry and dynamic between Smith and Reynold‘s characters. Despite Reynolds being the bigger name of the two, Smith and Reynolds never outshine each other and really are a team, just like their characters are. I must add, I am a big fan of Ken Watanabe and was delighted to see him as Detective Hide Yoshida and learn that he also does the Japanese dub for his character.

As a Pokémon fan, I found it very strange the way the Pokémon are designed for the live-action world, but not in a way where the creatures are unrecognisable. If anything, I felt that the designs were refreshing and just something that I personally wasn’t used to. Containing easter eggs for fans, the film lightly makes fun of games “Pokémon Go” and “Pokémon Let’s Go”. It also makes an effort to show what the three original starter Pokémon would look like in the real world, something I appreciated. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu makes an effort to explain catching and training Pokémon isn’t what this story is about, in case new fans and film goers got a tad bit confused.

I admit, I was concerned at first when I heard Pokémon was going to have a live-action adaptation. History shows that most films based on video games are quite terrible. But in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu the CGI and special effects are super impressive – the best that money can buy, the sets are incredible, the pacing of the film is consistent and the story ties itself up nicely without compromising the original source. There are some things in the film that I did find quite unnecessary, but I believe that would be more myself nit-picking because I’m a massive Pokémon fan.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu may possibly be the best game-to-movie adaptation ever and is a solid film that can be enjoyed by everyone; whether you play the games, have watched the anime as a kid or are open to experiencing the Pokémon world for the first time. If you are a fan of the games, I believe that you will quite happy and satisfied with this film. I personally found it heart-warming, fun and entertaining (and yes, I did get a bit teary). Pokémon: Detective Pikachu really makes me wish that Ryme City was real and although I love the core games and catching Pokémon, having a Pokémon bestie to solve mysteries with sounds more like my style.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu will be in cinemas in Australia from May 9.

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