“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” or as I like to call it “For 90s kids Who Yearn For Nostalgia When a Ninja Turtles Reboot Wasn’t Enuff” is directed by Rob Letterman, stars Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu, and Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton in live action roles.
The story takes place in Ryme City where
it seems like it’s supposed to be somewhere in Asia yet everyone has British accents humans and pokémon exist peacefully together after years of humans using pokémon for gladiator battles and other slave like shenanigans. This utopia was created by billionaire Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) after he did some deep soul searching in hopes to cure his mysterious illness. Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) finds himself back in Ryme after news of his estranged father’s untimely death.
When Tim spends the night in his dad’s home, he finds Pikachu with no memory of where he came from sneaking around the apartment. What’s stranger is that instead of hearing “pika pika” from Pikachu, Tim can actually communicate with him in plain English. He learns that Pikachu was actually his father’s partner on the detective force. Being that Pikachu was with his dad on the night he died in the obviously set up car crash, Pikachu should’ve been dead too. Since he’s not dead, the two determine that Tim’s dad might still be alive as well. Tim and Pikachu pair up to find out why someone would want to kill his father and what’s the mysterious drug making all the pokémon go nuts.
“Detective Pikachu” has no shortage of the nostalgia juice we all can’t seem to get enough of. If the Pokémon theme song wasn’t enough, we even got a call back to the 90s classic “Home Alone” with the iconic scene from “Angels with Filthy Souls” which as a fictional movie actually made specifically for “Home Alone”.
Does this mean “Detective Pikachu” and “Home Alone” belong to the same universe?
I will admit, I had a lot of fun digging into my memory to point out pokémon as the appeared on screen.
The CGI flowed with live action seamlessly and made for some pretty fun to watch scenes, particularly the walk along the lake with a family of bulbasaurs. The two leads, Tim and CNN intern, Lucy (Kathryn Newton) have as much chemistry as a turtle and a baby seal (see: none). The two characters would have been more believable as good friends who are working toward the same goal but instead we were given a forced romantic sub-plot that the story could have done without.
Ryan Reynolds brings caffeine addicted Pikachu to life with quick one liners and the facial expressions to make us empathize with Pikachu as an actual detective who just really wants to get to the bottom of it all. I wished we’d gotten more scenes with Ken Watanabe who plays Lieutenant Hide Yoshida the man tasked with telling Tim of his father’s death. He’s a brilliant actor so to use him for all of one scene feels like a waste.
“Detective Pikachu” is a great movie to see with children. They’ll love the cool CGI pokémon and the plot is made for a kid, lacking any real depth. If this movie does well I don’t doubt we’ll be seeing more of the Pokéverse.