I have very little to say on this one. If you have seen the trailers of the film then I can tell you that you already have a solid grasp of the film’s tone and quality: it’s a kids film that gets dangerously close to being extremely adult, it does a wonderful job of bringing pokemon to life and blending them with reality without it feeling outlandish. It’s still a film for kids, so don’t be surprised when the plot is predictable and those elements presented as twists are conspicuous from a mile away, I was only surprised once, and I’ll save commenting on it until I’ve put up a spoiler tag.
As a 90’s kid (by technicality, didn’t live through enough of the 80’s to get the memes) I was raised to expect a very different sound coming from a Bulbasaur, but watching a troupe of them skipping through a stream was an absolute delight. I know I’m not alone in noticing a lack in diversity in the different types of pokemon on screen across the film, and considering that the number of pokemon and number of real species are starting to meet in the middle that lack of diversity is very conspicuous, multiple slakings, a lot of joltics, a lot of greninjas, a lot of panchams a lot of doduos and dodrios, and in most cases I’m not talking about them having a major screen presence, a lot of this is background material too.
I wanted to complain about the excessively fluffy pikachu, not the most rodent-like of fur, I was expecting something sleeker, but gengar took care of that for me, I genuinely loved the the depiction of gengar. It was about as family friendly as I’ll accept without being as harrowingly dark as I’d have liked, but all-in-all stunning. Actually every depiction of pokemon abilities was made realistic with no effort, making for a surprisingly immersive experience given the source material.
Odd question, is this a video game film?
And yes I know about the 3DS game, and yes the storyline is broadly lifted from the title of the same name. But Detective Pikachu is not that well known so far as the franchise goes, and while being based in the world, does not adhere to any of the mechanics that make the franchise great, it’s closer to a point-and-click. Even then, is it fair to compare it to other video game films?
I don’t think it is but hear me out! Detective Pikachu is filled with references, no two ways about that, but most of them come from the anime (and one Home Alone reference), like the entire Mewtwo narrative, a lot of the background details, kicking the magikarp, the squirtle squad, shamelessly heavy use of the theme tune. I noticed a couple of video game references beyond the fact that both this and the anime are based on a game franchise, the snorlax blocking traffic, and the background details. But here I think is a film based on an anime… based on a video game. In either case I think it’s a little unfair to include this in the discussion around video games and films.
The storyline – oh spoilers by the way – is shockingly noir! A street drug that enhances the aggression of pokemon for combat, a suspicious corporation and a contract that goes sideways, the journalist and her self-destructive pursuit of a story that nearly gets her killed. A ramped-up ditto shapeshifts into people, and not only does it make everyone you encounter highly suspicious, it’s also profoundly creepy when you see people with ditto-eyes. When Bill Nighy takes over the mind of Mewtwo, it’s a beautiful match-up of voice and character that I did not anticipate, and while it’s easy to predict his “turn for the evil” from his scene in the office, I still loved his dark mastermind moment at the finale.
Spoilers over but to be honest so is the review. I genuinely have little to say on Detective Pikachu but that may be the biggest compliment I have for it. I’m accomplished at complaining, and tend to be at my most verbose when irritated. This isn’t an unforgettable experience, nor would I advocate rushing to the cinema for it, but it’s certainly worth a watch and deserves all the praise it’s had so far, and Ryan Reynolds crying his way through “I Want To Be The Very Best” is a moment I think deserves to be well remembered in cinema and pokemon history.