The next installment of “Movies My Kid Makes Me See” is Pokémon Detective Pikachu. Just to put things into perspective, I’m just too old to have gotten into the Pokémon craze, while my kid is a fan of the TV show. I know I would have skipped this one, if not for my kid.
Our hero Tim (Justice Smith) must return to Ryme City after learning his police detective father was killed in a car crash on a lonely road outside of a mysterious research facility after an even more mysterious accident. Ryme City is known as a haven for humans and their Pokémon. The city is a shining example of human/Pokémon relations, thanks to the cities benefactor Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) who is also planning a Pokémon parade for all its citizens to enjoy. But something is just not right in the city.
“…he gave up dreams of becoming a Pokémon champion and is now wants nothing to do with them or [his father]…”
Tim is the only person in the city without a Pokémon and that’s by choice. Ever since his father left the family when Tim was young, he gave up dreams of becoming a Pokémon champion and is now wants nothing to do with them or him. While going through his father’s apartment, Tim discovers a strange vile with some purple substance. When he opens it, he breathes in a heavy dose, and then fumes escape out the window causing a pack of monkey-type Pokémon to become aggressive and go nuts.
After escaping a thorough beating, Tim returns to the apartment and discovers his father’s Pokémon, Pikachu. Not only that, the little guy can talk (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), but only Tim can hear that voice. Apparently, Pikachu was the Pokémon partner of Tim’s father when he was killed and is now searching the apartment to find out what happened. Pikachu is determined to solve the mystery, but he has amnesia forgetting all details of the accident and how to use his powers. Tim, on the other hand, just wants to go home having nothing to do with his father or his Pokémon.
“While much of the plot was fairly predictable, it bugs me that I didn’t see the twist at the end coming from a mile away…”
As a kid’s film based on a franchise I know nothing about, Pokémon Detective Pikachu had a fair amount of good moments worth watching and handled the brand right (see Ugly Dolls for a bad alternative). Everyone in Ryme City walks alongside their Pokémon, and it reminded me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit without the cool nostalgia factor. The story was solid and moved quickly for this impatient parent. While much of the plot was fairly predictable, it bugs me that I didn’t see the twist at the end coming from a mile away. The film ultimately succeeds from its better-than-average story and Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu is brilliant casting. In a way, Pikachu is Deadpool, but without the curse words and sexual innuendo.
My only frustration with this Pokémon movie is most of the film took this just-show-a-Pokémon attitude. Throughout the movie, my kid would call out the names of them as they appear. “There’s Charizard! There’s Mumblypoo!” Cool to see all the Pokémon, but I wanted to see them use their powers. The Pokémon action you hoped to see was teased here and there and on full display at the final battle scene, but I was left wanting. In the end, Pokémon Detective Pikachu was a decent film with enough for parents to make it to the end. When asked, my kid would give it a 10 out of 10. But this film could have been an excellent introduction to the world of Pokémon but alas it’s a squandered opportunity.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Directed by Rob Letterman. Written by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly. Starring Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy.
7 out of 10 stars