Important disclaimer, I grew up on Pokemon. When I was a boy I was there for the cartoon, and for the games. Pokemon was a big part of my childhood. So to say that there will be some nostalgia based bias, well there just might be. With that out of the way… Pokemon: Detective Pikachu!
Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures did it! They have made a video game movie that works! After decades of attempts and somewhat getting there, we have a torch bearer of how to make a movie based on a video game property. Who would have thought it would just take working with the video game creators? It was clear from the opening scene of the main character getting coaxed to attempt to capture a Pokemon that this movie was going to be faithful to extremely successful video game franchise. It also shines a light quite well on what you are going to get out of this movie, a story about characters, some cheesiness, humor, heart, and some CGI that goes back and forth between amazing and could use some work.
What makes this movie work outside of a showing a bunch of live action Pokemon for fans is the story of Tim Goodman (played by Justice Smith) and a Ryan Reynolds voiced Pikachu working together to find out what happened to Tim’s detective father. Tim hasn’t seen his father in ages, and through the story we see Tim overcome some childhood trauma and mistakes he made. It’s heartfelt and much deeper than I expected a Pokemon movie to dive into. Where in the beginning of the story Tim wants nothing to do with Pokemon he develops a bond with a Pikachu that only he can understand. What follows is a hilarious journey to find the truth, while along the way meeting up with intern reporter Lucy Stevens who is looking to uncover a much darker plot. Again, you’ll get some cheesey moments, but this story works and it’s the foundation that elevates this from a video game adaptation to an actual movie that even those who have never played the games can follow.
That said, fans of Pokemon, are in for a treat. You are going to see so many Pokemon and it’s going to be a giddy fun time. Pokemon have the dimensions from the games, having the attitudes you’d imagine them having in the real world. This world really does feel like what it would be like if Pokemon really existed. It’s pretty impressive. As I said earlier the CGI goes a little all over the place. In moments it looks a little off, and in other’s it looks frighteningly real. The visuals never got to a point that they distracted me and more than often drew me in. When it comes to battles things get turned up a notch. In fact I was surprised how much action we got in this movie and it makes for a very fun movie to watch even if you don’t know what’s going on.
Throughout the movie we also get callbacks from various bits of Pokemon history and for fans they will love it. Don’t worry I won’t spoil any of these moments. It’s clear that the team involved actually cared about the franchise and paid attention to what fans would want in a Pokemon movie. All in all, this is a fun movie period. Not just for a video game movie, it’s just a good movie as it is. Sure knowing about the source material will add to the enjoyment, but it’s the same deal with the last big release in theaters that rhymes with Revengers.