DETECTIVE PIKACHU review

Synopsis

The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Detective Pikachu, they join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

Review

Following the huge successful but somewhat downbeat I’ve found myself craving something a little lighter for my cinema viewing. Then in walked Detective Pikachu this week as a bright ray of sunshine amongst all the doom and gloom.

The Warner Bros. release, directed by Rob Letterman, is a surprisingly heartfelt ray of sunshine which is bound to brighten any bad day.

As someone who didn’t grow up on the cartoons my knowledge about Pikachu and his pals comes much more from playing Pokemon Go and other more recent games.

Walking in to the cinema I had some concerns that as a relative outsider I may get a little lost in amongst all the characters. But I needn’t have worried. Those who are important to the story are given sufficient introductions as part of the story whilst a plethora of others make up the background as CGI extras.

In fact it’s going to take many a watch to list all the different Pokemon who make an appearance. The movie goes far beyond Gen 1 and even beyond Pokemon Go so now I have a bunch of new Pokemon to learn.

Detective Pikachu opens with some intriguing setup of the story to come, there’s enough intrigue to keep the story alive for the 1hr 44min runtime but it’s rarely strays from a familiar formula.

Once we are introduced to Tim (Justice Smith) the film instantly begins to find its footing and its heart. I’m come across Smith in several other projects and always found him to be funny, but here we get to see him flex some more muscle thanks to the storyline around his missing father.

Remembering the movie is firmly planted in PG rating territory it never strays too far towards the darker side of its mystery. Instead it hones in on the motivations of its character and aims to be more of an epic adventure instead.

The (human) supporting cast is made up of Kathryn Newton as Lucy, an entirely overly enthusiastic intern who works at the company run by Bill Nighy’s Howard Clifford and is son Roger played by Chris Geere.

Newton takes a little getting used to. It’s not her acting, it’s just the sheer level of enthusiasm that the character exudes. Her opening scene left me a little concerned the movie was going to take itself too seriously (think Street Fighter level of serious but tacky) but actually this was one small blip in an incredibly solid movie.

Nighy and Geere play a very generic set of cartoon villains. They could easily be ripped right from the Pokemon cartoons or any 80s/90s cartoon series for that matter. There’s a great good vs evil dynamic between them with an obligatory (obvious) twist.

But what I’m getting at here is that Detective Pikachu doesn’t need a ground breaking story to make it an excellent movie. What it has is a story which tells itself in earnest whilst being filled with a constant barrage of incredibly cute and funny CGI characters.

Remember when you first saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit and were blown away by the integration of the animation and live action elements? That’s exactly how I felt watching this movie.

Ryan Reynolds is excellent as Pikachu. He brings a level of family friendly humour which, at times, borders on adult. But when he never does is stray in to Deadpool territory. There’s a clear definition between characters and this is not a case of him caricaturing his previous role.

Psyduck and Mewtwo are easily the two most heavily featured Pokemon aside from Pikachu. Psyduck brings some great laughs whilst Mewtwo provide a great level of conflict to the story.

It would be impossible to even try and list the rest of the Pokemon who make appearances across the movie. There’s just too many. Highlights for me were Mr Mime, Bulbasaur and Magikarp. Many of the characters have origins closely tied to the original franchise and there are plenty of nostalgic, accurate sound effects to go along with them.

The script features a couple of larger, set piece moments which are all executed well. There’s no heavy reliance on action as the movie relies much more on its characters to make it successful.

If I had to point out a weakness in Detective Pikachu it would be that the third act becomes distracted by the need to conclude a good vs evil story. Though the parade sequence is well shot and provides some of the heaviest action in the movie it falls flat compared to some of the more character driven moments.

Henry Jackman provides an incredibly lively score which is fit for any Pokemon game past and present. The classic theme tune makes a couple of appearances in the movie but never becomes a crutch to help make proceedings more enjoyable. I’m looking forward to giving it an isolated listen when it is released in a couple of weeks time.

Verdict

Detective Pikachu is quite the triumph for Warner Bros. Easily one of the best computer game adaptions of all time it’s captivating, funny and unexpectedly heartfelt. Great casting and brilliant special effects easily make it one of the most enjoyable movies of the year!

7.5/10

Detective Pikachuarrives in cinemas May 10, 2019. The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton and Ken Watanabe.


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About Neil Vagg 2982 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG