Right out of the gate one must remind would be viewers of this movie that Detective Pikachu is PG-rated, and that it, like the games it is based from, is meant for children first and foremost. Now, that doesn’t mean that a large fraction of its viewership won’t be millennial adults who remember playing Pokémon, but one has to remember that just like those games, they aren’t meant for us. Taking that into account, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a wild ride that left me smiling in joy for hours after viewing it.
The story follows Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Get Down), who despite living in a world surrounded by Pokémon, does not want to take one as a partner. This sets him out as strange, as everyone else seems to have a Pokémon companion of their own, even if they aren’t a full-on trainer who takes on the gym system. After the death of his father, who is a detective for the police department of the metropolis Ryme City, where pokémon and humans live side by side. When he comes to deal with the death, he encounters his father’s pokémon companion, a Pikachu who, unlike any other pokémon, can talk to him, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Hitman’s Bodyguard). This is not the only mystery the pair discover, and together, with the help of intrepid would-be reporter Lucy, played by Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and her psyduck, they figure it all out and save the day.
The film plays out like not unlike one of the mainline games, with a young man, though much older than anyone in the games, in a world with adults who either don’t believe what he has to say because of his inexperience or age, or else are too wrapped up in their own things to pay any heed. Pokémon lay at the center of the story, and ultimately working together with them is how the problem is solved.
Detective Pikachu is a wild ride that is perfect to bring the family to, be that family you and your children, or your friend who you used to trade the cards with. It handles its story about family and forgiveness with grace, and while there are twists, they are perfectly leveled for the movie’s target of younger viewers. There are, as with many kids films of late, little bits in there for the adults who take the kids to the screening, but it isn’t so apparent as to be over the top, as such things often are.
My only complaint about the film is the CGI rendering of most of the pokémon. I have seen many “what if pokémon existed in the real world, what would they look like” posts on sites like Tumblr, and the films seem to have taken a lot of its vision from such posts. While popular pokémon like Charmander and Squirtle, and the rendering of Pikachu himself, are fine, and even cute, others, like Lickitung and Ludicolo, are downright creepy. I wish they erred closer to the cartoon and game depictions of these creatures, but even that isn’t a hard criticism, just one of personal aesthetics.
All in all, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a fun time at the movies, regardless of your age. The film plays out like one of the games, and follows the logic of them, which may not always be like that of the real world, but are enjoyable nevertheless. If you’re looking something to take your kids to, or otherwise if you’re a fan of pokémon throughout the last twenty-some-odd years, this film is a great choice, I thoroughly recommend it.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is in theatres nationwide.
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.