The first ever Pokemon live action movie, Detective Pikachu is directed by Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) and stars Justice Smith with Ryan Reynolds as the voice of everybody’s favorite Pikachu.
Taking place in Ryme city, the movie takes place in the world of the videogame-anime franchise. With that said, the Pokémon are the only characters from the series which make an appearance here. Every other character is original, which is probably the safer option considering how bad recent adaptations from the genre have gotten. You can check out the video review here.
Justice Smith plays Tim Goodman who, after his father is assumed dead, moves into Ryme City to collect his belongings. Of course, things aren’t as easy as this, with him coming in contact with Reynold’s Pikachu soon after. Pikachu reveals that he’s got amnesia, but is sure about a missing connection with Harry, Tim’s father. Concluding that his father must be alive, Tim and Pikachu team up to solve the mystery.
And with that, the film has a certain style of buddy-cop vibe. Except one of the cops is a Pikachu who prides himself in being a detective. Justice Smith’s character is an average protagonist at best but gives a decent performance which, while the movie doesn’t rely on him, certainly provides a lot of heart.
Where the film fails, disappointingly so, is its over the top third act, along with its reliance on nostalgia a tad bit too much. We get it. Pokemon are cute. But merely the presence of myriad pokemon is not enough to warrant the lack of attention that the human characters get in the writing department. Katheryn Newton’s character particularly feels very out of place, if funny at the same time. Ken Watanabe proves yet again to be a great presence, if only for a few fleeting scenes. The less said about Bill Nighy’s character, the better. Not because he’s…not that great (?) but because the plot, especially the third act, has him taking an important role.
Overall Detective Pikachu is a delightful film which fully understands its source material but relies on it a tad bit too much. The Pokemon are the real stars of the movie here, as they rightfully should be, but the lack of care given to the human characters leaves a little more to be wanted.