Ever since the world of Pokemon took the world by storm, the dream of getting our very own Pokemon partner (and becoming the best Pokemon trainer there is) has been one of my unfulfilled dreams. We’ve only gotten to see a Pokemon filled world through the lens of the various Pokemon media that’s been made available to us where the closest we’ve gotten to to actually owning one is through Niantic‘s AR Pokemon Game.

While the idea of having your own Pokemon IRL is still a pipe dream, at least, Warner Brothers was able to show us what a world like that would look like with Pokemon Detective Pikachu (which I shall refer to to Detective Pikachu from here on out).

Set within the confines of Ryme City, Detective Pikachu follows the story of Tim Goodman, a 21-year-old son who set to find out what happened to his Dad, Harry Goodman who disappears mysteriously. But what he finds instead is his father’s amnesiac Pikachu partner, a wise-cracking coffee chugging Pokemon who he seems to be able to solely understand. The two then band together to find out what happened to his father and to Pikachu’s memories but are then thrust into a world of intrigue and dangerous Pokemon related hijinks.

Detective Pikachu is a live-action movie that is focused on Detective Pikachu, who in fact was first introduced on the Nintendo 3DS spin-off game of almost the same name. One of the biggest issues I had with the movie from it’s trailer alone is how hard it is for me to take Detective Pikachu seriously with Ryan Reynolds voicing the titular character especially after seeing him in red spandex with the foul-mouthed Deadpool. However, upon watching the movie itself, you can easily get past this weird feeling as you are introduced to the “real-word” filled with Pokemon.

Right from the get go, you’ll understand why it seems like Detective Pikachu‘s plot is paper-thin. You spend more time trying to catch all the Pokemon that’ll pop out on screen rather than focusing on what’s happening. If this was any other film, that’s going to be a big problem, but with the Pokemon franchise, a franchise that’s mostly survived by video game and visual media, you’d really want to see how the Pokemon translate to IRL. And they don’t disappoint one bit. Most of the translations to the IRL setting of the Pokemon we see in-game has been wonderfully and believably made. While some of the translations were pretty creepy (as they should be), they fall under the expected territory since their in-game counterparts should be creepier than they are presented in-game(Looking at you Gengar).

With around an hour and forty minutes run time, you won’t really expect an epic adventure that we’ve gotten used to to movies as of late. The pacing itself feels within the scope you’d expect from a Pokemon movie.  What I really loved in Detective Pikachu is that it didn’t fall into the whole exposition everything that’s happening to death syndrome most video game movies tends to find itself from doing. Instead, we’re shown on what’s happening in the world and it feels like the movie wasn’t talking down to you like you’re a kid.

Normally, a Pokemon movie is more or less a huge marketing strategy to introduce the next bad-ass Pokemon in the block. Character development is often thrown out of the window, and it shows with how the franchise has treated our eternally 10-year-old trainer Ash Ketchum. But in Detective Pikachu, you’re shown a character that grew into a more mature version of himself, albeit still peppered with the insecurities and awkwardness a kid who grew up with what Tim grew up on. Justice Smith‘s portrayal of Tim Goodman, and how he was able to act out a guy who pretty much grew up thinking he was forgotten by his dad was believable, and his rejection, and eventual acceptance of his situation felt like a natural progression instead of an artificial experience.

Meanwhile, his support cast felt like they were the caricatures of what you’d often see portrayed in the Pokemon television series. We’re provided with the typical enterprising journalist who’s out to be the best one out there, Lucy Stevens (portrayed by Kathryn Newton). There’s always that journalist who wants the scoop in a detective story, and she fills it in wonderfully. We’re then also introduced to the weathered police Lieutenant Hideo Yoshida (portrayed by Ken Watanabe), and of course we’re given the “jerks” who run the city type of character in the form of Roger Clifford, (portrayed by Chris Geere).

Detective Pikachu fills in all the proper movie tropes you can expect from a detective movie. This means that the story itself is not only predictable, but you won’t have to rack your brains too hard on what’s happening on screen. This is a good thing for Detective Pikachu since it caters to the PG crowd. However, the crisp dialogue and visual comedic cues give the movie the type of charm for the older audience to enjoy (thanks Alex Hirsch for this).

Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a well thought out movie that knows it’s main draw isn’t the story line nor is it even the Pokemon battles we’re expecting to have in a Pokemon movie. It’s a movie that banks heavily on the titular character’s charm and Ryan Reynold‘s wit and it pays out in spades. I never really thought that putting Ryan Reynold‘s in a Pikachu is something that works, but it did in Detective Pikachu. And truth be told, this movie ranks high on my video game movies list (though I have to admit the standards aren’t that high). This movie has no right to be this good, but it is. If Detective Pikachu is a movie that may as well launch the whole live-action Pokemon movie franchise then it’s a good start. As a stand alone Pokemon adventure film, Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a solid experience and seeing how Pokemon came to life in this film gives me hope that if future movies will come out of this one, we’re going to see the new Frontier for the brand.

Detective Pikachu
The Good
  • Believable rendition of Pokemon in the real world setting
  • Mr. Mime and Psyduck
  • A Good setup for possible spin-offs
The Bad
  • Paper-thin plot
  • You can't easily remove Deadpool from Ryan Reynolds
  • A lot less Pokemon battles
97%Overall Score
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