‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ I Choose You!

by Christian Ramos on May 9, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since Pokémon the First Movie was released in theaters. That means it has been 20 years since I have been collecting cards for reasons I still don’t understand, having birthday parties to see the latest Pokémon installment, dressing the part for Halloween, and being a fan of the overall Pokémon universe.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think in a span of three years, there would be a phone game to capture these pocket monsters on your phone and now a live action movie, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, guided by everybody’s favorite electric (and now talking) rodent, Pikachu! Directed by Rob Letterman, this live-action installment really shouldn’t work on paper. Hasn’t Pokémon passed its prime? Heck no it hasn’t! And this film, provides some of the most fun I’ve had with nostalgia in a long while. It’s sure to amaze fans old and young, and even impress those who have no reference to the world.

Justice Smith is Tim Goodman, an insurance salesman, skeptical of capturing a Pokémon unlike the entire world. Though he was once a master at knowing all about the world of Pokémon and their agilities, his strained relationship with his father has altered his course to give up on this world. When he receives word his father Harry Goodman has died, with his body mysteriously disappearing from the scene, he travels to Ryme City to look for his father. Ryme City is the first city to have both human and Pokémon that live in harmony, without the monsters having to live inside their Pokéballs, or fight for a living.

The idea for the town comes from Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy), who sought unity for all. In the meantime, while Tim searches through his father’s apartment, he is surprised to find a lone Pikachu there who talks (Ryan Reynolds). Pikachu was Harry Goodman’s Pokémon partner, and helped him as an investigator. Though Tim learns Pikachu has lost all memory of what happened the night he and Harry were in a car accident, he slowly pieces together what memory he does have involving lab testing on Pokémon. This also leads Tim to finding a mysterious gas in the apartment, that once a Pokémon smells it causes the monsters to go mad and attack at anything, leading to an attack from wild monkey-type creatures. Tim and Pikachu then team up with Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) and her Psyduck (a duck-type creature with massive headaches) who as a junior reporter, is also on the case of Harry’s whereabouts and what he knew about the mysterious gas.

Believe what you want going into a movie and read what you want, but this movie is pure fun. Reynolds is the big sell here and everything he has learned from the Deadpool series (i.e. that annoying charisma) transfers here but for the kiddos. Pikachu has been the most successful Pokémon to come out of the series, and bringing him to life with a voice adds the exact level of humor that this movie needed. The Pokémon themselves, created through CGI, are some of the most beautifully done monsters I’ve ever seen.

I still cannot believe that there is a LIVE-ACTION Pokémon movie. Each Pokémon character has their own personalities, their own moments of cuteness, and voice renderings that aren’t near to what the anime series had, but still very good. The action is lively, as most of it involves the monsters trying to stop Tim and Lucy and the writing is very skewed Pikachu’s way, giving even small throwaway lines big laughs. Plus, any film that keeps continuity of an event that happened 20 years ago is a big credit to writers who took notice and understand their fanbase. The biggest drawback is that a lot of the plot feels reused from Zootopia. No spoilers here, but once Tim and Lucy understand what the gas is and what it is being used for, I immediately thought of Zootopia.

Overall, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is every Pokémon fan’s dream come true. It’s enough good fun for kids, and enough added adult humor for folks like me who grew up with this franchise. Where else can you hear Pikachu say “get me the hell out of here” and guzzle down cup after cup of coffee just like a millenial? There’s no doubt this will spawn a new franchise, and with good reason. At the heart is a story of friendship in a world that must be defended where monsters and humans can live in harmony.

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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