Video game films are infamous for being mediocre. Detective Pikachu isn’t an exception, but you’re probably looking at it from the wrong perspective. (Spoiler free!)
I could talk about this film as a film critic, in which case I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. I could talk about it as a massive Pokémon fan, in which case it is the best thing to ever happen to cinema. I’m not going to do either of those, though. I’m going to talk about it as myself: someone who does criticise films and was a Pokémon fan as a child but I have lost track of it.
When I first heard that they were making a Detective Pikachu film, I thought, “Oh no, Pokémon are going to fall into the same pit as Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft.” Then when they cast Ryan Reynolds as the titular character, I thought, “Oh no, they’ve just given Ryan Reynolds this role to bring in the numbers and it’s going to be a low point for his career.”
When I saw the trailers, I thought, “Hm, I don’t really like this Justice Smith guy. Looks pretty boring and it’s going to be terrible… but Pikachu is SO CUTE!”
When I saw the film, I thought, “Oh, actually this isn’t as bad as other video game films from the get-go. Oh, actually Ryan Reynolds is very good in this. Oh, actually Justice Smith is a surprisingly good actor.”
Justice Smith really surprised me. It turns out he is a better actor than they let on in the trailers. The chemistry between him and Ryan Reynolds is very good. Ryan Reynolds also provides a really good characterisation of Pikachu. And that is a sentence I never thought I’d write. Considering he’s a one-foot high electric mouse, Ryan Reynolds provides good depth to the character.
Did I mention how adorable Pikachu is, by the way?
The CGI in this film absolutely blew me away. Just look at it! They managed to blend the ridiculousness of the Pokémon world with the real world. I’m not going to say that it’s realistic – because we’re talking about Pokémon here – but the CGI actually looks like it was captured by the same camera as the people rather than generated by a computer. For a digital artist, that is the ultimate achievement and this film deserves some awards for that.
As per usual, with video game films, the plot was sorely lacking. Video game plots are meant for video games. It wasn’t completely terrible in the sense that it didn’t make sense, but it was very poorly executed and there a lot of ameteur clichés in it. That said, it did provide some interesting twists, including one right at the end that made me gasp with excitement!
The dialogue, for the most part, was okay. It wasn’t creative at all. There were some genuinely touching moments between Pikachu and the protagonist Tim, but the rest of it was fairly boring and flat. With one major exception. They decided to cast English pop icon Rita Ora in the most exposition-heavy role I have ever seen in a film. My goodness, this part of the film was hilarious – for the wrong reasons. She must’ve had a least a page or two of perfectly pointless speech where she walked around explaining the plot to herself for the benefit of the audience.
Now, at this point I have to pause and take a step back because, after all, this is a kid’s film. This film was intended for children’s viewing. You kind of have to spoon-feed things to children when it comes to films. However, it is possible to create a plot and characters that are easy for children to understand without vomiting pages of boring plot explanation. Just look at, oh I don’t know, EVERY PIXAR FILM.
Another important thing to note is that you really do need some Pokémon knowledge to appreciate the film. The good thing is that they actually use specific Pokémon to drive the plot, rather than just sticking them in there to show them off. If you don’t know anything about Pokémon, you’ll have a hard time staying interested.
Also, Mewtwo looked a bit crap.
It’s Ryan Reynolds. He must’ve been involved in writing some of his dialogue, or at least improvising, because there were some pretty adult jokes in it that you’d expect to hear in Deadpool.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed the film. I want to buy a fluffy Detective Pikachu of my own and I do want to see a sequel, perhaps with more interesting characters and stories.
I recommend it if you ever loved Pokémon. If you don’t care, don’t bother.
Featured image Copyright Warner Bros. Entertainment