Based off a video game sharing the same name, which was released just last year, this mystery fantasy flick has some slumbering, Snorlax places to climb over, before it soars with the grace of Pidgeot.
Insurance salesman Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) resides where Pokemon can only be found in the wild. After receiving news that his father is presumed dead, he travels to Ryme City; the only place where humans and Pokemon live and work in unison. It isn’t long until Tim crosses paths with Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and due to their shared understanding of one another, the two, with the assistance of news columnist Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), try to find out what happened to his dad.
What we have here could well be the first video-game adaptation to break the curse. It has weak spots and the plot isn’t entirely refreshing but it’s been so long since a movie taken from a video-game has been fun, let alone good, so clap your tiny fluffy paws Pika, because this is a solidly average and entertaining movie.
Ryme City is presented like a splice of Tokyo, London, and Zootropolis, but with Pokemon inhabiting every corner. There is no denying that the urban location exudes a Blade Runner aesthetic and throughout there is a tasty springboard of futuristic appeal. This metropolis is brimming with creatures and though different generations walk the streets, a lot of times you do see the same ones, which has you almost begging to see the likes of a Meowth, Onyx or even a Metapod to spice things up a smidge.
It takes a while to get immersed in, not just the cartoonish visuals of the computer-generated residents, but the narrative as well. It’s not a riveting crime story but once it takes root there comes a definite point where the mystery side of events becomes prominent and interesting enough to hook you til the end.
Once the story kicks into gear, it feels like the visuals and action follow suit. There comes a beautiful Inception-like clash of nature as an escapade becomes a mind-bending dash for safety. This sequence is a joy to behold on the big screen and even if the finale isn’t as breathtakingly cool, it still has enough spectacle and Macy’s Day Parade danger to cap the feature off nicely.
Ryan Reynold’s shtick hasn’t grown completely tired just yet but this release is definitely another excuse to have the actor bring more of the typical zany energy he captures within Deadpool but toned down for PG audiences. Kathryn Newton has a zest of eager enthusiasm as her hopeful reporter persona lights up the screen like a battle-ready Charmander. Justice Smith though is the glue to hold the film together. He bridges the gap between Poke-World and crime plot well enough to make sure he’s not lost amongst a massive CGI playground. The emotive quest is one he plays nicely and the time he shares with his electric buddy is lovely.
At the end of the day, the recent clever marketing for the film and the Pokemon brand itself will be enough to win bums on seats, so even with a fairly tame story that even the most pathetic person could trap in a PokeBall, there’s plenty of fluffy fun for the young ones watching; with fart jokes and cutesy animation. Further up the scale, you have the delight of seeing a live-action neon city of humans mixing with Pokemon that’ll be a selling point for the folks who grew up with the trading card game in the ’90s.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu might not be for everyone but the few (many millions worldwide) left over will surely lap it up. The story isn’t as strong as it could be, but you cannot help but feel in your jellies that this will be a Machamp at the box office and will go down as a rare success in video game-to-movie crossovers.