Pokémon Detective Pikachu hit cinemas this weekend and while it normally would be a film directed at longtime fans and children, the addition of the hugely popular, wise-cracking loudmouth Ryan Reynolds definitely adds more oomph to the film. Granted it is only his voice for most of the film (no spoilers here), however his voice is one that is widely recognised and was tremendously smart casting since he is riding the tide of success high right now.
The movie mostly takes place in the fictional Ryme City where Pokémon are free and live amongst the humans that previously ‘caught’ them in the traditional red, black and white balls that appear in the games and other movies and television series. Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is a young orphan sent to collect his estranged father’s belongings after his untimely death from a freak car crash. He is all angst and brooding loner, who was once a huge Pokémon fanatic but has since abandoned it out of spite due to a father who seemingly abandoned him and his dying mother to become a detective in Ryme City.
Enter an amnesiac, caffeine-addicted, adorable Pikachu. The two meet and the young Tim realises that not only can he hear but also understand the yellow rodent, which up until now has not ever happened in Pokémon history. Watching the tiny creature sound like a middle-aged man seems odd at first considering up until now the electric Pokémon has only uttered a high pitched ‘pika pika’ since its inception in the late 90s. However, the unease at the voice choice is all part of the story and cleverly explained in the many plot twists in this entertaining film. As Detective Pikachu proclaims, “very twisty”.
The movie is intelligent and has enough storyline to support the cast of tiny animals that the fans of the franchise are coming out to enjoy. There is enough Pokémon represented in the film to make any fan squeal with joy, and rewatchability to see them is definitely there since there are scenes with so many- it is impossible to ‘catch them all’ in just one watch.
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Tim has the help of journalist wannabe, Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), who also plays something of a love interest. Her Pokémon partner, Psyduck, adds hilarity to the tale since anytime he becomes stressed there is the risk of him exploding with a psychic-type power that creates chaos over a large range.
Other cast includes Bill Nighy and Chris Geere as the father-son duo running the television network of Ryme City, creating a chemical called “R” that turns regular Pokémon into roided out, aggressive attack creatures, and basically filling the role of antagonist to our unlikely heroes trying to recover Pikachu’s memory and possibly the reason Tim’s father’s accident occurred.
There is also a cameo at the beginning of the film featuring Karan Soni, who has risen to fame as the terrified but forlorn cab driver from Reynold’s other hugely successful franchise, Deadpool. His appearance sets up Tim’s character nicely while also giving viewers the coveted scene of a trainer tossing a Pokéball attempting to catch an unsuspecting Cubone and the anxiety of waiting to see if the beast stays captured (anyone who has ever played Pokémon will understand this!).
Overall this is a family friendly fun movie for fans and enjoyable enough that those with no knowledge of Pokémon will appreciate it as well. Those that are fans will enjoy the 50 plus Pokémon represented from multiple generations (director Rob Letterman apparently lost count at 54 appearing in this film). Obviously with over 800 Pokémon and counting in Pokémon lore, producers have left enough Pokémon out there not seen to leave room for sequels after this one. And with the successful telling of this story it looks like it is going to be a lucrative franchise.