Movie Reviews

Published on May 8th, 2019 | by Jeremiah Scott

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Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu is the long awaited live action movie of the beloved video game and animated tv show franchise. The video game has sold over 1.31 billion units, so this movie has a very established fan base that is excited for new content, but also critical when new product doesn’t meet their expectations.

Video game movies in general are typically VERY bad. So bad that any time I hear they are making a movie out of a video game I immediately cringe out of reflex. I’ve been permanently scarred by the likes of Tekken, Super Mario Bros and Mortal Kombat. When Tomb Raider is your benchmark for the best of the best you have reason to be afraid when they say that Detective Pikachu is coming to theaters.

But fear not! This movie is not perfect but it does entertain!

Detective Pikachu is played by the voice of Ryan Reynolds, which in case you didn’t know Pokemon typically do not talk, so this is unusual right off the bat. Pokemon basically just repeat their name over and over again with different voice inflections in order to convey mood or urgency. It’s not as annoying as it sounds; it’s typically adorable actually. Reynolds does an excellent PG impersonation of Deadpool as Pikachu in a comedic role as detective Pikachu and it works surprisingly well. His comic timing is so perfect and the jokes don’t come off as childish or boorish, it really flows and works perfectly in the movie.

Justice Smith plays the lead character role of Tim Goodman who is trying to solve the murder of his estranged father. Justice Smith is very likable and you root for him to beat the bad guy and get the girl (played by Kathryn Newton), which is all you really need in a summer action movie; you need to want the hero or heroine to win. Justice Smith does a great job and I could see them building a franchise around his character going forward.

The visuals are fantastic! Its great seeing the characters from the video game walking around full size like that on the big screen and they did not just do a few, the movie is crawling with them and I loved that.

The story is fairly standard and does follow a formula but it moves along at a good pace and at 1 hour and 44 minutes long it feels like it’s not too long or too short. There are jokes that only the adults will get, there are game characters that only hardcore fans will recognize, but this movie was made for as wide an audience as a video game movie could be. They were trying to make it accessible to all, and I think they accomplished that.

It’s a big budget buddy cop popcorn movie with a lot of action, some laughs, a very light and fluffy kid friendly side love story and great special effects. There was a plot hole or two but it was forgivable and too entertaining to ruin it. I highly recommend turning off your brain, grabbing some popcorn and just enjoying this movie. Not perfect, but very good and fun!

4 out of 5 stars.

Second review by

Joseph K. Saulnier

I truly believe that Detective Pikachu is going to be a surprise to everyone.  I went into the film skeptical.  You see, I loved Super Mario Bros.  What 11-year old wouldn’t (in 1993 any way)? But as I became an adult, and my tastes more refined, I often find myself wondering how I could ever have liked the film.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still love the film; mostly for nostalgia purposes, but I still love it.  Enter Detective Pikachu.

See, I came a little late to the Pokemon train.  I didn’t really start playing until I was in my junior year of High School, and while I have fun with the games, I wouldn’t say I’m a die hard fan.  I have owned maybe 6 different versions over the course of the last 20 years.  But I don’t get the same nostalgia vibe from Pokemon as I did with Mario.  But you know what, it didn’t even matter.

The film is not without it’s flaws.  There were points in time where actors were supposed to be looking at the Pokemon that’s on screen with them, but you can clearly tell that the actor is looking past the Pokemon since, you know… there’s nothing actually there.  This, along with a few other things, could have easily been cleaned up in post, but once again… it didn’t matter.  The blend of humor and adventure was balanced well, you immediately bond with our lead, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), and empathize with him.  His story felt a bit rushed in the sense that they could have fleshed it out a little more, and done a better job at not leading to the obvious that everyone in the theater saw coming, except for the character himself, of course.  But you still connected with, even if it was only one small aspect of him.  Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu is amazing.  He manages to deliver his brand of humor quite well for a kid’s movie.  

A welcome surprise (surprise to me anyway) was Bill Nighy as Howard Cliffton.  Always a big fan of his, and he definitely kills it again.  Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Big Little Lies) plays Lucy Stevens, an aspiring reporter who does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of what her character would have been in the show.  An over the top embodiment of the stereotypical reporter.  At first, it felt a little odd, and almost out of place.  As the film moves on you see the naturalness of the character in this world, and you start really liking her. And a personal favorite of mine, Ken Watanabe, plays the police chief, and former partner of Tim’s father.  Watanabe brings to the film the charm that only he can; it’s always a pleasure to see him on screen.

The story, if you don’t know, is this: Tim Goodman’s (Smith) estranged father was killed in a car accident.  When visiting Ryme City to settle things, he comes across his Private Eye father’s Pokemon partner, Pikachu (Reynolds).  But here’s the odd thing.  Tim can understand Pikachu, and Pikachu can understand him.  Much turmoil ensues, and we end up on the path of Tim and Pikachu refusing to believe his father his dead, and setting out to find what really happened that night he was run off the road.

When we walk out of the theater after these screenings, we are asked to give a quick response to our thoughts on the film.  I’ve given my fair share of both good and bad feedback, but this was truly the first time the studio rep was genuinely confused by answer.  You see, I had to take a moment to think about what I was going to say, and ultimately said: “It didn’t make you feel uncomfortable.”  Boy the look of confusion on her face.  I tried to explain to her, which I will do for you in just a moment, but I could tell she didn’t get it, and it was likely my bad attempt at trying to explain it quickly.

You see, in my experience with movies that try to blend live action with CGI like this, it often feels uncomfortable.  It just doesn’t seem right. The CGI characters are too cartoony, not cartoony enough, are animated in such a way that they don’t seem a real part of the world… the list goes on.  But you just can’t shake the feeling that it’s not right, and it’s very apparent that it’s fake.  Now, clearly we all know that it’s very apparent that Pokemon are not real (right?).  But even given some of thee more “anime” or cartoony features of some Pokemon, this world seemed like it could really exist.  Despite the reference issues I mentioned earlier (looking past the Pokemon instead of at it), this film truly feels like a real, believable world where Pokemon do exist.  I felt like I could live in that world, and everything just looked right.  Add to it a killer soundtrack and score, some great humor, including self deprecating in terms of the Pokemon universe, and of course the Ryan Reynolds’ charm, and you have yourself a great movie for a family night out.  It only leaves me to wonder how they are going to turn this into a franchise, because you know that’s what it’s all about these days.  But, we’ll look at that another time.

4 stars out of 5

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