Iconic video game and media franchise “Pokémon” receives a big screen adaptation in Warner Bros. Pokémon Detective Pikachu. Rob Letterman helms the film, which features Ryan Reynolds voicing the iconic character. Pokémon Detective Pikachu opens on the outskirts of Ryme City in a lab where scientists are conducting devious experiments. Gumshoe Harry Goodman is investigating the research but soon goes missing while on the case.
Harry’s son Tim (Justice Smith) is a former Pokémon trainer turned insurance sales representative living with his grandmother in the country. When Tim learns of his father’s disappearance, he travels to Ryme City to put his father’s affairs in order. While in Harry’s apartment, Tim meets Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) who introduces himself as Harry’s partner. To Tim’s shock, he discovers that Pikachu can speak, but only Tim can hear him. With the assistance of reporter Lucy (Kathryn Newton) and her Pokémon, “Psyduck,” the duo set out to find out the truth behind the disappearance of Tim’s dad.
“Pokémon” is one media franchise that I never got into; however, I do know the basics of the franchise. The four-person screenwriting team comprised of Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Derek Connolly, and Rob Letterman utilize 2016’s Detective Pikachu video-game as the template for their screenplay. Given that, the Detective Pikachu video game has more of a traditional narrative as opposed to the role-playing aspect of the original “Pokémon” game. By taking this route, the team effortlessly weaves a tale that caters to both fans of the franchise and novices.
Voicing the character of Pikachu works naturally for Ryan Reynolds, given Reynolds possesses a sarcastic wit combined with the deadpan delivery of one-liners. When the news of the film production hit, I will admit that I had no idea how the film would work with Reynolds casting. I was under the assumption that Reynolds would play a cop or a scientist who ends up teaming with Pikachu. With Reynolds voicing Pikachu we get the same charm Reynolds brings to Deadpool only for a family audience.
Justice Smith continues to impress me with his acting and I am hopeful this film brings on more roles for him in other franchises. Pokémon Detective Pikachu works off the strength of the chemistry between Smith and Reynolds. Therefore, the film belongs to Reynolds and Smith, while the rest of the cast including veteran actors Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe do not have much to do.
Director Rob Letterman highlights a few impressive action sequences and the CGI design for Pikachu is impressive. While, the character of Pikachu is CGI, watching the film the character comes off as old school animatronic. I was also fond of Letterman’s pacing for the movie as it moves quickly.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is generally harmless entertainment, I would have liked if the script went into more detail about the different Pokémon’s we see on screen. Something as simple as a stat card that pops up on screen may have helped novices like myself. I was also hoping for a reference to the character of Ash, which sadly does not occur.
While I do not share the sentiment that Pokémon Detective Pikachu is that best video game film adaptation of all time, a fun family film appeals to both fans of the franchise and Ryan Reynolds.