Based off the global sensation that has taken over the world since 1995, Detective Pikachu captivates audiences with humor to be one of the entertaining movies of the year. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith, the film takes on a unique spin on the classic Pokémon battles so many fans in the world have grown up with. With its well-done visual effects, including the ever so joyous design of the furry yellow beast, this movie at first glance appears cluttered, thanks to an unremarkable script and plotting that is unfortunately unable to escape its dire shell as a family film. Furthermore, despite the common references made throughout the film, many could view this film as something completely isolated from the traditional Pokémon shows and card games. In that way, this latest video game film adaptation walks the dangerous line of trying to please both worlds. And it could have just as easily failed as it would succeed. But fortunately, this brand-new adventure comedy from Warner Bros Pictures does in fact succeed thanks to dazzling aesthetics and visuals that heighten a mediocre script into something impeccable.
With its enchanting visuals and humorous aspects, audiences of all ages can enjoy the film whether they are a die-hard Pokémon fan or just a simply curious audience member. This is one of its best trait as it never leaves an audience member in the dust.
To kick off the film, the story begins with an intense prelude establishing key exposition. It's done rather tastefully and I appreciated having it all laid out to me in one go rather in multiple, drawn out monologue sequences. Following this recap, Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith, is introduced as the main character along with the quirky personality that is Pikachu who only Tim can understand and communicate with. The conflict which drives the plot involves the two partners investigating and searching for Tim’s missing father, a well-known police detective. Although humor is embedded to further add to the plot, it is clear the film would have been just as successful without the incorporation of Pokémon. They're simply just an addition, admittedly without which Warner Bros would sell far less toys off of its titular character, but that's beside the point.
Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds give notable performances as expected by audiences, and both were able to pay homage to ever so popular Pokémon concept. For one, Ryan Reynolds gives an impeccable performance as the voice of the ever charming, sarcastic, adorable detective Pikachu. With the ability to communicate with Tim, the audience is able to connect with and better understand all the layers behind this iconic character; one aspect that the film succeeds in is allowing the development of Pikachu, something beyond the Pika-Pika this character is known for. In addition, Justice Smith also provides a new perspective from a protagonist who is a former Pokémon trainer but no longer wants to be involved with them. It's definitely a familiar trope, but one still fresh enough to captivate younger audiences and even older die-hard fans.
Although the film is heavily concentrated in the direction of humor, a good portion of the plot is predictable, almost to the point of being unacceptable. Though this film had the potential to diverge from mainstream films and stand out, the lacking plot line and development limits its success capacity. However, the visuals are outstanding, and all the Pokémon are realistically portrayed with the film overall being very natural to the eye. One thing that did stand out about the Pokémon is that while their effects are done well the overall positioning seemed a little bit off with the CGI and live-action parts appearing separated and disconnected.
Something that may appeal to audiences is that one does not have to be a fan of Pokémon to be able to enjoy this film; with only a few references and little foundation from the original franchise, this film could almost be a standalone film with a basic idea about Pokémon. While this film may lack somewhat in plot and connectivity, there is something special that can captivate viewers: whether it be the eye-catching visual effects, the acting from Reynolds and Smith, or the humor incorporated. As one of the most humorous and entertaining films of the year, Detective Pikachu is film that will be a joyride for the entire family and viewers of all ages.