Director: Rob Letterman
Starting: Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Kathryn Newton and Chris Geere.
Firstly, for the uninitiated, some background information:
Originating in Japan and quickly becoming a worldwide marketing phenomenon (primarily through trading cards), Pokémon are an assortment of creatures each with a power unique to them. They can only say their name and are collected and occasionally caught in special balls. They hang out with their human owners, but can also be forced to do battle with each other. A lot of this sounds pretty horrific and downright baffling, but the Pokémon are all okay with this, so you should be too.
On with the review!
Insurance salesman Tim is drifting through life aloof and alone. His mother died when he was young and he chose to live with his grandmother rather than his workaholic father. Shunning the thought of companionship with a Pokémon and preferring his own company, his world is suddenly turned upside down by the disappearance of his dad, a detective in the city of Ryme, a vibrant neon Metropolis where humans and Pokémon coexist peacefully, minus the battles.
Reluctantly pairing up with a pint-sized Pokémon called Pikachu, his father’s police assistant with his own issues to investigate, the two stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens the tranquil life around them and the very existence of the Pokémon world.
As Tim, Justice Smith makes an endearing lead with just the right amount of awkward charm and determination, but it’s the voice work of Ryan Reynolds (channeling a kid-friendly version of his Deadpool persona) as the little yellow ball of fluff, Pikachu, that brings the film to life. For reasons unknown, Tim can understand Pikachu and their verbal sparring as they attempt to unravel the mystery around them, particularly during a good cop bad cop routine, is a lot of fun.
There are some pacing issues with far too many dialogue heavy scenes breaking up the action. The numerous Pokémon references will perhaps be confusing for those not familiar with this extraordinarily colourful world, but it works as a buddy comedy and is mostly enjoyable.
The supporting cast are all strong with Kathryn Newton’s journalist adding sass and spirit as Tim’s romantic interest. Bill Nighy is underused and it would’ve been nice to have seen more of rising star Chris Geere’s evil Roger Clifford whose presence warranted more screen time.
Not necessarily memorable, but an easy and entertaining watch, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is worth catching whilst you can.
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Film Review Animation Bill Nighy Canada Chris Geere Cinema Comics Deadpool Detective Pikachu England Film Funny Japan Justice Smith Kathryn Newton Ken Watanabe London Manga Marvel Pokemon Review Rob Letterman Ryan Reynolds USA
Film reviewer for Time and Leisure Magazine, The Movie Waffler and We Are Cult.
Former actor (a regular in The Bill) and voiceover artist with Rhubarb Voices.