2.8 out of 5 stars (decent)
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu shouldn’t work. Based on the titular video game and expanded Pokemon media, it’s a surprisingly dark detective noir with Ryan Reynolds humor aimed more at older fans than young kids. Despite my limited Poke-knowledge, I found Pokemon: Detective Pikachu a flawed but surprisingly enjoyable offering with great visuals and some solid humor.
Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) lives in a world where humans and Pokemon coexist. Pokemon are cute but deadly creatures once used in battle, but now live peacefully among humans in Ryme City where such fighting is outlawed. Tim travels there after his cop father dies, finding an amnesiac Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who claims he was Dad’s partner and suspects foul play. Tim begrudgingly investigates with DP, discovering a threat to both human and Pokemon alike. Oh yeah, Tim’s the only one who can hear Pikachu because of some science gas he inhaled, and they pick up a token love interest character (Kathryn Newton) along the way.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is darker than expected and its story and humor will engage older fans more than young children. It’s a mystery with snarky jokes and occasional spectacle (much of which was spoiled in the trailer). Justice Smith lacks comedic timing and chemistry with his human co-stars, but interacts flawlessly with the CG Pokemon and sells Tim’s conflicting emotions. The underused supporting players (including Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy) are solid, and the climax goes insane without overstaying its welcome. Unfortunately, Reynolds’ humor occasionally disrupts the tone and pacing, and the half-baked “romance” fails due to Smith and Newton having less romantic chemistry than you and your shopping list.
Pokemon fans should absolutely see Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, and those seeking an offbeat detective story may enjoy themselves. Despite occasionally forced humor, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is a fun summer movie that could start an awesome franchise. See it.
Rated (surprisingly) PG for Action/Peril, Some Rude and Suggestive Humor, and Thematic Elements. Some language (Hell, Putz, God) is present, but not consistent.