The first-ever, live-action Pokémon movie is a bit heavy-handed with forced drama, but it reminds audiences that in order to let love in, you have to have an open heart — and also that interning totally sucks.
The film kicks off by pouring out lukewarm exposition with a spoonful of less-than-organic dialogue. But once the initial shot of espresso is gulped away — a bitter swallow, to be honest — audiences will be energized for a thrilling journey before leveling off with the warm and fuzzies.
Speaking of warm and fuzzy, Pikachu is basically the Pokémon version of a corgi: fluffy adorableness with a wiggly walk that will give you those extra sparkly anime eyes. And all of that cute is perfectly balanced with a grande serving of sarcastic humor, brought to you by Ryan Reynolds.
The plot of Detective Pikachu isn’t terribly revolutionary — it’s basically Zootopia meets Jurassic World — but it honestly doesn’t really matter. Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment brought the world of Pokémon to life, giving characters like Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) and Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) the chance to do what all ’90s kids want: interact with the incredible creatures who so far have only lived in holographic trading cards, Saturday morning cartoons, and iconic video games. The closest we’ve ever come to experiencing the thrill of catching and battling our own Pokémon was Pokémon Go, and that’s a far cry away from walking around with a wise-cracking Pikachu on your shoulder or a Psyduck strapped to your back.
After the death of his estranged father Harry, Tim heads to Ryme City, a unique place where Pokemon and humans live together in perfect harmony. A self-proclaimed loner, Tim seems like the only person in the city without a Pokémon partner by his side — but that doesn’t last long. Tim discovers a peculiar Pikachu inside his father’s apartment — and realizes he can understand what the Pokémon is saying, a skill no one else seems to have. The two set out on an adventure to discover what happened to Tim’s father, with aspiring journalist Lucy by their side, ready to sniff out a story.
The plot is hurried, predictable, and simple. Consider this a mystery movie with very little mystery, clearly designed for a younger audience, but adults and millennials who are long-time Pokémon fans will enjoy the few twists the film has to offer. Tim and Lucy are also young adults in their early 20s, dealing with the stress of low-level jobs and internships, an interesting move considering Pokémon fans likely fall either well below or above this age bracket.
Most of the film’s fun lies in the heart of the Pokémon franchise: Catching Pokémon. The creatures pop up in dozens of scenes, both in Ryme City and in the wild. Fans will love spotting all of their favorites, including the epically enormous, fire-breathing Charizard, the blonde bombshell that is Flareon, the somber-singing Jigglypuff, and the brolic Mechamp, to name a few.
Coming off other highly anticipated entertainment experiences, such as Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and Game of Thrones’ final season, Detective Pikachu does not have the same long-lasting impact. Instead, it feels like a setup for incredible films to come — a sequel was already announced months in advance of the film release. Despite the simple nature of the story, the film is totally full of whimsical fun for the whole family, including Pokémon fans young and old.
For Love, Actually fans, I leave you with this:
Photos: Warner Bros.