Rob Letterman (director)
1h 44mins (length)
09 May 2019 (released)
13 May 2019
Many people became Pokemon devotees when they were growing up thanks to the video games, anime series or popular trading card game, but a whole new generation is set to become fans thanks to Detective Pikachu, the first-ever live-action movie in the media franchise.
The film stars Justice Smith as Tim, who learns that his estranged father Harry has died in a mysterious accident, so he travels to Ryme City, where humans and Pokemon live in harmony, to sort out his apartment. While there, he comes across his father's Pokemon, a Pikachu, who is suffering from amnesia but is looking for clues about Harry's whereabouts, convinced that he is simply missing.
Most people can only hear Pikachu's trademark "Pika! Pika" speech, but for some reason, Tim is the only one who can hear Pikachu speak proper English (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), and they team up to discover what happened to Harry and uncover a big government conspiracy.
You don't have to be a fan of Pokemon to enjoy Detective Pikachu, but it will probably be appreciated by fans more because of the nostalgia factor. It certainly helps to have a greater understanding of that world, including the characters, their powers and their evolution, for example. However, if you don't know your Charmander from your Charizard, you can still follow the story and enjoy it, you just won't have the same background as everyone else.
Casting Reynolds as Pikachu seemed like an odd choice initially, but somehow it works. The character is fun, lovable and full of those witty one-liners Reynolds has become known for with the Deadpool films. He makes the movie as entertaining as it is. Smith is a solid and likeable lead, as is Kathryn Newton as reporter Lucy Stevens, who helps the duo investigate the mystery surrounding Tim's father's 'death'.
Given that it's a Pokemon film, you would be forgiven for thinking this is aimed squarely at children. Kids will certainly enjoy it and it’s certainly family-friendly, but it feels more geared towards those who grew up with Pokemon in the '90s/early 2000s - perhaps because the whole thing feels on the long side, with a complicated plot that can be tricky to follow. Plus there are some jokes that only adults will appreciate. There’s also too much happening in the final showdown so it feels quite messy.
Detective Pikachu is a fun, entertaining outing that can be enjoyed by both children and adults, Pokemon fans and non-Pokemon fans, although established fans will probably have more of a connection to the material.