Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)
I remember when I was younger going onto youtube and seeing fan-made live action pokemon movie trailers and dreaming of the day when we would actually get one. I grew up as a huge pokemon fan pretty much seeing all of the show up to the recent seasons and playing both the video games and trading card game. Obviously, when they announced that we were getting an actual live action pokemon movie I became really excited. Eventually, the first trailer dropped and I was almost in shock, deciding to take a life realistic approach to bring these classic characters to life with some truly disgusting designs and CGI was a baffling decision that only made me more excited to see what this film had to offer. I went into Detective Pikachu not expecting a classic but rather a mess involving characters that I grew up with which is pretty much exactly what I got. Where I cannot say this is a film of a lot of quality it is absolutely a great time for pokemon fans.
Being a fan of this franchise easily the best part of this movie is the world it takes place in, I have seen a ton of the pokemon world through the show and 20+ movies but there is something truly special about seeing this world in a live action format. There were scenes at the very beginning of panning shots showing this world and the pokemon living in it and I honestly got chills during this, This is a world I could only dream of as a child and whether it is a forest beaming with pokemon life or a big city with pokemon crawling all over the place, this movie does an amazing job at building this world and this is going to be the thing that will suck in so many pokemon fans as they watch this film. It also helps that the visual effects all are pretty solid, sure the designs are definitely iffy at times but the actual quality of CGI is impressive except for a few pokemon who can look out of place in the background and one scene where our main character Tim has to pick up Pikachu which looks just terrible.
Sadly though if you are not a pokemon fan who will get lost in the world there is not a lot here for you. As expected the story is incredibly weak. At any time in this film, we will be jumping between 2-3 different mysteries and this movie doesn't do a great job handling this much plot. Following what the characters actually are focusing on can get pretty messy and plenty of things in this movie (especially the villains' plan) makes little to no sense when you actually think of it. This movie settles for small vague explanations rather than a strong well thought out plot. As far as the mysteries themselves go they are also pretty forgettable and bland, I predicted each one correctly and there was no twist or turn that really took me by shock. Really the only thing notable about the plot or its characters is the trauma that Tim has from his childhood and the complicated relationship he has with his father which I thought was really well handled even if the concept itself wasn't anything new.
The thing I didn't expect to hate about this movie was the acting in it. Not that I hold the main actors in this movie to the highest regard but it didn't seem like a noticeable problem in the trailers and no one was really talking about the actors but my god they are bad. Even in the better emotional moments surrounding his character, I found Justice Smith to be uninspiring and bland (though I would take that over the annoyance I had from him in Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom). He never has the charisma needed to stand with Ryan Reynolds and always seemed like he was just there. Kathryn Newton is also just flat out bad and her introduction is easily one of the worst dialogue scenes of the entire year so far. These two have no chemistry and really disappointed me. Ryan Reynolds is the only one that fully worked for me as he stole every scene he was in, it probably helped that Pikachus design is unimaginably cute and easily the best-looking pokemon in the entire film with the exception of when his character gets wet. With films like this, it is easy to miss the technical aspects and not pay much attention to them but I do want to give credit to this film here. The cinematography is very well done especially when it comes to the pokemon battles (I have to admit that this was enhanced by viewing this movie in 4DX) which truly feel chaotic and crazy in the perfect way. Henry Jackman also does a great job with the score which is totally unique, I was a little worried that with aspects like the score they would try too hard to throw in easter eggs and references to previous pokemon media which would hurt the overall identity of this film but instead it feels unique and really well done.
Overall like I said if you are a fan of pokemon this film is going to give you something, you will be able to get lost in this world and enjoy the hell out of this movie but even if you are sucked into this world I fail to see anyone taking a lot away from the story or mystery here. It is rough and lacks a ton of development or uniqueness but then again I don't think anyone is coming to a Detective Pikachu movie expecting that. This is a movie for the fans and the fans alone, and I can say it at least creates a movie that succeeds for them.