‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ review: What fanboy dreams are made of

Pokémon Detective Pikachu instantly evokes a sense of wonder and excitement made palpable by its goofy charms and photo-realistic details.

It won’t take a while for viewers to get sucked into Ryme City – a utopian metropolis where wild Pokémons and humans peacefully coexist together. For the uninitiated, these Pokémons are huggable pets that come in different shapes and sizes. For fanboys – including this writer who has played multiple versions of the game back in the day – it’s basically playing “Who’s that Pokémon?” as we try to spot as many as we can in any given frame. Much of the world building here is how the film naturally integrates these adorable creatures in mundane human activities. Look, there’s a squad of Squirtles putting out a fire! A Jigglypuff lulling its customer to sleep! A Ludicolo casually working as a barista! I can easily turn this review into a listicle of all the Pokémons that appeared in this film. Detective Pikachu is an obvious nostalgia bait, especially for the children of 90’s who have maintained their love for the Nintendo property. There’s something magical in seeing a proper live-action Pokémon film for the first time.

Mr. Mime is a scene-stealer in this movie. Oh, and his “hair” is actually a pair of horns. Let that sink in.

The casual moviegoer won’t be alienated however, even if the only character they know here is the yellow furball known as Pikachu. Bringing in a less sarcastic brand of humor, Ryan Reynolds doing the voicework, proves to be a silly yet inspired casting choice. Even if you don’t have the faintest idea how this world operates, viewers sure do know how to appreciate a good joke. When it comes to the fun department, Reynolds and director/co-writer Rob Letterman is quite, to borrow a catchphrase, “super effective.” And since this is a family friendly movie, Pikachu does not curse and we forget for a while that this is practically Deadpool’s voice talking to us.

Hot on the trails. Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and Tim (Justice Smith)

It’s a massive gamble not to include familiar faces like Ash Ketchum, Misty or Brock, but the core success of this franchise has always been the intimate friendship between the Pokémons and their trainers, regardless which character leads the story. In Detective Pikachu, the eponymous electric mouse teams up with Tim Goodman (Justice Smith brings warmth to his role) whose estranged father Harry is either dead or gone missing. Also for some reason, only Tim has the ability to understand all the words coming out from Pikachu’s mouth. Rounding up this buddy comedy/mystery is an intrepid TV intern Lucy (Kathryn Newton) who fancies herself as an investigative reporter. She’s paired up with arguably the second worst Pokémon next to a Magikarp – Psyduck. The poor fella has to listen to spa music so it’s head won’t explode in confusion.

Facing an unknown threat. Psyduck and Lucy (Kathryn Newton).

As the crew unravel the truth behind Harry’s disappearance, they stumble upon underground battles, experimentation facilities and an overpowered Mewtwo. As a kiddie detective noir, the whole experience is refreshing and easy to follow. Sure, at some point, the film struggles to deliver a coherent story especially once the twists of the third act fail to make sense. But with all the dazzling stunts happening on screen, we can easily brush off this forgivable flaw.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu undeniably breaks the video game adaptation curse. In fact, it’s the best one out there yet! On an aesthetic level, it’s a lush and lovely imagination of an alternate world. Like Pikachu, it comes out as a beacon of joy and hope. It’s breezy story leaves more themes for exploration and I can’t wait to revisit this place again. In case it’s not clear, I would like to order a cinematic universe please.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Rob Letterman, written by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman and Derek Connolly, Pokémon Detective Pikachu stars Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Rita Ora, Karan Soni and Josette Simon. 104 minutes. Based on the game ‘Detective Pikachu’ by The Pokémon Company. 109 minutes. Rated PG.

Ryan Reynolds voices quirky, fast-talking ‘Detective Pikachu’

Pikachu speaks! And that’s just for starters in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu.”

As fans everywhere know, Pikachu is a Pokémon, and no matter how expressive Pokémon can be with their features, actions, body language and special powers, they are linguistically limited to stating their own names.  Inexplicably, such is not the case with this one particular, pint-sized, fast-moving individual in the deerstalker cap: Detective Pikachu.

It might be his caffeine habit, a raging case of amnesia or just his electric personality, but this bright yellow P.I. talks a blue streak. Just try and shut him up.

The fact is, when the story opens, Detective Pikachu is up to his fuzzy little face in mysteries so deep and confounding that he can’t even remember how they started, and he’s not going to rest until he figures it all out.  Who is he?  What happened to his partner, Harry Goodman?  And why is he suddenly able to communicate in human language so that one man—one specific young man, that is, Harry’s son Tim—can actually understand him?   

“Detective Pikachu’s got some sass,” says Ryan Reynolds, who brings his spot-on timing, style and irreverent humor to the film’s title role. “He’s got some serious attitude. He’s really a larger-than-life-character, but he has to be.  I mean, he looks like a little cotton ball.  Imagine if someone flash-fried me and injected me into this little yellow guy; that’s basically what it’s like.  

“I’ve worked on films with CG characters before but I’ve never seen this kind of interaction  on this scale,” he adds.  “It’s pretty special.  When you see this fully rendered version of a living, breathing Pikachu on screen, you feel like you could just reach out and touch him and cuddle him.  But don’t cuddle him.  I can’t be responsible for what he might do.”

And Reynolds’ vocal performance pulls no punches. “There’s something inherently fun about that big personality and Ryan’s voice coming from this tiny, incredibly cute creature.  It seems like a disconnect, but it’s completely natural,” director Rob Letterman offers.

Since the movie depends upon their dynamic, the filmmakers sought to give Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith ample opportunity to establish a rapport.  Reynolds and Smith recorded their scenes together in the weeks prior to the physical shoot—an uncommon approach, but one both actors appreciated.  Reynolds then remained on set with Smith for the beginning of physical production, feeding him Detective Pikachu’s dialogue via an earpiece, to draw on that connection, after which Smith continued filming with a stand-in reading the lines.  

Says Reynolds, “I do a lot of voice work, and this was especially fun because, unlike most situations, I got to interact directly with Justice.”  As for being on set afterwards, he concludes, “I wanted to be there to establish a kind of rhythm.  A lot of the time we’re talking over each other and we’re a bit like the Odd Couple in a sense, so you need to get that right.”

In Philippine cinemas Thursday, May 9, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.  #DetectivePikachu #PikaPika

About “POKEMON Detective Pikachu”

The first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and the most successful media franchise of all time.  

Fans everywhere can now experience Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other.  The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon characters, each with its own unique abilities and personality.

The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened.  Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

Directed by Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps,” “Monsters Vs. Aliens”), “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” also stars Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) as Tim; Kathryn Newton (“Lady Bird,” TV’s “Big Little Lies”) as Lucy, a junior reporter following her first big story; and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“Godzilla,” “The Last Samurai”) as Lt. Yoshida.

 

WATCH: Plot thickens in new ‘Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The brand new trailer and poster for “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” have just been revealed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Check out the trailer and poster below and watch “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” in Philippine cinemas May 9. “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. #DetectivePikachu #PikaPika

About “POKEMON Detective Pikachu”

The first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and the most successful media franchise of all time.  

Fans everywhere can now experience Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other.  The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon characters, each with its own unique abilities and personality.

The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened.  Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

Directed by Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps,” “Monsters Vs. Aliens”), “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” also stars Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) as Tim; Kathryn Newton (“Lady Bird,” TV’s “Big Little Lies”) as Lucy, a junior reporter following her first big story; and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“Godzilla,” “The Last Samurai”) as Lt. Yoshida.  

WATCH: ‘Pokemon Detective Pikachu’ comes to life in first trailer

Partner up with a legend! Watch the official teaser trailer of Warner Bros. Pictures’ new comedy “POKEMON Detective Pikachu” now at the video below.

The first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” stars Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, the iconic face of the global Pokémon phenomenon—one of the world’s most popular, multi-generation entertainment properties and the most successful media franchise of all time.

Fans everywhere can now experience Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pokémon like no other. The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pokémon characters, each with its own unique abilities and personality.

The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.

“POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” also stars Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”) as Tim; Kathryn Newton (“Lady Bird,” TV’s “Big Little Lies”) as Lucy, a junior reporter following her first big story; and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“Godzilla,” “The Last Samurai”) as Lt. Yoshida.

Directed by Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps,” “Monsters Vs. Aliens”), the “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” creative filmmaking team includes two-time Oscar nominated director of photography John Mathieson (“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Gladiator”), production designer Nigel Phelps (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Lies”) and Oscar-winning editor Mark Sanger (“Gravity”). Visual effects are by Moving Picture Company (“Wonder Woman”) and Framestore (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”).

Launched in 1996 to overwhelming response, the Pokémon brand is a global sensation that now encompasses a robust video gaming fandom with over 300 million units sold worldwide; trading card games available in 11 languages with more than 23.6 billion cards purchased; an anime television series in its 20th season that is available in 98 countries; and animated films that have grossed more than $700 million at the box office; as well as books, manga comics, music, toys, merchandise, and apps, including the wildly popular Pokémon GO, that has been downloaded over 650 million times and is enjoyed across the globe by fans of all ages.

In Philippine cinemas May 9, 2019, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.

‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ movie reveals official title logo

At the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Pokémon World Championships, The Pokémon Company, along with its partners from Legendary Entertainment, unveiled the official title and logo for the first-ever live action Pokémon movie, POKÉMON Detective Pikachu.

Mr. Tsunekazu Ishihara, president of The Pokémon Company, welcomed the movie’s director, Rob Letterman, and actors Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton to the stage for the surprise reveal.

The stars also engaged the room full of the world’s best Pokémon players in a chant of “Pikachu!” which was recorded for use in the upcoming film.

In Philippine cinemas June 12, 2019, POKÉMON Detective Pikachu is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.