★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
In my late elementary school & early middle school years, I absolutely loved Pokémon. I had all the movies, I watched the show (the original one), I played the games (the first 3 generations only). I wanted nothing more to become a Pokémon Master. As I've got older, I've weaned off the Pokémon fandom, but I'm still a Pokémon fan at heart.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu isn't anywhere near perfect, but it is a lot better than it should be. Based on the 2018 game Detective Pikachu, the film follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a 21-year-old insurance salesman. Due to the death of his mother & being abandoned by his father Harry, Tim has given up on his childhood dream of becoming a Pokémon Master.
One day, Tim is told that by Ryme City Police Lt. Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) that Harry died in a car crash. Tim then travels to Ryme City, a city created by Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy), who sought to ensure bonds between humans & Pokémon. While there, Tim is approached by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), an aspiring journalist working for Roger Clifford (Chris Geere). Lucy is suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Harry's death.
When he returns to his father's apartment, Tim hears something strange. He then finds Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), a Pikachu wearing a deerstalker hat & a trenchcoat who is a world-class detective & can communicate only with Harry. Pikachu was Harry's police partner who has suffered from amnesia as a result of the crash Harry died in. But Pikachu does not believe Harry is dead; rather, he believes that Harry is very much alive. However, they are at a crossroads, as Pikachu cannot remember who he is or where Harry is. They must work together to rediscover Pikachu's identity & find Harry, with the help of Ms. Norman (Suki Waterhouse) & Sebastian (Omar Chaparro). But the road to finding Harry will be a tough one.
The cast is excellent. Ryan Reynolds is perfect to voice Pikachu. Justice Smith has a lot of chemistry with Reynolds. And Kathryn Newton does well with her limited screen time.
Rob Letterman's direction is great. Although Letterman has some trouble shifting between tones, he overcomes that with a warm-hearted sensibility & a keen visual eye.
The screenplay by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly & Nicole Perlman is very good. Although the plot is very predictable & most of the supporting characters aren't well-written, the dialogue is often very humourous.
And the visual effects are astonishing. The CGI is very well-done, but the best effects come in the form of the creature design & motion capture, which is flawless.
This is, due to the lack of such films, easily the best video game film ever made. Although it doesn't reach its full potential, it still manages to be very entertaining & solidly made.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, May 10, 2019. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 104 minutes, & it is rated PG for action/peril, some rude & suggestive humor, & thematic elements.