“Detective Pikachu” Succeeds in Box Office

Liam Welch, Staff Writer

As far as video game movies go, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” shines above them all on a pedestal built on the coveted “OK” reviews scarcely related to the critical nightmares like “Mortal Kombat,” “Super Mario Bros.” and the upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which was pushed back to 2020 after massive backlash over the animation of the title character. Though it is not without its flaws, the movie is charmingly aware of what it is: a buddy cop kids movie starring a caffeine-addicted, amnesiac detective Pikachu.

Justice Smith stars as Tim Goodman, a young man who lives near Ryme City, a haven for humans and Pokémon alike. After years of being trained for battle, a man named Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy)—effectively the Steve Jobs of this world—created a place where cohabitation meant peace for both humans and furry, powerful creatures. After Tim’s father dies in a car accident, he heads to Ryme City to investigate and while there, he meets a deerstalker-clad Pikachu who, instead of spouting in its name in a cute voice, is voiced by Ryan Reynolds with a full range of vocabulary.

After they meet, they go on a wild adventure in order to figure out exactly what happened to Tim’s father, and despite this simple premise, the story provides some good character moments, witty banter from a smart-mouthed, lightning-spouting yellow furball, and a video game-like pacing. Unfortunately, there are points in the movie where even if the audience’s disbelief was not suspended enough, the movie dances on that line between fun and dumb. However, wild action scenes between the Pikachu and an insanely overpowered Pokémon fans of the franchise will know quite well at the climax of the movie and other scenes throughout, will provide thorough entertainment for the average audience.

Unfortunately, the acting was so bland and subpar, that even when creatures are duking it out in gladiatorial combat, the characters seem like they are only mildly excited and barely invested in the plot at all. Without a doubt, Ryan Reynolds is the best part of the movie, but almost every single other actor is either conspicuously inexperienced or phoning in the performance. Smith acts as if he had just gotten out of high school drama class with simultaneously wooden and over-the-top acting. Despite the lackluster performances, Ryan Reynolds really carries this film on his small, yellow shoulders with quips, jokes, and even the emotional moments at where the movie needs them most.

Despite all of its blemishes, without a doubt, “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is a great video game movie. Though this does not seem like a huge milestone and trust me—it isn’t—the film does shine in the places one least expects it. This movie succeeds at its goals of making a cheesy fantastical kids movie where the general audience can have harmless fun even if they are not avid Pokémon fans.