Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019). Film review of the video game and toy franchise off-shoot

image film pokemon detective pikachu


2 stars film review fair passes the time

Film review, by Jason Day, of Pokemon Detective Pikachu, about a fluffy, fantasy animal with electric super powers who teams up with a grieving boy to find his supposedly dead father. Starring Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith.


Tim (Justice Smith) works as a dead-end job as an insurance salesman in a dead-end town, most of his friends having moved on years before. When his father, a police detective in Ryme city, suddenly dies in mysterious circumstances whilst on a case, Tim must travel to the big smoke to deal with his effects.

Whilst there, he is approached by his father’s police partner, a fluffy Pokemon – a type of aninmal with superpowers that have lived in harmony with humans for millennia – called a Pikachu who can generate electricity. Unusually, Tim can understand the Pokemon and they join forces to unravel the mystery of what happened to his father.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

I have no idea what happened in this ‘film’.

One of the delights of not having children – as I have discovered from my many visits to family and friends who have decided to procreate – is I don’t have to concern myself with the umpteen ‘universes’ that entertain them.

Universes – what more teeth-grinding, geeky, meta-word could exist.

Old man moment coming up. I remember as a kid, when cartoons and associated merchandise seemed much simpler. He-Man had muscles and he had fights with people, strictly to make sure good triumphed over evil. There was background detail and extra characters of course, but you didn’t need a glossary or a sub-wiki-portal to follow what was going on.

Pokemon – which has been hanging around in one form or another in British living rooms for the past 14 years or so – is one of those universes.

The man – or more accurately Pokemon – that is Pikachu. Image (Warner Bros)

As you can tell, I wasn’t 100% happy at spending time in a cinema watching this mighty, $150m silver-screen outing, featuring the inimitable vocal talents of uber-sarcastic Ryan Reynolds (strangely, it’s his diluted voice that is one of the big misses in this film).

But an eight year old can be very persuasive and it was my nephew’s movie of choice for our bi-monthly cinema outing, so see it I did.

I’ll choose to forget the blatant product placement for a well-known computer games company that is pushed – I know Pokemon fans will say this was unavoidable as the cartoon and game system are so intertwined, but the scene itself is disposable as it has nothing to do with the main story.

It should have been cut but then, from my perspective, the whole thing should have ended up on the cutting room floor or, better still, not filmed at all (that’s my second old man rant in this review).

Wasted in a chuck away cameo, Bill Nighy is one of the human stars of Pokemon Detective Pikachu. (Image: Warner Bros.)

It should have been cut but then, from my perspective, the whole thing should have ended up on the cutting room floor or, better still, not filmed at all (that’s my second old man rant in this review).

The kids will, of course, lap-up every frame that I tried to avoid seeing. It’s a colourful romp with the clear visual look of a top quality video game that will appeal to any under 10.

My nephew – always a helpful little chap – whispered little asides to me throughout the film about which character was which, what powers they wielded, their relationships to other Pokemon.

I didn’t care in the slightest, but it was good to see him and his peers enjoying the film so much. We’ve visited the cinema a few times now and usually he sits very stoically throughout, but he was super engaged at all times and the other kids loved the in-jokes (totally lost on me!)

A day later writing this review, I might not recall much of the proceedings – or understand those I do – but I will remember that Detective Pikachu scored a big hit with its intended audience.

For more, see the official Warner Bros. website.

Cast & credits

Director: Rob Letterman. 1hr 44 mins (104 mins). Legendary Pictures/Toho/Warner Bros. (PG)

Producers: Mary Parent, Cale Boyter, Hidenaga Katakami, Don McGowan.
Writers: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly.
Camera: John Mathieson.
Music: Henry Jackman.
Sets: Nigel Phelps.

Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Bill Nighy, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanbe.


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