ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
When I was growing up, a lot of kids I went to school with got involved with the big Pokémon craze. I admit I never really got into it, but I enjoyed hearing stories on the playground and seeing other kids have fun with it all.
So several months ago, when I heard there was going to be a new “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” movie, my first thought was “Okay, it’s official: Hollywood’s out of ideas.” So I didn’t go and see it in theaters, but this past weekend I was able to find the movie online and I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the movie, which has been a bit of a theme with me and entertainment this year so far.
The movie follows young Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he works to solve his dad’s disappearance with dad’s Pokémon partner Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) helping on the case.
The first thing I have to give praise to with this movie is the Pokémon design. The people involved with the design of these creatures had to have been fans of the franchise because the final result of each Pokémon is great. It’s still obvious they’re cartoons, but the overall design of them was very well done and I could tell there was a lot of work involved to ensure everything turned out right for the fans. My favorite designs were for Pikachu himself (whose overall design is basically an electricity-filled puppy) and the Charizard dragon Pokémon seen later in the movie.
Another thing I have to give praise to is the acting, particularly Reynolds’ work as Pikachu. Reynolds was a great choice for Pikachu because he has a great sense of comedic timing for the more humorous moments and dialogue, but he also injects enough heart to make you sympathize with him during the more serious moments in the movie. I have a feeling Reynolds had a really fun time making this movie and I also have a feeling not all of his dialogue was actually scripted. I also liked Smith’s acting in the movie because he just seemed so natural and he reacted to what was going on like an actual person would, which was great. Overall, Smith and Reynolds had great chemistry and worked really well with each other as the movie went on.
Another thing I liked about the movie was (and this might sound somewhat odd) how the movie didn’t really take itself that seriously. What I mean by that is while everyone was clearly putting effort into their respective roles, I felt like there was more emphasis on the actors being more themselves and having fun with the project than putting forth Oscar-worthy performances and being serious. The overall result is the movie is just fun to watch while also being a good piece of entertainment. With that in mind, I also felt like the movie struck the right amount of balance with everything. The movie has just enough humor and bright flashy colors to appease the younger audiences and Pokémon fans, but there’s also just enough heft and heart sprinkled throughout the movie to keep it grounded and not too melodramatic for the older Pokémon fans. Overall, it’s a formula that works and I feel like that’s what made the movie successful.
Another thing I liked was how many Pokémon were seen in the movie, and I liked it because it really allowed viewers to get a sense of just how big the Pokémon universe is. Even for those who had just heard about Pokémon (like me), the movie actually serves as a cool introduction and might actually have helped provide a new generation of Pokémon fans. And if there happens to be a sequel (which I’ve only heard rumors about at this point), there could be even more Pokémon shown for people to be introduced to, which is always a good thing.
The only problem I had (if this could even be considered a problem) was how I couldn’t keep that little voice in the back of my head that kept wondering “Why am I watching this? It’s POKÉMON, for crying out loud!” but I mostly attribute that to the fact that I wasn’t really into the Pokémon franchise when I was younger like some of my peers. I also found some of the scenes’ pacing to be kind of slow and felt some things could have been tightened just a little. And while the movie is good, I will admit the overall plot was rather formulaic and standard.
Overall, I found “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” a very enjoyable movie and would give it a “B” grade, with praise going toward the acting from the leads and Pokémon design and my main complaints going toward the pacing of the movie and my own past biases against the Pokémon franchise. If you are a Pokémon fan and like action and comedy, you’ll probably also enjoy this movie. The movie is rated PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements.