REVIEW: Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu is a film about a cowardly 20 something named Tim Goodman who is forced to visit a cyberpunk metropolis after his absentee father is killed during a high-speed chase. While dealing with this tragedy, Tim meets a talking Pikachu that only he can understand, and starts to realize that his father might actually be alive! Now he must solve the convoluted mystery of his dad’s fake death, navigate the seedy underbelly of Ryme city, and forge an unlikely friendship with a small electric rat thing.

In short: this movie is wicked cool.

The soundtrack takes inspiration from iconic game boy tunes but brings in an orchestra to hit emotional scenes home, the visuals use every color of the rainbow but still come across as cohesive and interesting, and it’s humor has a personality we don’t often see in movies aimed at kids: a little dark, a little corny, and super-duper fun.

Detective Pikachu takes from everything the Pokémon brand has ever created in terms of world building (anime, trading cards, video games, etc.) and comes up with an entirely new realm, that both celebrates the past and forges its own identity. The only thing I can think of compare it to is The Lego Movie. Every nook and cranny is filled with details that breathe life into the setting: a skittering Joltik, a sleepy Pancham family, a flock of Pidgeys that swoop by the camera for a mere second, it allows Ryme City to come across as a real place rather than fiction.

I loved the story too…which coming off the trailer I was kinda shocked by. The mystery genre is a hard one to nail in almost every respect. You have to rely a very tight plot because audiences are constantly questioning the narratives you set up. But Detective Pikachu pays off everything in a way that doesn’t feel like the writers were cheating. The story is wrapped up in a sweet message about forgiveness, bravery, and seizing the moment that is simply the perfect thematic cherry on top of an engaging cinematic experience.

That being said, it might not be the most original mystery of all time.

I mean, you’ve seen the finale already if you’ve watched The Amazing Spiderman, that creepy looking TMNT reboot, or Batman Begins. The unoriginality doesn’t stop there as the reliance on detective film homage is sure to put a few of you die hard noir fans to sleep. The acting could be better, some elements needed a bit more backstory, and Swablu wasn’t in the movie…which sucks….cause I love Swablu.

Regardless, it really wow’d me with some of its reveals, the action sequences were creative, and the characters oozed charm. When you combine that with all the other positives I’ve listed above, gotta chock it up to a win.

Detective Pikachu is a movie I’d be excited to watch again. It’s popcorn fodder in the best of ways and does a good job with a genre most big film companies completely ignore.

4.5/5

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