*note: very minor spoilers, but otherwise I did my best to avoid them.
Let me start this review by making one point clear: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is not a bad movie. In fact, there were times I quite enjoyed myself. The first live-action Pokémon movie could have easily gone the way of so many other video game films and been so much worse.
But then again, it could have been a lot better too.
Sticking with the positive though, I have to say all of the Pokémon in the film are beautifully rendered. Each Pokémon looks real and believable, I’m not even upset there’s only 60 different species represented in the film (for context there are currently around 800 Pokémon). My particular favorites in the film are Charizard and especially Bulbasaur. I also surprisingly enjoyed Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu. I wasn’t sure about that in the beginning but it works.
The film’s story is also a minor positive. Once you have all the core components, the film’s premise is essentially sound. We have a setting, a protagonist, a villain, and the villain’s motivations for doing what they do. We also have some convenient twists along the way along with a boy meets girl sort-of-romance angle that felt slightly forced. The problem is, the execution of this plot left something to be desired. Certain plot points are presented in such a convoluted manner that I was left asking questions in my head until almost the end of the film. I understand the writers were trying to create a sense of mystery, but as a result so much time was spent on a winding path of plot points that the story lost something. And while I liked most of the characters, I feel like more time could have been spent with the villain and the villain’s motivations. More character development would have made certain key scenes that much more impactful.
The film’s biggest weakness, for me at least, is the sheer amount of awkwardness. Early on, it felt like the actors were each interpreting the script differently. Some were playing it more or less straight, some were acting over the top, and this is one of the first times I can remember being distinctly aware of a lack of onscreen chemistry between certain characters. I think some of the scenes were meant to be awkwardly funny on purpose, but that kind of humor has never gone over well with me and the film would have been better without it.
*minor spoiler for this next paragraph*
However, above all else, the thing that bugs me the most comes mid-way through the film when two characters go exploring in a certain rather dangerous area. The way these characters enter this area demonstrates such a lack of common sense and thinking that I was dumbfounded as the scene played out. I know these characters aren’t experts in investigation, but come on, EVERYONE knows you’re supposed to at least try to be sneaky about these things.
To conclude, I did enjoy Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, even though it didn’t blow me away. There’s certainly ample potential for a sequel and I’m not against seeing one made. Let me know what you thought about Pokémon: Detective Pikachu in the comments below and have a great day!
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