It’s time to watch it all! The Pokémon universe has traversed generations of gamers and geeks since its inception in 1995. Now Warner Bros and Legendary, alongside The Pokémon Company, have brought forth a live-action tale that will have fans of all ages jumping out of their seats.
The narrative follows the journey of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a once avid Pokémon fan and wannabe trainer who is brought back to Ryme City in search of his missing father, Detective Harry Goodman. Through his efforts to uncover what has happened to his father, he stumbles across none other than Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), an extremely quick-witted, hilarious, and feisty Pikachu, to help him solve the mystery. They are joined by reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) and her Pokémon buddy, Psyduck, in order to solve the mysteries hidden within the Ryme City walls.
Detective Pikachu succeeds in many aspects, one of which is the vastly dynamic world that has clearly been lovingly, and probably painstakingly, created. Ryme City is a community created by visionary and entrepreneur Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) in which Pokémon battles are banned and humans coexist harmoniously with Pokémon, with most people singling out one particular Pokémon to be their buddy.
The vibrancy and depth of Ryme City is a landscape of cameos for every Pokémon fan, with the seamless integration of Pokémon into everyday life. Whether it be a Jigglypuff providing the evening entertainment, a Squirtle helping out the fire department, or a Loudred cranking up the speakers at an underground battle arena, Pokémon Detective Pikachu effectively balances Pokémon life alongside humanity, in a way that many of us have no doubt dreamt about for years.
The incredibly rendered Pokémon and the full use of their abilities within the storytelling make their existence amongst humans so plausible and flawless. There are many scenes that will have fans clinging to childhood memories, including a majestic and mystic walk with a herd of Bulbasaur and Morelull, a good ol’ fashioned battle between Gengar and Blastoise, or finally getting to see Pikachu use his powers! Another fan favourite audiences can expect to see is the awesome and imposing Mewtwo, whose appearance does not disappoint.
The story is fairly well-paced, however, some may be disappointed with its abrupt ending, with a slew of things conveniently tied up at the last minute. With that said, it still leaves you longing for more stories like it, which is definitely a good thing!
Another aspect that enhances the storytelling is Henry Jackman’s amazing score. Composer of scores such as both Wreck-It Ralph movies, Captain America: Civil War and Big Hero 6, his music channels the excitement of an action-adventure film whilst still paying homage to the video-game aesthetic that Pokémon embodies. With a few cameos of the original theme song, it is enough for any fan to have this soundtrack on repeat!
Ultimately, Pokémon Detective Pikachu works for an unlikely reason – Pikachu talks! When the trailer was initially released, the thought of a talking Pokémon confused many fans, particularly as the well-loved character of Pikachu was being voiced by Deadpool! However, it is a credit to the fantastic screenwriting team that has written both a complex and light-hearted story that allows it to excel. The comedic timings of Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu work so perfectly with the less than enthusiastic and dry-humoured Tim Goodman that audiences will almost forget that non-talking Pokémon are a thing, even though Meowth’s been doing it since 1997.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu finally breaks the curse for video game movies. It balances an interesting story, effective character development, and plays upon fan nostalgia tastefully. It doesn’t aim to be anything like its predecessors, in the best way, whether it be the TV series or any of the film adaptations, including the well-loved Pokémon: The First Movie, but stands alone as a story for both children and adults. It gives hope for the future of all video game films, including a certain blue hedgehog, who could really use some hope right now.
‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ opens in Australian cinemas on May 9
You can catch Pokémon voice actor Eric Stuart at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Sydney (21–23 June) and Perth (29-30 June).