Pokemon Detective Pikachu is Visually Rich & Highly Entertaining (Review)

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For those Pokemon fans out there, I apologize.  I’m the worst possible person to review Pokemon Detective Pikachu. I know nothing about Pokemon and that’s going to show with every sentence in this review. Literally I’ve only heard the word and know that there was some app that got people walking around to catch digital things that to …fight… each other?  I’m still unclear. But one thing I do know about the Pokemon Universe is this: there’s a lot of it. Making this movie to be comprehensible to the uninitiated and still interesting actual Pokemon fans must have been tricky.

In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.  

So with this being my first exposure to Pokemon, it wasn’t actually incomprehensible or unpleasant.  Sure it still suffered a bit from being an adaptation but they did a pretty good job. Pokemon Detective Pikachu had a lot going for it.   First of all, it’s gorgeous. Everything looked really good, which is hard to do when there’s so much visual information to relay. You shouldn’t be able to take the brightly colored and appealing visual of the Pokemon and mash it up with a film noire visual style, but they did.  And it worked. The Pokemon Universe felt believable – or at the very least, internally consistent.

The super cute yet jaded character voiced by Ryan Reynolds also worked. In fact so much of the movie rode on his amazing vocal performance.  He fit with the character; was charming and funny. Mostly. The character had an addiction to coffee that they spent some time on and I found neither or funny.  But funny is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. The kids in the theater laughed a lot. I laughed too, but at different parts. There were some pretty funny bits, most of which were covered in the trailer (like the mime).  Still, some of those were hilarious and it’s worth watching the longer version.

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I do have criticisms with Pokemon Detective Pikachu though, most of which stem from the fact that this is making a movie based on such an established universe.  There were some odd choices in emphasis that could only be a nod to fans who knew much more than I did (everyone in the theater). There were parts I didn’t get and times when I didn’t know what people were doing, or why.  The plot wandered around a bit too, probably from trying to fit so much of the Pokemon Universe into this movie. But there was fan service (thank you Omar Chaparro).

So is Pokemon Detective Pikachu worth watching?  Yes, if you’re a fan of either Ryan Reynolds or Pokemon, this movie will be pretty enjoyable.  In fairness, you could put Ryan Reynolds in a feature-length dog food commercial and I’d still sit through it, but even so, I think it’s a good film.  Though why isn’t there a colon in the title? Franchise colon specific movie – Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, that makes more sense.

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