I gotta hand it to the folks behind Detective Pikachu. The CGI Pokemon, while probably quite difficult to translate on screen, was pretty solid for the most part. I loved seeing the various types walking through the streets of Ryme City assisting civilians crossing the roads or aiding the authorities in capturing criminals. And while the Pokemon are great in this movie, the humans just aren’t.
Let me start off by saying that Detective Pikachu is very much meant for kids. The story, as weird and unsatisfying as it would be for fans who grew up with the series or just outright confusing for the parents who took their kids over the weekend, probably only works for pre-teens. So if you happened to be teenage or older, you’re likely going to notice the films many, many flaws. The people. Particularly the acting.
Ryan Reynolds’ voice performance is the only thing carrying the movie forward (aside from the CGI), with little to no assist from Justice Smith. The rest of the cast, specifically Kathryn Newton, the biggest culprit of all, are just awful. Absolutely, unequivocally, awful.
…if a single terrible performance were enough to get you fired from acting forever, this would have been it for Newton
If not for Reynolds and the little contributions from Smith, Detective Pikachu would have felt even more like a direct-to-dvd Disney Channel original movie than it already sort of does (albeit with a large budget). And even with those two carrying the movie on their backs, Kathryn Newton does everything she can to drag it down like an anchor attached to a broken windlass. Honestly, if a single terrible performance were enough to get you fired from acting forever, this would have been it for Newton.
My face each and every time Kathryn Newton was on screen.
Ryan Reynolds does all the heavy lifting here, but the one criticism I have is that there were a few wisecracks that felt very Deadpool-esque, and not very fitting for the Pokemon movie. But you can ignore that with the rest of the performances screaming in your face about how awful they are throughout the rest of the film.
The movie struggles in a variety of places, not just the acting performances, such as the plot direction and the screenplay. For whatever reason, the movie desperately tries to cling on to tropes and cliches that leave the audience seeing the few acts to come from a mile away.
And, as much as I love Pokemon, there were a few times where I struggled to stay awake.
Detective Pikachu is not going to be up for any Oscars this year, no doubt about that. But it does prove that live-action Pokemon can be done right, as long as all the right ingredients are present, which are not this time around. Sure, DP is fun, and has a few moments where I laughed out loud (I did enjoy myself overall), but I felt wanting. So much more than what I got. And I just don’t believe it is asking too much to have a story that feels a bit more… well, just more. Devoid of any substance, the plot just kept reminding me over and over again that there was nothing exciting about it.
Although, Mewtwo looked dope.
Among my final thoughts were that it seemed like there were roughly around 30 Pokemon featured in the movie, which could make sense if you take into consideration how expensive it would be to do even twice that many. Each individual ‘Mon would have been very time consuming and costly to design, but DP doesn’t really touch on anything remotely suggestive of why we only got a handful to look at in the first place. All they had to do was point out that many Pokemon are region-specific (which they didn’t), so I just told myself that was the case and eventually I let it slide. Then again, only certain Pokemon are probably allowed into Ryme City, due to the nature of the plot (though they did not state this either).
I would love to see a mystery franchise where Pikachu and his human partner solve mysteries together
Still, I would love to see more in the future, if not necessarily a Detective Pikachu series, although it could be possible. We do not need a trilogy or anything, but we do need more. It made plenty at the box office this weekend, so I don’t see that out of the realm of possibility.
What I would really like to see, in the future of Pokemon live-action films, is perhaps a prequel series where Pikachu and his detective partner are actually out there solving crimes together. We did not really get that here, despite the name of the movie, but what we got instead is perhaps something greater; the proof that it can be done if the proper formula is applied.