MOVIE REVIEW: The last film you’d expect to be good
There were so many things stacked against Detective Pikachu but this could be the very first video game movie adaptation that's actually good.
Yeah, you heard that right. Detective Pikachu is a weirdly enjoyable adventure that will charm the pants off you - or at the very least, Pikachu's pants, because, you know, he doesn't wear any.
No, we didn't see this coming either. It was supposed to be ridiculous. It sounded ridiculous - a live action Pokemon movie where Pikachu talks (traditionally Pikachu doesn't talk, he only ever says variations of his name, like Groot), wears a little deerstalker and solves crimes.
But somehow, Detective Pikachu is a delightful little package.
CGI rendering of Pikachu is really damn cute and Ryan Reynolds' voice performance is super effective. Also, Justice Smith's Tim Goodman is such an affable lead character - and one that's relatable as he tries to connect with the memory of the father he scorned after his mother's death.
Tim is a 21-year-old former Pokemon trainer who, like most humans, doesn't have his own Pokemon companion.
When he receives word that his estranged father, a detective, died in a car crash, he makes his way to Ryme City, a semi-utopic London/Tokyo-esque cosmopolis in which Pokemon and humans live side-by-side and there are no battles or pokeballs or trainers.
In his dad's apartment, he finds the remnants of his father's investigation into a conspiracy involving a mysterious purple substance that makes Pokemon lose their minds and become involuntarily aggressive.
The whole sequence is very much a visual nod to hard-boil detective fiction with its shadows, interrogation by lampshade and the splash of neon from outside - the movie has a neo-noir parody vibe in general ("This dame's looking for danger").
You almost expect Peter Lorre to show up, a cigarette dangling out of his mouth.
That's when Tim comes across his father's companion, Pikachu. They quickly establish Tim is the only one who can understand him - humans and Pokemon are not supposed to be able to verbally communicate.
Wise-cracking, wry and caffeine-addicted, Pikachu crackles with personality. It helps that the CGI is really detailed and you can see Reynolds' motion-capture performance under all that yellow fur. If Pikachu didn't work or felt creepily anthropomorphised, it wouldn't have worked, so thank god that it does.
And the studio is betting you do find him cute because it "trolled" fans with a fake leak of the entire movie online which turned out to be a one hour and 42 minute-long clip of Pikachu dancing - it's definitely going to be your new go-to ASMR video.
Tim, Pikachu, intrepid junior reporter Lucy (Kathryn Newton) and her Psyduck are off to thwart villainous plans that could threaten the unity between humans and Pokemon.
Detective Pikachu is a zany movie with over-the-top set pieces and a slapstick sensibility - it never takes itself too seriously.
It's not perfect - the plot is tired and might be confusing for younger kids, the dialogue veers towards the hokey and the CGI for background Pokemon is much less impressive than Pikachu - but its overall charm is so winsome.
It's family entertainment with heart - and it's going to sell many adorable Pikachu softies. Damn, he's so cute.
Detective Pikachu is in cinemas now
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