Film Review: Detective Pikachu

Who’s that Pokémon? How one little Pikachu discovered his way into audience’s hearts…

Released during a busy and exciting period for cinema, Detective Pikachu seems to have achieved what many have strived for yet failed to achieve: a good video game movie. With many of the industry’s offerings causing nothing but disappointment for fans (think the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, or Dwayne Johnson’s Doom), Detective Pikachu seems to have come out on top, earning $161 worldwide in its opening weekend. Facing against blockbusters such as Avengers: Endgame and Aladdin, the video game series and anime’s ever-growing relevance and popularity has secured Detective Pikachu a top spot in the highest-grossing films of 2019. But just how good was the film, and did it have an easy ride to the top following the Pokémania of Pokémon Go?

The story of Detective Pikachu sees a young trainer named Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), who has recently lost his Police Investigator father, Harry. Upon returning to his father’s apartment, he finds a Pikachu who can talk, with only Tim understanding what the Pokémon is saying. Pikachu explains that he too is looking for Tim’s father, as he believes he is still alive, and that they should work together to find him. Upon this, Tim meets young news reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), who is reporting on the mysterious death of Tim’s father. As the three friends work to find Tim’s father, they come across a plot to destroy Ryme City, and it is up to Tim and Pikachu to save the day.

The film itself is visually impressive to say the least – it has been shown to be difficult to replicate video game or animated characters for the big screen, as seen with the rampant criticism of Sonic the Hedgehog’s appearance in the upcoming live-action movie. The film faithfully represents many fan favourites such as Charizard, Bulbasaur and Blastoise, as well as more obscure creatures like as Ludicolo, Aipom and Torterra. Not only this, but the Pokémon included don’t look out of place in the ‘real world’, as Pokémon walk alongside humans in Ryme City. While some might be worried that they will only be able to think of Deadpool whilst watching this film, Ryan Reynolds plays Pikachu with depth and feeling, as well as adding some hilarious comedic moments throughout the film.

So why has the movie caused such a stir in the movie industry, and why has it been so successful? Whilst some may claim that Pokémon is a childish franchise, based off of video games for young kids, the series popularity has only increased since its introduction in 1996. Moreover, the majority of those fans who grew up with the series are now adults, making up a large portion of the film’s audience. Another criticism that some may have is that the film is riding on the success of 2016’s Pokémon Go, which continues to be popular among many iOS and Android users.

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

However, the reason the film did so well, especially compared to other video game movies, is that it stays true to the franchise while remaining completely unique, introducing a new city in a similar style to the games. This makes the film feel genuine and fresh, whilst still keeping the charm of the video games. The film does not try to thrust animated characters into unnatural and impossible situations, and most importantly, you can tell that the producers of this film took notice of the source material to create something that will please existing fans of the series and might bring in new ones too.

In summary, this film is a fantastic, humorous and heartfelt attempt at creating a great video game movie, and all of the hard work put into the movie has clearly paid off. The film is a brilliant cinematic experience that the whole family can enjoy, leaving you with a warm fuzzy feeling and making you relive all of those childhood memories.

By Ella Farnsworth

Feature image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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