Computer game adaptations have never gone well despite numerous efforts over the years from a wide variety of genres. I wasn’t holding out hope that an adaptation of Pokemon would break the mould.
However, put Mr. Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds, in the movie as Pickachu himself, grab Bill Nighy (“The Limehouse Golem“, “Dad’s Army”) and Ken Watanabe (“Isle Of Dogs“, “Bel Canto“) and add Nicole Perlman (“Captain Marvel“, “Guardians Of The Galaxy”) to the (long) list of writers and what you get is something unexpected.
The movie is funny, a sarcasm filled, breathless film that belies its one hour 44 minute run-time, zipping along at a speed that is surprising. It doesn’t give you chance to think, you just run with it or get left behind.
The story is basic, Tim Goodman, Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom“, “Paper Towns”), finds out his father (Reynolds) has been killed. He heads to Ryme city, a place where Pokemon and humans live side-by-side, to empty the house.
When he arrives he meets Pikachu (also Reynolds), who has lost his memory but is wearing a hat with Tim’s fathers address. Oh and he can also speak, and Tim can understand him, which makes the movie easier to understand!
Pikachu is convinced that Tim’s father isn’t dead and wants to know what’s happened to his memory, so the pair, after some convincing, set off on an adventure to find out what’s going on.
This leads them to an encounter with the founder of Ryme city, Howard Clifford (Nighy), a junior reporter Lucy Stevens, Kathryn Newton (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“, “Lady Bird“), and a whole heap of Pokemon. Including a very bad one who is all-powerful.
Despite the plethora of writers: Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit (“1600 Penn (TV)”, “One Day At A Time (TV)”), Derek Connolly (” Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom“, “Kong: Skull Island“) and Rob Letterman (“Monsters Vs Aliens”, “Shark Tale”), who also directs, the movie works.
Now, I can’t say how it compares to the game, as I’ve never played it, but as a standalone movie it’s fine. It’s not ground breaking, it probably won’t win awards, but it’s a fun little movie that entertains, and it has cute little things in, which always helps.
Reynolds brings his, family-friendly, Deadpool-esq sarcasm and humour to proceedings, you do expect him to break the fourth-wall every now and again. Smith performs well in the lead role but does get overshadowed by Reynolds who appears to be loving the role.
Other characters are a tad thin on the ground in terms of back story, reasoning etc, even Nighy as the boss is given short shrift for such a weighty role, but it’s fine.
I say it’s fine, obviously it isn’t great, but this isn’t a drama, it’s entertainment, and, as such, Pokemon Detective Pikachu works. It’s entertaining, and I think that’s all you can ask for. It’s certainly better than a lot of video game adaptations that have come before it.