When his father Harry is killed in strange circumstances, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) heads to Rhyme City to handle his affairs. Whilst visiting Harry's apartment, Tim discovers his Dad's Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), and for some reason he can understand what the little guy is saying. Unfortunately Pikachu doesn't remember what happened to Harry or what he was working on, but he is a world class detective. If anyone can solve this mystery it's Detective Pikachu...and his sidekick Tim.
As someone who is not a fan of Pokémon, I went into this fully prepared to be confused about a great deal. But that was not the case. Director Rob Letterman and his team have done a great job of making Pokémon Detective Pikachu appeal to a wider audience. Granted, a cursory knowledge or awareness of Pokémon might help, but it's definitely not required. First and foremost, this is a buddy comedy, one that's been crossed with a murder mystery, set in a Pokémon world - and parents, don't worry about the murder bit, Detective Pikachu is worthy of its PG rating.
But would it appeal to true Pokémon fans? Well yes, I think it will. Maybe some would like to see a movie like this go deeper into the world, but much like John Wick or Star Wars there's always potential for this in future movies. Besides which, this is still very much a Pokémon world, there's plenty of stuff in here that fans will recognise, including a battle or two, undoubtedly many easter eggs and I lost track of how many different Pokémon there are. All of whom have been brought to life using some pretty impressive CGI. And in the middle of all this is the perfect pairing.
Justice Smith is on top form as Tim, not only is his performance very funny, it's incredibly relatable too. You'll find yourself empathising with with Tim and his inner conflict over his father. The real selling point though, is the relationship he has with Pikachu. This is a true buddy comedy. After starring in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Smith once again shows his ability to work well opposite CGI characters, the chemistry between Tim and Pikachu is nothing short of perfect. It really is a barrel of laughs watching these two cause mayhem all over Rhyme City as they try to figure out what happened to Harry - the interrogation of a Mr Mime is a particular highlight. Ryan Reynolds - providing the voice and facial expressions through motion capture for Pikachu - brings his unique brand of zany wit to the little yellow guy. Picking Reynolds for this role was a stroke of genius. I mean, who else could play a slightly mad, caffeine addicted Pikachu who also happens to be a world class detective?
Unfortunately Pokémon Detective Pikachu does suffer from a fairly predictable plot. For a mystery/detective movie, the identity of the villain - and their motives - becomes clear almost immediately. Also, with the movie focused heavily on Tim and Pikachu the rest of the cast is left with very little to do. Ken Watanabe's Lieutenant Hide Yoshida falls most foul of this. It is hinted very early on that he might know more than he is letting on, but nothing ever comes of this, there's no explanation of his behaviour and he pretty much serves no purpose for the rest of the movie.
Overall Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a fun buddy comedy that will appeal to more than just the die hard fans of Pokémon. While there isn't a lot of mystery to the story, it is fun watching Tim and his Detective Pikachu buddy try to solve it. And I would definitely be interested in seeing Rob Letterman take us deeper into the world of Rhyme City...hopefully with Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith in tow.
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