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FILM REVIEW: Pokemon Detective Pikachu stunning to look at but that's where the positives end

By Spalding Today Columnist






I recently overheard someone say that the only reason people are watching Pokémon Detective Pikachu is due to the involvement of Deadpool himself Ryan Reynolds.

But I disagree as Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time (with $90 billion in total franchise revenue) thanks to computer games, card games, TV shows, movies, etc. So it would seem that people were going to flock to see this film regardless of the actors in it – because it’s all about the Pokémon themselves, right?!

Clearly there is an audience for Pokémon Detective Pikachu, and a lot of pressure on the filmmakers to get it right for the fans. Did they succeed in doing so? I’ll give my opinion shortly.

The story sees 21-year-old Tim (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Justice Smith), who chooses to stay in a town that all his friends have left over the years. He only decides to venture away from it after his police detective dad (who he hasn’t seen for years) mysteriously disappears. And so, he heads to the Pokemon paradise of Ryme City – where humans and Pokemon live side-by-side – to investigate the disappearance.

Whilst searching his father’s flat, he discovers his father’s Pokemon partner, Detective Pikachu (voiced by Reynolds) wandering around suffering from amnesia. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with each other, Tim and Pikachu join forces to try and solve the mystery. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of Pokemon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokemon universe.

I saw my showing in 3D, which I feel is noteworthy since this was one of my favourite 3D viewing experiences. With the Pokemon bouncing around in front of a neon-heavy Ryme City backdrop, this was a visual treat.

The Pokemon universe was also fascinating to watch – with the franchise brought to life like we’ve never seen before.

Sadly, the positives end here.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu may have been stunning to look at but that doesn’t save the movie from a bad script, pacing issues, and confusion as to who this film is for. Clearly, the movie has been made for a younger audience, and yet almost all the references come from the games that mostly only those much older will get – with very little nods to the newer material.

Also, for what is essentially a film for children, the pacing is way too slow. There is little action and only two battles – something that most will expect to see plenty of in a Pokemon movie. And I’m actually being generous calling one of the ‘fights’ a battle. Due to Pikachu’s amnesia, he’s forgotten how to use his powers – therefore when faced up against Charizard, he simply runs. Two of the most popular Pokemon battling it out in stunning 3D could have been a big spectacle, but it wasn’t meant to be.

My biggest criticism is that I felt the marketing was misleading. The trailer and numerous skits from Ryan Reynolds led me to believe that this was going to be a fun action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

That wasn’t the case at all – which leaves this as a missed opportunity considering the extensive source material at hand.

Rating: 2.5/5

By Mikey Clarke


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