Pokémon comes to life as a whodunnit

Ryan Reynolds is Pikachu in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (IMDB)

How does one go about adapting Pokémon? This successful trading card, video game and animated series comprises thousands of hours of gameplay where characters collect, train and battle a menagerie of creatures. Source: ACOFB.

Any attempt to smash this complexity into a feature film would likely be impossibly dense and mystifying, reserved for only the most ardent and well-read fans. The best thing then about Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the streamlined story that it wisely chooses to tell, one pulled from the reasonably linear 2016 game, Detective Pikachu.

By focusing on a handful of characters with a mystery to solve, the screenplay can drop audiences cold into the world of Pokémon, generating and maintaining interest with the whodunnit elements while methodically introducing parts of the Pokémon world as the story requires.

This way, your enjoyment of the film doesn’t rely on you having an in-depth knowledge of its source material. It certainly helps (there are plenty of jokes and Easter eggs for the diehards), but it’s not a requirement for entry.

Our hero is Tim (Justice Smith), a young man living in a world filled with Pokémon and estranged from his police officer father, Harry. Tim gets a call informing him of his father’s death in a car accident and is summoned by Detective Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) to handle his father’s estate.

While clearing out his father’s apartment, Tim is surprised by the appearance of a Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). This Pokémon – a football-sized puff of bright yellow fur with cherry-red cheeks, long pointed ears and a lightning bolt-shaped tail – was previously his father’s partner. The duo are shocked to realise that Tim is the only person that can hear Pikachu’s voice (everyone else hears a high-pitched “pika pika!” whenever he speaks). Pikachu is mysteriously suffering from amnesia, but he explains to Tim his hunch that there is more to Harry’s death than a mere accident. Tim and Pikachu resolve to team up and solve the case, eventually joined in their quest by budding journo Lucy (Kathryn Newton).

Given how disastrously many expected a live action Pokémon movie to turn out, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a solid bit of family entertainment that will appeal doubly to Pokémon fans.

- Review by Callum Ryan, ACOFB

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy. Directed by Rob Letterman. 104 minutes. Rated PG (Mild themes and fantasy violence, some scenes may scare younger children).

FULL REVIEW

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (ACOFB)

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