Cards on the table, I tried to keep my expectations low for Detective Pikachu. After many half-hearted, sometimes creepy, live action adaptations of beloved cartoons; I had given up hope on finding a film that could pull it off. Against all odds, Detective Pikachu makes it work. Having made over 53.6 million dollars on opening weekend, Pikachu ranks in as the second most successful film of the Summer, thus far. The film has been a power house in its genre, uniting fans from around the country in a wave of nostalgia.
Our protagonist is Tim Goodman, a Pokemon-less teen, who arrives at Ryme City to collect the discarded belongings of his deceased father. To his surprise, he finds a sarcastic Pikachu,that only he can understand, investigating the scene . The two partner up to find out what became of his father’s last case.
The film provides a fresh look at Pokemon, inspired by the 3DS game Inspector Pikachu. Fans of both say it’s a fairly faithful adaptation of the game. While the story and tone is darker than your average Pokemon movie, the director’s inclusion of hundreds of background Pokemon brings Ryme City to life. There are also quite a few call-backs to the original animated series. Noticeable examples are the Squirtle Squad firefighters and nomadic Jiggly Puff. It’s unfortunate that we did not get to see a single Officer Jenny or Nurse Joy in the entire film.
Ryan Reynolds has received nothing but praise for lively interpretation of Pikachu, providing much needed comic relief throughout the film. I have to applaud Justice Smith for his stellar performance as Tim Goodman. He acts as an excellent foil to Reynolds’ personality, and his work with the CGI makes the animated characters feel believable and present in the scenes.
Hands down, the unsung heroes of this project are the animators and character designers. The opportunity for uncanny, creepy adaptations of these beloved characters was huge. A lot of hard work went into making sure these characters moved like animals they were inspired by while maintaining their stylistic charm. A lot of love went into the creation of these creatures and it shows.
Over all, I’d say it’s fairly typical buddy cop kids’ movie with some pleasantly surprising twists. The script is family oriented, without being annoying, and has a slight Marvel flavor to its comedy. As a live action adaptation of a cartoon, it’s a masterpiece. It should act as a template for future endeavors. This is how you bring a series to life; with love, respect, a spark of inspiration, and a lot of humor.