Since 1995, Pocket Monsters have captured the hearts of millions around the world. More popularly referred to as Pokémon, these fictional creatures would go on to have a remarkable imprint in Popular Culture with frequent appearances in video games, trading cards, television and now, live-action film.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a Pokémon collector’s dream film. Directed by Rob Letterman, the film stars Ryan Reynolds as the popular Pikachu, Justice Smith as Tim Goodman, a young former Pokémon trainer in search of his missing father, and Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens, the thrill-seeking, nosy reporter who takes her anxious Psyduck on all of her stakeouts. Together, they provide an entertaining, action-packed, nostalgic adventure showcasing the exciting world of Pokémon while uncovering dark secrets hidden within the community.
It’s hard to ignore the excitement that one would garner upon the mere mention of a live-action Pokémon film; and that’s exactly what happened when Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was first announced. But as far as living up to this hype, fans might be left disappointed. When the film concentrates on the lively creatures, it provides exciting moments that will surely be fan-favorites. Unfortunately, the trailer already shows a lot of these, resulting in a film with much to be desired in terms of showcasing surprises, more Pokémon and giving them longer screen time. Additionally, these bits are often interrupted and/or clouded with a shift of focus towards human interactions.
That’s not to say that these moments between Justice Smith’s Tim Goodman and Kathryn Newton’s Lucy Stevens aren’t heartwarming, because they certainly are satisfying with just a touch of cheesiness and cuteness that a storyline like this has the potential to offer. However, these moments often lead to predictable outcomes. Add in a risky amount of overacting, and then the film becomes full of cringe-worthy instances that, somehow, still seem to find its way towards oblivion.
Even when the acting is at its best, the trade-off for human screen-time feels underwhelming compared to the Pokémon-centered counterparts. But that shouldn’t stop audiences from being excited. There’s a lot to look forward to within the film as well as its potential to lead to a Pokémon film franchise with multiple sequels and spinoffs. This first installment might not be groundbreaking, but there is great potential ahead for fans of these creatures.
Despite some hiccups Pokémon: Detective Pikachu can’t seem to overcome, there are moments when the film truly soars such as seeing these creatures brought to life in the thrilling way. It will remind audiences about the times they’ve read about these lovable creatures, played them in video games or watched them in animation. And that’s what makes the watching experience so enjoyable. Paired with the incredible graphics, long-time fans of Pokémon won’t be able to help but smile throughout the film, as they come to the realization that a live-action Pokémon film is here. And what’s to come can only get better.