REVIEW: ‘Detective Pikachu’ doesn’t have the most interesting case file

I was at one point a Poke-expert. I watched the never-ending anime, read any of the manga I could get my hands on, and of course played Pocket Monsters on my Gameboy, the Yellow-Pikachu edition.

So “Detective Pikachu” was a film where I was able to pick up a lot of what’s going on and enjoyed some of the Easter Eggs for fans thrown in here and there. However, the question of whether or not it’s a good movie is a whole other story.

“Detective” follows the character Tim (Justice Smith), a former Pokemon fan who gave the trainer life up in his youth and has decided to work in insurance. Before he can start his new career, though, he gets a call that his father, a police officer working in a city where Pokemon and people live together, was killed while on an investigation.

While he and his father had been estranged for several years, Tim goes to the city to tie up loose ends and learn what happened. While there, he meets his father’s Pikachu  police partner (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), and discovers that he can talk to the yellow electric type. After meeting, Tim and the Detective Pikachu put together that there’s a case still unsolved and decide to check into it.

To put it simply, young audiences will enjoy “Detective Pikachu” and if you were a fan growing up with the series, it might be worth your time. Otherwise, this is easily skipable.

“Detective Pikcahu” just doesn’t have any weight to it, both the story and the characters feel paper thin. Whether it was during moments where the characters were in peril or in times that were played up as emotional, “Detective Pikachu” overall comes across as largely empty.

That’s not to say it’s a train-wreck. The movie has alright pacing, a solid three-act structure, and a story that doesn’t get convoluted or takes up too much time. However, based on its overall quality, it’s still one that a person should opt to stream, rather than go to the theater for.

As for the acting, there’s not much to say. Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton play the two human leads, and their performances are more made-for-TV quality.

Fortunately, the movie does have a real saving grace with Reynolds as Pikachu. Despite only being a voice-acting role, Reynolds charisma and charm come through with his energetic performance. Reynolds brings some solid comedic material off the pages and onto the screen, ultimately giving the movie a much needed boost.

One gripe I have about the Detective Pikachu character, though, is the audience didn’t know what the other Pokemon were saying to him. Somewhat of a missed opportunities to give some of the other Pokemon voices, which could have been a chance to feature some fun cameos.

Speaking of the Pokemon, the animation looks good at some points, but the creatures never seemed to come to life.

“Detective Pikachu” is a fine watch for the family, but it’s not really a memorable feature. Considering all of the bizarre things this movie had to pull together to create a cohesive picture, it deserves some praise, but only so much. 2.75 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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