Pokemon: Detective Pikachu Review

When you think of media juggernauts of the modern era there are a couple franchises that instantly jump to mind. Behemoths like, Marvel or Star Wars are the easy choices. But in the grand scheme of things, Pokemon easily trumps them all. With around $90 billion in revenue, Pokemon proves to be the phenomenon it always has been and looks to add to that with Detective Pikachu.

Detective Pikachu Synopsis

In Detective Pikachu we are introduced to Tim (Justice Smith), a young insurance agent who has long given up on his dream of becoming a Pokemon Trainer. After receiving a phone call about an accident involving his father, Tim travels to Ryme City for some closure. While there Tim discovers a Pikachu in his dad’s apartment that he can actually understand. After the initial shock of this discovery, the two set out on a buddy cop type adventure to unravel the mystery of the fate of his father.

What I Liked

I grew up with Pokemon. I remember playing Pokemon for hours with my brother on our Gameboys. This movie was made to indulge in the nostalgia of the audience and it does exactly that. There are so many great, small moments involving these Pokemon living in a normal world. There are little things like a Machamp directing traffic, Squirtles helping a group of firefighters, or just a Snorlax sleeping that will make any Pokemon fan instantly smile.

It wouldn’t be Pokemon without a couple battles thrown in there as well. Even though they are few and far between we get a little hint at how these battles could play out in future movies which makes Detective Pikachu even more exciting.

There are some great standalone scenes in Detective Pikachu. In the opening scene we see our main character and his best friend interact with a Cubone. It sets the tone for the movie and gives you hope that they are going to do Pokemon the justice it deserves on the big screen. There is also an amazing sequence involving a Mr. Mime that might just be the best scene in the movie.

What Could Have Been Improved

As a Pokemon film, Detective Pikachu is great but as a detective film, it fell flat for me. Ryme City is a great start to see where Pokemon can go, and the story serves as the playground for these creatures. Overall for me it just didn’t work. It’s a simple and predictable story. You can see what direction they are going well before they actually decide to take that turn.  

Not only is it predictable, we also get some pretty weak performances from all the actors in the movie. The lead, Justice Smith, does just fine, but does nothing to stand out. Kathryn Newton, who has some great performances in Big Little Lies and Blockers, is given no favors in this film. Then you get Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean), who honestly seemed like he couldn’t have cared less about this role.  

Finally, you get around to the humor. With Ryan Reynolds involved you are always going to get that signature Reynolds comedy. But in this case just doesn’t work well in a Pokemon universe. There is this feeling of a PG Deadpool running around making jokes about peeing his pants and it doesn’t work. Sure, there are some genuinely funny moments, but in general the humor just didn’t work for me.

Detective Pikachu Final Thoughts

Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a fun little movie with a lot of heart. It has me more excited about what the future of these movies could be. The movie has the perfect blend of pleasing the Pokemon fandom, while also welcoming the newcomers. It is a decent start to a franchise with loads of potential for a much bigger universe. There are multiple directions they could go after this film. That includes new regions and characters, and that has me excited for what’s to come. If you are a fan of Pokemon, Ryan Reynolds, or just looking for a funny family film I would definitely recommend Detective Pikachu.

Overall Score 3/5


About the Author
Andy is a contributing writer on the Back Lot 605 team. Movies have always been a big part of his life but his biggest influence in his joy of movies comes from growing up around his step brother, who worked at a video store and wanted to be a director. This led to seeing a lot of dramas and John Wayne movies as a kid. Since then some of his favorite movies include Whiplash, Interstellar, Lord of the Rings, and Gladiator. There isn’t a single genre Andy doesn’t like, but he has a soft spot for Disney, romantic comedies, westerns, and dramas.
Scroll to top