I went and saw Pokemon Detective Pikachu today. Let me start by saying it was better than I thought it would be! The Pokemon designs were integrated well and the humor, and action were pretty good. Before the movie was released I was concerned that it would have too much that lined up with the Detective Pikachu game but would change the details so much it would be weird to me, but I don’t think that was an issue. (In particular I noticed that the movie had a lot of characters who clearly corresponded to someone from the game but had a different Pokemon, but they were all different enough that it was clearly not meant to be 1:1 and really Detective Pikachu was the only character I’d say was in both the game and movie, even if Tim Goodman shared his name between them.) I liked what they did with the story, both in taking things from the game and making new plot points.
I have a friend who has been somewhat vocal about not liking the realistic designs of the Pokemon, saying they should be more cartoony like the original designs and it’d be fine just suspend your belief they’re cartoons they should look like cartoons just put ’em next to real humans! I for one am glad they went the direction they did, though. I think it looked really well–immediately I felt like those Pidgey or PIdgeotto or Pidgeot or whatever were a part of the real world, as were the Bouffalant. Bouffalant? They’re starting with later gens already, cool! It wasn’t always perfect, but it made it feel more real than Pokemon ever has been.
Now, the game had a pretty formulaic setup. It was divided into chapters, and each chapter generally ended and began with Tim going from the apartment to the police station and sometimes the cafe. (Oh, right, Ludicolo was the only other character who had the exact same role as the game. I’m a bit sad they didn’t make Ludicolo’s partner a character like in the game but I suppose that wasn’t really necessary.) Obviously the movie wouldn’t be styled like that so it makes more sense they were more on the own and apart from any authority here. The identity of the villain kind of reflects this, although in both cases it’s someone who acts like they’re helping but are actually misleading them.
Lickitung is precious and I love it. I hope the home release has an hour of deleted scenes with it.
When the original trailer released some people were like “ryan reynolds as pikachu??? how crazy!!” But it sounded completely normal as a Pikachu to me because I’d played the game where he had this super deep voice and it was way funnier. I think ultimately they made a good choice for the more serious moments–a silly deep voice works when Detective Pikachu is talking to you a lot but here I think it works. I was kind of vocal about liking the game’s voice more so this is a turn for me.
Mr. Mime was also amazing. Just make a sequel starring Lickitung and Mr. Mime. It was goofy and expressive, making it a bit more cartoony than most of the Pokemon in the movie, but given it was Mr. Mime I think that works.
The action was actually way better than I was expecting! I wasn’t expecting much action at all but I think it was done well and smoothly. This movie, being made to mimic the real world a lot more than the game, makes sense to have a seedy underbelly where there are Pokemon fights in a city where they’re not allowed. It made a lot of stuff more sinister, really–while the laboratory was clearly more of an evil operation, the laboratory in the game actually consisted of scientists doing good things, and there just happened to be one bad apple who discovered R.
One thing I actually wasn’t a fan of in the movie was the giant Torterra scene. I was talking with a friend afterwards though and I’m less harsh on it now. As much as I liked the action in the scene I felt it dragged on a little bit, but my main issue was that I felt these kaiju Torterra would BE EASILY NOTICED BY PEOPLE MAYBE?? But my friend points out it was probably Psyduck’s headache blast that woke them up, especially since they lay back down shortly after, so it makes enough sense for me to be okay with it in retrospect.
I was worried that Mewtwo was going to be made into the bad guy in the movie so I’m glad he wasn’t. (I tend to have an issue when a legendary is made the bad guy because they’re often shown as being one-of-a-kind, which means this Pokemon species is just evil. Just make it a random Pokemon like a Honchkrow or Shinx.) In the game it’s clear he had something to do with Harry’s disappearance and Pikachu’s loss of memories, but he’s just there to make sure R is all disposed of, so he’s definitely more of a presence in the movie. Also in the game R is purely made to increase Pokemon’s battle capabilities and sell it. When the dudes organizing that are stopped it’s all over, but surprise! We still don’t know what happened to Harry Goodman! But then the movie goes and introduces R as a way for humans and Pokemon to merge, which is no doubt how Harry and Pikachu merge to begin with. But the games? Well…
I have a friend who suggested that maybe they’d planned the game to be three episodes, as the full release included what was originally a separate release of the first few chapters, and that the third episode would have them find Harry and solve that mystery. Which makes me wonder–was the original plan to include this human-Pokemon merging as a plot point in the final episode of the game? Was the movie actually based on the game’s plot a lot more than it seems?
Half of this review is just me explaining differences in the game and movie and throwing out fan theories I guess. But ultimately I give this movie the approval of both an old Pokemon fan and a player of the Detective Pikachu game. They leaned into the Pokemon references without going so far that it got annoying. (Although I still think having Looker appear played by David Tennant would have been amazing.) It had decent action and humor and some good silliness here and there.
Now I hope they make a sequel where Detective Pikachu gets married and has a kid and then that kid gets merged with Pichu accidentally and it’s called Pokemon Detective Pichu! Make it happen, whatever company made this movie! I don’t remember!!