I think we have a meh.
Seriously…. The best I can come up with here right now, as I sit facing the screen, hands poised over the keyboard… is meh. I even put off writing this all down for the longest time as you may have noticed I’ve not really been around. Partially down to apathy and partly down to the fact this will make the pokemon fanboys grab their pokeballs in anger and attempt to beat me to death with them.
Perhaps this is part of the problem with some films in this day and age, with the volume of sequels we are subjected to, relying on knowledge of content previously. Given the sheer volume of Marvel films at this point, Avengers: Endgame would be impossible for anyone to follow who had never watched anything before from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The impact of events isn’t there, the chracter arcs never realised and it would easily be dismissed as weird, incorrehent though well produced cinema.
The same has to be said here and now, for those who have never watched the Pokemon TV series, films or played the games. If you’ve not been invested with the franchaise, you will struggle with the overall plot, and thus may arrive at the end of the film either releaved or bored. Perhaps both to be fair.
So the story of Detective Pikachu revolves around Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), an insurence salesman who has to deal with the death of his father in a car crash. Tim has to travel to the city, a place where humans and pokemon live together in harmony. Though this is actually just Liverpool Street and other parts of East London, and the sight of seeing the London Overground train go past on occasion was just funny by itself to me.
In dealing with his dad’s estate, he encounters a Pikachu wearing a hat and having the voice of Ryan Renolds. This is odd for a couple of reasons, notably of which Pokemon don’t talk, save for one word. Having been attacked by random purple pokemon when they were exposed to a gas, the two begin working together to solve what happened, espiecally when it looks like Tim’s dad had been murdered. From illigal pokemon fight clubs to abandoned research facilities, the plot certainly does go much more murky.
Sounds like an interesting premise doesn’t it?
Well, in essence when it’s Tim and Ryan Renolds as Pikachu, that’s where the film is actually at it’s best. The scene where Pikachu is after coffee in a bar while making no sense about what happened to Tim’s dad is among the best the film has to offer, it’s really entertaining. Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens, is quite endearing as the downtrodden but determined junior reporter looking also to uncover what really happened, even if at times she doesn’t have a lot to play with in terms of script. Her pokemon though is slightly scene stealing as the chronically nervous and prone to exploding Psyduck.
But the film ultimatly relies on your knowledge of the franchaise and in the final third, I found myself out of the film and just bored. Quite shocking considering what’s happening as the bad guy’s plan comes together in the end, over the reskinned East London city. In fact, it was at the height of this that the biggest plot hole can be found, I won’t spoil it here in any major way but suffice to say that the main bad guy’s reasoning for doing what he did made no sense as he would still die? Seriously, it bugs me even now!
So there are many good scenes which keep things interesting during the middle third of the film for sure, the effects are quite good, the setting and creatures on show are varied and colourful and all in all, it likely ticks all the boxes that would furfill the fan’s wishes in what they wanted to see on screen. The secondary chracters do the minimum needed to forward on events. Sadly from my perspective, and it’s rather rich for me to say, it got a tad too ridiculous, espeically with the aformentioned plot hole. Yes, a film about make believe creatures got too ridiculous, I really don’t know how else to say it!
It was a film meant for kids and fans of the toys / games / tv series / previous films and that would be the only way I could recommend this at all. In essence, the film has to rely on Ryan Renolds from the marketing to carry the whole thing and it just about manages. But I wouldn’t ever sit through this again and it feels like a massively missed oppotunity to do something much more interesting with something that’s been running for a good 15 years or so. The trailers in essence gives a glimpse of something much more interesting and it didn’t live up to the promise overall. A shame to be sure.