I feel like it’s only fair to admit that this is a wholly biased review. I grew up playing Pokémon – and not just the normal games either – I owned copies of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Pokémon Ranger. So, when the Detective Pikachu film was announced, I was ecstatic. Not only would I get to see my childhood up on the silver screen – it was to be live action! (Well, realistic CGI, but you know what I mean). I’d finally get to see what all my favourite Pokémon would look like.
Certainly, some part of me was cynical. I’d suffered through years of poorly written, 2D, animated Pokémon films. I was fully aware that this, like most adaptations of popular intellectual properties, was predominantly a cash grab film. But I held out hope, despite the slew of terrible ‘live-action’ films that were plaguing our cinemas. And guess what? It absolutely paid off.
I only think it’s fair to discuss the failings of the film before I lavish the thing in praise. The narrative was a little obvious. Without spoiling it for you (and I really don’t want to, as I do encourage all you lovely readers to go and watch it), I will admit that a plot point the film chooses to frame as a ‘big twist’ was guessed by me and my flatmate from merely viewing the trailer. Moreover, at times the acting is either incredibly wooden, or far too melodramatic. Unfortunately, it is those moments that pull you out of the wonderfully immersive atmosphere that Detective Pikachu is able to create.
‘I held out hope, despite the slew of terrible ‘live-action’ films that were plaguing our cinemas. And guess what? It absolutely paid off’
But let’s talk about that atmosphere. Because, since viewing the first trailer for this film, there was one thing, and one thing only, that I wanted. I wanted to see Pokémon in the real world – not only that, but their intergration into everyday life. I’m a sucker for good word building, and let me tell you, Detective Pikachu absolutely nailed it. There was a comprehensive exploration and explanation of this human/Pokémon world, in which exposition was given (and at some times, was admittedly a little obvious), but didn’t feel too complex, or unnecessary to the film’s plot. The audience was expected to accept some things at face value, with little explanation, and because it wasn’t that important to the story, we did.
When we walked out of the theatre, the first thing that we did was excitedly chatter about how much we wanted our own Pokémon. And the other attendees of that screening were doing the same. In that sense, I do believe Detective Pikachu achieves what it sets out to do. Remind everyone, no matter how old, what it feels like to be enamoured with this world of interesting and incredible creatures. It truly is the very best, like no video-game movie ever was.