Today Pokémon Detective Pikachu shocks the silver screen, and it’s not hyperbole to say this is the greatest video game film since 1995’s Mortal Kombat – and it some aspects it’s just as dark.
The film follows a young adult in search of his missing father, accompanied by a Pikachu who – unlike every other Pokémon commonly encountered by the populous – he can understand perfectly. While nobody else can, or even believe that he has that ability, he’s undaunted in finding his estranged daddy on a dimly lit adventure through Ryme City.
If you grew up on Pokémon, your nostalgia strings will be tugged. Boasting plenty of subtle nods to different generations of the game franchise and animé, there’s quite a bit familiar here. Fortunately, instead of just resting on these “remember years ago when you first played Pokémon and the world wasn’t an ever imploding Hellscape?” laurels, the movie build a deeply-layered world on top of these feelings, allowing for a fully-immersive experience.
Surprisingly, the movie keeps with the ominous tone of the original animated Pokémon: the Movie from two decades prior. While, as a movie-goer I was surprised by this film for children tackling degenerative neurological diseases, absent parenting, death and one instance of Pikachu swearing (I’d label that a spoiler, but even if I did you wouldn’t believe me anyway), I was reminded that the original PokéCinematic endeavor involved Pikachu’s original trainer being turned to stone until tears restored him to life.
I was also surprised how – at its core – it really was a detective movie. The pacing, the unfolding plot points, the constant guessing – this really was an unlikely partners detective film that just so happened to star Pikachu! Not losing this core structure is a big reason why the film works, and why the moments playing into Pokémon-lore never wear out their welcome.
Seeing Detective Pikachu in a theater full of children was a testament to what a crowd-pleaser it was. Every child stayed respectfully quiet and watched in total rapture as Squirtle, Cubone, Charmander, Bulbasaur and so many of their favorite Pokémon came to life in front of their eyes.
If you have even a passing interest in Pokémon, Ryan Reynolds and cute things, be sure to catch Detective Pikachu!