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A-Ron’s Movie Reviews: Pokémon – Detective Pikachu

If You’re A “Pokémon” Fan, Your Going To Want To Throw Your Poké Ball And Capture This One. If Your Not A Fan You’ll Have Some Fun As This Is “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, For The “Pokémon” Universe. While Ryan Reynolds Provides The Voice Of Pikachu (bless you!) In A Family Friendly Deadpool Voice. 

The franchise of “Pokémon” had began as “Pokémon” Red and Green, which was later released outside of Japan as “Pokémon” Red and Blue. A pair of video games for the original Game Boy that were published by Nintendo in February 1996. The original video game series is the second best-selling video game franchise (behind Nintendo’s Mario franchise), with more than 300 million copies sold and 1 billion mobile downloads, spawning a hit anime television series that has become the most successful video game adaptation with over 20 seasons and 1,000 episodes in 124 countries. In addition, the “Pokémon” franchise includes the world’s top-selling trading card game with over 25.7 billion cards sold, an anime film series, books, manga comics, music, merchandise and now a live-action film. 

During it’s release in 1996, I’ll admit I had “Pokémon” for my GameBoy for which I played it for a week and never again after that. I never could really get into “Pokémon”. I was pretty much in the dark about the whole phenomenon, at the most I knew they had these little capsule like balls, that were thrown to catch the “Pokémon”, where you’d train them to become your official “Pokémon”. I also knew the names of a few characters, like: Pikachu (bless you!), Mewtwo and Charizard. Other than that I didn’t know much. 

My sister Jayme who is big into the “Pokémon” phenomenon was super excited for the live-action film “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu”. I for one had no interest in seeing it but being the brother that I am I didn’t want her to go alone so I agreed to be her date to the movie. I had a “Pokémon” tutor in the ways of the franchise sitting with me as I watched this. I avoided asking her about the mythology of the franchise, as I was hoping the film I was about to see would spend time to explain it to someone like me. 

I very quickly discovered that this movie wasn’t made for a movie-goer that was non educated nor one who wasn’t a fan of the franchise. Based on the 2016 game of the same name, “Detective Pikachu” has no interest in getting newcomers like me interested in a big-screen world where people and pocket monsters live harmoniously side by side. The screenplay written by a quartet of writers, including the films director Rob Letterman, makes little effort to explain the rules of the world and the functions of the creatures who inhabit it. It doesn’t expand the “Pokémon” world in a way that would appeal to newcomers. This is strictly for the FANS. 

“Detective Pikachu” recycles the plot of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, and mixes it with a buddy cop, sci-fi noir mystery with hints of “Blade Runner” (just not as eye popping) and  features a third act that follows in the footsteps of every Marvel movie. Director Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps”) makes an ambitious film that is fun and entertaining in the first act and the first half of the second act where it then just gets lazy and drags itself along. Then picks up again in the third act, as it kicks in for it’s frantic climax, the big battle between Pikachu and the badass villain that is Mewtwo. The battle is set to a stolen plot point from the studio’s 1989 film “Batman”. The battle between the Thanos and Iron Man of the “Pokémon” world is a great action sequence, that deserved to be much longer. 

A big attraction to seeing “Detective Pikachu” is the man behind, or the voice behind the yellow furry fan favorite Pikachu. After the success of “Deadpool” Ryan Reynolds has been given an amount of freedom to goof off in the recording booth. Reynolds is easily the best thing about the film. He delivers some choice quips and creates an impression that Reynolds needed to ad-lib his dialogue so he could punch up a mediocre screenplay, this causes some jokes to stick it’s landing and some that don’t. 

Ken Watanabe, who has a very underused role as the chief of police. His role is so small and useless it’s as if he filmed it a few buildings down in the Warner Bros lot during his lunch break from “Godzilla: King Of Monsters”. British actor and one of my favorites Bill Nighy (played Billy Mack in “Love Actually”) is the extremely predictable character we have seen time and time again. It’s more exciting to see which one of them can keep a straight face long enough to collect their paychecks.

As Reynolds works overtime to sell his middling dialogue. Rob Letterman directs a sequence with a “Pokémon” known as Mr Mime, that is absolute genius as the laughs come hard. Action sequences are impressive, finding director Rob Letterman keeping to scale, and instilling a big screen visual feast to the effort that’s visually arresting.

If you have waited this long to see the “Pokémon” world brought to life on the big screen, then grab your Poké ball and catch “Detective Pikachu”, because it will be everything you ever wanted. But for those of us who don’t know this world or the difference between a Jigglypuff and a Charizard, if you want to go back and study 23 years of “Pokémon” history to better your viewing experience then please do so. For others you’ll walk away enjoying most of it as I did and thinking “Oh that was cute” or I had fun, which isn’t a bad thing. At least you walked away with a positive experience. But for me seeing the joy in my sisters face and hearing her reactions throughout the movie was worth the price of admission alone. 

GRADE: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)

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About Aron Medeiros

Aron Medeiros
Aron Medeiros lives on the beautiful island of Maui. He is a member of The Hawaii Film Critics Society, movie critic for Maui Watch, a commentator and cast member of the NerdWatch pod cast. He is a 2003 graduate from King Kekaulike High School. His favorite film of all time is “Back To The Future”. He has worked at Consolidated Kaahumanu Theaters for nearly 13 years as a Sales Associate and making his way up to Assistant Manager. He has loved movies since he was a young boy, learning about movies from his Grandfather and being self taught.

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