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Detective Pikachu Review

5 Minute Read
May 12 2019

Detective Pikachu is stupid, and tropey, and absolute nonsense. But kids will love the action and visuals. Plus, c’mon. Look at that little guy. What a cutie.

So I just saw Detective Pikachu and it’s absolutely a movie worth talking about. I’ve got a lot to say so let’s not waste any more time.

While I do consider this a spoiler-free review, I have to vaguely mention and hint at some plot points. So keep that in mind.

The Good of Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu is a fun and whimsical look into what a realistic setting in the world of Pokémon could look like. Getting to see all the subtle details of how humans and Pokémon interact really helped the world-building. All the in-world advertisements, the small character interactions, and the background details make for a fully fleshed out world that feels truly lived in.

The actors’ performances were all very good. Their reactions and expressions felt real and responsive, especially when interacting with the Pokémon themselves. Definitely some strong Roger Rabbit vibes in a lot of those scenes.

detective pikachu characters
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The action scenes are tense and exciting. The movie had good pacing and balance between action and buildup. This gave the audience time to simmer and build up the mystery and tension before each action sequence popped off.

The humor was mostly pretty solid. Some strong jokes caught me off guard in a really good way. This is on top of how the movie utilizes some of the more unique Pokémon. It was clear a lot of love and understanding went into the scenes with these characters, which made those scenes particularly enjoyable.

The Bad of Detective Pikachu

When reviewing any movie, it’s important to view it through the lens of the intended audience. With so many of my favorite childhood movies, I won’t go back and watch now. I know I will lose a lot of the love and sentiment I have for them, once I view them through a more adult lens.

brave little toaster
With some obvious exceptions.

That said, Detective Pikachu‘s plot is absolute nonsense and the movie is so full of every trope you can possibly imagine. In nearly every scene, I found myself rolling my eyes at some line, or move, or plot point that was so predictable. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t happen over, and over, and over. Despite my trying to keep myself from getting annoyed, I couldn’t help it. It was really blatant. There’s the required emotional beats and falling outs that come out of left field, and don’t feel earned or warranted, and were clearly added in because they were “supposed to be” there.

detective pikachu car
Drinking game: Drink every trope. First to pass out wins.

I mentioned earlier all the actors did a really great job, and I stand by that. But Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu is too jarring. His voice, delivery, and demeanor are far too much “Ryan Reynolds” that it never felt like I was seeing Pikachu. It was always just Ryan Reynolds stuck in a Pikachu body. Which I’m going to suspect was not the intention of the showrunners. Although in retrospect of the ending to the film, it does add an accidentally clever layer on top. But again, I’m certain that was accidental on their part. Plus, the few adult jokes he made were so incredibly jarring from the rest of the tone of the film. You can have adult humor in your kid’s movies. But these jokes were just overly sexual, versus the lewd subtlety of a Shrek or even Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jessica?.

roger rabbit jessica
Okay maybe not that subtle. But you get my point.

Plus, the entire premise of why the main character, Tim, can understand Pikachu is never fully explained and the explanation they give is later reversed in a way that makes it make even less sense. Maybe there was an explanation that I missed, but I don’t think so.

Finally, the entire plot makes no sense. The general scheme of the villain is so full of holes and obvious flaws. The entire climax of the film, I kept repeatedly asking myself why the villain was doing this or that. If the villain had instead chosen to not being needlessly evil about his actions, he could have gotten exactly what he wanted. But for some bizarre, nonsensical reason, he chose to be evil and lost everything he wanted because of it. Scooby Doo villains think their plans out more thoroughly.

Detective Pikachu – Final Thoughts

When a review is this heavily skewed towards the negative, people read a review of anything, they retain the bad more than the good. So I want to reiterate the good. This was a fun movie for kids. The Pokémon all look real and convincing, except I didn’t care for the Gengar and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to have Lickitung be the second Pokémon you give a closeup.

detective pikachu lickitung
No. Stop.

If you go see Detective Pikachu, do yourself a favor and turn your brain off. You’ll have a much more pleasant time. Remember that this is not a movie for you, probably. If you’re an 8 year old reading this, I’m honestly just surprised. Good for you, kid and go enjoy Detective Pikachu.


Author: Matt Sall
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