It happened. It finally happened…someone made a decent video game movie.
It appears Sonic was not fast enough for this quick attack from the Pokemon company as they delivered on what was a surprisingly solid film. Is it a masterpiece? No, but it is also a movie mainly marketed towards kids that has no predecessors to live up to in terms of expectations (I went a little hard at HTTYD3). Are you ready to go on a Pokemon adventure?
I–like most people that grew up trying to convince their friend to trade their Blastoise card for a Victreebel–was skeptical about how a Pokemon movie starring Ryan Reynolds was going to work out. I didn’t think it was going to be PG Deadpool like many suspected; I just felt like he was going to break his back trying to carry this film by himself. The other characters in this film were just as entertaining, with the exception of one….at first. The introduction for Lucy Stevens was obnoxious and immediately put me off to her character. Fortunately, the movie was able to get around that and she became more endearing, but what a horrible start for her.
Unsurprisingly, Reynolds was superb in his role. He was quippy, fun, and surprisingly sincere when the moment called for it. Not to be outdone, Justice Smith pulled his weight as well, and provided a nice pairing to Reynolds. Each brought a grounding element to the other so that neither got too out of control or unbelievable…in a world were a mime is both a profession and a Pokemon.
Speaking of Pokemon, the amount of care and attention to detail in this film deserve every ounce of acclaim it could get. All of the Pokemon behave and look like they would in a world similar to mine. Not even just the ones in the foreground; there are subtle sprinklings of Pokemon all over that solidified that they all live in a Pokemon world. Even just the items around or the stores have a level of detail that you just don’t see in movies, especially kids’ movies. They aren’t distracting either. If you notice it, it’s a nice nod to the fact they know you probably spent your childhood with them, but if you don’t, you don’t miss anything vital. This is the way that world-building should be done. The movie didn’t have to show me everything, but little details are hidden all over if you are looking for them. How many movies do we see something explained to us briefly only for it to become relevant in a later scene in an almost cliche and condescending way? “This is a dingleschmicken it schmekles dongles. I hOpE tHaT iSn’T nEeDeD.”
I’m glad that we are moving away from having to explain everything as well. Instead of treating the audience like they are going to a Detective Pikachu movie completely ignorant of anything to do with even the core concepts of Pokemon, the movie assumes that you probably at least know that Pokemon are a thing and what they do. There isn’t a scene where they pull out a pokedex and have a robotic exposition machine explain that Magikarp is a water Pokemon that is kind of useless but it evolves into a powerhouse–they just show it. Honestly, this movie does a great job of showing and not telling. There is like one scene in the beginning that sets everything up, but I would argue it was something that they could not skip over. They had to let you know that yes, this is how the world normally is, but this is how it works in this city. Plus, it introduces us to Bill Nighy’s character.
Now, this movie is not perfect. I called the “twist” when the initial plot was suggested in the trailer. However, the movie is so delightful that I, a stickler for plot, was not bothered. There was a positive correlation between how predictable the plot was with how otherwise enjoyable the film is. There is one thing that really caught me by surprise regarding an assistant because it was done so well that I almost wish it was more impactful overall.
If you like fun movies or Pokemon, you should go see this instead of Endgame for the 5th time. Trust me, this is something you don’t want to miss. In terms of providing a solid summer film and the first good video game movie, Detective Pikachu is super effective.