Pokemon Detective Pikachu – Fans vs. Critics Round 2

Editors Note: This article is a guest contribution from Jason Delgado.

By Jason Delgado

Pokemon, you gotta catch ‘em all! I’ve never played the game or watched the show myself, so my knowledge of the Pokemon empire is limited. I know “Pika Pika,” and I have heard the tales of people getting hit by cars while looking to capture Pokemon characters for the mobile game. What drew me into the theater for this movie was Mr. Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds has been on fire as the sarcastic anti-hero character of Deadpool, and a major part of the allure of Pokemon Detective Pikachu is that his new character of Pikachu is similar, in a PG, non-crude humor type of way. It’s like the marketing for the movie is saying, “Hey guys, it’s Deadpool, only cuter and cuddlier!”

One of the things that I like about Pokemon is that the creatures have human pet characteristics. They use non-verbal cues (except for the talking Pikachu, whom we hear because the main human character of the movie, Tim, is the only person who can understand him speak) to communicate and are adorable while doing so. People who have pets can appreciate this trait of the franchise and the movie.

My wife and I have a maltipoo named Mateo, and throughout the film we would nod at each other and laugh anytime one of the Pokemon creatures would do something “Mateo-like.” I used to roll my eyes at people who would talk to their pet, or act like they are a human friend, but over the last two-plus years of having an intelligent, loving, little dog, I get it.

Those are some of the good things about Pokemon Detective Pikachu; now to the bad. This movie is a cheesy snoozefest, and most of the funny Pikachu lines were already used in the trailers. I was expecting more humor from Ryan Reynolds; perhaps maybe some Pokemon inside jokes flew over my head?

The story centers around the character of Tim, who at age 21 is quite awkward. Tim, along with the character of Pokemon detective Pikachu, tries to find Tim’s missing father, who also is a detective. Viewers see flashbacks of when Tim was growing up and didn’t want to be around his dad, a situation which he now looks back on with regret. The main setting of the film is Ryme City, a colorful and lively Tokyo-like urban city, where Pokemon creatures and humans live together peacefully, unlike the rest of the world where people try to catch Pokemon, in order to make them fight each other for sport.

It sounds like this movie could have had an interesting story, but Pokemon Detective Pikachu feels like it has been “dumbed down” for kids (a slow-moving, watered down film-noir, with the human actors using the over the top, exaggerated methods of acting to try to appeal to children), a concept with which I have never agreed. Kids are smart, and they enjoy a well-crafted story just as much as adults, if not more so, with their penchant to rewatch movies over and over that they enjoy.

At the time of this writing, 86% of fans on Rotten Tomatoes are giving Pokemon Detective Pikachu the thumbs up. Have I become the critic that I railed against in my first review on FoCC of Hellboy? Scanning through the fan reviews, it looks like many of them are fans of Pokemon in general, so either the movie does appeal more to the die-hard Pokemon crowd with Easter eggs (which makes sense), or the score is lopsided due to Pokemon fans being passionate enough to write reviews for the film right away, while casual moviegoers may not feel a need to do so. Either way, it seems like people are enjoying this movie, so apparently it was a good choice for them. However I have to stay true to myself, and not let fans or critics influence my own opinions.

I did think that the “twist” of the film was a nice touch. Overall though, the movie wasn’t funny and entertaining enough for this Pokemon outsider. I give Pokemon Detective Pikachu two out of five hot sauce packets. It was mild sauce, when I was looking to put my mouth on fire.