Detective Pikachu will be adored by the franchise's millions of fans. It's a movie for the dedicated masses. Filled with enough cute Pokémon, special effects, and zippy one-liners to entertain the faithful of all ages. The humor does crossover to a point, but is aimed directly at the fan base. This film is not meant for newbies. Casual moviegoers and neophytes will be lost in the Pokémon weeds. I highly recommend reading a Pokémon primer before going in cold.
Justice Smith stars as Tim Goodman, a young insurance worker who formerly trained Pokémon as a boy. Raised by his grandmother, Tim is alerted when his estranged father, a police detective, mysteriously vanishes. He leaves his small town and travels to the fantastic Ryme City, a bustling metropolis where humans and Pokémon live together in harmony.
The adventure begins when Tim visits his father's apartment. He finds Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) scurrying about, looking for clues. Tim's even more surprised to discover he can understand what the Pokémon is saying; as opposed to the usual gurgling , "pika pika". Detective Pikachu has lost his memory, but he knows that Tim's father is vital to him recovering it. The pair team up with an intrepid news intern (Kathryn Newton). Someone has dastardly plans for the Pokémon. Tim's father was hot on their trail before he disappeared.
Ryan Reynolds smarmy delivery gets a few chuckles as Detective Pikachu. The precocious yellow fur ball keeps the quips flowing like a river. It's not all family friendly, but nowhere near his edgy Deadpool persona. Director Rob Letterman keeps his Pokémon characters front and center. The CGI critters are the stars with the human cast reacting. Justice Smith does a good job with the pratfalls, bumbling, and physical nature of his role. His interaction with the CGI characters is seamless and natural. He definitely learned from his time on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
The plot is exceedingly simple. There's an attempt for a few twists, but nothing that forces abstract thought. The film wants to immerse you in a Pokémon world. It succeeds with big-budget special effects. They are key to selling the premise. The action scenes are huge, much bigger than expected. There's a nice dichotomy between the Pokémon portrayed in daily life and the massive climax. Director Rob Letterman (Gulliver's Travels, Goosebumps) has skill in creating immersive settings. Pokémon fans will certainly feel familiarity with Ryme City and its characters.
Detective Pikachu delivers exactly what's expected to a massive target audience. That's an admirable achievement. The film is critic proof. Pokémon fans, from everything I've observed, are a devoted bunch. They would have flocked to see a terrible film. They won't be disappointed here. Detective Pikachu is chock full of everything fans want to see in a live-action adaptation. It will mystify everyone else, but once again, the filmmakers aren't deviating from a winning formula. There's about to be a run on the Detective Pikachu merchandise. The film is produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros.