Sunday, May 19, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

My latest new theatrical film seen was the family comedy POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU (2019), a hybrid live-action/animated film.

This might seem a somewhat unusual choice, but over the years I parented four children who watched the Pokemon TV cartoons, collected the trading cards, and played the Game Boy games, so I acquired more than a passing familiarity with the franchise.

Added to that, I will happily admit to really enjoying the Pokemon Go phone app, which I've played for nearly three years now, so when our youngest daughter decided to send me to the new Pokemon movie as a Mother's Day gift, I was delighted with the idea.

One doesn't have to be an expert but I do think having the familiarity with the Pokemon world adds a lot to understanding and appreciating the more detailed aspects of the film; a viewer who "speaks the language" and knows what a Mewtwo is or what the little creatures are who walk around with their tails on fire or what happens when you throw a Pokeball at a Pokemon will simply get more out of it than someone coming to the film cold.

That said, the plot is amusing enough that a more casual viewer could probably still enjoy it and perhaps find that it's an entry point into the Pokemon world. And for anyone wanting to give it a whirl, the Los Angeles Times published a helpful explainer to get the ball pun intended. (But Pokemon fans will get the joke.)

Detective Harry Goodman has disappeared from Ryme City, where humans and Pokemon happily coexist. Harry is presumed dead; when Harry's estranged son Tim (Justice Smith) arrives in Ryme City to talk with Harry's boss (Ken Watanabe) and settle his affairs, Harry's former partner, the Pokemon Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) pays Tim a visit.

The really unusual thing about Detective Pikachu is that while most humans simply hear Pikachu adorably babbling in Pokemon talk ("pika pika!"), Tim and Pikachu can converse with each other in English. Together they set out to discover what actually happened to Harry.

It's a fairly simple plot, but the animators and Reynolds combine to make Pikachu a lot of fun; those who know Reynolds from the very R-rated DEADPOOL need have no fear, as this is most definitely a PG film. Pikachu is nervy and can be sarcastic, but he also has a tender heart.

A scene where Pikachu tries to buck up his spirits singing the TV theme song was the best moment in the movie; his sadness tugged at the heartstrings but I also couldn't stop laughing! I heard that song way too many times in years past not to get a kick out of the moment.

For me what really made the movie was its visually dazzling environment and watching everything going on in the background, and this is where the familiarity with Pokemon takes the movie to the next level. I really got a kick out of seeing so many different creatures I knew by name and noticing funny bits like the traffic being directed around a Snorlax who's asleep in the middle of the street.

It's not the strongest film I've seen this year by any means, but I had an enjoyable time and was glad I went, and if there's another Pokemon film in the future, as rumor has it, I will go see that one too.

More from Katie Walsh in the L.A. Times: "For audiences of a certain age, the phrase POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU might sound like utter gibberish. DETECTIVE PIKACHU may not be for everyone — but it's surprising how much it could be... Incredibly fun."

POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU runs 104 minutes. It was directed by Rob Letterman and filmed by John Mathieson. The supporting cast includes Bill Nighy and Kathryn Newton.

The trailer is here.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older