Pokémon Detective Pikachu Movie Review
As someone who knows nothing about Pokémon, I was at least expecting a live-action Pokémon movie to be, you know, fun? Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a drab, empty vessel of a film, an experience that maybe sounded good on paper at an early concept stage but that lacks charisma, energy, action, and entertainment value.
The plot doesn’t matter and it is best not to try and explain it here, other than there is a young man named Tim (Justice Smith) who partners with Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), an amnesiac detective, to investigate the suspicious death of Tim’s father.
In line with Who Framed Roger Rabbit and—heaven forbid—last year’s The Happytime Murders, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is set in a world where humans and Pokémon—animated, cartoonish-looking creatures with confusing special powers—coexist. Director Rob Letterman is uninterested in explaining the Pokémon to the uninitiated, something I don’t fault him for given the franchise’s popularity.
What I do fault him for is his disinterest in packing the film full of Pokémon and Pokémon battles—the weird little characters are ripe for a theatrical portrayal, yet Pikachu is the only truly defined critter of the bunch. Further, the action is noticeably lacking—especially for a movie based on a game where Pokémon do battle.
In short, Letterman and crew fail miserably at capitalizing on the potential of a live-action Pokémon movie.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu isn’t horribly made, and yet it is horribly boring, a movie so fleeting in value you’ll forget it as soon as it’s over. More action and a lot more Pokémon zaniness would have gone a long way to breathe life into this snoozer—a task that on the surface wouldn’t appear to be that challenging but in reality proves to be evasive.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.