Insular to a maddening degree, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu provides zero inroads for people who know little about the popular Japanese creations.
Those blockades include humor, the secret to unlocking such potentially esoteric properties as 21 Jump Street, yet which failed the likes of Baywatch and is absent here as well.
As such, the typically reliable element of Ryan Reynolds’ voice is a nonfactor in the service of flat jokes delivered by the titular fuzzy, yellow, electricity-wielding creature, who teams with 21-year-old Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) to solve the disappearance of the young man’s father — who also happens to be Pikachu’s partner on the police force.
Its dull characters caught in an already rote mystery, the film repeatedly offers images that poetically provide answers, only to be followed by Tim or Pikachu serving up redundant verbal accompaniments — presumably to keep young viewers up to speed but marooning the rest of the audience in the process.
In this dead-end milieu, the talents of Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe are reduced to nothingness and critical buzz of Detective Pikachu being shot on 35mm in order “to look like Blade Runner” just makes the film’s failure all the more depressing.
And yet, hope for the general viewer remains through the film’s copious special effects. Pikachu is a marvel to behold, the annoying Psyduck belonging to intrepid reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton, HBO’s “Big Little Lies”) isn’t far behind, and other critters look impressively polished.
But consistent with the rest of the film, this aspect ultimately lets Detective Pikachu down as well, this time through a series of ugly creations and a clueless script that succumbs to the most cliché way to end a modern big-budget adventure movie.
I would tell lots of people to go see this movie. If you like Pokémon, you’ll like naming all of them when they appear on screen (Growlithe, Squirtle, Treecko, Arcanine, Jigglypuff, Machamp, Mr. Mime and many others!). It’s hard to name them all — anyway, you’re supposed to “catch them all!”
Detective Pikachu, Mewtwo and Tim are the main characters. Detective Pikachu has amnesia. He can’t even remember how to use his attacks. Tim thinks he is imagining that he can understand Detective Pikachu’s words because he hears him speaking English and other people only hear him say “Pika Pika.”
Tim and Detective Pikachu find out that Mewtwo escaped from a lab when Tim’s dad disappeared. They also learn about vials of something called “R” that make Pokémon go berserk. One difference from the Detective Pikachu video game is that Pokémon eyes turn red when they smell “R,” but in the movie, their eyes turn purple.
Detective Pikachu has many funny parts. Detective Pikachu says funny things. One example is when he says to Tim, “You can’t have daddy issues without Daddy.” Another funny line is when he says, “OK. I’m bad cop. You’re good cop,” to Tim when they are talking to Mr. Mime. Mr. Mime is weird because he makes invisible things.
There is also a Psyduck, who belongs to Lucy, a reporter for CMN (really GNN in the video game). The Psyduck has an attack called “headache.” Detective Pikachu calls Psyduck a bomb because his attack is a powerful blast!
The end is really strange. You find out that many people (and Pokémon) are getting “mixed” up in all types of ways! Detective Pikachu is so cool! It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life.
-Lucas McKee, local first-grader and Pokémon expert