Pokémon Detective Pikachu: The Pokémon out-act the humans

Review: The plot – a blend of Zootropolis and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – is a mess

The official trailer for Pokémon Detective Pikachu, starring Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith. Video: Warner Bros.

Pikachu is voiced by Ryan Reynolds: imagine a fun, PG version of Deadpool that you didn’t want to kick in the head every second

Film Title: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere. Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy

Genre: Family

Running Time: 104 min

Thu, May 9, 2019, 14:50


Lapsed 21-year-old Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman gets a call from faraway Ryme City, a metropolis founded by philanthropist-billionaire Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy),where humans and free-range Pokémon co-exist.

The news is not good: Tim’s long-estranged police detective father and his Pikachu partner have been killed in an accident. While visiting his father’s apartment, Tim is accosted by an eager junior reporter (Newton) who suggests there’s more to the accident than meets the eye. He also meets a Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds: imagine a fun, PG version of Deadpool that you didn’t want to kick in the head every second.

The verbose pre-Raichu turns out to be a terrific innovation in a film that links back to the Mewtwo plot – not a spoiler; it’s in the trailer – of the original 1998 feature. Fans who expressed dismay at the appearance of Jigglypuff in promotional materials can now look to the Sonic the Hedgehog debacle and thank their lucky stars for reasonably canonical CG translations of their favourite characters.

Daddy issues

If only the human characters were so engaging. Note to Hollywood: please stop killing mothers off before the action begins as a lazy way to give the hero or heroine (or plucky brother and sister in the case of Mary Poppins Returns, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and Dumbo) a set of daddy issues to contend with. We were not expecting this ongoing campaign of matricide – yes, matricide! – to contaminate the Pokéverse, but here we are . . . watching a Pikachu movie that even uses the phrase “daddy issues”.

Can’t we just enjoy Evee evolving into a Flareon after exposure to a Fire Stone like normal people?

It’s not just the well-worn “daddy issues” trope. Five credited screenwriters smash the plotlines of Zootropolis and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? together and still manage a messy denouement.

More Pokémon in the inevitable sequel please.