Detective Pikachu used thunderbolt but was not very effective. Ever since I touched a Gameboy Colour and inserted my cartridge for 'Pokémon Yellow', I was a fan. I invested my childhood into this franchise. I watched the anime, including the feature films. I collected the trading cards. I even walked around the entirety of my town catching wild Pokémon on my smartphone. Suffice to say, this intellectual property is part of me. It still is in fact! Which is why, with great sadness, I must report that this adaptation of the Nintendo 3DS video game is a crushing disappointment. Walking out of the cinema in silence, head to the ground as I pondered on what I just witnessed, sat in my car and suddenly let out an enraged outburst of curse words whilst banging my head on the steering wheel. Of all the films to be mediocre, why this one!? Pikachu just could not provide the electricity needed to make this mundane mystery captivating. After hearing the news about his father's death, a young boy finds out he can communicate with his dad's partner Pokémon (a Pikachu if you couldn't guess...) and sets out on an investigation to uncover what actually happened to him.
The bustling urban environment of Ryme City, intertwining human inhabitants with tamed Pokémon, instantly released the fantasy magic that makes the series the success it is today. The dystopian futuristic architecture showcasing a ludicrous amount of bright vivid colours worked well in presenting the gorgeous cinematography. The decision to utilise real film, as opposed to digital methods, assisted in making the Pokémon look realistic. An important feature when they coexist with humans that share nearly every scene together, exhuming a natural civilisation. The interactions between Pokémon and humans were never questioned, feeding off the dreams that every child had when playing the video games. The CGI for most of the Pokémon looked decent, those with fur such as Pikachu and Psyduck especially. Others, like Mewtwo and Ditto, were terrible. Something that the visual effects team needed to get right considering the substantial budget.
The plastic-like character models aren't the worst of the issues that this film unfortunately contains. Ready yourselves. Use "Light Screen" or "Protect", because I'm about to "Hyper Beam" this story to shreds! Understandably, the central mystery has to be simple in order for younger audiences to follow, considering they are the target audience. Fans, apparently according to the general consensus, will be enamoured by the fact that Bulbasaurs are aimlessly wandering through woodland areas and a Charizard breathes fire for a total of 2.87 seconds. So again, apparently, they are taken care of. Where does that leave everyone else? Bored.
A senseless, predictable and consistently dull story that upholds no imagination whatsoever. Using the most basic of storytelling techniques that can really only found in children's TV shows. Hand-holding. Exposition. Plot conveniences. Tame "thrills" and "twists". The introductory travelling sequence to Ryme city is a two minute exposition scene on the entire Pokémon franchise. Pikachu, with every chance he gets, infuriatingly spells out every detail found in the story in case the audience were oblivious to the obvious. Probably didn't help there were an abundance of writers working on the same script, to which all chose to spoon-feed an already simple mystery and insult the intelligence of its audience. An absolute shame when considering the several emotional moments between the two lead characters.
Fine, it's a light-hearted film. Don't take it so seriously! Just enjoy the comedy gold that is Ryan Reynolds, voicing an adorably fluffy Pikachu. Oh. Surprise surprise, this soulless fan failed to laugh once. The intentional comedy was incredibly hit and miss, with the vast majority having no effect. Like an electric Pokémon attacking a Geodude (urgh, bad memories...). That's not to say Reynolds was bad, he unsurprisingly packs more charm that Team Rocket's Meowth, just the dialogue he was given had the power of a Poké Ball as opposed to an Ultra Ball.
Smith was also decent and had an infectious friendship with Pikachu. A credible performance considering he was talking to himself for the majority of filming. Nighy and Watanabe? Underused. Rita Ora? Let's move on. The worst written character and performance belongs to Newton as a plucky reporter with her crazy Psyduck. Like a weird anime cosplay that really has no purpose to the story. There are a few fan service moments, notably the theme tune and the amazing credits sequence, but not enough to make me taste that Nintendo nostalgic sauce.
For what it's worth, it isn't a terrible film and one of the better video game adaptations. Yet for everything Detective Pikachu gets right, it inadvertently creates the same amount of issues. Putting aside my burning desire for this to be super effective, it still lacked the cinematic quality found in other family-friendly flicks such as 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' and is not nearly as fun as it thinks it is. Honestly, preferred the 'First Movie'...