Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, 2019.
Directed by Rob Letterman.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere, Suki Waterhouse, Josette Simon, Rita Ora, Karan Soni, Diplo, Omar Chaparro, and Rob Delaney.
In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.
When it comes to video game adaptations, they don’t have the best track record as far as audience appeal and critical reception go. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is one of the few exceptions to the rule in the video game film genre as it defied convention by earning a decent enough amount at the box office and praise from critics and audiences. Detective Pikachu is a fun film that anyone can watch and rides on Ryan Reynolds’ charisma as Pikachu and his chemistry with Justice Smith. Now that it’s out on blu-ray, is it worth it to purchase?
Detective Pikachu is made for both diehard fans as well as anyone with only a cursory knowledge of the franchise. I was a bit worried seeing it again would lose its novelty, but after viewing it again on blu-ray my original review of the film largely stands the same. It is pretty entertaining with some strong humour, a good cast and well done action scenes, though a fairly predictable story and villain. The film’s main strength comes from Ryan Reynolds’ performance as the title Pokémon. Even through a vocal performance, Reynolds’ charm shines through as he gives Pikachu some fun snark and wit to the character. He and Justice Smith share a nice back-and-forth relationship, which is credit to Smith since he spent most of the film’s production pretending there was someone else with him. Rounding out the main cast is Kathryn Newton, who adds some sass to the story as a hard-hitting wannabe journalist. She and Smith also share some great chemistry together throughout the film’s latter half.
One of the most impressive aspects to Detective Pikachu is its visuals. From its bright colour palette to the homages to film noir, the film showcases some very vibrant colours and settings. The Pokémon themselves look fantastic, from Pikachu’s fur to Charizard’s scales or the little bubbles Squirtles and Bulbasaurs blow. The action scenes are pretty smooth too with easy to follow choreography, though the third act battle isn’t quite as exciting or visually interesting as it could have been. Still, Detective Pikachu boasts some of the most intriguing visuals of the year so far.
The special features for the blu-ray include:
Detective Mode – In place of an audio commentary, the blu-ray instead features a ‘detective mode’, basically a second screen during the actual film where director Rob Letterman and the cast appear to talk about certain aspects of the film’s production as well as random trivia of the Pokémon franchise and the various creatures. It’s pretty interesting and any big fan of the franchise will enjoy it.
My Pokemon Adventure (2 min) – Justice Smith talks about how he became a Pokémon fan, including the fact he still owns many of the original trading and game cards in the franchise’s first wave. It’s a nice feature, but one that could also have been a bit longer.
Creating the World of Detective Pikachu (21 min) – A collection of featurettes that explore the making of some scenes or story. You get little tidbits such as Smith learning from a mime for the Mr. Mime interrogation, Newton’s excitement at being in the first live-action Pokémon film, the decision to shoot on film and the result of the Pokémon looking more real than if it were digital, and how they created the mountain sequence. The look at the amount of practical effects and stunts during the mountain scene is fairly impressive and definitely pays off. However, it feels as though some other featurettes could have been added or expanded upon as well.
Alternate Opening (1:40 min) – This alternate opening shows Smith’s Tim Goodman stuck at his office. It doesn’t really add anything to the film and was a pretty good decision to cut since it’s not very exciting or significant for Tim’s character.
Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary (3 min) – The ‘audio’ commentary from Mr. Mime on his big scene in the film. This is honestly a waste of a feature because it only has an introduction and outro from Mr. Mime before playing his scene in full with no commentary since he is, obviously, a mime. It’s meant to be a joke but this could have been replaced with a much more worthy subject to explore.
Ryan Reynolds – Outside the Actor’s Studio (1:45) – This is the previously released video on Ryan Reynolds’ ‘method’ acting for Detective Pikachu. While not exactly new, it’s nice to have on the blu-ray and again displays Reynold’s natural charisma as well as a funny cameo from his wife Blake Lively.
Carry On music video (3:41) – Rita Ora’s song for the film and its music video.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu remains a very fun and entertaining film that manages to appeal to both its core audience and those who don’t know the property as well. Reynolds, Smith and Newton deliver a trio of well done performances while the story is interesting even if it does get a bit too predictable or anti-climactic. The wealth of bonus features though is fairly expansive into the work that went into the film, minus the Mr. Mime feature of course. It’s a worthy buy for diehard fans or any parent needing something to entertain their kid to pick up from the shelves.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★