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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton
Director: Rob Letterman
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
RUNTIME: 105 Mins
Detective Pikachu is a perfect homage to Robert Zemeckis’s classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? set in a Blade Runner style neo-noir experimental world where Ryan Reynolds brings his Deadpool-esque persona with comic timing and punchlines.
The global phenomenon, which ran its 20th TV anime season and the widely-popular augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go, now has a live action film to add to its vast repertoire.
Based on the 2016 Nintendo game of the same name, the first live-action Pokémon movie turns out to be better-than-average in the video game adaptation genre.
Justice Smith stars as Tim Goodman, a nerdy 21-year-old son of a private investigator who sets out to crack the case of his father’s mysterious car accident with the help of his dad’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu.
Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, is a hilariously wise-cracking adorable furry yellow little creature.
Finding that Tim is the only person to hear Pikachu, they chase clues together through the dark underbelly of Ryme City, a metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side-by-side.
Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) is the visionary icon behind this model city of human-Pokémon cohabitation. Police Lieutenant Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) has Pokémon partner, grumpy dog Snubbull and junior reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) has Psyduck, who must be kept calm at all times with spa music and foot massages.
There are plenty other monsters who helped Ryme City work like Mr. Mime, Snorlax, Pancham, Pangoro, Emolga, Rufflet, Sneasel, Doduo, Arcanine, Growlithe, Purrloin, Golurk, Joltik, Totodile, Audino, Golem, Comfey, Kingler, as well as legendary Mewtwo.
Human characters and human elements were rather bland in comparison!
Rob Letterman, who has directed entertaining films like Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens and Goosebumps, was certainly the right choice for the film. Cinematographer John Mathieson (Gladiator) made sure there is an incredible amount of colour and the setting should look like Blade Runner with its massive skyscrapers with colourful billboards.
The film’s main location, Ryme City, is well realised – it looks like a combination of London’s shiny skyline and Tokyo’s smoky streets. The movie has some brilliant shots on location in downtown London and in the Scottish Highlands.
The best thing about the film, however, is the relation between Pikachu and Tim Goodman. Ryan Reynolds delivers his cutest performance possible with Pikachu. Justice Smith, too, has an endearing performance – from being a socially awkward guy, the only person without a Pokémon partner in the city to develop a heartfelt father-and-son bonding.
This is not a story based on the traditional catching and battling of Pokémon. The director promised a fantasy vision but it comes in small doses in shallow, CGI-heavy noise.
Letterman, along with three credited screenwriters Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Derek Connolly tend to rely on CGI sequences and expository-heavy flashbacks delivered through a hologram technology.
The mixed-genre of the film created yet another world that welcomes everyone into its embrace, from the 90s kids to the children who will be exposed to Pokémon for the first time. For non-Pokémon fans, Ryan Reynolds is the saving grace.
Now showing in all Bahrain cinemas.
Subidita’s verdict: 3/5