Entertainment » Movies

Pokemon Detective Pikachu

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 23, 2019
'Pokemon Detective Pikachu'
'Pokemon Detective Pikachu'  

Available digitally today!

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"Gotta Catch 'Em All" is not only the motto of worldwide commercial behemoth Pokémon, but it's also their mission. When it comes to this cartoon enterprise's approach to commerce, everyone's a potential customer, whether it's kids battling trading cards against one another or grown men lining up for the latest Nintendo video game. Hell, this company even found a way to make people more distracted with their smartphones by introducing the augmented reality app Pokémon Go! into the world. It's no shock that we're finally receiving our first live-action Pokémon movie in the form of "POKÉMON Detective Pikachu," but it is a surprise that it ended up taking this long. The cash was always there to reap and, much like Marvel or Disney, the attraction of pre-existing intellectual property is too enticing to dismiss.

It's becoming more and more common for modern-day blockbusters to be deemed "critic-proof," meaning that their fan base is in for the ride regardless of what anyone else has to say. "POKÉMON Detective Pikachu" is certainly this film, as it has admittedly cast a wide net to whom it will appeal. Created in the mid-'90s, Pokémon took the world by storm in the form of trading cards, characters, video games, merchandise, and television programming. As a kid of this era, I can assure you that it was insane, and I was obsessed, as were millions all across the world, and kids are still crazy about this shit. And for adults raised on Pokémon, there's still a certain nostalgia that rings in whenever they hear that high-pitched "Pika! Pika!" call of the adorable, fluffy and yellow creature known as Pikachu.

In "POKÉMON Detective Pikachu," audiences are introduced (or re-introduced) to the world of Pokémon, where strange creatures roam the earth and speak only by shouting their name over and over again. Much of the film takes place in Ryme City, a harmonious haven where Pokémon and humans live side by side, where protagonist Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) travels after word of his father Harry's death. Harry was a detective, partnered with a Pikachu, the latter of whom finds Tim and communicates to him in the strangely-casted voice of Ryan Reynolds.

There's your shtick. A talking Pikachu. But thankfully, the movie goes far beyond just a simple gag, and that's where the fun begins arising. "POKÉMON Detective Pikachu" is at its best when it's simply following the beats of a classic detective story, right down to the private eye's vices. In this case, Detective Pikachu is a coffee addict, but I couldn't help but imagine another world where a drunken Pikachu is sitting in his own filth on the floor while downing the last drops of his whiskey bottle. The mystery at hand is fairly obvious and constructed for children, but it's not too hard to dumb down and sail along the waves of silliness while the movie plots its course.

The finale, particularly, is where all the movie's tone smash into each other and create a truly baffling mess that in no way dictates a lack of entertainment value. A mix of Cronenbergian body horror, psycho-spiritual WTFness, blockbuster spectacle, cartoonish absurdity and so much more, the third act of "POKÉMON Detective Pikachu" puts many Marvel climaxes to shame in its unabashed ridiculousness. You get what you get when it comes to this movie, whether you're a pre-existing fan or not. Sure, those with prior knowledge of this strikingly bizarre material may have better mileage, but don't be surprised if you find yourself getting caught up in the world as a kid would.

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