There are basically three types of people who will go to see Pokemon Detective Pikachu: young adults who were into Pokemon as children, children who are currently into it, and parents dragged to it because of their kids. If you're in one of those first two groups, you're probably going to come away satisfied. If you're in the third group, prepare for a pleasant surprise. This is a fun movie, even if you don't know (or care) all that much about Pokemon.
Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is a 21-year-old guy who ventures to Ryme City, a high-tech metropolis where humans and Pokemon live side-by-side. He's looking for his detective father, who has gone missing. Instead, he finds his dad's Pokemon partner, Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). They start tracking down clues, with a little help from an aspiring reporter named Lucy (Kathryn Newton). Along the way, the gang crosses paths with Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy), the businessman who essentially built Ryme City, and Mewtwo, the most powerful Pokemon of all.
Detective Pikachu benefits from an abundance of interesting Pokemon creatures, starting with the title character. As voiced by Reynolds, Pikachu is a fountain of one-liners, many of which are very funny. Other Pokemon are similarly amusing to behold. Lucy has one called Psyduck, who explodes when he gets too stressed. (It's a witty spoof of Type-A personalities.) Another known as Mr. Mime provides the film with its comic highlight, as Tim tries to interrogate him via pantomime. There are Pokemon packed into just about every shot here, so discovering who they are and what they can do provides a level of entertainment.
The action scenes are well-done. One finds our heroes in a mountainy region that continually re-calibrates its geography. The manner in which that sequence is handled is clever. And of course, you get a climactic showdown between Pikachu and Mewtwo. It makes good use of height as the Pokemon duel each other mid-air, their individual powers employed in various ways.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu certainly has a few things that don't work quite as well. The mystery is pretty dull, as it relies on an age-old cliché about who the villain is and what he's trying to accomplish. Figuring out the big plot twist is also ridiculously easy. (I had it less than 20 minutes into the movie). No real surprises exist within the story. Then there's poor Ken Watanabe, who is utterly wasted in a supporting role as a lieutenant in Ryme City's police department. Why hire such a great actor, then give him almost nothing to do?
If you can get past those issues, you can still have a good time. Reynolds is hilarious, Smith and Newton are likable, and the Pokemon are cool. Detective Pikachu gives fans what they want, yet is accessible enough for non-fans to derive some pleasure from, too.
out of four
Pokemon Detective Pikachu is rated PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.