Pokémon Detective Pikachu

It was while watching this film that I realized that Ryan Reynolds is the perfect voice actor. His acting abilities are not at the top of the Hollywood heap, but when it comes to voice work (which is pretty much what he does in his biggest success – Deadpool) he is one of the best. His voice perfectly conveys emotion. All the emotions in the rainbow, especially sarcasm or humour. His voice work is the best part of this film.

Pokémon has plenty of rabid fans around the world. Rabid fans who know every detail and nuance of the characters and stories. Those people might have a big problem with what I have just written. A problem because Reynolds’ voice is nothing like Pikachu’s or how it has been in the animated versions. In the past it has been pretty much an annoying high pitched squeak. Obviously Reynolds does not have a high squeaky voice. Yes, it is different and yes, his Pikachu is a lot more sarcastic than previous versions. Move on, people!

After learning of his father’s, a police detective, death, young insurance agent Tim Goodman (Justice Smith – Paper Towns, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) takes the train to Ryme City in order to wrap things up. Ryme City is a place created by the very wealthy Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy – About Time, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) so that Pokémons and humans can live together in harmony.

Tim starts off at the office of his father’s ex-partner, Lieutenant Hide Yoshida (Ken Wantanabe – Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Isle of Dogs), then he is off to his father’s apartment. While there memories wash over concerning his estranged father. Also, he runs into a Pokémon, Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds – Green Lantern, The Proposal). Pikachu is there looking for clues about his life as he is suffering from amnesia.

After some back and forth, Tim and Pikachu decide to work together to find Tim’s father, as they believe he did not die in the car accident. They are joined in this by an intern at Clifford’s television station, Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton – from televisio’s Big Little Lies), who wants desperately to be an investigative reporter. In short order it becomes apparent there is something going on in Ryme City which could put everyone in danger.

This is basically a buddy film. Buddies in which one is human and the other is an animated character. It works because the chemistry between Reynold’s voice and Justice Smith is good. We enjoy their obvious differences and want them to stay together. The humour and genuine feelings between the two works. Thankfully, because the story itself is rather weak.

The story itself is rather straight forward, even the twist towards the end is fairly predictable. What seems like a great idea, but ultimately is a large part of the problem here, is the fun it attempts to poke at the whole Pokémon world. Doesn’t quite pull it off. They attempt to show how silly some of the tenets of the Pokémon world are. Fall short in that goal.

Kids will still enjoy the film. I went with one (a 9-year-old) and he did not seem to mind the weaknesses. Just enjoyed the visuals, action and laughs. Director Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Shark Tale) has directed several animated films, so he knows and sticks to the formula. Kids will just want the basics and they are here to be found.

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