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Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Your rating: None Average: 4 (6 votes)

My first encounter with Pokémon was when I borrowed a friend's copy of Pokémon Red for the Gameboy. I chose squirtle as my starter pokémon and I remember lying awake, wanting my own copy of the game so badly that I could feel it. Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back hadn't been released yet, so this was in 1999 at the latest. For at least twenty years since then, Pokémon has been a part of my life.

Although I never did get a copy of the first Pokémon game, I did get Pokémon Silver, collected the trading cards, watched the anime, memorised the pokérap, saw the films and played many of the spin-off games. But Pokémon's influence was far broader than all that; it gave me a world of creatures and possibilities to imagine. I took to writing Pokémon fanfiction which, in turn, led me to the furry fandom. Pokémon has literally helped create the person I am today, so it was disappointing when I felt myself drifting away from it.

As I grew and changed, Pokémon did not. The anime, over 1000 episodes of it, focussed on the same main characters but with little character development, and almost all episodes followed two or three stock plot lines. The main games, which marked new generations, all played essentially the same as the first. It seemed strange to let the main drawcards stagnate, while creating an unnecessary number of pokémon (currently over 800).

There's plenty of Pokémon fan content to enjoy, but as the first batch of fans matured over the last 20 years, it would've been great to see the franchise maturing as well. When the trailer for Detective Pikachu was released, that hope came back to life. Ash was gone, the anime style was gone, and the cheesy plots seemed to be gone too. We saw CGI pokémon in a darker, grittier world, with a more mature story involving conspiracies and mysteries. Would this give me what I'd been longing for?

The film starts with our main character, Tim Goodman, attempting to catch a pokémon at the behest of his friend. This doesn't quite go according to plan, but is soon overshadowed by a call from the Ryme City police department informing him that his father was in an accident, and has been declared dead. Tim travels to Ryme City, a place where humans and pokémon live as equals, and where pokémon battles are illegal, to sort through his father's belongings. In doing so, he uncovers a vial of strange gas which causes a troop of nearby aipom to go savage, and meets a talking pikachu who has no memory of who he is, trying to find out what happened on the night of the accident. From then on, Tim finds himself pulled into the mystery of what happened to his father. While I won't go further into the details of the plot, I will say that, although it wasn't done ethically, it's very difficult not to want the villain to succeed.

Screenshot from 2019-05-10 20-34-50.pngNow having watched it, I can say that yes, it is exactly what was needed to rekindle my interest in Pokémon. Based on the Nintendo 3DS game of the same name, Detective Pikachu is completely different from the previous films, the anime, and - with the obvious exception - the games. The old characters are gone, pokémon battles are gone, and it has a completely new aesthetic.

At the same time, it maintains enough familiarity to keep the original fans happy. Although its featured pokémon come from many generations, there's a strong bias towards the first generation, and the film contains many references to earlier products to elicit nostalgia. The events of Mewtwo Strikes Back are referenced, appropriately, as having happened around 20 years earlier. The credits show the anime style, and in perhaps the best callback, we see Ryan Reynolds (as Pikachu) singing the original, iconic theme song from the anime. I was also delighted to see that growlithe features heavily in the backgrounds, although I do wish we'd gotten a good close-up view.

I thought the film was excellent, and struck a great balance between what it changed and what it kept the same. Perhaps it wasn't perfect, and maybe on subsequent viewings I'll have more critical comments, but it feels like a film that can stand on its own merit. Actors Justice Smith (as Tim Goodman) and Ryan Reynolds (as Pikachu) both did an exemplary job. I would love to see more Pokémon products building off this film. That seems quite likely as a sequel has already been confirmed.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

From my understanding from other people that had played game of Detective Pikachu found that it was a very easy game that was like a really dumbed down version of Pheonix Wright that is basically movie like more than game like.

So not only is this the first movie based on a game franchise that was received critically well by an audience. It is also the first movie based on a game franchise that may be received better than the game IP it was based on.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (4 votes)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider should've got good reviews. It's a great movie with so many amazing scenes.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

No, it's pretty easy to not want the villain to succeed. His plan was utterly stupid.

Fun movie, poor villain. For me, the world building and main characters were very good (well, not Lucy). But the plot is stupid, obvious and seems to borrow heavily from Zootopia.

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (5 votes)

I don't want to discuss the plan because that would be a major spoiler and the film hasn't even been released in all countries yet. Other than the similarity between the gas and nighthowlers, I don't recall it being much like Zootopia. Characters, motivations and plot points are all different.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

A new comer in a supposed city of harmony stumbles on a missing persons case that deals with a chemical that causes animals to become feral with a noir detective slant. Not hard to make the comparisons.

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

Well, that's how most cities describe themselves. It's not really stumbling on a missing persons case so much as literally being called there because his dad died and then getting caught up in finding out what happened. I wouldn't consider either to be film noir, especially not Zootopia.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

I just got out from seeing this and it was better than I expected - it was really enjoyable. I was also shocked by how much it seemingly borrowed from Zootopia.

I really, really did not see how it would be difficult to not want the villain to succeed, and you saying so makes me call into question pretty much every philosophical conversation I've ever had with you.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

He does that.

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Maybe I have a higher bar for what I count as similar. Or maybe it's also because Zootopia didn't actually do anything original, so pretty much anything similar to Zootopia is similar to countless other things it makes little sense to focus on Zootopia.

My fursona is literally a growlithe, what did you expect?

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (3 votes)

Or maybe it's also because Zootopia didn't actually do anything original

And Detective Pikachu did? It's a buddy cop movie, it doesn't get more cliche than that. Originality doesn't really matter to me TBH as long as a movie as well executed. But let's not pretend Detective Pikachu is breath of fresh air.

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (5 votes)

No, I never claimed it was. It did something different within the franchise though and that is what is great about it. I'm a big Pokemon fan and it feels like its made for Pokemon fans so that is what I judged it as. I said it probably can stand alone, and I believe that's what other reviews say, but I leave its wider impact to Crossaffliction.

My position is that firstly, it's not really that similar to Zootopia and second, even if it were similar to Zootopia that would not mean it borrowed from Zootopia because Zootopia doesn't have any original things to borrow. Anything you might take from it would also match with many other films.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I think you are misunderstanding what he meant when he was talking about the villain's plan. The villain's goal was to accomplish something that Furrys and Pokémon fans would think was pretty awesome but he went about accomplishing it in the most evil way possible and didn't bother asking for anybody's consent. It would've been a big accomplishment if he hadn't been so crazy.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

*SPOILERS*

There's nothing awesome about suppressing another being's mind, which I think is something that's being forgotten. Ignoring consent, what the villain was doing was suppressing the minds of the Pokemon in favor of the humans and if it hadn't been undone effectively killing them. That's pure evil.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Like I said, he was doing something that was pretty awesome but accomplishing it in the most evil way possible.

Your rating: None

Except that wasn't forgotten. That's why I said it wasn't done ethically.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

At least the logo was kept consistent, unlike the butchering of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

To be fair, I haven't seen this, but from what I'm reading, I'll have to agree with Rakuen. It would be hard not to root for the villain. Not because of his plan, mind you, but because the protagonist is Detective Pikachu.

I mean, seriously. Watching the trailer I want to pluck his eyes out or something.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

NPCs don't get to have an opinion. They just spout random, pre-recorded dialogue with no real thought behind it, kinda like what you're doing here.

Your rating: None

Think you might be commenting on the wrong thread, bud.

Your rating: None

Perhaps you shouldn't have commented at all if you weren't even going to try to have an informed opinion. And you already gave that away about yourself in the other thread.

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

I watched the trailer. Gave me all the information I needed for said opinion.

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About the author

Rakuen Growlithe (Dr. Rakuen Growlithe)read storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, writing, pokemon and gaming

I'm a South African fur, born and raised in Cape Town, but currently living in Vienna, Austria for work and studies. I'm interested in science, writing, gaming, all sorts of furry stuff, Pokemon and some naughtier things too! I've dabbled in art before but mostly like writing although I haven't done very many stories recently but more non-fiction on Flayrah. I also helped found and administer the ZA Fur forum.