Movie review: Detective Pikachu

THE Pokemon anime became a hit in the gaming world in the mid-90s and this expanded into comic books, TV series and full length animated films. Now, Warner Bros. introduces its fans to a combination of live and animation movie which they obviously hope to turn into a big screen franchise.

In the movie’s premise, Pokemon characters and humans co-exist in a special place called Ryme City. The lead human character is Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), who is supposed to be returning home after his father, Detective Harry, from whom he is estranged, died in a tragic car accident.

In his dad’s apartment, he encounters Pikachu, a pokemon who is surprised when Tim understands him when he’s talking. Pikachu was with his dad when the accident happened, but his memory has been blotted out. He believes that Tim’s dad is not really dead but just missing mysteriously.

An aspiring TV reporter, Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) helps Tim and Pikachu investigate what happened to Tim’s dad. They subsequently uncover a darker plot where the entire population of Ryme City, both humans and pokemons, become endangered because of the nefarious plot of some sinister villains, led by Billy Nighy as Howard Clifford, the founder of Ryme City himself.

Directed by Rob Letterman (“Goosebumps”), the simple plot is embroidered with some surprising twists and turns that will sit well with kid viewers. Our grandchildren most certainly enjoyed watching the whole movie as it’s clearly meant for them.

The title character of Detective Pikachu is quite endearing, as voiced by the actor of “Deadpool”, Ryan Reynolds, who’ll later have a very big reveal concerning his true relationship with Tim. Ryan manages to infuse the small yellow creature with a distinct personality that succeeds in getting hold of the viewer’s attention, laced with Reynold’s trademark irreverent humor.

Truth to tell, Pikachu is a more interesting character than Justice Smith’s interpretation of Tim. Justice (not at all related to Will Smith) starred in last year’s “Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom”) but he simply lacks star quality and we don’t really feel for him. He’d do better in supporting roles. And never for a moment would you believe that he is the son of Ryan Reynolds.

But the CGI special effects and production design are awesomely seamless, particularly an action sequence showing the leads escaping from a devastating earthquake. If you are a diehard Pokeman fan, no doubt you’ll enjoy this silly but family friendly live action movie as it manages to keep the viewers pleasantly entertained. As to whether they would wish there would be a sequel that comes after this, well, that’s a totally different matter.