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Tim Goodman receives news that his father is dead, but when he goes to his father’s apartment, he discovers his father’s Pikachu there. Pikachu is convinced that Tim’s father is alive, so they team up to find out what happened to him.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu review in a nutshell
A fun film for families and casual Pokémon fans with a fluffy, wisecracking protagonist. The villain’s master plan REALLY doesn’t make sense though.
Would I recommend you watch it?
Do you like your movie plots to have some logic to them? Because if you do, this movie really isn’t for you. However, if you’re just looking for a popcorn flick to while away a lazy Saturday, and cute animals are your weakness, then definitely go for it.
Otherwise, continue reading for a full, spoiler-filled review.
Full review of Pokémon Detective Pikachu (with major spoilers! I tell you how it ends!)
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is the kind of fun and family-friendly film you bring your kids to, but can enjoy as an adult as well, especially if you’ve played Pokemon at any point in the past. It’s based on a Nintendo video game that came out in 2016, and not the main storyline of Ash Ketchum and his pet Pikachu, but you’ll still get a kick watching characters throw a Pokéball and try to catch a wild Pokémon. (Ok, it happens only once in the movie, but still!)
The CGI Pokémon are cute and Pikachu is so fluffy, which is the most important thing for this movie’s success. Even though he sounds too smart-alecky for such a fluffy creature. Then again, the other half of the movie’s appeal is that Ryan Reynolds is voicing Detective Pikachu, so I guess you can ignore that his voice doesn’t match his appearance.
However, I bet you’ll never guess the villain’s master plan. You know why? Cause it MAKES NO SENSE. In any realm of the human imagination.
Below there be ALL the spoilers!
So the story goes like this: Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) receives news of his estranged father Harry’s death and goes to his apartment, but finds Harry’s Pikachu there. This Pikachu talks, unlike all other Pokémon, but Tim is the only one who can understand him. Pikachu has amnesia, but is convinced that Harry is alive, so he and Tim investigate Harry’s disappearance, which is linked to a compound called R that is making Pokémon go wild and feral around the city.
They also befriend a spunky journalist, Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), who helps them.
Sounds pretty standard right? And it moves along exactly as you can expect. There’s a powerful news conglomerate whose founder Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) — who’s paralysed — loves Pokémon and brought them to live and work together in harmony in Ryme City, where the movie is set, but his son and heir Roger (Chris Geere) detests Pokémon. Roger appears to be the source of the compound R that’s turning Pokémon feral. He also seems to have grown a man-made Pokémon called Mewtoo in a deserted lab outside the city, from the DNA of an ancient most powerful Pokémon called Mew, but Mewtoo escaped and destroyed the lab, and seemingly caused Harry’s death by car crash.
Anyway, turns out the villain isn’t Roger, it’s Howard. Which I could sort of guess, because twists like that happen all the time — where the seemingly bad guy is the good guy, and the seemingly good guy is the bad guy. But guess what Howard’s evil plan is?
To merge into Mewtoo and use Mewtoo’s powers to merge all human beings with their Pokémon.
I mean, I get it if he wants to merge HIMSELF into Mewtoo, because he doesn’t want to be paralysed anymore and he wants Mewtoo’s powers. But what on earth is the point of merging all human beings into their Pokémon? What does that achieve???
Plus, with the power to merge people with their Pokémon, comes a twist that takes some amount of mental gymnastics to grasp: Pikachu talks and sounds like Ryan Reynolds because RYAN REYNOLDS IS TIM GOODMAN’S FATHER. Harry’s Pikachu offered up his body to save Harry after the car crash, so Mewtoo merged his body into Pikachu until Pikachu could bring Tim to him so he could use their shared DNA to restore Harry’s body. Once he’s restored to his own body, his Pikachu went back to saying “Pika pika!”
(This is why for most of the movie, they don’t show Harry’s face, even in flashbacks. So at the end when Mewtoo announces that Tim’s father has always been by his side, I knew it had to be Ryan Reynolds. It would explain why Pikachu talks like him.)
It’s very odd to see Ryan Reynolds be Justice Smith’s father at the end. Ignoring the bi-racial thing, he certainly looks way too young to be his father. But technically he could be, because Ryan Reynolds is 43 in real life, whereas Justice Smith’s character is 21 in the movie. (Which is the other shocker from the movie — Ryan Reynolds is now old enough to play the father of a young adult! ?)
But what makes it most odd is that for the entire movie, Tim and Pikachu are buddies, and almost like owner and pet. Now you tell me that the “pet” has been the “owner”’s father all along? SO WEIRD.
There’s already going to be a sequel to Pokémon Detective Pikachu. I wonder what the story’s going to be like. Surely they aren’t going to re-merge Ryan Reynolds, I mean Harry Goodman, into Pikachu! This whole merging thing is a super strange concept in the first place, and I really hope they don’t keep riding on it. Because I don’t know what’s the point of having such a thing be possible, other than the very weak reason of wanting Pikachu to sound like Ryan Reynolds.
But other than that, it was a fun and cute movie. Just don’t think too much about how nonsensical the villain’s plan is and you’ll be fine.
Where to watch Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Streaming services: Pokémon Detective Pikachu is on HBO Max, HBO GO and HBO NOW, but not Netflix Singapore or US, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.