One of my favorite video games series of all time is the “Pokemon” franchise, so it’s only fitting the greatest video game-based movie I’ve ever seen is “Pokemon Detective Pikachu.”
My fiancée treated me to the film last week. I didn’t really know what to expect, but as I mentioned in last week’s column about “Sonic the Hedgehog,” I knew going in that movies based on video games are usually garbage.
What I found with “Detective Pikachu,” however, was a pretty heartwarming tale that faithfully recreated the beloved pocket monsters “Pokemon” fans know and love.
“Detective Pikachu” is based on the 3DS game of the same name, which derives from the traditional “Pokemon” games that have been around since the ‘90s. I’ve never played “Detective Pikachu,” but the story is at least somewhat related to the original “Pokemon Red” and “Blue” in that the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo is heavily involved.
“Detective Pikachu” is aimed at “Pokemon” fans, particularly children, but its story was confusing even to me. By the end, there were so many twists so quickly explained that I had to have a debriefing with my fiancée to make sure I caught every plot line. Without spoiling anything, there’s one particular thread that pays off in a pretty unsatisfying way. But other than that, it’s an enjoyable, feel-good story, even if it is a bit convoluted.
Of course, Pikachu in the film can talk, which doesn’t make sense in the world of “Pokemon,” but the movie eventually explains it in a way that works.
And man, am I glad he can talk. Ryan Reynolds does an excellent job voicing Pikachu, and he’s legitimately hilarious. The movie is filled with more funny one-liners than I can even remember. The movie wouldn’t have been nearly as good if only the humans could talk because Pikachu really stole the show, so I’m glad they let him and then threw in an explanation to have it make at least some sense.
The movie includes dozens of different realistic, computer-generated renditions of famous Pokemon, and unlike “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the artists didn’t take creative liberties in changing the design of any of them. Each Pokemon looks as you would expect it to look in real life with more detailed fur, scales, feathers and skin, and it made me long for a world in which Pokemon were real.
I’m not sure what makes “Detective Pikachu” such a successful video game movie compared to the dozens that came before. I’m sure part of it is related to the fact that “Pokemon” is one of the most popular franchises of anything anywhere, but I’d bet it’s also because the movie didn’t take itself too seriously and tried to do justice to the characters for which the games are known.
If every video game movie followed “Detective Pikachu’s” example, maybe video game-based films wouldn’t have the poor reputation they have today.
If you’re on the fence about seeing “Detective Pikachu,” grab your kids or a niece/nephew and go. Even casual fans will find a lot to love here.