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Review: ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ is as Cute as Neo-Noir Mysteries Get

May 9, 2019Ben MK

For over 20 years, the Pokémon phenomenon has entranced not only kids, but the adults who grew up playing the videogames and watching the Saturday morning television show. Now, just when you think you've caught 'em all, along comes Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Based loosely on the Nintendo game of the same name, the Pokémon franchise's big screen, live-action debut follows Tim Goodman (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Justice Smith), a downtrodden insurance appraiser who once aspired to become a Pokémon trainer. However, Tim's Pokémon battle dreams were dashed when his mother passed away when he was 11 and he was left in the care of his grandmother, after his detective father Harry moved away to join the police department of Ryme City — the only place in the world where humans and Pokémon live side-by-side as equals.

Fast forward 10 years and Tim is beckoned to go to Ryme City himself, after he receives a call informing him that Harry and his Pokémon partner Pikachu perished in a fiery car crash. When he arrives at his estranged father's office, though, he's greeted by something he never expected to see — namely Pikachu, alive and well, albeit suffering from a bout of amnesia. But that's not the end of the surprises, for Tim also discovers that, unlike every other human in Ryme City, he can understand Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) perfectly well.

And so begins an unlikely partnership, as Tim and Pikachu team up to solve the mystery laid out before them. Could Harry still be alive as well? Is it possible that he faked his own death? Driven by their inexplicable bond and joined by a rookie reporter named Lucy Stevens (Blockers' Kathryn Newton) and her Pokémon Psyduck, the pair learn that the answer may have to do with a mysterious purple gas that appears to turn Pokémon into vicious, crazed beasts. However, the closer they get to the culprit, the more danger they find themselves in.

Directed by Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Goosebumps), what follows is sure to delight both newcomers to the Pokémon franchise and hardcore fans alike, as the film does an excellent job setting up the world that these characters inhabit, while also populating this world with a full roster of characters that longtime followers have grown to know and love. From Blastoise to Charizard, Jigglypuff to Squirtle, viewers won't be left wanting when it comes to seeing their favorite Pokémon represented on-screen. And with Ryme City being the bustling, neon-lit metropolis that it is, it's almost a guarantee that repeat viewings are required to catch every one.

That said, does Pokémon Detective Pikachu have what it takes to dethrone the reigning box office champion, Avengers: Endgame? The answer is a reluctant "probably not." But with ample heart and cuteness to spare, it's most certainly a fantastic start to an all-new cinematic universe that will hopefully continue to "Pika Pika" moviegoers' interests for years to come.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu releases May 10th, 2019 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements. Its runtime is 1 hr. 44 min.

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