[This article contains Detective Pikachu spoilers, ya’ll]
Now, I’ve only played two Pokémon video games: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!, and Detective Pikachu. I’ve only completed one Pokémon video game: Detective Pikachu. Therefore, as you can plainly see, your honor, I am the best candidate to review the Detective Pikachu movie.
I went into the theater knowing two things: 1. The overall plot of the movie, and 2. that I would be seated next to a snotty kid. The movie is loosely based off of the games, but many of its main plot points are still in the movie. The main plot revolves around Tim Goodman, a young man who learns that his father, Harry Goodman, and his Pikachu partner have been killed in a car accident. However, the reappearance of Pikachu (who can only be understood by Tim) proves that Harry may not have been killed. The two work together to try to figure out where Harry is, and the mystery behind the last case Harry was trying to solve.
The movie does not follow the game scene for scene, and let me tell you, that is an extremely a good thing. Because, while Detective Pikachu is the only Pokémon game I have completed, it’s not one I enjoyed. This is partly the game’s fault, and partly my own. I love a good mystery game, and I admit I went into the Detective Pikachu game expecting a Pokémon to murder or to be murdered. I wanted to see some murderous beasts who were hiding out from the law! I was expecting Ace Attorney murder mystery, and instead I got Barney Hide and Seek.
But Detective Pikachu the movie really fleshes out what the game tried to do. One of my favorite aspects of the game was how it employed Pokémon—literally—into the world of Rhyme City. Ludicolo works in a coffee shop, Machamp directs traffic, basically every dog-type (is dog a Pokémon type?) Pokémon is a cop’s companion. It’s something that we see in the anime and games to some extent, but in the movie it really comes alive to the point where the city feels so vibrant. It reminded me of Ralph Breaks the Internet, and how it populated the internet as if it was an actual space, as if our avatars actually transported from site to site.
The other perk about the movie is that it is more of an adult child’s movie. A few “hell’s” were thrown around, and oh by the way a torture scene! One of the funniest scenes was during a good-cop, bad-cop scene between Pikachu, Tim, and Mr. Mime. Mr. Mime, as I remember him in the anime, is basically Ash’s mom’s maid (and lover lol). But in the movie, he’s another clue to finding out what Harry was in the middle of before his disappearance. The way Tim and Pikachu have to outwit Mr. Mime by basically miming out threats. Tim mimes pouring gasoline on Mr. Mime. Like, it’s hilarious. I can’t imagine a movie without that scene, it was so pivotal in showing how smart the movie implements the Pokémon traits into the story. That’s also on par with the Pokémon murdering I was hoping for in the game. So now you know how fucked up I am.
There are many differences between the Detective Pikachu game and movie, but I think the ending has the most significant changes. In the game, Roger Clifford, CEO of news organization GNN, is the mastermind behind’s Harry’s disappearance. He—as bad guys wont to do—wants to take control of Rhyme City by controlling Pokémon. In the movie, Roger is innocent, and it is instead his father Howard Clifford, who wants to partake in bad guy behavior. But where Roger simply wanted to control Pokémon, Howard wants to be one. The ultimate evolution is, according to him, when human and Pokémon merge. A human brain and a Pokémon body could…save humanity? End humanity? It would please some furries at the very least. And, in his defense, he does accomplish his plan to merge with a Pokémon for about 10 minutes before Tim and Pikachu fuck him up. It’s a wild ending, rife with end-of-movie combat and dangling-from-a-window suspense. It’s fun!
One other major difference is that Tim finds his father at the end of the movie. In the game, it’s heavily, heavily, I’m talking primal groudon (I googled what the heaviest Pokémon is and that is what I got) heavily hinted at that Harry Goodman is somehow inside Pikachu. The game never confirms this, and instead ends the game with Harry’s disappearance unresolved. In the movie, however, they reveal that the two are one. Mewtwo used its…I have no clue what the fuck Mewtwo’s power is, and fused Pikachu and Harry together to keep Harry safe from his attackers. Tim’s father is revealed to be a salt-and-pepper Ryan Reynolds, and Pikachu goes back to saying Pika Pika. I think for a cute kid’s movie, having Harry come back is probably necessary. Children tend to need some sort of resolution.
Oh, this is a review, so I should probably talk about the acting. It was fine. Justice Smith did a fantastic job pretending like he was actually touching and talking to Pikachu. In the game, Tim is white, so I was excited to see how they changed around race by casting Smith. The supporting cast was also great! I was extremely happy to see the world populated with different groups of people in the city. Ryan Reynolds was fine as Pikachu. In the game, Pikachu has a much scruffier, noir detective kind of voice. Many people argued that Danny DeVito should have been the voice, although having DeVito be Tim’s father may not have worked. Still, there are plenty of scruffy-voiced actors that could have played that role.
Overall, Detective Pikachu was a romp and a good ol’ time. One of the trailers I watched before the movie started was about a reincarnating dog. Apparently, it’s a sequel. I really wanted to share that.
So, to conclude, this expert* gives Detective Pikachu 2 dog reincarnations out of 2.