Thursday, May 9, 2019

Pokémon Detective Pikachu


A captive Mewtwo wakes up in a laboratory, breaks free, and wreaks havoc before pursuing a runaway vehicle that crashes under a bridge. Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) has given up on his dream of becoming a Pokémon trainer after his father walked out on him and totally disappeared from his life. Rummaging through his possessions after receiving word of his untimely death, he runs into a wild Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) wearing a baseball cap. Unlike most Pokémon of its kind in the wild, though, this one can talk even though it seems like Tim is the only one who can understand it. The Pokémon soon realizes that he is a detective, the partner of Harry who happens to be Tim’s father. As they piece together the puzzle of his disappearance, they discover a more sinister plot hiding in plain sight, seemingly related to the instances of Pokémon going wild after inhaling an unknown purple fume.

Pokémon was big in the early 2000’s. Any kid who had a Gameboy back then would know how huge a phenomenon it was. It never really crossed over successfully to the big screen, though. Maybe we can blame the repetitive story arc of a trainer roaming the continent for battles, which has been adapted time and again for the animated motion pictures. In Detective Pikachu, we get treated to a talking Pokémon and gifted with a buddy film that still involves battling Pokémon, but with a film-friendly plot.

Hearing Ryan Reynolds take on an iconic role that has traditionally been non-speaking except for “Pika-Pika” was a dangerous proposition, even more so because his name has long been synonymous with Deadpool. Will this really work, or will he end up hijacking a character a lot of us have loved since our teenage days? Well, the good news is that the gimmick actually works especially after revealing the plot twist that justifies such plot device. It’s a satisfying story arc incorporating Pokémon both old and new.

That it took this long to come up with a live-action Pokémon film is really a blessing in disguise. With the current innovations in CGI, you get to witness a smooth rendering of Pokémon onscreen interacting with real humans. Had this been done a decade earlier, we would have received a tacky presentation all in all. With doubts about the ability of the producers to deliver in the CGI department put to rest, at least you get to concentrate on the story itself, which isn’t that groundbreaking but good enough to carry the film.

As far as twists are concerned, there are plenty, with some becoming more and more obvious as the plot thickens. There are contrived plot twists. There are a-ha moments. Whatever the screenplay lacks it makes up for in terms of the visual delight that is what these creatures would look like if they existed for real. While Ryme City can be considered too much of a reach, it offers enough within that universe to be tolerable in our imagination. Perhaps the real kudos here is for the animators who made all that possible.

In the end, the movie remains to be a good opportunity to bridge the gap between generations. Not everyone can be a 90’s kid, but the plot and animation involved in this film will surely attract a younger demographic, while the generation that came before them would most likely be watching because of the nostalgia factor. It’s the perfect bonding movie if you are a parent in your 30’s. Sure, there have been more than 151 since the game first came out a few decades ago, but there sure is room for more in this universe.

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