Detective Pikachu Review: Ryan Reynolds Charms In Pokémon’s Dull Live-Action Debut

Detective Pikachu marks Pokémon’s first foray into live-action cinema. While the massively popular children’s franchise has made the leap to the big screen several times before, never have we seen these Pocket Monsters or the world of Pokémon reimagined beyond its original form. So was the 23-year wait worth it? Kind of.

While Pokémon Detective Pikachu is inspired by the Nintendo 3DS game Detective Pikachu, the movie features an original story as it introduces audiences to the lively world of Pokémon. The film follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) reeling over the mysterious death of his father, who worked as a Detective in Ryme City. After Tim travels to pack up his father’s apartment and say his goodbyes, he discovers his father’s partner Pokémon, a Pikachu, which Tim finds he has the surprising ability to communicate with after he inhales a mysterious gas. This Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, is convinced Tim’s father is still alive, which leads to a team-up between the two in order to get to the bottom of his father’s mysterious disappearance.

The first act may be the most enjoyable part of the film for long-time fans, as they get to discover the world of Pokémon in live-action. Director Rob Letterman not only realizes major gameplay elements such as encountering a wild Pokémon and attempting to catch it on screen but also crafts an interesting society in Ryme City, which finds humans and Pokémon coexist in a habitat together for the first time ever and it feels surprisingly natural. Ryme City itself has a cyberpunk, almost Blade Runner-like feel to it that’s incredibly pleasing to look at. And to make it even moodier, Letterman leans heavily into a noir tone for the beginning of the murder mystery which works very well.

While Ryme City is interesting, and Letterman finds plenty of clever ways to work in appearances from tons of Pokémon into the world itself, Tim is so unlikable that it makes it hard to fully invest in his journey and root for him to succeed in finding out the truth about what happened to his father. Detective Pikachu is surprisingly heavy and more emotional than what you’d expect to get from a Pokémon movie and while this is a much better performance from Justice Smith than last year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, his character is filled with so much despair early on that it becomes tiresome rather quickly. Being constantly mean to Pikachu doesn’t help either. Because of this, the back and forth between Tim and his new unwanted sidekick becomes rather one-note and dull very fast.

But once Kathryn Newton’s Lucy, along with Psyduck, join Tim and Pikachu on their adventure, the film is injected with a much needed and refreshing boost of energy as they begin to unravel the truth behind Tim’s father’s disappearance. After a bit of an awkward introduction, Kathryn Newton does her best with what’s she’s given, but the script doesn’t give her an opportunity to shine with a layered performance, instead resulting in a very flat and one-dimensional character.

Unfortunately, just as the movie begins to click and gets fun, much of the expository dialogue in the big reveals feels generic and uninspired, almost throw away so much to the extent that you really don’t need to pay all that much attention to understand what’s going on, save for a big action set piece near the middle that is impossibly difficult to follow and confusing. The film also suffers from several twists and turns that are extremely predictable. However, these turning points lead to a very satisfying, action-packed, and intense third act that will have Pokémon fans thrilled to see a live-action adaptation on this scale.

As for Pikachu himself, Ryan Reynolds delivers some fantastic voice work here and truly carries the film on his back as he and Tim go on their journey. There’s no question that Pikachu is the star of the film and this only works as well as it does due to Reynolds’ charming and endearing performance that feels very much like a kid-friendly version of Deadpool.

Overall, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is much better than what you’d expect from a live-action Pokémon adaptation. It’s impressive how Letterman finds not just clever ways to include a wide variety of Pokémon in the movie, but plenty of meaningful ways to feature them as well. What’s frustrating, however, is that as good as the film is, it’s nothing more than serviceable. For what has the potential to kick off the first cinematic universe for the franchise, this is nothing more than a solid first step into live-action for The Pokémon Company. And if you’re not already a fan of the franchise, there won’t be much here for you.

Rating: 7/10

Top Actors To Replace Ben Affleck In Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’

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Batman Ben Affleck Matt ReevesBen Affleck is officially out as Batman and it's a pretty sad day.

Words cannot describe how sad I am to see Ben Affleck announce that he's no longer Batman. His Batman is why I do what I do. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I fell in love with his comic book-accurate interpretation of the Caped Crusader. It was a breath of fresh air and it felt like we finally had the one true Batman.

Three years have quickly sped by and we're officially going to receive a new Batman for his next movie. Last night, Ben Affleck announced that he will not return as the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves' The Batman and now everyone's attention has moved towards wanting to know who the next Bruce Wayne will be. Matt Reeves is said to want an actor that's around 20 years younger than Affleck while Warner Bros. wants someone older. My guess is that Reeves wants a fresh start while the studio wants an older actor for crossover potential.

In this list, I will discuss the actors I think can replace Ben Affleck as Batman using the parameters that Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. want. Hit Next to see our picks to play the Batman.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender X-Men

Michael Fassbender is an X-Men alum and no stranger to comic book franchises. The actor has shown multiple levels of range and could definitely handle the Batman/Bruce Wayne personality. If they go with the older range for the next Dark Knight, then Fassbender is probably one of the best choices to take over the role.

Ben Barnes

The Punisher Ben Barnes Billy Russo Jigsaw Marvel

Ben Barnes is out of a job after The Punisher season 2 and he's one of the best actors in that series. The second season tied up Barnes' arc on The Punisher and the actor has already told us that that he'd love to play the Caped Crusader. Barnes definitely has the pretty boy look going on for him and I wonder what his take on Bruce Wayne could be.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling Blade Runner 2049

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Ryan Gosling needs to star in a superhero movie. I've always thought Gosling would make a great Batman. Every role that he's done has shown us his capability and he could crush it as Bruce Wayne.

Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm Mad Men

Jon Hamm is my top choice for an older Batman. If Warner Bros. wants to cast an older actor for crossover potential, Jon Hamm is the studio's best bet. He has a similar look to Ben Affleck, and c'mon, the guy's look just screams Bruce Wayne.

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Armie Hammer is 32 years old and was cast as the Caped Crusader in George Miller's Justice League: Mortal. That film will never see the light of day, but that doesn’t mean that Hammer doesn't deserve a second shot at being the Batman. He's charming, broody and will probably give his all for this role. Armie Hammer is a great option because he's young enough for Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. could work in a way for him to crossover with the rest of the DC Extended Universe.

Richard Madden

Richard Madden Bodyguard

Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden is my top choice to replace Ben Affleck as Batman. The actor is young, has the look and definitely has the acting chops to play the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Madden just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television series for the BBC drama Bodyguard, so Warner Bros. may want to quickly snatch him up.

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Michael Mistroff

Michael Mistroff

News Editor, Film/TV Reporter at Heroic Hollywood.