I just returned from seeing Detective Pikachu, and it’s safe to say I was impressed. As a fan since the first generation, it was incredible to see so many beloved characters from my childhood in a major live-action film. The whole experience was surreal. It was an absolute joy as a lover of the franchise, but that’s not the most impressive thing about the movie. Detective Pikachu‘s greatest asset is its ability to stand on its own two feet. Beloved Pokémon aside, Detective Pikachu is just a flat-out fun movie.
Let’s face it, video game movies are usually a train wreck. Hollywood just can’t seem to get the formula right. Honestly, that’s understandable. They have to strike a difficult balance between catering to existing fans and attracting new ones. As a result, most attempts end up failing at both. Detective Pikachu bucks that trend.
Why Detective Pikachu?
Some questioned the logic of choosing a lesser-known spin-off as the base for the first Pokémon movie, but it was the right call. Frankly, sticking to the traditional plot of a trainer battling their way through eight gyms would get repetitive fast, and it likely wouldn’t engross newcomers. Detective Pikachu offers a simpler, more universal plot. Everyone loves a good detective story, and most people can relate to losing a loved one.
Plus, the Pokémon Company never misses a chance to put Pikachu front and center. There’s a reason he’s the mascot of the biggest media franchise in the world. He’s adorable. Seeing him brought to life by Ryan Reynolds is a real treat for anyone young or old. If you loved Pikachu before, you’ll love him even more. If you’re new to the character, you’ll finally get the hype. Detective Pikachu will have you laughing, smiling, and feeling from start to finish.
Welcome to Ryme City
Meanwhile, Ryme City provides a much easier setting to portray in a live-action movie. A world where Pokémon constantly battle for sport (with society’s full acceptance) is a bit of a tough sell when you shed the cartoon graphics. But in Ryme City, Pokémon and humans live alongside each other in peace. You don’t need to memorize hundreds of Pokémon names to appreciate a movie about magical creatures living with humankind. Moviegoers have been eating that trope up for decades! Longtime fans will appreciate familiar scenes, like a Snorlax napping in the road.
Detective Pikachu caters to the Pokémon faithful not by strictly following a game plot, but by packing each scene with love. It doesn’t require you to be an expert on lore to follow the plot, but it rewards those who are. You can freeze the movie at just about any point and find Easter eggs. There are so many satisfying “Ah-ha!” moments that show this movie was crafted with love and care.
Fun for everyone
Detective Pikachu isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s more than a cut above most video game adaptations. If you’ve ever belted out “I wanna be the very best!” then this is definitely worth your time. But even those who can’t tell a Jigglypuff from a Dragonite will have a great time taking their kids to see it. Acting in this movie transformed 69-year-old Bill Nighy from a newcomer to a fanatic, and I have a feeling he won’t be the only one. That’s a power most video game movies can’t claim.
Have you seen the movie yet? Do you agree with Ben? Or do you agree with John, who argues that this movie does not break the video game movie curse? Tell us in the comments!
Nintendo Enthusiast’s Managing Editor. I grew up on Super Nintendo and never stopped playing. Been writing video game news, opinions, reviews, and interviews professionally for over a decade. Favorite franchises include Zelda, Metroid, and Mother.