What were you doing on Thursday, 7 December 2017? I was meticulously studying quantum mechanics in an attempt to create the first time machine, as it was just announced that Ryan Reynolds was voicing Pikachu, in a live-action Pokémon movie.
My plan was to return to 1974 – two years before Ryan was born – woo his mother, Tamara, and court her until we eventually had a child together. Then, through a series of arduous (and possibly traumatising) events, I would deliberately ruin our son’s acting auditions to prevent him from ever landing the role as Pikachu.
That was a waste of time, because Ryan’s outing as the electric mousy critter was bloody delightful. And to think; I was one screw tightening away from achieving time travel. Now I just use the machine as a coffee table.
From the get-go, Detective Pikachu was riddled with criticism… And only a small portion of it was just. As soon as the first trailer was released, every commenter (who probably had usernames like SexyDragonForker69 and P_In_The_V_Man) ridiculed the character designs. Personally, I thought every animated character looked amazing. There was something so brilliant about seeing the two-dimensional cartoons which I grew up with looking real and interacting in a genuine environment. It’s clear that the animators were passionate about the project, as every creature has such a rich, detailed texture. It was so cool to see Charizard flaunting battle scars across his scaly skin. (Because, let’s not forget the moral of Pokémon – to fight your pets against one another ’til the death. #FUN) Of course, I was only au fait with the first generation of Pokémon – after all, I’m 25 years old and not a virgin* – so it took some getting used to when newer Pokémon which I hadn’t even dreamed of appeared, but that’s just part of the fun of it – it catered to newer fans of the franchise, as well as its long-running ones.
* I’m kidding. (About slating Pokémon fans; not about being a virgin. I’m not, okay?! Does anyone believe me?)
That being said, while it looks to be advertised as a kids’ film, it’s not. It’s clearly aimed at the older audience, who grew up with the original Pokémon franchise, and is honing on that nostalgia. Obviously, with the inclusion of the man behind Deadpool, you’ve already got an edgier tone, but there is – albeit minor – references to drug use and some phrases that parents might not want their kids repeating. (Christ, I hate myself for saying that.) This was such a risky move, but my God, did it work. Of course, kids are going to love the movie for its bright colours and explosive set-pieces; adults will enjoy it for Ryan’s dry humour. In fact, Ryan is – unsurprisingly – the standout in the film.
Ryan Reynolds brings his unique wit to the screen so effortlessly in Detective Pikachu; it’s immediately funny hearing his voice in the yellow creature, instead of the notable high-pitched “Pika, Pika”. Then, as soon as you start letting Ryan riff of the scene, you’ve got gold. In fact, without him, this film probably would have been dire. Before one boy, Tim Goodman (played by Justice Smith) comes across Ryan’s Pikachu, there is very little humour in the film, and whatever jokes that do happen are pretty eye-rollingly bad. It seemed like the movie could have been a little flat until other Pokeémon, such as Ryan’s Pikachu and an incredible Psyduck were introduced.
There are moments, however, which are so painstakingly obvious, director Rob Letterman might as well came into the screening, wrote the plot on a plank of wood and repeatedly smashed me in the face with it. I won’t spoil them, but the antagonist of the piece was set up for a shock, only to be pretty predictable. There are, however, more minor moments I didn’t see coming, which was a great delight.
And want to know the really delightful moment? Rita Ora isn’t in it for long. Why is Hollywood hiring her? I’m so confused. She wasn’t good in this role. She played a scientist. If I was a casting director, and I was hiring a female to play an intellectual researcher, I would not sit back and immediately think of the woman who told her fans she’d drop new music if she got 100,000 retweets, only to get, roughly, 2,000. She seemed wooden. It was a total distraction from the movie for no real reason; I doubt people were seeing Detective Pikachu for her. She wasn’t billed on the poster, so she wasn’t cast for her pulling power. Imagine casting Hollywood royalty, such as Helen Hunt or Sigourney Weaver – known for playing scientists in previous films – as a sly nod. While I think Rita would make a much better collaboration with Liam Payne, I don’t think she could act a fraction as well as those women. (But just try telling me you wouldn’t want to hear Julianne Moore and Liam drop a dope mixtape now.)
It’s always going to be hard to please the diehard Poké-fans. I still see grown adults arguing over Jigglypuff’s hair today, but I think this movie does it enough justice. The makers of this film clearly cared about its subject matter a lot. Not only do the Pokémon look great, but they’re genuinely funny. Now, if someone could help me get “In Ryan, we trust”, printed on to the dollar bill, that’d be a great help.