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Detective Pikachu (dir. Letterman)

Image: Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, and Justice Smith in their respective roles © [Source: IMDB]

★★★★☆

In a world where creatures with special abilities are captured, evolved and trained to do battle. A boy whose father dies is confronted by an intelligent talking Pikachu who says that his father is not dead at all and there is a mystery afoot. The two play detective in this crime caper infested with whimsical creatures.

Director: Rob Letterman. Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe [PG]

The video game movie. Is there anything that fills video game enthusiasts with more dread than a beloved game being turned into a movie. When I heard about this particular one I thought how, why, who. But much to my surprise, not only does Detective Pikachu stand as one of the best video game adaptations but as a solid and pleasing movie in its own right. Do you need to know much about pokemon or love the franchise to get this movie? No, not at all – it certainly helps to have a bubbling nostalgia in your stomach as grin at seeing the familiar cards, animations or pixels of your youth now in wonderful 3D CGI.

To which is done rather nicely. At first, the CG does have sort of an uncanny valley aspect that its hard to place your finger on why it looks wrong. Perhaps a little too on the realistic side but I suppose oddly it does quickly just become very evident CG and your brain is at ease at the sight of Pikachu’s thick strands of hair. Equally easing is Pikachu himself or Ryan Reynolds for that matter. To my memory in recent cinema, there has not been a casting so juxtaposed as the loud crude fast talking Deadpool in a children’s film about pokemon. And yet – he is absolutely perfect in the part, I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to gift their charisma to a computer-generated image the way Reynolds does and I do believe much of the success in its reception is down to Pikachu becoming just another character rather than a lifeless cuddly toy.

Even with the ‘cuddly’ cuteness that is to be expected in a children’s film, I was surprised at the film’s maturity. Now don’t misconstrue that last remark, it’s mature in the sense that it works as a story that is complex with grey areas in it’s good versus evil. Don’t go in expecting a maturity like Pikachu doing Pulp Fiction. Still, there is some adult humour to be found and the movie goes a long way riding this kind of humour, I suspect knowing that most of its audience strangely will be adults who grew up with Pokemon wanting a nostalgia rush packed into a great movie. Detective Pikachu delivers because it knows its audience and still yet is open to newcomers of all ages. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or take massive strides creatively but in the end, this is a movie to “aww” at and enjoy the “I remember that one” while you venture down a clever and thoughtful narrative that entertains as much as it asks you to asks questions much like a detective yourself.

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