The movie takes place in a futuristic city, where new technology, created by one large tech company, has allowed for a new way of life. Humans now coexist with other creatures, who help them do their jobs and assist them in everyday life. A young man, our protagonist, has a dislike of the creatures, due to a traumatising incident in his past. When the creatures begin to act strangely, it is up to him to solve the case. He goes on an adventure where, along with a young woman, he discovers that not everything is as it seems, and he comes to befriend one of the creatures, who teaches him an important life lesson. In the end, it is revealed that the head of the tech company was behind all of it. Now, am I describing Detective Pikachu, or am I describing I, Robot?
As I watched this film, the similarities between the two movies were obvious, and Detective Pikachu really does feel like a toned down, children’s take on the classic sci-fi. I found that you don’t really need to know anything about robots to enjoy I, Robot, and the same goes for this movie. I know next to nothing about Pokémon, and I’m sure I missed some easter eggs, but I still thought this silly family movie was a fun watch. It is a blockbuster film, and, as such, is filled with overly dramatic moments and larger than life characters, but nevertheless, I was extremely impressed at the dedication this film had to the characterisation of the Pokémon.
Each creature, even those in the background, had excellent texture animations and stylistic design. Pikachu felt alive and real, and, somehow, did embody Ryan Reynolds (I was especially impressed by the texture animation when his fur was wet). In comparison to movies like Jurassic World, the animators took care to ensure the Pokémon looked as grounded as possible. I assume that setting of the film in the dark was a design choice, one that helped to disguise any faults in the rendering of the Pokémon. And their aesthetic design besides, the actual expression and movements of the characters felt real. One thing I do know about Pokémon is that each creature makes the sounds of their name, and I was impressed by how realistic they made these voices sound. I was also unsurprised to discover that the same team who had worked on Detective Pikachu also designed creatures for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In both films, the creatures have distinct and charming character design.
At the end of the day, though, this is a blockbuster movie. It does not rank as one of my favourites by far, but this movie certainly passes as a film that the family can enjoy together. I can dream about an R-rated, ‘Deadpool’ style version of this movie as much as I want, but I understand the market that this movie had. It was whimsical and silly but did manage to pull some real laughs from me (mostly just because Ryan Reynolds could read me a takeout menu and I’d find it hilarious). Overall, Detective Pikachu was simply a cute film.