When I was a kid my grandmother (love you Mom Mom!) would take me to pretty much every movie released that was rated pg-13 or lower. I have many memories of waking up at 9 AM on Saturday mornings, eating a delicious “made with love” breakfast, and catching the earliest matinee at Marley Station mall. It was our weekend tradition, and while the theatre we would frequent may change, the tradition remained the same. There are so many fantastic theatrical memories that I hold near and dear to my heart, one of which is seeing “Pokémon: The First Movie” on the big screen.
Much like any kid that grew up in the 90’s, I was completely infatuated with these “Pocket Monsters”. I had the cards. I had the games (Pokémon Red is still king!). I had comic books, VHS tapes, figures, etc. Hell, I remember having the original Pocket Pikachu, a yellow game boy device that was basically a fully character licensed version of a Tamagotchi. Well, instead of all the fun stuff you could do with a Tamagotchi, the Pocket Pikachu was a glorified pedometer. Being the fat kid that I was, this toy didn’t get much use after the initial first day. But, I digress. The point is that I was obsessed, which is to be expected from a kid at that time. While “Pokémon: The First Movie” may not be my first cinematic experience, it was the film during which I openly wept for the first time. It was heart wrenching! I’m sure it holds up. Right along with its soundtrack which is the most nineties pop soundtrack you’ll ever hear. I’m listening to it as I write this, and it’s definitely a product of its time.
So, in the year of our lord 2019, I still have all of that memorabilia but it all now resides in my parent’s attic. I’m still an avid gamer but I’d be lying if I said I’d played a full-blown Pokémon RPG within the past decade or so. I joined in on the Pokémon Go craze for about a month and I have Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee loaded up on the Switch but I never got around to it. While I’m not completely surrounded by the world, it still holds a very special place in my heart. Which seems shocking since when “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” was announced I was filled with a sense of confusion rather than excitement.
The first time we’re going to see these characters in “live-action” we’re adapting a spin-off Nintendo 3DS game? I longed for the chance to see Ash, Brock, Misty, Team Rocket, and so on in all their glory! Why on earth were we getting a movie based on a spin-off before getting a full-blown Pokémon Trainer movie?! After my initial concern, I became rather indifferent. I didn’t really have an interest in the movie as I had no desire to play the game it was based upon. Now, there is no disrespect intended. I’ve heard many good things about the game, just not my thing. Well the time has come, I was finally going to check out the first ever live action film inspired by one of the largest portions of my childhood. Would it be a quality watch or a weak nostalgia driven cash grab?
That’s actually more complicated than it seems. First, let’s talk plot. After detective Harry Goodman is involved in a car crash that assumedly leads to his death, his son Tim (Justice Smith), heads to Ryme City to pay his respects. After running into his father’s Pokémon, a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) in which Tim can verbally communicate with, it turns out things aren’t as cut and dry as they seem.
Plot-wise this isn’t a philosophical picture. It’s actually one of the most predictable films I’ve seen in a long time. Guess what, the guy who you totally know is the bad guy from the first moment you see him is…the bad guy! You’ll pick up on the “twist” about halfway through the film as well. Now, this leads to a conundrum. Does predictability and a straightforward plot mean that a movie is bad? Honestly, not at all. The movie is “Detective Pikachu”, you know going in that the focus of the film is not on story. It’s more about how many Pokémon can we put on the screen within this hour and 40-minute runtime.
Again, this isn’t a bad thing. The Pocket Monsters themselves look incredible! Never in my life did I expect to see a realistic MewTwo in a feature film! My mind was honestly blown. The movie is a bit nostalgia driven, but that’s made up for through the chemistry between Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds. Let’s be honest here, Ryan Reynolds pretty much plays himself in everything. However, but that voice into a Pikachu and it’s immediately better. I’ll also give credit where it’s due, the final scene involving Reynolds shows how good of an actor he truly is. Perhaps we’ve just seen too many “Van Wilder in a superhero suit” movies to recognize it. Go watch his movie “Voices”, it deserves all of the love! That’s one plug here.
“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” isn’t a bad movie. I found myself thoroughly enjoying it throughout. I laughed harder than I expected and even found myself teary-eyed at points. It’s not a secret that you will find this movie even more enjoyable if you’re familiar with the source material but it’s a cute watch for a night with the family. In fact, I think that’s a perfect descriptor for this flick, it’s cute!
Release-wise the 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray looks absolutely gorgeous, and it comes jampacked with special features. This includes a “Detective Mode” that allows you to enjoy the movie in a brand-new light. It’s pop-up video that also gives you behind the scenes featurettes during the movie! Also included is an alternate opening, multiple featurettes, a commentary by Mr. Mime, and a music video for “Carry On” by Kygo & Rita Ora.
I definitely recommend giving this one a watch, especially if you grew up on the source material. It’s not a game changer or anything but it’s definitely a visual spectacle. Here’s to hoping that the success will lead to another film set in the universe!
4K, BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS
“POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” 4K UHD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack contain the following special features:
- Detective Mode
- Alternate Opening
- My Pokémon Adventure
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Welcome to Ryme City
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Uncovering the Magic
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Action
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Colorful Characters
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Bringing Pokémon to Life
- Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary
- Ryan Reynolds – Outside the Actor’s Studio
- “Carry On” by Rita Ora and Kygo (Music Video)
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”