Computer graphic render of the character pikachu in a detective hat holding a magnifying glass.

Siskiyou Review: “Detective Pikachu” lacks Pika-punch

Since the unveiling of the first trailer, Detective Pikachu has been drawing a collective swoon from “Pokéfans” around the world. A live action movie full of immaculate CGI Pokémon, with Ryan Reynolds’ seductively nasally tones embodying perhaps the most adorable depiction of Pikachu ever!?

Sign me up, Professor Oak!

Fortunately for casual movie goers, the CGI in the movie lives up to the precedent set by the trailers. An abundance of absurdly realistic Pokémon are living within the background throughout the film, much like real animals but multiplied by a thousand.

Although a hefty percentage were drawn from the beloved original generation, avid Poképeople will note a surprising collection of newer generation Pokémon, a testament to director Rob Letterman’s commitment to his franchise-able craft.

The detail and authenticity in the appearance and behavior of all these imaginary creatures makes the film worth a watch in its own merit, especially if you’re a Pokémon fan.

Unfortunately for critical movie watchers, this pop culture landmark is watered down by a stream of damp writing and soggy performances. If it weren’t for the genuinely remarkable Pokéworld revolving around the main plot, this film would feel like a Disney Channel Mystery without the laugh track. Actually, there may be a laugh track but it’s impossible to tell.


The main actor, Justice Smith, shows just enough emotion through the entire first arc to vaguely imply a downhearted teenager vibe. With a restrained and unenthusiastic performance, his snarky, dismissive pattern of speech gets stale within the first few interactions he has.

Sadly there aren’t enough lines for the other characters to gain any
developmental traction, so the narrative is wasted on bland banter between Pikapool and a wall disguised as a young actor.

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds, this movie truly crutches itself on its star protagonist only to waste the opportunity with no good punchlines or subtext.

Reynolds phones in his pika-performance, but even if he hadn’t the lines only enable his monotone autopilot from start to, and especially, finish.

There is a severe drought of meaningful exposition in the first half of the movie, so most of the main characters dialogue is spent bantering or explaining what is going on in the story, like the original show would do for all the kids watching.

Once the narrative reaches a pivotal turning point all the exposition gushes
out like a dam breaking, and the plot twists itself into a croissant in an attempt to save the criminally conventional script. Again, thank goodness the Pokémon look good.

If you know anything about Pokémon, you’ll want to see this movie eventually. It’s a huge step for a franchise that will never die. You can’t blame them for putting all their good eggs in the ‘CGI Pokémon’ basket, with the bad ones tossed into the ‘Everything else about the movie’ bin.

The narrative is objectively flawed, rushed, and fairly predictable, but the world building is something anyone can appreciate and is a good enough reason to watch this movie at least once.

2.9/5 stars

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