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Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu – “One of the best videogame movies ever”

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is written by Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit (The Tick) and directed by Rob Letterman (Goosebumps). The film stars Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies), Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead), Ken Watanabe (Godzilla) AND OF COURSE Ryan Raynolds (Deadpool).

When his estranged father, Harry Goodman, goes missing and is presumed dead, Tim Goodman (Smith) travels to Ryme City to wrap up his affairs. Created and overseen by philanthropic industrialist Howard Clifford (Nighy), Ryme City is a place where humans and Pokémon exist as equals, living and working together in harmony.

In his dad’s apartment, Tim finds his old man’s Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu (Reynolds), who is sure Harry is still alive and that they were onto something big before he vanished, but he has lost his memory and cannot even remember how to use his powers. The two team up with a keen but overlooked investigative reporter, Lucy Stevens (Newton), to crack the case, which goes higher and deeper than they ever could imagine.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a pacy film with a genuinely intriguing mystery that actually leans hard into doing actual detective work to get to the bottom of things. The gang meet, question and sometimes battle a myriad of brilliantly rendered creatures, and these scenes make for plenty of action, excitement and big, big laughs.

Some of this comedy is down to seeing classic cartoon Pokémon realistically rendered and living and working in our world, which honestly NEVER EVER gets old, but a lot of it is also thanks to the hilarious voice work from Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds is not just doing a PG Deadpool. He is wry, but the laughs are never at the expense of the material, meta, or fourth-wall-breaking. Detective Pikachu is warm, loving and good-natured and is the perfect emotional core to the film and vessel for Tim to come to terms with his damaged relationship with his dad through.

The humans are all very good too. Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton are charming and their easy interactions with the Pokémon easily sell their existence to the audience. It is a little strange seeing Bill Nighy in a Pokémon movie but he is obviously wonderful and adds a gravitas that goes toward the film feeling fully-fledged and worthy, not just a soulless cash-grab.

Ken Watanabe is criminally underused and it would be easy to suspect that he may have had some scenes trimmed. Also, your mileage may vary on how it all shakes out in the final outcome of the film which is sweet, strange and a bit disturbing if you think about it too hard.

It had no right to be this good and fulfils the promise of those excellent trailers. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a fully-charged family-pleaser full of heart and humour that will leave you with a warm feeling in your jellies. Released in the UK on the 10th of May it is easily one of the best videogame movies ever and creates a brilliant world that we will hopefully get to revisit in a further instalment soon.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu is in UK cinemas from 10th May 2019.

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