I went with my two sons, of course. In their separate ways, and entirely without any influence from me, they have lived Pokémon pretty much their whole lives. When knowledge of Detective Pikachu came into our lives it wasn’t a case if we would see it, it was a case of when. And how often. It is the greatest compliment I can pay this film that the prospect of having to watch parts of it again and again and again does not fill me with any kind of dread.
In a world where Pokémon and humans live side by side, Justice Smith is Tim Goodman. Tim used to be all in for Pokémon but now works in insurance and buries his dreams. A call takes him to Ryme City where it appears his detective father has just been killed and whilst looking over said father’s apartment he comes across a pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who he can understand perfectly. He and his new sidekick, with assistance from rookie reporter Lucy Stephens (Kathryn Newton) try to work out what the heck is going on. The mystery won’t tax you too much but Detective Pikachu is so warm-hearted, so actually funny, and so well put together in terms of action and character that the beyond basic nature of the plot hardly seems to matter.
Stylistically, we’re in a world that’s best described as Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Blade Runner. A lot of the real-world city scenes are London but it’s well covered by all manner of high-rise Japanese logos. Deckard doesn’t fly across the screen to Vangelis but we are very much in a family version of that kind of neo-noir world. Less rain though. There’s almost certainly more for the fans than for the non fans but this is not remotely a piece just for kids with Pokémon card collections. Concepts that might be hard (and are second nature to devotees) are explained briskly without getting in the way.
And so two boys with their lifelong devotion left the cinema absolutely bowled over. They didn’t seem to be alone in that. And there was already a nice queue for the next showing waiting to be let in. Detective Pikachu seems to have found an audience. Good. It’s an enjoyable watch.