Movie Review: 'Pokemon Detective Pikachu'
When a police detective dies in a car crash, his pet Pikachu survives and sets out to unravel the mystery of what really happened.
Trey (Justice Smith) and Lucy (Kathyn Newton) team up with Detective Pikachu, the Nintendo mascot known for his yellow fur, black-tipped pointed ears, lightning bolt-shaped tail, and red circles on his cheeks which spark with electricity.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is a live-action film adaptation of the 2016 video game "Detective Pikachu" from the Pokémon franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri. The current film is about Pikachu trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his police detective partner, who appears to have died in a car accident. The fuzzy yellow Pikachu is the last known creature to see the man alive. The only problem is that Pikachu has amnesia and isn’t quite sure what happened.
The story begins with 21-year-old Tim Goldman (played by Justice Smith) who has lost interest in being a Pokémon trainer due to tragic family circumstances. Tim’s backstory is that his mother died when he was 11 years old, and he was raised by his grandmother. Tim never had a close relationship with his father, who moved to Ryme City to work as a police detective. Growing up, Tim refused to visit his dad, because he thought his dad didn’t care about him, and was more focused on detective work than being a parent.
While hanging out with a friend, Tim discovers that his father was killed in the car crash. With no other family left, Tim goes to his father’s apartment to collect his personal belongings. Inside the apartment, Tim finds Pikachu, a furry yellow creature with black marks on the tips of his ears, red circles on his cheeks which spark with electricity, and a lightning bolt shaped tail. Other humans can only hear the Pikachu say “Pika! Pika!” But Tim understands everything the little yellow creature is saying.
Pikachu tells Tim about the crash that supposedly killed Tim’s father. They were together at the time, but Pikachu can’t remember exactly what happened, because he’s suffering from amnesia. Pikachu realizes that if he survived the crash, then it’s possible that Tim’s father also possibly survived the crash. Tim’s father may still be alive.
In the apartment, Tim finds a note from his Dad, and a mysterious purple “Serum R” capsule. Tim opens the capsule, and a toxic purple gas fills the air. Tim opens the windows, and the purple gas spreads outside, causing a troop of Aipom (monkey-like Pokemon creatures) to become aggressive and attack people.
Tim suspects there may be a connection between this purple gas / “Serum R” capsule and the disappearance of his father. Tim and Pikachu team up to investigate the mysterious circumstances. They want to find out what happened to Tim’s dad and also cure Pikachu’s amnesia. Their investigation uncovers a diabolical plot involving a villain who wants to manipulate the DNA of Pokémon creatures for selfish purposes.
Tim also meets an attractive young reporter named Lucy (Kathryn Newton) who's determined to get to the bottom of what's going on. Tim, Lucy and Pikachu repeatedly risk their lives to get to the truth, as they slowly unmask and confront the villain and his wicked scheme.
What Parents Should Know
“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is a fast-paced, entertaining and compelling movie. I watched this movie with my husband and two teenage sons, who have been die-hard Pokémon fans since elementary school. As much as we enjoyed this movie, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 10 years old because of the intense violence, scary villains, life-and-death situations and complicated plot.
As my family and I watched the movie, the theater was filled with little kids, some as young as 3 to 5 years old. I saw little boys squirming in their seats and covering their eyes during the intense scenes. There's quite a bit of violence, including car crashes, explosions, destruction of property and people being attacked by Pokémon. It is not bloody or graphic, but can be disturbing for young children. There is an underground fighting arena where Charizard (dragon-like creature) fights other Pokémon, which turns out to be like a cockfight, with a jeering crowd.
The movie fits into the sci-fi horror thriller genre. It’s unnerving when poisonous purple gas fills the air, and people are clutching their throats, gasping to breathe. The purple gas causes cute and cuddly Pokémon to turn into rabid, red-eyed demons. Even more disturbing is the mad scientist who runs an experimentation lab where Pokémon are held prisoner and the toxic serum is tested on them.
There are life-and-death situations where humans and Pokémon fall from skyscraper buildings. The main character hangs by his fingers on a high ledge while a rabid Pokémon bangs on his hands to make him fall to his death. It’s a very intense movie, with special effects that have the potential to scare the daylights out of sensitive children.
The part of the movie that I liked best was the father-son dynamic. Tim and his father are initially estranged from one another, but as the story unfolds, that dynamic changes. Tim realizes his dad never stopped thinking about him and was hoping for reconciliation. When his parents got divorced, Tim just assumed that his dad didn’t care. Over the years, Tim’s father repeatedly tried to reach out to his son and make amends.
Tim's heart gradually softens as he teams up with Pikachu and Lucy to solve the mystery of what happened to his dad. At the police department, Tim meets his Dad’s boss, who tells him that his father loved him “more than anything else in the world.” As the movie plays out, it’s clear that family relationships are important, and it’s time to put the past behind them. Without giving too much away, there's a happy resolution to the father-son dynamic that wraps up the movie nicely.