Thursday, May 9, 2019

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Despite having no connection to Pokémon, I really wanted to like Pokémon Detective Pikachu which casts Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a talking Pikachu only he can understand. The cute creature, who apparently no one ever thought to name, is the Pokémon partner to missing Police Detective Harry Goodman. Despite its amnesia, the Pokémon convinces the estranged son (Justice Smith) of its partner that the Pokémon can uncover the truth of what happened to Harry.

The world created by director Rob Letterman and his team is visually stimulating which makes it all more confounding that the script is so bland and uninteresting. How can a movie that looks this good be so boring? Even Reynolds, whose toned-down PG wisecracks and adorable furry on-screen visage, can't save the film from a convoluted murder mystery that never leads anywhere interesting (other than a complete rip-off of the climax of Tim Buron's Batman). Fans of the franchise happy just to see the character on the big screen may be able to overlook the project's many flaws, but for the rest of us it's hard to see Pokémon Detective Pikachu as anything more than an uninspired mess of untapped potential.

Part of the problem is "Detective Pikachu" isn't the main character in his own movie, that falls on Justice Smith who is neither as cute nor interesting as his furry new sidekick. The film introduces Kathryn Newton as news conglomerate gopher with dreams of becoming a reporter. Also on the track of the story behind Detective Goodman's death, eventually she teams up with Tim to find out the truth about what happened to his father. Newton provides some energy, but the movie makes minimal effort in attempting to link the pair romantically, or do any real work to help sell what becomes a pretty important subplot.

As for the mystery itself, to call it a convoluted mess would be an understatement. First, Tim isn't even interested in uncovering the truth, making it hard to get the sleuthing started. Next, the script by continues to waffle over the state of Detective Goodman as it can never quite make up its mind whether Tim is searching for a missing father or a dead one. There's also the politics behind a bickering father (Bill Nighy) and son (Chris Geere), a secret biological experiment, crime footage that the local police are apparently too lazy to examine, and the odd couple buddy theme that never quite pans out. Well, at least the Pikachu is cute.

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