In the globally beloved franchise that is Pokémon, Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” presents a fresh and intriguing perspective.
Designed with a fans-first commitment and a plethora of Easter eggs, the movie realizes Pikachu and myriad Pokémon as never before: three-dimensional CG creatures, each with its unique characteristics, complexities and battle-ready powers, wholly integrated in a hyper-real world.
At the same time, its original, heartwarming story and fun characters can be embraced by audiences everywhere, whether or not they are versed in the fine points of Pokémon evolution or can name any of the 800-plus species—many of them sharing the screen with Detective Pikachu, including Psyduck, Charmander, Ludicolo, Snubbull, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Jigglypuff, Aipom, Lickitung, Mr. Mime….and the elusive Mewtwo.
Director Rob Letterman, who also shares writing credit on the film with Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Derek Connolly, and Nicole Perlman, acknowledges, “There’s a wonderful legacy of Pokémon anime and core video games, which we all know and love, but if we were going to make a new Pokémon movie, we wanted to give it its own place and a special reason for being. We wanted to be sure it was true to the spirit of Pokémon and that it followed those rules so those in the know would appreciate it, and also open the door for a broader audience who may be entering this domain for the first time.
“It’s an exciting concept creatively and a logical progression. It’s like they’re alive,” he continues. To that end, the director opted for the quality and texture of 35mm film stock and used practical locations as much as possible so that the environments looked and felt authentic.
Scrupulously detailed to their proper sizes, shapes and attributes, Detective Pikachu and his fellow Pokémon interact with their human partners in the one-and-only Ryme City—a community built on the groundbreaking precept of “harmony between humans and Pokémon” per its visionary founder, benevolent billionaire Howard Clifford, portrayed by Bill Nighy.
There, just as the marriage of Pokémon and live-action is both striking and seamless, Detective Pikachu’s off-the-charts adorableness is juxtaposed with a hard-boiled detective patter in a way that is hilariously wrong and yet feels so right. And Reynolds’ vocal performance pulls no punches. “There’s something inherently fun about that big personality and Ryan’s voice coming from this tiny, incredibly cute creature. It seems like a disconnect, but it’s completely natural,” the director offers.
The adventure begins when 21-year-old Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith, reluctantly arrives in Ryme City to wrap up the affairs of his estranged father, Harry, a private eye gone missing—and presumed dead—during his last case. Once in Harry’s apartment, Tim is touched by glimpses into the life of a man he never really knew but who apparently cared very much for him. Then he meets Harry’s former partner, Detective Pikachu, an old-school gumshoe with the gift of gab, spouting a stream of bad jokes and noir clichés but still making a fair amount of sense. Tim finds himself drawn to the possibility that Harry is alive and that he and this supercharged, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer Detective Pikachu must team up to find him and uncover what he was working on. Besides, it’s the first time he’s ever been able to understand what a Pokémon is saying and that’s one mystery that’s hard to walk away from.
Tim’s journey with the diminutive detective soon leads to other discoveries, not only about his father but about friendship and bravery, about himself and his future. In time, it reveals the power of second chances and what we make of them.
Ultimately, throughout the laughs, action, twists and turns, Tim’s efforts to retrace Harry’s path will bring him closer to his father’s heart than he ever thought possible.
In Philippine cinemas May 9, “POKÉMON Detective Pikachu” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.