Detective Pikachu is the fun and silly nostalgia we need in these extremely trying times. Set your expectations accordingly.
If you’re looking for a complex plot with in depth characters and nuanced themes, you won’t find it in Detective Pikachu. But I don’t think any of us are under the assumption that’s what we’re getting when we go to see the movie. We’re going for a nostalgia trip and to see Deadpool as Pikachu. Going in with those expectations, you’re going to get exactly what you expect. Personally, and honestly, that’s kind of what I needed right now. The world is a mess and I’m here for just shutting my brain off for an hour and forty five minutes to enjoy the simpler times of Pokémon and the familiar voice of the Merc with the Mouth.
When I first heard Ryan Reynolds was voicing Pikachu I thought it was a hilariously bizarre concept but kept up on the news of it specifically because of his involvement. Indeed, if it weren’t for him I might have held off on seeing it until it was on Netflix. In a way I think they were counting on us older geeks and our association with Deadpool as a way too tell us that yes, this film is for us too. Pikachu even curses at one point, reminding us that the film was created with an older audience in mind. It’s okay to be in your twenties or thirties and go see a movie about the anime and games from our childhood. It’s a safe space to gasp with amazement as a wild Cubone appears and a place to (quietly) hum along as the titular character Detective Pikachu sings the opening song from the original show.
I was 10 years old when Pokémon was created. I’ve dipped in and out of fandom ever since. My biggest dive back into the fandom came with the release of Pokémon Go back in 2016, and I’ve sort of ridden the wave of popularity since then. Not to sound too old, but back in my day there were only 151 Pokémon, so catching up on all the ones I’ve missed through Pokémon Go has been fun. This film has both our original Pokémon as well as the new generation additions, making it both a nostalgic call back to my childhood and a fun refresher on the stuff I’ve learned from game that’s taken up so much of my time these past couple years.
In essence, this film works for both my fellow Olds and the new kids who have all 807 current Pokémon memorized in order. It’s for all of us. Besides the one off use of the word “hell” and a vague allusion to “spending the night alone,” it’s kid friendly without alienating those of us seeking out the nostalgia experience.
The plot of the film is fairly straight forward, and the ‘twist’ is something I could have surmised from the trailer. In fact, the audience didn’t react much to the twist, making me think I’m not alone in that regard. But you know what? I don’t care. Yes, I can be quite analytical of the media I watch, but not this time. Instead I’d rather fantasize about being able to actually walk into this world, perhaps living in Ryme City. It’s a fun and interesting universe that I’ve experienced mostly through anime and video games. Now I have a real life version to immerse myself in and I’m grateful for it. It’s just fun.
Despite the straight forward plot and rather basic character archetypes, I want to give props to Justice Smith. He put his heart and soul into a character that’s surrounded by very very silly circumstances. I think his dedication to a role that may not have sounded too prestigious on paper, as well as Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu, there’s far more talent in the film that I was expecting when I first heard of the project. Not to throw shade, but the actors from a certain other video game adaption seem to be phoning it in a bit. At least judging by the trailer. But you can have a film like this and still put effort and time into it like it was up for Oscar contention. Justice Smith proved that.
Overall I couldn’t recommend this film more. Perfection isn’t the goal here. Fun is. And it’s hella fun.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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