December 8, 2021

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[Review] Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, the perfect mix of sarcasm and cuteness

Almost two decades after the success of the first feature film Pokémon with Mewtwo Strikes Back, Pocket Monsters are returning to the big screen. A true declaration of love for the license from Rob Letterman, who signs a nice success for his first adaptation in real shooting.

While the first images of Sonic, the film have already made fans jump, to the point of pushing the director to completely review his copy, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is released on May 8, 2019, in a context not really favorable to inspired live-actions video game landmarks. However, and despite the reluctance of fans to announce the project, the first images of the film looked rather convincing. It is clear that 104 minutes later, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu turns out to be the real good surprise of the moment.

Neither arenas nor fights?
Not only is Pokémon: Detective Pikach u the very first live-action inspired by the saga, but in addition, it is the first time that the Japanese firm has authorized an official American adaptation. Realizing the long-standing curse of video game-inspired films , director Rob Letterman ultimately chose to base his story, not on the adventures of a young hero desperate to become the best trainer (and fight relentlessly), but rather on the basis of the spin-off game Detective Pikachu . Released in 2016 for Nintendo 3DS, the title was not a huge success at the time, but allows a real shift in storyline and tone, which works perfectly on the big screen.

The film Pokémon: Detective Pikachu takes up the story of Tim Goodman, a young insurance advisor forced to change his life after the mysterious disappearance of his father, a police officer in Ryme City. Cold with the latter since a young age, Tim will finally start looking for him, helped by a strange amnesic, talking and unbearable Pikachu, played by the brilliant Ryan Reynolds.

By moving away from the traditional narrative scheme of the saga, and by abandoning arenas and fair fighting, Rob Letterman offers himself a whole new playing field for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu . While we hoped to see memorable fights between Pikachu and an army of hostile enemies, the clashes are almost non-existent, and we must admit that the story is ultimately not worse.

A real American blockbuster
The first American adaptation of the Pokémon license on the big screen, the film embraces its American heritage, with an explosive sense of spectacle, and a budget that leaves no room for amateurism . Like any good self-respecting blockbuster, the plot of the feature film is clearly not its strong point, but Pokémon: Detective Pikachu remains a very good entertainment, which does not let us go from start to finish. Yes, life in Ryme City is Manichean, and prides itself on a few simplistic shortcuts. Yes, the outcome of the film is not a huge surprise. But the story directed by Rob Letterman is epic, funny, and it is in direct line with what you would expect from a Pokémon movie.

Despite a perfectible plot, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu stands out thanks to two major assets: its humor and its artistic direction. Graphically, the film is a real technical feat . The trailer had already amazed us, but it is clear that the rendering of Pokémon, which had so far never had the right to a transposition in the real world, and remains bluffing from start to finish.

Regarding humor, Rob Letterman is no stranger to the genre, since in addition to some successes in animation, the director had worked in 2001 on Shrek , which is still today one of the films of funniest animation of his generation. The icing on the cake is the excellent Ryan Reynolds who plays Pikachu in the film, and replies to Justice Smith. A role that the Canadian actor takes on brilliantly.

Fan service, of course
Saga cult requires, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is full of more or less hidden references, which will delight fans of the first hour (hello Squad Squad). But if fan-service was obviously a compulsory exercise for this project, Rob Letterman had the good taste not to bet his entire film on the simple nostalgia of a few (millions of) thirty-something geeks. It is thus perfectly possible to discover the saga through the feature film. The opportunity to introduce the phenomenon of the 90s to the youngest, while enjoying a double reading a bit more adult and nostalgic.