There’s never been a better time to be a Pokémon fan with new updates to Pokémon Go, the announcement of Pokémon Sleep, a huge Pokemon Center at Jewel Airport and now a brand new Pokemon movie!
And while there have been previous Pokemon movies, Pokémon Detective Pikachu is the first live-action Pokémon film, boasting a huge animation team and more than a year of design collaboration.
Did the film live up to the expectations of both new and old fans? A long-time Pokémon fan, alongside a casual fan and complete Pokémon noob discuss if the movie actually caught ’em all.
Major spoilers ahead!
Donna: Welcome to our second roundtable! This time we’re talking about the utterly adorable Pokémon Detective Pikachu! Let’s get started – when did you all see this movie and how many times did you see it? I watched it once, with the two of you!
Enning: Well, I certainly did not think that I would see Pokémon Detective Pikachu twice, but here I am.
Nora: And you did because…
Enning: I wanted to watch Donna flail in the theatre. But also because it is a good movie. Folks are saying that it’s the best video game adapted movie ever. Which is… not a very high bar but…
Donna: So what did you like about the movie?
Nora: I grew up watching Pokémon, particularly the first generation, so to be able to see them in 3D was actually quite cool!
Donna: So I’m the noob here. I’ve only seen bits of the anime from the first generation and I watched the Pokémon movie with Mewtoo. I know some references here and there, but in terms of identifying Pokemon beyond Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Charmander, it gets fuzzy. So I loved how easy it was follow the movie despite my noob-ness!
Enning: They say that this Detective Pikachu movie fits in with the timeline from the previous Mewtwo movie!
Nora: Yes they mentioned that he escaped from the Kanto region! That was cool. There were two scenes I really loved. The first one was when the camera panned over Ryme City. And then you saw the Pokemon at work, with the Squirtle being firefighters, the Charmander cooking and then Panchams just hanging around. They were so cute!
Enning: For me, I don’t think I appreciated the main lead the first time I watched the movie because I was distracted by all the cute Pokemon. But at the second viewing I realised he’s very likeable.
Nora: I kept hearing one of you saying that he was very good looking!
Donna: Haha, I think that was me but I was saying that the actor himself was very good! Don’t get me wrong – I think Justice Smith is cute AF, but I’ve been a fan of his work in The Get Down as well as in Jurassic World. I think he’s underrated and I can’t wait to see him in more things!
Enning: All the main actors were really great.
Nora: The female character though, kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Too eager beaver.
Enning: Someone was saying that when she appeared, she was like an NPC character, like with her flamboyant fashion sense, she seemed like some NPC you would meet in a Pokémon game and she would offer you a quest. But over time oh, she became more realistic and grounded and human. They also made her really capable: they wouldn’t have solved the mystery without her and her Psyduck.
Donna: The Psyduck! One of my favorite parts of the movie.
Enning: I can’t get over how they didn’t die when Psyduck head exploded. They spent half the movie trying to make sure his head doesn’t explode but he exploded right next to them and they all survived. That’s the biggest plot hole for me. How are they not dead from their brains turning to mush?
Donna: Yeah I do agree that it was weird. The explosion was strong enough to wake up those giant tortoise things? What do you call them?
Donna: Yes that! And effects for that scene, wow! One of the best aspects of the film was just how well shot it was. I read about how they used 35 mm film à la like Blade Runner and it just made everything look so hyper realistic, so gorgeous. I mean the effects on Pikachu’s fur too, wow. The CGI was fantastic. And I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how utterly adorable my fave Pokémon Bulbasaur was. They nailed it!
Nora: Where was the “BULBA BULBA” though?
Enning: Maybe Bulbasaurs don’t sound like that in the wild? Maybe it’s a regional dialect.
Donna: I love how we are trying to justify this because we’re just so smitten with how adorable the Bulbasaur are.
Enning: Oh and that surprise ending! I know Nora did and I’m pleased to say I did see it coming too from the start of the third act.
Donna: I didn’t expect the twist AT ALL. I figured that the two dudes at the beginning the father-son duo were the villains.
Enning: I did find them suspicious too! I mean Bill Nighy tends to play shifty characters. I didn’t expect the the son to innocent though, I thought both of them were in on it.
Donna: I’m glad that I didn’t guess the twist at the end cause it made the reveal that much sweeter. As in when Mewtwo said that his father had been with him the whole time, I didn’t realise that they would get the actual Ryan Reynolds to play the father so that was the best and biggest surprise.
Enning: I did appreciate how the story wasn’t so predictable. There were good twists. Particularly the last act which made us all go “What?”
Donna: Side note, that’s how you do plot twists Game of Thrones! By setting it up properly! The clues, the character development and the payoff were effective.
Enning: I definitely didn’t guess it before they started to talk about Pokémon human combinations. I was real suspicious about how we never saw the dad, his face is always hidden.
Donna: Yeah like it was suspicious but not entirely obvious so it made the twist at the end so much more rewarding. I was duped in a good way!
Nora: I was excited over the reveal that the dad was Ryan Reynolds, like “Oh my God, it all makes sense!”. That’s why Pikachu has this voice, that’s why they made such a big deal out of it.
Enning: After the movie ended I had to Google how old Ryan Reynolds was to see if the ages made sense.
Nora: We need to talk about the Mr. Mime scene. That was single-handedly the best scene for me. It’s the only scene where we spend a significant amount of time with another Pokémon besides Pikachu and Psyduck. I thought that they could have been more scenes where you see Pokémon interacting and doing something rather than appearing in the background. As someone who has played Pokémon and has watched Pokémon, and I wanted to focus more on the Pokémon rather than the human characters.
Donna: I have to say that Tim aka Justin Smith had a very entertaining intro with the Cubone. He tried to capture it and utterly failed and it really established him as this, relatable likeable character. Also, they had the taxi driver guy from Deadpool do a cameo as his best friend and they were such an entertaining duo! I wish they had more scenes together honestly.
Enning: The movie had great humour.
Donna: Yes totally! They didn’t overdo it with the humour which I think a lot of animated comedies can do in order to be appealing for the kids. But the cool thing about Pokémon Detective is that they had adorable Pokémon a little slapstick action scenes for the kids and then references and innuendos for the longtime adult fans.
Enning: The comedy was, I don’t know if the word is tasteful, but the humour was smart. The Sonic movie with Jim Carrey is probably going to have lots of over-the-top humour. Here the jokes had wit. Particularly that scene with Mr. Mime. It was smart and effective in showing Tim’s intelligence. It was also surprisingly dark.
Nora: Yeah they did set him on fire the end!
Enning: Well, he survived his mimed car crash he should survive being burned alive?
Donna: From a noob’s perspective, I had no idea what Mr. Mime did so that was a very fun and delightful scene to find out what he does. I was wondering why isn’t this Pokémon isn’t just running away from them and I realised “Oh it’s cause he’s an actual mime! Speaking of which why didn’t we get to see more Jigglypuff? It was in the trailer a lot.
Enning and Donna: *sings* JIGGALYYYY PUFF JIGGALYYYY
Enning: Maybe the next movie we’ll get to see Jigglypuff doodling on more faces of people after they fall asleep!
Donna: As long time fans do you think that they gave you enough references to the games and shows?
Nora: I wanted more!
Enning: Everybody wants more Pokémon.
Nora: In the final scenes, I noticed there was a lot of the same types of Pokémon.
Enning: That was obviously a limited set of Pokémon they could use throughout the film. Like maybe 30 or so? Logistically it makes sense given the finite time and budget in making a movie. They had to decide on a certain number of Pokémon because animating and designing each additional Pokémon would require more resources.
Donna: Some reviews have said that this is the best game to movie adaptation. Do you feel that is the case?
Enning: It’s probably the most critically acclaimed?
Nora: Does Castlevania count?
Donna: Sadly no, even though it’s amazing!
Enning: It’s so good. Hey, I didn’t know we all watched it! Side note, what did you guys think of the Ditto?
Donna: Oh my God, too darn cute!
Enning: It was cute but also so freaky? Like when it became human and then went back into its original form and just happily went “Ditto!” It was so wrong and yet so adorable.
Donna: How would you rate it out of 10? Personally I give it an 8.5.
Enning: Yeah I’d give it an eight. If this was a Rotten Tomatoes sort of thing, it would definitely be rated fresh.
Nora: I would rate it higher than Avengers endgame that’s for sure.
Donna: Agreed! I give Endgame like a 7.5.
Enning: I’m looking forward to the sequel. I just want Pikachu with his original voice. It’s the best. I’m just want the whole movie with the adorable Pikachu voice.
Nora: Speaking of which, what I did find kind of sad was that at the end when the father AKA Ryan Reynolds appeared next to the Pikachu and his son, the chemistry between Pikachu and Tim was totally gone because it was the father all along, not the actual Pikachu.
Enning: I’m okay with that I’m all about the original Pikachu voice.
Donna: I did feel that loss definitely. Pikachu is his own Pokémon! What I was confused about was why Pikachu’s memories taken away?
Nora: I think it was because when the consciousness of the father was put into Pikachu he lost his memories but his heart still knew that he needed to find the father.
Enning: So why did they need that gas to fuse the humans and Pokémon? I mean for example Mewtwo didn’t have any problem fusing Pikachu and the father.
Nora: I think it’s because Pikachu willingly did it.
Enning: Oh! Which reminds me it was so sad: that scene with the father and Pikachu, especially when Pikachu sadly went “pika pika!”. Gah, so adorable!
Donna: They animated him so well when he was walking down a road just looking so sad, I was like “Please stop my heart is hurting I just want Pikachu to be happy!”
Enning: If it was the original voice I would be sobbing.
Donna: Okay so final thoughts! Any other likes or dislikes?
Enning: I didn’t really dislike anything about the movie? I didn’t really have any expectations going in which I think helped. It was a Pokémon movie and they delivered. It was definitely a triumph in terms of how they got the designs for the Pokémon right.
Nora: I want a Pokémon buddy!
Donna: Oh okay final question, if you had to pick 3 Pokemon to be your buddies who would you pick?
Nora: Oh my God, this is not just something you can spring on us.
Donna: Hence I give you 3! For me I would pick Bulbasaur, Pikachu and Charizard because I want to fly. Also hello Daenerys Targaryen.
Nora: Okay so I want a Chancey for healing so I’ll never have to see a doctor again, a Pidgeot for flying so I can get around for free and finally a Fennekin to hug for emotional support.
Enning: How are you so pragmatic with this? Okay I’m gonna need at least one flying Pokemon because I too never pay for transportation ever again so… Lugia and Zekrom for my first picks. They’re badass and look awesome. And then an adorable one for me to cuddle… Pikachu I guess? This movie really sold me on how cute Pikachu can be – even Ryan Reynold’s voice couldn’t distract from it too much!