Detective Pikachu analysis and review (part 2 of 2)

Yesterday we talked about why I think Detective Pikachu is a good (or at least decent) movie generally – by standards that would apply more or less to any movie, like the strength of its characters and theme.  But this wouldn’t be my lunatic asylum of a Pokémon blog if I just talked about normal things; I need to talk about what makes it good specifically as a Pokémon movie, as an addition to the Pokémon franchise.  After all, it’s entirely possible to imagine a blockbuster film adaptation of a beloved fictional universe that earns decent mainstream popularity while being seen as a disappointment or even a betrayal by fans of earlier versions (ahem).  There are even Pokémon movies that I, a more or less lifelong Pokémon nerd, am frankly not wild about (to, uh… understate the case somewhat).  So from this perspective, the questions I need to put to Detective Pikachu are a bit more specific than last time: does it present Pokémon effectively to people who aren’t necessarily fans already (which is certainly one of its aims), does it expand and explore the Pokémon universe in interesting ways for those of us who are, and what is its take on themes that are already prominent concerns for Pokémon?

If you haven’t already read the first section of this review, go do that; if you have, join me now for this second half of my ludicrously deep dive on Detective Pikachu, and as always, dear reader, beware, for the internet is dark and full of spoilers, and such you shall find herein.

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Detective Pikachu analysis and review (part 1 of 2)

Yes, that’s right; it’s time to take a break from reviewing generation VII Pokémon and take a look at THE CINEMATIC EVENT OF THE DECADE, the movie so many of us have spent basically our entire lives waiting for: Legendary Pictures’ Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (hereafter just Detective Pikachu because… come on, Pokémon Company International; just get the fµ¢£ over yourselves).  Clearly it is my responsibility, as a mad person writing about Pokémon on the internet, to discuss whether I think Detective Pikachu is a successful movie.

…I mean, [spoiler alert], the answer’s yes, but we’re going to talk about why.

I’m interested in this film on two levels.  First, this is arguably the first Pokémon movie that is meant to have mass appeal outside of just fans of the Pokémon games.  A lot of Pokémon movies are, let’s face it, vehicles for featuring legendary Pokémon that play prominent roles in recent or upcoming games, and their writing is… well, let’s call it hit-and-miss.  Guys… I love the Lugia movie as much as anyone, but Casablanca it is not.  Frankly, I think you can make a plausible, albeit facetious, argument that up until now the best Pokémon movie was actually Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Now, Detective Pikachu isn’t Casablanca either, but it is at least a decent movie in its own right (which is a high bar for movies based on video games!).  The second thing I’m interested in is that, aside from just being live action, Detective Pikachu is the first Pokémon movie that is creatively independent from the Pokémon anime (and doesn’t feature Ash Ketchum), which makes it a fundamentally new type of addition to the franchise that has its own take on Pokémon’s core themes.  So, tomorrow I’m going to talk about why Detective Pikachu is specifically a good Pokémon movie, and today I’m going to talk about why it’s a decent movie generally: in short, it’s well-cast and acted, with (I will argue) a coherent theme that ties in with the main character’s arc and its central conflict, and was, at the very least, not a commercial flop.  And, y’know, some significant flaws, which I also am going to talk about because they will eat at me if I don’t.

I was going to start this whole thing with a synopsis, but frankly I tried to write one and it was just too long, and there will be other summaries on the internet that you can read first if you don’t want to see the movie but are still interested in what I have to say, so I’m just going to get straight to analysis.  Please bear in mind that although I took some notes during the movie, quotations are from memory and may not be verbatim, and of course, it should go without saying: HERE BE SPOILERS!

Continue reading “Detective Pikachu analysis and review (part 1 of 2)”