Turning a beloved computer game into a movie can be a tricky business – just ask the makers of critical flops like Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft and Super Mario Bros (which is so awful, we can’t bring ourselves to review it here at Movies4Kids) as well as the team behind 2019’s Sonic The Hedgehog, who have had to change the look of their blue spiky hero after gaming fans poured scorn on his appearance in the film’s first trailer.
Pokémon, of course, is more than just a series of video games – it’s a franchise of games, collectable cards, comics, books, animated movies and toys beloved by millions. So crafting a live action movie around creatures that can be trained to fight battles that would satisfy fans was sure to be a monster undertaking, but one that has been nicely realised in director Rob Letterman’s imperfect but fun Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.
Set in the Blade Runner-esque Ryme City, the story has Tim Goodman (Smith) teaming up with his father’s Pikachu (voiced by Reynolds) to search for his missing dad. It seems Pikachu and Tim understand each other (other humans and Pokémons don’t have this ability), turning their adventure into a mismatched buddy comedy thriller as they try to find out what is going on at a mysterious research facility and what Ryme City’s biggest businessmen, Roger Clifford (Chris Geere) and his father Howard (Bill Nighy), may have to do with it.
The plot’s pretty predictable and rather ridiculous (hey, what did you expect – Kafka?), but there’s lots of fun to be had throughout just enjoying a world populated by Pokémon, who live alongside humans and look just as you imagined them, from the anxious Psyduck to the adorable Bulbasaurs.
Of course, best of all is Pikachu himself, and the fuzzy yellow ball of wit is given a bumper personality thanks to Reynolds’ brilliant vocal performance. He’s the heart and soul of the movie, and his unique interpretation of the Pokémon theme is worth the price of admission on its own.
Is Pokémon Detective Pikachu suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This movie is aimed at children over the age of 8 and may be a little too intense for very young viewers.
Both Tim and Pikachu are attacked and in danger in various scenes in the movie, and very young viewers may be scared by some of the less cuddly Pokemon.
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