After over two decades of video games, trading cards and animated TV shows and movies, Pokemon is finally making the jump to the live action realm with Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. The movie is arriving in theaters this weekend, but as is usually the case, numerous critics were able to see the movie early. Following the initial social media reactions, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu reviews are now pouring in, and the reception towards the first live action Pokemon movie is fairly mixed.
Starting, CinemaBlend’s own Dirk Libbey had a more mixed view towards Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, giving it 3 stars out of 5 stars in his review and saying that while you don’t need to be a Pokemon expert to enjoy the movie, it doesn’t hurt. Dirk complimented the look of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, but noted that it’s filled with over-exposition about details concerning each major Pokemon, and the story leaves a lot to be desired, though it’s clear that Ryan Reynolds had a lot of fun voicing the titular Pikachu.
AV Club’s Jesse Hassenger was also more critical towards Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, giving it a C-. In Jesse’s opinion, the movie fails to effectively mix the classic Pokemon mythology with noir tropes, which is especially unfortunate for Kathryn Newton’s Lucy Stevens. Ultimately, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu “settles into the generic rhythms of a second-tier ’80s cop movie—in other words, noir for dummies,” though the Pokemon at least look good in their “half-realistic, half-cartoony CG.”
On the more positive end of the spectrum, Dan Casey from Nerdist gave Pokemon: Detective Pikachu 4 out of 5 stars, calling it a “super effective” story that helps break the video game movie curse. Boasting “eticulous visual effects wizardry, a delightfully dry sense of humor, and an abiding love of pulp and noir,” Pokemon: Detective Pikachu gives audiences a world where these Pocket Monsters feel like “living, breathing creatures.”
Back to mixed territory, Empire’s Olly Richards stamped Pokemon: Detective Pikachu with 3 out of 5 stars. In Olly’s eyes, the movie’s plotting is “pretty shoddy,” in that it doesn’t clearly establish the rules of Pokemon and full of characters monologuing about what’s happening and what will happen. The saving grace is Ryan Reynolds’ performance as Pikachu, as his lines are “sharp, silly and knowing.”
Chris Nashawaty from Entertainment Weekly gave Pokemon: Detective Pikachu a C+, calling it “narratively incoherent to the point of being almost avant-garde.” If you’re already a Pokemon fan, you’ll appreciate the movie much more than someone going in with barely any familiarity with the franchise.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen was among the critics who took a more positive stance on Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, saying that writer/director Rob Letterman’s “energetic direction,” Ryan Reynolds’ “world-weary” Pikachu and Justice Smith’s “necessarily reactive performance” are just enough to make this an enjoyable cinematic offering.
Finally, IGN’s Joshua Yehl awarded Pokemon: Detective Pikachu an 8 out of 10 score, complementing how well animated the Pokemon are and how they feel like a “natural part of the world.” The storytelling “isn’t entirely up to par,” but this is somewhat balanced out by a “layered sense of humor” that’s willing to poke fun at itself and paves the way for some deep-cut references.
These are just a sampling of the Pokemon: Detective Pikachu reviews available now, so feel free to read what other people thought of the movie elsewhere on the internet. However, working off these examples, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu falls right in the middle when it comes to critical reception. There’s definitely enough for longtime Pokemon fans to enjoy, and some newbies might also be entertained, but there are definitely various issues that prevent this movie from being exceptional.
Looking to the commercial side of things, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was predicted last month to open between $75-$90 million, so it won’t be much longer until we learn whether it meets, exceeds or falls short of those expectations. Assuming it is a critical success, Warner Bros already has a Detective Pikachu sequel in the works, and there’s the potential for this film series to evolve into a cinematic universe.
You can judge Pokemon: Detective Pikachu for yourself starting this weekend, but if you’re more curious about what movies will be arriving later in 2019, you can look through our handy release schedule for that information. Be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any updates concerning the future of Pokemon on the silver screen.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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