Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers!
Pokémon Detective Pikachu is the 2019 addition to the Pokemon universe. In this new adventure to establish peace between Pokémons and humans, Justice Smith plays Tim, the parallel to our beloved Ash, Kathryn Newton fills the role of Lucy, the parallel to the sassy Misty, and Pikachu is voiced by Ryan Reynolds. Shiv and myself both saw the film on separate occasions and decided to write a collaborative review in question-and-answer style!
Q: What do you think of the change of character names and addition of new characters? How do you feel about the diversity in casting the main characters?
Shiv: Okay so, growing up, I was never really into Pokémon like that. I know, I know, I’m very disappointing. My brothers and I did play this Pokémon game on our little GameBoys back then though! All the prior knowledge I had were the basic names like “Ash, Misty, and Brock” along with the names of a couple Pokémons. I showed up to the movie late when I went (brown people are never on time) so you can imagine my confusion when they were calling the characters Tim and Lucy instead of Ash and Misty. I came so late, I didn’t even get to see who they put as Brock’s parallel. I’m a mess, I know. On the bright side, I thought it was pretty cool to see that this movie was inclusive for people of different backgrounds. The diversity was extremely pleasing. I also liked that a completely new story was created and it wasn’t just a live-action remake of a story that’s already been told in the animes.
Trisha: To be honest, the change in character names was initially disappointing because I thought the plot would stray from the series where they try to become Pokémon trainers. However, I learned that this was not the case as Tim embarked on a quest to confirm his father’s death and then to locate him with Pikachu after finding out he was alive, much like Ash’s journey to discover himself as a great Pokémon trainer. He started his journey at home with a friend who embodied Brock and met Lucy along the way whose persona matched Misty’s. The casting was surprising because not only was the main character African American, but Brock and Misty’s replacements in the films were Indian and Asian-American. I was excited to see diversity in the film and this made up for the name changes.
Q: How do you feel about the twist on Ash and Pikachu’s relationship?
Trisha: Again, many of my first impressions of the changes in the adapted film were off-putting. For the sake of the plot to involve a father and son dynamic that had to strengthen, it made sense for Pikachu to be a vessel for Ash’s father. Their battle in the underground battle club was the closest allegory I saw to the original Pokémon where Pikachu couldn’t use his electricity skill until Tim came close to being hurt. I ended up being okay with Pikachu secretly being Ash’s dad throughout the movie.
Shiv: I was a bit skeptical about watching a movie where there’s a talking Pikachu, but it was Ryan Reynolds, so how could I not? I enjoyed the twist of Ryan Reynolds being Tim’s dad trapped in Pikachu’s body. It gave some sense of how he was able to talk or how Tim was the only one to understand him. It emphasized that Pokémon’s take care of their trainers as much as their trainers take care of them. It also tied everything together nicely at the end because throughout the movie, you see how Tim and Pikachu’s relationship evolve and you love their bond. Finding out it was his dad the entire time was the perfect cherry on top to unveiling the mystery of his supposed death.
Q: Do you have to be a die-hard fan to watch this movie? Would you recommend it? To who?
Shiv: I wasn’t a die-hard Pokemon fan, and I still loved it! The movie was really cute, funny, suspenseful, and even sad. I felt a great range of emotions throughout the film, I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Pokémon growing up, the film was still easy to follow. I would recommend this movie to people who enjoy light-hearted family films. It’s the perfect outing for the whole family because it has something everyone can enjoy and relate to. The father-son dynamic throughout the film is also quite appropriate as Father’s Day is approaching!
Trisha: You don’t have to be a cult follower of the Pokémon franchise to enjoy Detective Pikachu since there are many alterations to the film. The addition of Pikachu holding Tim’s father’s spirit gives the movie a strong family feel. The adventure is also cohesive in finding the reason behind Mewtwo’s sadistic motives, relocating Tim’s father and stopping the corporate villain from contaminating all Pokémons in the city. I would recommend the movie to Pokemon lovers and family audiences in general since various Pokémons are featured alongside the father-son plot.
Q: What was your experience like at the movie theater you went to?
Shiv: My experience at the theater was bad, which took away from me enjoying the movie. The floors of the theater were not on an inclined slope (wow, look at me using that math term in real life), and my brother and I had seats in the very back row. The floor was a regular flat floor, so there were no rising seats. I’m like 4’10”, so I had great difficulty seeing the screen because there was always someone’s head blocking me. Also, the movie theater we went to used to have this deal where eight bucks gets you a ticket, a decent sized popcorn, and a decent sized fountain drink but when we went, they told us they stopped giving the free drink. It was really disappointing, but hey, you can’t have it all.
Trisha: My experience at the theater was awesome! It was mainly empty since I went in the morning, but there was a kid in the theater who thankfully wasn’t loud the entire time. He cheered on Pikachu when we all wanted to during the scene in the underground Pokémon battle club. It was nice having a quiet theater to experience the nostalgia.
Q: What would you rate the film?
Trisha: I would give this movie a 8/10 for being a feel-good family film, plus Pikachu was super cute and Ryan Reynolds never disappoints!
Shiv: I would also give this film a 8/10! Pokémon Detective Pikachu for the win! 😎