Welcome to Ryme City. It’s a place where humans and Pokémon live together. Pokémon battles aren’t allowed — although there is an illegal underground fighting arena.
In “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” 21-year-old Tim Goodman travels to Ryme City when he receives a call from police telling him his father is dead. Tim and his father have a complicated relationship. Tim’s father spent more time on his job as a detective than he did with his son. Over the course of his childhood, Tim got used to not seeing him. In a flashback, when his grandmother tries to drop Tim off with his father, Tim chooses not to go.
When Tim is told that his father has died, he feels guilty that he stayed with his grandmother.
Tim soon meets Detective Pikachu, his father’s partner. After discovering that they can communicate — humans can’t normally understand Pokémon — Pikachu tells Tim that his father may not be dead. Unfortunately, Pikachu has amnesia and can’t remember what happened. Together, Tim and Pikachu try to unravel the mystery.
Tim is portrayed by Justice Smith. Smith did a great job of showing Tim as someone stuck between being a teenager and an adult. Ryan Reynolds provided both the voice and facial motion capture of Detective Pikachu. Reynolds was well-suited for the role, providing mild sarcasm and snarky humor. The actor is mostly known for playing the title character in two 20th Century Fox Deadpool films.
As the story unfolds, several other characters are introduced. The most important is probably Lucy Stevens, a junior reporter. She is accompanied by a Psyduck — a Pokémon that explodes when it gets stressed out. Bill Nighy plays Howard Clifford, the creator of Ryme City and founder of Clifford Enterprises. Starring as Detective Hideo Yoshida is veteran actor Ken Watanabe.
Overall, the cast did an outstanding job. I was concerned about what would happen to Tim, Pikachu and Lucy. Smith made Tim’s troubled childhood believable which in turn made his commitment to solving the mystery important.
“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” featured impressive special effects. The Pokémon look very real. They didn’t have a cartoony quality to them that would have made the action less convincing. The film also takes some unexpected turns that make it more interesting and fun.
Having played the 2016 video game “Detective Pikachu,” I came to the film with some expectations. The film isn’t exactly like the game, which may be a problem for some viewers. I was surprised at some character modifications. Still, I think the changes worked to make the film less predictable without sacrificing the excitement.
I can’t compare “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” to other films based on video games — because I haven’t seen any. I do think that this film is enjoyable and occasionally exhilarating. Smith and Reynolds really bring their characters to life. It’s a perfect summer escape for kids 10 and older as well as adults. Some kids 9 and younger might have trouble following the story — but they’ll still enjoy seeing all the colorful Pokémon!
Because of Mother’s Day, Tracey Potter Zumpe is filling in for Tampa Bay Newspapers movie reviewer Lee Clark Zumpe. She gives her thoughts on the film.
The moral of the story is don’t judge a book – or a Pokémon – by its cover.
When Pokémon made its debut in 1995, I was right out of college, with a boring job and little direction, not unlike Tim, the main character in “Pokémon Detective Pikachu.” 21-year-old Tim is feeling post-teen angst, and unlike everyone around him, he has an unwillingness to jump on the Pokémon boat. He is feeling neglected by his dad who puts more time into his job as a detective in the human-Pokémon utopia that is Ryme City, than with his relationship with his son. Then one day, when he is busy going nowhere, an emergency sets him on a course for adventure, and a date with destiny.
Justice Smith does an admirable job portraying the disenfranchised Tim. You see him go from lost to finding himself and his place in life. Kathryn Newton is convincing as Lucy Stevens, an underappreciated reporter looking for her big break. Ryan Reynolds is amusing and witty as Pikachu, who helps Tim find his way even as he is trying to remember who he is. Bill Nighy does what he does best as Howard Clifford, a disabled philanthropist whose Pokémon research may not be as pure as it appears.
I have to be honest: Pokémon was before my time. I wasn’t caught up in the mania. Now if there was a “Detective Hello Kitty” — hey, I would be all over that. Maybe with My Melody as her sidekick? But I have to say that by the end of the movie, I was invested and really enjoyed it, right down to my jellies.
Lee Clark Zumpe is entertainment editor at Tampa Bay Newspapers and an author of short fiction appearing in select anthologies and magazines. B.C. Zumpe, Lee’s 12-year-old daughter, is a middle school student, film buff and aspiring writer and director.