I think we can all agree that a live-action Pokémon film happening at some point has always been an inevitability. So when it was announced that things were moving along on that front, no one can’t have been all that surprised. However, what was a surprise was the nature of the film in question: a Detective Pikachu adaptation. To my particular ears, that idea – a film based on an obscure 3DS spin-off game about, you guessed it, a Pikachu who is a gruff-voiced, hard-nosed detective – sounded like the sort of thing that would never actually get made. If nothing else, at the time of that announcement the game was a Japan exclusive
Except, here we are, some two years a later, and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is very much a real motion picture you will be able to see in cinemas by paying real human money for a ticket. And to prove it, we have a trailer on our hands. Let’s give this thing a look.
That looks surprisingly good, right? My first thought when hearing of the concept was that it was an effort to not alienate mainstream audiences by focusing on the one Pokémon everyone knows and not having to delve deeply into the lore surrounding the *checks notes* 809 other critters the franchise has to offer. But the trailer shows the film as definitely not being a Pikachu-only affair. Just in this trailer alone you can see a flock of Bulbasaur, a particularly disgruntled looking Jigglypuff, an army of Greninja pulling off some moves, good ol’ Charizard heating things up and a lot more.
It helps that this is fully set in the Pokémon universe, instead of a scenario where Pikachu finds his way into the human world, which would probably be the go-to route were this film to skimp on budget. Luckily, it looks like that is by no means the case. The CGI on display here looks rock solid, and I had no trouble believing that the humans and the Pokémon exist in the same space. I’m especially fond of how fluffy Pikachu looks, which makes sense for a mouse-like creature, but has never really been focused on in the games’ artwork or the anime.
The only real question mark for me is Ryan Reynolds’ voice work as the titular detective. He’s just doing his Ryan Reynolds thing which he is obviously very good at, but it doesn’t really sound natural coming out of the character’s mouth to me. His chemistry with The Get Down’s Justice Smith, who plays the human lead, seems to be on point though, so at least that’s one thing this gets right. How that particular casting choice turns out – and whether the film itself will actually be any good – remains to be seen once the film releases on May 10th 2019, but for now I’m cautiously optimistic.