A first look at the Detective Pikachu film

Posted on November 14, 2018

The official live action Detective Pikachu film by Warner Bros. was announced some time ago, and now we finally have a trailer… and it’s very weird. Starring Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) as the voice of Detective Pikachu, and Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as Tim, his human companion, the film will be the first ever live action Pokémon film. It is based somewhat on the same premise as the similarly-titled game, but has its own plot.

Set in the world of Pokémon, the film follows Tim Goodman, a young man who has failed at being a Pokémon trainer who encounters the mysterious deerstalker-clad Detective Pikachu in his home. As it turns out, Tim can understand Detective Pikachu for some reason, whilst no other humans can. Despite not wanting a Pokemon, Tim agrees to team up with Detective Pikachu to find his missing father. On the way, they team up with Lucy Stevens (played by Kathryn Newton) and her Psyduck.

The visuals overall look a bit strange at first, and demonstrate the perils of merging anime-esque Pokémon designs with live action humans. The Pokemon overall have been redesigned somewhat to look a bit more realistic, such as Detective Pikachu’s realistic fur textures and Mr. Mime’s creepy-looking glove hands. It does feel a bit less strange the more you watch though, and it melds well with the noir-esque tone of the film.

In addition, Ryan Reynolds is quite a good fit for Detective Pikachu, if you can put aside the Deadpool associations. Whilst many fans (somewhat in jest) wanted Danny DeVito for the role, Reynolds brings much of his snarky delivery to Detective Pikachu. There are also many other familiar actors present in this film, such as Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe.

Will this be the first good video game movie adaptation? Whilst some game adaptations to film have their fans, the subgenre is mostly full of some really bad films. Detective Pikachu wouldn’t have to be that good to break the mould. Even so, this film looks like a lot of fun, and seems to be adapting Pokémon in a way to make it accessible to non-gamers. For instance, whilst it features more recently-introduced Pokémon (like Greninja), the most prominently-featured Pokémon are from the first generation, which the massively-popular Pokémon GO focuses on, and which the upcoming Pokémon Let’s Go games will feature.

If Detective Pikachu does well, we can hopefully look forward to more films based on the Pokémon franchise. This isn’t the only Nintendo property to be receiving the silver screen treatment; Illumination Entertainment (the studio behind The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me) is currently working on an animated Super Mario Bros movie. There will also be a Sonic the Hedgehog live-action movie coming out next year to compete with Detective Pikachu. All we know for certain is that Hollywood won’t ever stop trying to make good video game-based films. Hopefully one day they will succeed.

The Detective Pikachu film is set to release May 10 2019.