The ‘Detective Pikachu’ Reviews Are Here, And You’re In For A Pleasant Thundershock
"It shouldn’t work. It shouldn’t even make sense! Somehow, it does."
Imagine teleporting back to the ’90s and telling your dungarees-wearing, GameBoy playing self that one day you would grow up and settle down in a cinema to watch a Detective Pikachu movie. And then, more than that, imagine telling your younger self that Detective Pikachu movie was going to be actually good.
Yep, turns out that a particularly bizarre Hollywood premise — taking one of the most beloved and fluffy yellow rodents in pop culture history, slapping a Deerstalker hat on him and giving him the voice of Ryan Reynolds — has somehow produced a movie that isn’t making critics run for the exits in eye-bloodied horror.
For the most part, critics are reasonably on board the Detective Pikachu train — which is just one more twist that 2019 has given us, I guess.
Critics Agree — Pikachu Is Cute As Hell
In contrast to the screeching horror that accompanied images of Sonic from that blue hedgehog’s forthcoming film, Pikachu’s design for his new big screen outing has been warmly recieved. David Fear of Rolling Stone called the creature “so preternaturally cute he can rot your teeth on sight, in a tiny little Sherlock Holmes hat and blessed with Ryan Reynolds’ sense of humor.”
But it’s not just the lead Pokémon that’s getting all the plaudits — in a mostly positive review, Molly Freeman of Screen Rant has called the other pocket monsters in the film “stunning.”
Certainly, as the trailer promises, the film is packed with cameos, from a perpetually confused and warbly Psyduck to an all-powerful and deeply imposing Mewtwo.
The Plot Is The Film’s Biggest Problem
Despite the trailer promising a relatively simple and straightforward story of a young man, Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) searching for his missing father, in actuality Detective Pikachu is a deeply confusing tale, full of double crosses, complicated plots and an array of deceptive human characters.
Some critics have taken all that heavy duty narrative in good faith, while others have pointed out how alienating it will be for newcomers to the series. Fear, for his part, even suggested that he might have to write two reviews — one for the believers and one for the non-believers. Either way, however, he admits that the film’s plot is “a generic detective storyline and Reynolds-wrapping loosely holding together a piece of franchise brand-extension.”
Did not expect to read this in a Detective Pikachu review: "the movie almost functions as a kind of 'child’s first noir' primer, for when your kids need to learn that all institutions are corrupt and not to be trusted." https://t.co/eO7Z9JcbGW
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) May 9, 2019
Similarly, Vincent Acovino of NPR has described the film as requiring a lot of its audience. “Your enjoyment of Detective Pikachu will likely depend on your degree of investment in existential questions,” he writes.
Most Critics Can’t Believe How Much They Liked It
Nonetheless, the main theme of the Detective Pikachu coverage has been a distinct brand of surprise. Most of those who have written about the film can’t believe that it’s as successful as it is; Richard Lawson, in a particularly disbelieving review in Vanity Fair, can barely express his thoughts about the movie generally. “I think Detective Pikachu is well made?” he writes.
— pikachu dancing to (@pikachudancing1) May 9, 2019
“Are there serious dimensions to Pokémon that I’m just not seeing, because this weird offshoot movie — which gives Pikachu more of a vocalized personality than he’s typically got — has framed the Pokémon universe in a very particular way?”
Of all of the disbelieving reviews, there’s none quite as enthusiastic as the one written by David Sims of The Atlantic and Blank Check fame.
“There’s absolutely no way it should go down smooth — but somehow, the director Rob Letterman’s take on a murder mystery starring an electric yellow CGI mouse-monster named Pikachu makes for a breezy good time at the theater,” Sims writes.
So there you have it — despite all of the odds, those mad fuckers have somehow made a reasonably well-recieved Detective Pikachu. Look upon their work, ye almighty, and despair.