When police detective Harry Goodman is apparently killed in a car crash, it’s up to his son Tim (Justice Smith) to find out what happened. Luckily, Tim will have the help of his dad’s Pokémon partner, a wise-cracking Pikachu who only Tim can understand. Together, the two best friends find a world they must defend on the mean streets of Ryme City.
Pokémon are a big deal in the Craggus household, so there was a lot riding on this family movie trip but we needn’t have worried, thanks to adorable character design, a reliably witty performance from Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu and a superb turn from Justice Smith as Tim Goodman who really sells the authenticity of the fantastical world of Pokémon. There’s a real skill in acting convincingly with so many special effects-driven co-stars and Smith manages to make it look effortlessly real. Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe add some gravitas to proceedings but Lucy Stevens is a bit short-changed by a script that favours its animated leading mouse above all others. Of course, Pikachu is the real star of the show and his transition from two-dimensional animation to fully rendered is a triumph.
The story is decent enough and although its main twists and turns are predictable enough, it still has a surprise or two up its sleeve and the whole thing is just a bundle of fun. The real delight, of course, is in spotting all your favourite Pokémon in the background, populating the neon-drenched yet conspicuously London-like streets of Ryme City and there’s plenty of humour mined from the various quirks and abilities of various Pokémon.
It’s all good, clean, undemanding family fun and the sheer quantity of background detail makes rewatches almost a must. It absolutely proves that ‘live action’ Pokémon can not only work but thrive on the big screen and while “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” may not be perfect, there’s no denying it’s super effective.