'Pokémon' a bit predictable


Only children and major Pokémon fans are going to find something to enjoy in the lightweight but innovative “Detective Pikachu”.

The film has the depth of a straight-to-DVD kiddie cartoon, but then someone along the production line had the genius idea to make it live action and introduce the world to photo-realistic, CGI Pokemon. Not only does this give the movie something new and unique to show audiences, but it no doubt also works wonders for merchandising.

Someone figured out how to get kids to want even more Pikachu merchandise. My hat is off to them.

Pokémon has been a worldwide phenomenon for decades now, conquering video games, cartoons, toys, stuffed animals, animated movies, collectible card games and probably more of pop culture than I realize. “Detective Pikachu” is the brand’s first foray into big screen, live action cinema. On the one hand, a lot of time, effort and creativity went into bringing this franchise into new life.

On the other hand, the movie is mostly for the Poké-faithful, for the sort of kid who can name each and every one of the computer-animated critters that appears on screen. If your kids are already big Pokémon fans, they’re probably going to love this film. If you yourself are not a fan, there’s not much to recommend.

When ordinary human Tim Goodman’s father dies in a car accident, Tim heads to the big city to get his father’s affairs in order and put him to rest. But then Tim meets his father’s Pikachu companion, who can not only speak English, but is convinced that Tim’s father is still alive and there is a larger mystery afoot.

There sure is, and so Tim and his talking Pikachu are off on the adventure of a lifetime!

It’s just too bad that the mystery, the story and the characters are rather bare bones and predictable. Despite having all the spectacle of a big screen movie, with cinematography that tries to marry the cartoon with the real world, “Detective Pikachu” is most definitely a kids movie gussied up to look more mature. It’s basic, as if the filmmakers did not want to strain anybody’s thinking caps.

The real draw of the film are the photo-realistic CGI Pokémon. It’s amazing to think the brand took this long to make these little guys happen, but they pull it off spectacularly. “Detective Pikachu” really does take the very concept of Pokémon to a new level. Clearly a lot of effort went into designing and implementing the cartoon creations in this film. At the very least, that is an achievement the filmmakers can brag about.

Here’s hoping any sequel in the franchise is able to come up with a better story to a go along with the cartoon craftsmanship.


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