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Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

4K UHD Released: 8/6/2019


All Ratings out of

Movie: ½



Extras: ½


Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/6/2019


This may come as a surprise to some of you, but when a major studio releases a movie, their goal is to make money.  And one of the best ways to ensure that a movie is going to make money is to give a wide appeal, so that more people will want to see it.  This is often viewed as watering down entertainment, but when a profit is on the line, this sort of tactic is not surprising.  Then, there are those movies which simply forge ahead, doing their own thing and not caring is the audience is keeping up.  This often occurs with independent, art films.  Therefore, it was quite surprising when this sort of “If you don’t get it, that’s your problem” approach was found in Pokemon Detective Pikachu.


Mild-mannered insurance salesman Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) receives a call to go to Rime City.  There, he learns that his father, a police detective, has been killed in a auto accident.  Even worse, Tim doesn’t like the city as it’s crawling with Pokemon, odd creatures which serve as companions to most people.  Tim doesn’t have a Pokemon and he’s fine with that.  While searching his father’s office, Tim meets Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), a Pokemon who can actually speak.  Pikachu explains that he belongs to Tim’s father and that he’s convinced that the man is still alive.  Tim is clearly uneasy working with this creature, but he wants to get to the bottom of what’s going on.  Together, the two will investigate underground Pokemon fights and a strange purple chemical which makes Pokemon go berserk.  How do these things tie into the mystery?


When something is called Pokemon Detective Pikachu, it is clearly aimed at a specific audience.  Still, you’ve got to hand it to this movie for immediately jumping into its world with no apologies.  There’s no gentle introduction to the idea of Pokemon here – the movie hits the ground running and if you don’t know much (or anything) about these creatures, you may be lost.  There are dozens (hundreds) of varieties of Pokemon and the things fill the screen in some of the city scenes.  There’s no doubt that longtime fans of the franchise yell the name of each individual Pokemon as they grace the screen, but the uninitiated will be confused. 


From there, we are introduced to a truly bizarre film.  This is essentially a film noir, but the main character is paired with a cute little monster.  And instead of interrogating or pursuing creeps, they are facing off against other monsters.  Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) is thrown into the mix as the plucky female who is eager to help with the case.  This decidedly different take on the hardboiled detective story is paired with the undeniably cute Pikachu.  Even the biggest skeptic will have to admit that the little guy is adorable.  However, things take yet another turn when Ryan Reynolds voice comes out of Pikachu.   It’s somewhat disconcerting to see Pikachu open his mouth and have Deadpool’s voice emerge.  And much of what he says is hilarious.  One has to wonder if Reynolds is reading a script or simply making up his dialogue, as it’s filled with non-sequiturs and ridiculous lines which are hilarious.


This probably goes without saying at this point, but Pokemon Detective Pikachu is an odd movie.  The film’s skeleton is a detective story which isn’t very original.  However, once we see that a tale concerning cute little monsters has been added to this, we realize that something truly odd is going on here.  There are some funny moments and the Pikachu visual effects are quite seamless.  And, as stated above, the very cute Pikachu is definitely appealing.  However, save for the cute Pikachu and the sassy dialogue, there’s very little that non-fans will take away from the movie.  I’m sure that this was a dream come true for Pokemon fans.  But, as someone who was born a generation before the craze began, the movie played more like an expensive experiment to me.


Pokemon Detective Pikachu fulfills the wish of that person who wanted to see Pikachu and Bill Nighy in the same movie on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC transfer which runs at an average of 80 Mbps.  The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no noticeably grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The level of detail is impeccable and the depth gives the illusion that we could step into the picture.  Overall, the crispness of the picture is a treat.  The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  This is an active track, as the city scenes offer a multitude of sounds coming from the stereo channels.  The rear speakers deliver individual sounds in the crowd and action scenes, and the separation between the front and rear speakers is noticeable.  The subwoofer effects add emphasis to the fight sequences.


All of the extra features for Pokemon Detective Pikachu can be found on the Blu-ray Disc included in this set.  The film can be watched in “Detective Mode” which offers picture-in-picture video and pop-up text which address the making of the film and Easter Eggs which reference the Pokemon universe.  (This allows us to see the Pikachu reference doll used on-set!)  “My Pokemon Adventure” (2 minutes) has Justice Smith revealing his own history as a Pokemon fan.  “Creating the World of Detective Pikachu” (21 minutes) is a five-part featurette which is hosted by Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton.  It focuses on the film’s production, including on-set footage, which is accompanied by comments from the cast and Director Rob Letterman.  We also get a look at the visual effects.  The “Alternate Opening” (2 minutes) is simply a different introduction of Tim.  “Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary” (3 minutes) has the odd mime character pushing a 3-minute bad joke.  “Ryan Reynolds: Outside the Actors Studio” (2 minutes) allows Deadpool to give a bizarre take on his role, featuring a cameo by Blake Lively.  The final extra is the MUSIC VIDEO for “Carry On” by Rita Ora and Kygo.

Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long