Pokémon Detective Pikachu ★★★

The Pokémon universe translates really well into live action. I would love to see more of this universe and more Pokémon battles, specifically.

The CGI looked great. The variety (and sheer amount) of Pokémon throughout the movie kept me interested and impressed me. I have a relatively limited knowledge of Pokémon (I played one of the games for like a month when I was 12, I think), but the movie did a good job of making everything accessible.

Ryan Reynolds is terrific as Pikachu. His quips and one-liners are hilarious and really keep the story's momentum up. Justice Smith played Tim as a fish out of water roped into a mystery well. His interactions with Kathryn Newton's Lucy are fun and cute. And he plays off of Pikachu really well.

The overall mystery is maybe the movie's weakest point. Had I not been so impressed with the world building and the renderings of the Pokémon, I think I would have found myself bored with the story. There are some turns in the plot that are pretty lazily concealed. Since Detective Pikachu is clearly geared toward a much younger audience, though, I can forgive it.

There are a few big set pieces throughout the movie. One of which involves an underground Pokémon battle arena. This was definitely my favorite part of the movie. It was the first time we really saw pokémon on action and it was made all the more interesting since it involved bigger, evolved pokémon. When our characters get involved in the action in this scene, it's very thrilling and looks fantastic.

The second big set piece involves a deserted laboratory. It's unique in its own right and serves to advance the plot. But since I wasn't as engaged with the mystery as I was with the world building, I found this part of the movie a little bit slow. If the Pokémon universe wasn't so intriguing in this movie, I would have had a hard time staying interested. Which is a shame because it's the portion of the movie with the most drama between the characters and is really important to the overall plot of the movie.

The climax of the movie is much bigger and open than the other set pieces. The action in the climax worked for me and was really entertaining. But I didn't feel like the stakes in that sequence were properly established. It's a pretty quick turn when certain motivations are revealed, but the movie doesn't give itself time to breathe and really demonstrate what is happening.

By the end of Detective Pikachu, I was entertained and left the theater feeling like there is a huge opportunity for expanding this world and making it an interesting live action franchise. If it does get sequels, I would love to see them explore Pokémon training and battling. Because what little we had of that in Detective Pikachu really piqued my interest and left me wanting more of it.