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Photo courtesy of Billboard.
The Holdovers Review
February 20, 2024

Detective Pikachu: I Don’t Choose You

Anyone who knows me moderately well knows I’m a sucker for Pokemon. Whether it’s the collectible cards or the games, I’m a big fan. The Pokemon franchise does a wonderful job catering to all ages: as kids, we are mesmerized by the cool designs and fantastical attacks, and as we get older we learn about the intricate strategies behind the games. So when I first saw the trailer for “Detective Pikachu,” I declared out loud that I had to see it as soon as I possibly could. Well, that time came, and boy did the trailer make it look better than it really is.

“Detective Pikachu” follows Tim Goodman, a loner in a small town who lacks a Pokemon partner, which is emphasized several times within the first thirty minutes of the film. Disaster strikes when Tim’s father, who works for the police, is declared dead from a car crash. After arriving at his father’s apartment, Tim encounters a Pikachu who he, for some reason, can speak to. From here, the two go on to delve into Rime City and follow the footprints of Tim’s father, who was working a case about a serum which puts Pokemon into a crazed, raging state.


So how does it all stack up? Not well, unfortunately. The first thirty minutes were just like the trailer, with decent tongue and cheek humor and expert CGI for each and every Pokemon. After the first act however, “Detective Pikachu” nosedives: the quality of the dialogue plummets, the CGI is oversaturated, and the plot turns out to have more holes than swiss cheese, providing many moments where I thought to myself “why didn’t they just do x,” x being whatever a normal human would do. The dialogue first begins to fall apart when we meet Lucy Stevens, an intern for the local news. All in the span of five minutes, Lucy introduces herself, questions Tim, and then leaves, not developing her character in any way. From this point on, one of the most pervasive flaws in “Detective Pikachu” is its pacing. There are too many times where both myself and the audience around me had to stop and realize we were in a new scene. It was as if  “Detective Pikachu” didn’t know that periods existed and that they could use them to avoid run on sentences (which is something I am also guilty of, but I digress).

The last nail in the coffin for “Detective Pikachu” is its poorly delivered, mess of a third act. If you care about spoilers for “Detective Pikachu,” you should skip to the last paragraph of the review. As the final act unfolds it is revealed that the main villain had tricked Tim Goodman into leading the superpowered Pokemon, Mewtwo, straight to him. The main villain then takes control over Mewtwo with what looks like an Xbox Live Headset, and then announces that he will “evolve Humans into a greater form of themselves.” He then proceeds to perform a Thanos snap, and everyone’s souls are shoved into the bodies of their partner Pokemon. This left me scratching my head.


Instead of something which would actually benefit humans, which was the villain’s proclaimed goal, he put everyone inside various Pokemon, effectively stealing away half the world’s rights to opposable thumbs. This does nothing more than present to the audience how much of a half-baked plot “Detective Pikachu” has. It took me a whole ten seconds to come up with a better end goal for the villain, and here it is: the villain could have developed a machine, vaccine, or other means of transmission, to give people the destructive powers of Pokemon, similar to genetic modification. Not only would this have made more sense, but it could have also been tied to an earlier plot point, where the villain claims that the serum he’s been designing to make Pokemon enter a crazed state could be used to also control their minds. This essentially tells me that the directors and scriptwriters of “Detective Pikachu” didn’t even bother to spend ten seconds to realize how pointless their plot was and that I, the average viewer, could come up with a better iteration of the film.

I am disappointed with “Detective Pikachu.” Having been a Pokemon fan for most of my life, I had high hopes for this film, and the trailers did a good job of masking the movie’s pointless plot and sub-par dialogue. But I don’t give points based on how well a movie lies, I give points on how good a movie actually is. I really wanted to give “Detective Pikachu” a higher score, but I find that it is not worthy of anything above a 6/10. It was entertaining and cute, but its poorly written script and garbage heap of a plot left me high and dry. Hopefully someone out there can one day make a movie adaptation of a video game that isn’t abysmal. And no, it won’t be the Sonic movie. That’s all folks.

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