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Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Now this is an example of live-action films based on video games done right.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Directed By: Rob Letterman
Produced By: Mary Parent
Cale Boyter
Hidenaga Katakami
Don McGowan
Written By: Dan Hernandez
Benji Samit
Rob Letterman
Derek Connolly
Based On: Detective Pikachu
by The Pokémon Company[1]
Creatures, Inc.[2]
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Justice Smith
Kathryn Newton
Suki Waterhouse
Omar Chaparro
Chris Geere
Ken Watanabe
Bill Nighy
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures (worldwide)
Toho (Japan)
Release Date: May 3, 2019 (Japan)
May 10, 2019 (United States)
Runtime: 104 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $433.9 million
Franchise: Pokémon
Sequel: Pokémon Detective Pikachu 2 (probably cancelled, mostly resumed)

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Also known as Detective Pikachu and released as Great Detective Pikachu in Japan after the original game) is a 2019 American-Japanese live-action/animated fantasy mystery film directed by Rob Letterman. Based on the Pokémon franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri and serving as a loose adaptation of the 2016 (or 2018 outside of Japan) Nintendo 3DS game of the same name, it was written by Letterman, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and Derek Connolly, from a story by Hernandez, Samit and Nicole Perlman. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures and The Pokémon Company in association with Toho. It is the first live-action Pokémon film in the franchise. Ryan Reynolds stars as the voice and facial motion capture of Pikachu, with Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe and Bill Nighy in live-action roles. Detective Pikachu was released in Japan on May 3, 2019, and in the United States on May 10, 2019, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, 4DX, and ScreenX formats.

Development of a sequel was announced in January 2019, before the release of the film. However, it got cancelled in 2021 as the producers weren't confident that these plans would actually work, despite its critical and financial success. However, this was only noticed by many people in early 2022 following a few tweets made about the news, leading it probably resumed planned.


Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry's former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

Why It Makes Pikachu Want To Help You

  1. The movie is very faithful to the franchise it was based on, keeping the Pokémon consistent to how they behave and function in the games while only doing some minor changes to fit the lore of the movie with the setting resembling exactly what a modern city in the Pokémon world would look like. Because of this, it is a massive improvement over the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie that was released 26 years before it.
    • The faithfulness also extends to the Detective Pikachu 3DS game, keeping important factors like Pikachu's snarky, sarcastic personality and mysterious feel.
  2. The CGI used for the Pokémon is impressive, giving them a solid balance between realistic and faithful designs to fit the real-life environments. The animation of the Pokémon is crisp and believable, and the special effects for things like their moves and evolutions look unbelievably great. It helps that they were all animated by RJ Palmer, who started off as a DeviantArt animator creating hyper-realistic Pokémon fan animations.
  3. Perfect acting performance and casting choices. Ryan Reynolds is hilarious as Pikachu and Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton bring a lot of reality to Tim Goodman and Lucy Stevens. Ikue Ōtani even returns as the voice of Pikachu that humans other than Tim hear. This is the most accurate.
  4. Original plot that gave opportunities for a lot of twists and turns.
  5. Well-written and sympathetic characters:
    • Pikachu is an amnesic quick-thinking detective fused with his trainer.
    • Tim Goodman is a motherless former trainer trying to solve the mystery of his missing father.
    • Lucy Stevens (despite being somewhat underdeveloped) is an enthusiastic intern and wannabe junior news reporter.
    • Lucy's Psyduck is an effective comic relief and the lore that Psyducks have a perpetual headache is well used.
    • Mewtwo is presumed to be an evil, humanity-hating monster through most of the film, only to be revealed towards the end that he does believe that not all humans are bad and he was actually a victim of Howard's schemes.
  6. The bond between Pikachu and Tim is near perfect and well-executed. They barely manage to get along at first but throughout the movie, their bond builds up during the emotional mystery.
  7. Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy's character) is a hammy but enjoyable main antagonist, twisting his idea of making humans evolve like Pokémon into turning humans into Pokémon by the purple gas, during the parade.
  8. Awesome cinematography that really adds a sense of wonder to the world of Pokémon, especially Ryme City.
  9. A funny running gag throughout the film with Pikachu being addicted to caffeine.
  10. Some inside jokes for Pokémon fans, like "Oh, sweet mother of Arceus." (Arceus being the equivalent of God in the Pokémon universe)
  11. To be expected from a Pokémon movie, the action scenes are visually stunning, especially Pikachu distracting Howard/Mewtwo by fighting in an impossible final battle.
  12. Unlike other films based on licensed properties media, such as video games, books, shows, toys and real-life peoples, the film does not expect all of the viewers to know the source material, which is very welcoming, and so it manages to explain everything well enough to make the story decently easy to follow even if the viewer knows nothing about Pokémon and does so without needing large drawn-out scenes of exposition.
  13. The backstory with Harry Goodman, Tim's father was very emotional.
  14. The movie puts a lot of great ideas into good use, such as illegal underground Pokémon battles.
  15. Amazing soundtrack provided by Henry Jackman, most notably the lead single "Carry On", produced by Kygo and sang by Rite Ora, and "Electricity", produced by Pharrell Williams.
  16. Lots of funny moments like "Or, Harry faked someone else's death. That last one doesn't work at all.", Pikachu asking Psyduck that if they don't listen to the spa music, his head will explode and kill them all, with Psyduck replying with "Psyduck", and Pikachu singing the Pokémon theme song.
  17. Excellent directing choice of Rob Letterman.
  18. It avoids the cliches of the movie, like "liar revealed", when Tim heard that Harry and Pikachu were trying to save Mewtwo from Howard was right.

Bad Qualities

  1. Some of the actors can be hit-or-miss and sub-par with their acting performance.
  2. Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton's character) did not get a lot of screen time and thus had a lack of character development.
  3. The fast pacing mixed with Pikachu's constant quipping can make the story a little hard to follow at times.
    • In addition, despite the original premise, the film relies on the generic "liar revealed" trope. However, it was subverted when it turns out Tim is right, as Harry and Pikachu were trying to rescue Mewtwo from Howard after learning they had been tricked into tracking him down for the villain, and Mewtwo had placed Harry's conscious inside Pikachu's body to allow the mortally wounded human to heal, as gratitude for rescuing him.
  4. While the CGI used for the Pokémon did work well for their original design, some of them can look slightly uncanny and don't fit well when given realistic textures.
    • Jigglypuff is a notable example, since it has a furry texture, when it is supposed to be balloony smooth.
    • Another example is Aipom's design look very creepy especially the part when it's angry due to RJ Palmer (the film's animator) making them look more like real-life monkeys.


Although Pokémon Detective Pikachu received mixed-to-positive reception, it was positively received by fans of the franchise with praising its visual effects, Letterman's direction, Ryan Reynolds' performance, and creature design while criticizing its convoluted plot & screenplay. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 68% based on 312 reviews, with an average rating of 6.00/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most – if not all – of the franchise's fans.". On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 48 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while general audiences polled by PostTrak gave it 4 out of 5 stars, while IMDB gave a film a 6.6/10 rating.

The movie is generally considered to be one of the very few live-action video game-based films that are not bad. In addition, it was the first international theatrical film based on video games to get a "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was the highest-rated video game adaptation rating on the site until it was surpassed by The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Box office

Pokémon Detective Pikachu grossed $144.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $288.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $433 million, against a production budget of $150 million, becoming the box office success. It is the second-highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time behind Warcraft, another film produced by Legendary Pictures.



  • This marks the first film to use the current The Infinite Celtic Knot Legendary Pictures logo.
  • It is the first Pokémon film to be distributed theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures since Pokémon 3: The Movie (2001).
  • It is the first Pokémon film not to receive a G rating by the MPAA.
  • This makes the first Legendary Pictures film to return with Warner Bros. Pictures since Kong: Skull Island. This is due to the alliance between Legendary and Universal Pictures not working out quite as well as Universal had hoped. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for example, was pretty much a guaranteed hit, was co-financed, and thus Universal had to split the profits. On the other side of things, Legendary Pictures' movies like Skyscraper and Crimson Peak that Universal Pictures had distributed turned out to be misses at the box office, thus the deal was ended in 2019.
  • On May 7, 2019, a Warner Bros. YouTube channel named "Inspector Pikachu" uploaded a video purporting to be a bootleg recording of the film. Spanning nearly 1.75 hours in length, the opening minute shows the production logo sequences followed by a scene from the film featuring Tim Goodman before spending the remainder of its runtime depicting Pikachu performing aerobics to an upbeat 1980s-inspired synth-wave tune. Reynolds aided in the prank, posting on Twitter as if he was alerting Warner Bros. and the film's official accounts about the alleged bootleg. The video, which Paul Tassi of Forbes described as "brilliant", received 4.2 million views in less than a day.
  • Going into the movie, Bill Nighy had little knowledge of the Pokémon franchise and was only familiar with the trading card game and Pokémon GO. By the end of production, he quickly became a fan and bought as many Pokémon guides as possible to gain more knowledge of the franchise.
  • Initially, Universal Pictures was due to handle distribution outside Japan while Toho would handle the Japanese distribution. On July 25, 2018, Warner Bros. announced they had taken over worldwide distribution duties (except in Japan and China) from Universal, with the release date unchanged.
  • The Curse of La Llorona was accidentally played instead of one showing of this movie in theatres.
  • Columbia Pictures, Netflix, and Warner Bros. were candidates to help produce the movie, but Legendary Pictures managed to make a more convincing proposal than the former three. Warner and Netflix, in particular, were said to be more aggressive in their efforts, with Warner having had more experience in the Pokémon franchise due to releasing the first three anime films worldwide outside Japan. Fortunately for Warner, failing negotiations with then-Legendary partner studio Universal resulted in Warner eventually getting a piece of the pie after all.
  • This is also the first movie in the Pokémon franchise not to have Ash Ketchum, his Pikachu, and Team Rocket.
Legendary Pictures


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  1. The Pokémon Company is owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures, Inc.
  2. Detective Pikachu was developed by Creatures, directed by Naoki Miyashita, written by Tomokazu Ohara and Haruka Utsui, and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company.