Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
Insular to a maddening degree, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu provides zero inroads for people who know little about the popular Japanese creations.
Those blockades include humor, the secret to unlocking such potentially esoteric properties as 21 Jump Street, yet which failed the likes of Baywatch and is absent here as well.
As such, the typically reliable element of Ryan Reynolds’ voice is a non-factor in the service of flat jokes delivered by the titular fuzzy, yellow, electricity-wielding creature, who teams with 21-year-old Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) to solve the disappearance of the young man’s father — who also happens to be Pikachu’s partner on the police force.
Its dull characters caught in an already rote mystery, the film repeatedly offers images that poetically provide answers, only to be followed by Tim or Pikachu serving up redundant verbal accompaniments — presumably to keep young viewers up to speed, but marooning the rest of the audience in the process.
In this dead-end milieu, the talents of Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe are reduced to nothingness and critical buzz of Detective Pikachu being shot on 35mm in order “to look like Blade Runner” just makes the film’s failure all the more depressing.
And yet, hope for the general viewer remains through the film’s copious special effects. Pikachu is a marvel to behold, the annoying Psyduck belonging to intrepid reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton, HBO’s Big Little Lies) isn’t far behind, and other critters look impressively polished.
But consistent with the rest of the film, this aspect ultimately lets Detective Pikachu down as well, this time through a series of ugly creations and a clueless script that succumbs to the most cliché way to end a modern big-budget adventure movie.
Grade: D-minus. Rated PG. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande, and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Warner Bros.)