My first review of Pokémon Detective Pikachu when it hit cinemas a few months ago was negative, with a strong helping of fanboy disappointment. In the time since, my feelings haven’t changed much, and further conversation with other fans have led me to conclude that the film was built to appeal to the most fickle audience possible: lapsed Gen Y Pokémon fans who enjoyed collecting the cards (but not playing the card game), played the video games up until Gold / Silver, and probably got their parents to buy them tickets to Pokemon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back in 1999.
None of this is to create the sense that I’m judging or gatekeeping the Pokémon fandom (as if that’s possible), but rather to question just why the Pokémon Company thought this was the demographic that would show up for a live-action Pokémon movie rather than, say, the massive audience of children currently enthralled by its brand.
Case in point: Special features on the Blu-ray release mostly consist of standard behind-the-scenes material in the form of clips built for YouTube, but also a short Ryan Reynolds video where he jokes about becoming so immersed in the role of voicing Pikachu that he forgot about his family. It’s the classic Reynolds bit (he performs it on Twitter every few months) — the sort of humor he’s known for and was hired to bring to Pikachu. But the question is … why? It feels like a miscalculated bit of “bring the star to bring the audience,” one that ultimately broke the movie’s tone and pacing. The special features only drive that point home.
Still, there’s a great clip where the creators discuss how they decided which Pokémon to bring into the film (a total of 60; there were a few I missed the first time around), which deserved an hourlong segment rather than the paltry 10 minutes it gets.
Regardless of how the story turned out, Detective Pikachu is still a visual dream come true for fans of all ages, and the time and effort that went into turning cartoon monsters into flesh-and-blood buddies was a herculean effort.