One of the most anticipated family movies of the year – thanks to deep nostalgia and a killer marketing campaign – Pokémon: Detective Pikachu has turned out to be one of the more divisive releases in a long time – even as it sails clearly into Fresh territory. (It is currently ay 73% on the Tomatometer, with 33 reviews, as of May 3 at 10:20am.) Some fans love it, some don’t. Many newcomers are delighted, others aren’t. The first reviews of the movie have arrived, and nobody can seem to agree about the merits of the story, the visuals, the performances, or who it’s for. In a way, that’s exciting. Thrilling even (who wants everything so easily defined?). Now you can go and see it for yourself and find out where you land.
Here’s what the critics are saying about Pokémon: Detective Pikachu:
Did Detective Pikachu break the dreaded video game movie curse…? To borrow a phrase, it’s super effective.
Easily the best video game movie ever. –
The first good video game movie. –
While video game movies haven’t had the best track record, this movie is by and far the best example of how to do one right. –
Takes the crown of ‘Best Video Game Movie’ simply by being basically competent rather than because it can truly shine on its own merits. –
The movie comes from a place of great love and understanding for the simple joy of what Pokémon represents.
Detective Pikachu is very willing to make fun of itself while also showing a reverence for the source material.
For fans of the Pokémon universe, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu ticks all of the boxes for what you want to see in this kind of adventure. –
Fully realizes what Pokemon fans have dreamed of for more than twenty years. –
This is a film for the fans but also one that will open the Pokémon universe to a whole new audience and generation.
Detective Pikachu is mostly for the veterans of the franchise. If you don’t understand Pokémon, get the hell out of the theater. –
I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited in the least…[but] within a few minutes of the film, I found myself totally invested in the characters and the story. –
There’s enough here to please both Pokemaniacs and the Poke-non –
Prior affinity or knowledge of the franchise isn’t exactly a requirement, but for those who have both, the clever nostalgia drops elicit elation. –
For those of us who don’t know a Jigglypuff from a Charizard, this film scores low on wit, coherence and engagement. –
You do have to be fairly well invested in the Pokémon franchise to appreciate the result. –
If you need Wikipedia to explain who Mewtwo is, most of the jokes will go right over your head.
Top-notch. Not only are the characters stunningly done, but all of the effects are magical.
You will not find a more visually striking children’s movie this year… Pikachu himself is an unbelievable special effect…it absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination.
A triumph of character animation — one of the most stylish combinations of animation and live action in years.
The true kings of this film are members of the visual effects team…seeing the film for purely the magical VFX is worth it. –
The quality of the computer animation falls far short of the basic level of competency audiences have come to expect from effects movies. –
The visual effects vary wildly. –
Even at its most absurd, the film is still funny and endearing. – Julia Alexander, The Verge
It’s shockingly not that funny. – Mike Ryan, Uproxx
It’s Reynolds who saves the day…He’s worth every penny. –
He mixes just enough heart into a buckwild character performance that it’s never too over-the-top…He has a blast, and the movie benefits from his obvious enjoyment. –
Detective Pikachu is Reynolds’ to command, his every wisecrack, protestation and throwaway aside generating a smile, a chuckle or a guffaw. –
Reynolds’ voice has a natural snarkiness that electrifies Pikachu’s personality, though there’s also a heartwarming timbre that’ll make you love him more. –
Reynolds delivers an endearing comedic performance that’s closer to his subversive Deadpool schtick than you’d expect. –
Ryan Reynolds playing Pikachu as a kind of fast-talking, PG-rated Deadpool never quite lands.
Turns out, you can’t copy Deadpool tricks for the PG set. –
Pikachu always came across as a more PG-rated Ryan Reynolds…it always seemed like he was trying very hard to make the audience laugh. –
A watered-down version of the wisecracking attitude he brought to the irreverent Deadpool…a fluffy, non-talking Pokémon would’ve been infinitely more fun. –
Psyduck, a neurosis-riddled, beady-eyed chubby duck, [is] this film’s breakout star. –
This is a very good Psyduck movie. Somehow, a Psyduck sort of steals this entire film. –
It’s [Kathryn] Newton who steals [the] spotlight, making us wish the narrative revolved around her fearless, tenacious heroine and sidekick. She’s the trifecta of sweet, soft and strong. –
Kathryn Newton continues her upward trajectory and really owns this character. Her enthusiasm and determination play well. –
Reynolds and Smith form the adorable heart of the movie. They have great chemistry, and the slow development of their bond is both funny and emotional. –
The core dynamic between Detective Pikachu and Tim Goodman is so compelling and emotionally fulfilling that my gripes pale in comparison. –
Unfortunately, this movie’s plot is, let’s say, suspect. –
Narratively incoherent to the point of being almost avant-garde. –
As a piece of storytelling…Detective Pikachu fails spectacularly. –
You can see the beats of the mystery…coming from a million miles away, because it’s the same kind of story that’s been told a thousand times before. –
Both overstuffed and underwritten, making it seem simultaneously ambitious and lazy, frenzied and sluggish.
Here’s hoping this film is the beginning of Pokémon-inspired movie universe, because I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for the yellow, electricity-filled detective! –
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu opens everywhere on May 10.