Yes, it is time for my obligatory anecdote about my relationship with the Pokémon brand! It probably goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of Pokémon because I’m an Asian kid who was born in 1999. Of course I am. I grew up endlessly playing Pokémon Emerald on my Gameboy Advance until my eyes would strain (which probably explains my deteriorating vision) and then go to bed only to wake up at 9 to catch the new episode of the anime show. In 4th grade, everyone called me Ash Ketchum because I had long, thick, and unruly hair that went all over the place. My best friend was a Piplup. I lived and breathed Pokémon. Imagine my excitement when the news broke that Nintendo would finally be letting Pikachu run with his small, little feet on the big screen!
Honestly, I’ve been rooting for Detective Pikachu ever since the first trailer dropped. Nintendo has had a lot of— well, issues adapting their material to new forms of media in the past, and ever since then, they’ve been notoriously protective of their gaming IPs and brands. If they were going to open up and take a risk on this project, in my mind I knew it had to be for a good reason. This makes Detective Pikachu a film of multiple firsts: it’s the first generally well-received mainstream video-game-based-blockbuster, it’s the first film in a very long time to break open the Nintendo IP floodgates, and it’s the first film you’ll see with an emotionally detached, caffeine-addicted Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds. And you’d really think, with all that this movie has to prove, that the cards would be played safe. Well, you really couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Detective Pikachu is surreal, ridiculous, but a heartfelt and warm, piece of popcorn entertainment. It’s also one that assumes you know what the significance of Mewtwo is, so if you have no investment in Pokémon, you really aren’t going to get much out of this.