Warner Bros.

When the initial reviews for the first live-action adaptation the Pokémon franchise started to filter through, it looked as though everyone was radiating with enthusiasm for Detective Pikachu.

However, with one week to go until the film’s global release, more critical feedback has arrived and it’s making us think twice about how excited we should really be about the film’s arrival.

As it turns out — and as we could’ve probably predicted — bagging Ryan Reynolds to voice the titular Pikachu was an inspired choice. Every critic seems to be united on that front. It’s only when the debate over whether he elevates an already-great movie or helps to drag along a terrible one begins that the difference in reviews starts to show.

Revisit the Rob Letterman-directed movie via the trailer above and keep reading for a round-up of critic reviews below.

Fans will love it

“‘Detective Pikachu’ was a massive gamble, but the film’s outsized charms, rock-solid emotional core, and fantastic world-building paid off in spades. The result is a sweet, family-friendly film that fully realizes what Pokemon fans have dreamed of for more than twenty years. Through meticulous visual effects wizardry, a delightfully dry sense of humor, and an abiding love of pulp and noir, director Rob Letterman and his creative co-conspirators have created a world where Pokemon actually feel like living, breathing creatures.”

Nerdist - Dan Casey

“‘Detective Pikachu’s writing isn’t exactly strong or thought-provoking, but honestly, it doesn’t have to be. This isn’t a timeless work of cinematic genius. Instead, it’s a chance for Pokémon diehards to spend two hours inside a universe many of us have invested years in. It’s a hilarious, carefree, fun romp through a familiar place, and it’s just different enough to add a much needed twist to a formula that was growing tired.”

The Verge - Julia Alexander

Reynolds lifts the film up

“As the wisecracking voice of Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds deserves some sort of special citation for doing the best he can without ‘Deadpool’s f-bombs (or a decent script) to lean on. But the main problem is that the film’s gumball-mayhem plot is so frenetic that it’s impossible to determine if it makes a lick of sense. Maybe that was the point.”

EW - Chris Nashawaty

“The humans are rather bland but it’s Reynolds who saves the day. He takes what could have been a generic conceit by the scruff of the neck and gives it the requisite jolt of energy – electrical, caffeine-derived or otherwise. He’s worth every penny.”

The Guardian - Steve Rose

“Still, for all its flaws, ‘Detective Pikachu’ is a generally enjoyable ride. But we can’t help but wonder at some of the strange choices that the filmmakers made for the huge franchise’s first live-action movie. The film rests heavily on Reynolds’ charm, and it’s fortunate that he delivers in spades.”

Digital Spy / Hugh Armitage

Convoluted and predictable

“‘Detective Pikachu’ nicely blends live-action elements with the computer-generated Pokemon … The story, however, is pretty convoluted and predictable – albeit with one nice twist at the end but misses the chance to be a really fun adventure with an unlikely gumshoe.”

USA Today - Brian Truitt

“While the cultural significance of ‘Detective Pikachu’ is virtually self-evident, you do have to be fairly well invested in the Pokémon franchise to appreciate the result, which feels like Legendary Pictures’ half-baked attempt to get in on the massive popularity of the Pokémon phenomenon without necessarily understanding or respecting the underlying IP.”

Variety - Peter Debruge

A huge disappointment

“Anyone over the age of 11 will deduce the identity of the villain and the twists of the detective story, which would have been fine if ‘Detective Pikachu’ offered enough delight in the visuals, the performances or the humor. Instead, we get a movie that’s both overstuffed and underwritten, making it seem simultaneously ambitious and lazy, frenzied and sluggish.”

The Wrap - Alonso Duralde

“What a bummer. ‘Detective Pikachu’ is, so far, my most disappointing experience at the movies this year. I cannot stress how much I was looking forward to this movie. And what’s even more frustrating is you can kind of see in here the blueprints for something really fun and unique, but instead it just comes off as disjointed, with ideas going all different directions. For Pokémon fans, Detective Pikachu will be fun to watch in an effort to spot them all. But for everyone else, it might be better to listen to Snorlax and just take a nap.”

Uproxx - Mike Ryan

Pokémon Detective Pikachu lands in theaters nationwide May 10.

Senior Staff Writer
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