Detective Pikachu – Blu-ray Review

Detective Pikachu (also known as Pokemon Detective Pikachu) is a 2019 urban fantasy mystery film that was directed by Rob Letterman. Based on the Pokemon franchise that was created by Satoshi Tajiri and serving as a loose adaptation of the 2016 video game Detective Pikachu, it was written by Letterman, Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, and Derek Connolly, from a story by Hernandez, Samit, and Nicole Perlman. The film was produced by Legendary Pictures in association with Toho. It is the first live-action Pokemon film. Ryan Reynolds stars as the voice and facial motion capture of Pikachu, with Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Omar Chaparro, Chris Geere, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy in live-action roles.

Filming took place from January to May 2018 in Colorado, England, and Scotland. It was released in Japan on May 3, 2019, and the United States on May 10, 2019, distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment in RealD 3D and Dolby Cinema. It is the first “Pokemon” film to be distributed theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. since Pokemon 3: The Movie in 2000.

Detective Pikachu received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the creature designs and Reynolds’ performance, but criticized the plot for being too standard. It is the best-reviewed live-action film adaptation of a video game, according to Rotten Tomatoes. With a wordwide gross of over $431 million, it is the ninth highest grossing film of 2019 and the second highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time. A sequel is currently in development.

The Film Itself (4/5):

My experiences with Detective Pikachu are going to be a little bit one-sided because I am one of many that grew up with the initial wave of the Pokemon franchise (when there were just the original 151). Definitely giving viewers an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, it was really cool to see these characters brought to life. The performances from the cast and crew were extremely well done as they all worked together to bring the element of these fantasy characters and create a sense of personality that extends past the animated characters that we’ve seen in TV and older movies. Sure, the overall plotline was extremely basic, but those that worked on the movie had the obvious goal of reaching out to the younger audience members, and those that grew up with the characters and they certainly did not disappoint.

Picture Quality (5/5):

Completely shot on 35mm Kodak Film, Detective Pikachu was scanned in with a 2K resolution, ultimately to allow for more of a seamless transition between the visual effects shots and its more natural elements. Giving viewers an extremely soft and visually pleasing presentation, the movie allows for a subtle sense of immersion, allowing for a true appreciation for the events that would be unfolding. The textures of the CG elements were considerably detailed, allowing for them to feel as if they were real, and the supplemental bursts of brighter colors during the more action-oriented sequences overall made for an experience that definitely kept mine and my wife’s attention from beginning to end.

Audio Quality (5/5):

Packaged with an English Dolby Atmos audio track, the Blu-ray release of Detective Pikachu really packs an insanely immersive audio experience for those setup with Atmos at home. With the punch that it packs during the battle sequences to the transitions between the channels being so smooth, the experience that is to be had with the audio track was, without a doubt, one of the better ones that I’ve heard with recent releases. The dialogue is spoken cleanly, and the characters are able to be heard and understood without any need to adjust the volume as it progresses onward.

The Packaging (4/5):

The Blu-ray release of Detective Pikachu comes packaged in the standard two-disc Blu-ray amaray case.  In that case, the Blu-ray and DVD copy of the movie, neither disc featuring any artwork that’s related to the movie outside of the standard release text.  There is a digital copy redemption pamphlet as well as an exclusive Pokemon trading card for the detective persona.  There is also a slipcover that’s been made available during the initial pressing of the release that features the same artwork that’s been made available on the case.

Special Features (3.75/5):

There’s a number of special features included with the Blu-ray release of Detective Pikachu. The content that’s been provided offers not only a great look at the work that went into making the movie happen, but there a number of features that allow viewers to become slightly more immersed with the storyline, and allows for them to have fun with the experience as a whole. Included with this release is:

  • Detective Mode
  • My Pokemon Adventure
  • Creating the World of Detective Pikachu
    • Uncovering the Magic
    • Colorful Characters
    • Bringing Pokemon to Life
    • Welcome to Ryme City
    • Action
  • Alternate Opening
  • Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary
  • Ryan Reynolds: Outside the Actor’s Studio
  • “Carry On” Music Video by Rita Ora and Kygo

Technical Specs:

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles

English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Runtime

Original Film: 104 Minutes

Final Thoughts:

Despite my overwhelming sense of nostalgia with this movie, when my wife and I didn’t quite know what to expect. Sitting down with Detective Pikachu definitely gave us a great experience, and we had fun as we followed along. The visual and audio experience were phenomenal, and we really appreciated the work that went into making this movie. The special features that were included were a fun exploration, and I can definitely recommend picking this movie up if you too grew up with the franchise. Detective Pikachu is available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD today.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.