Detective Pikachu is something of a dream come true for Pokémon fans both young and old now that a live action movie has finally been made! But, this dream isn’t a perfect one and neither is Detective Pikachu. Perhaps the biggest and most glaring problem with Detective Pikachu is just how much it relies on your personal knowledge of the Pokémon universe. They don’t take any time to explain some of the things you’re seeing. This is great for fans of the games, not so much for anyone else. While you can watch the movie and still enjoy it with only a very basic knowledge of the world it’s much more rich and enjoyable if you know what different things mean.
At the same time, they played it very safe with the plot to give it a more general appeal. This is, of course, frustrating for fans of the franchise. It isn’t a very complex story, it’s clear who the villain of the story is and the story arc is almost predictable. The human characters are a little bit flat as are some of the jokes which fail to land.
However, despite the simple plot, the weak human characters, and the jokes that fall flat, Detective Pikachu is a fun movie. The Pokémon, even for those who don’t speak beyond being able to say their name, really shine. The Pokémon featured in the movie are ones that have been with the franchise from the beginning and are still well known today, making it accessible to younger audiences who may only have exposure to the newer parts of the franchise as well as lifelong fans. The movie is rated PG and perhaps with the exception of very small children, completely accessible to all ages.
The story told in Detective Pikachu is a complete one, though they do of course leave themselves open to the opportunity for a sequel...
If your tweens are huge Pokémon fans then yes, absolutely, Detective Pikachu is a must-see movie simply because of what it is, not on the quality of the movie. But, if they aren’t really big fans or if you’ll only be able to go see a few movies on the big screen this season, it is totally okay to skip this one. Detective Pikachu will still be just as fun watching at home as it is in the theatre. It is a fun movie with the potential for bonding experiences if you were also a fan of Pokémon when you were young. If you do bond over it, playing the mobile game Pokémon Go is a fantastic way to continue that bonding, and the best part is the game is free!
Common Sense Media have given it a recommendation for ages 8+ and says to watch out for "some violence: Pokémon battle both each other and humans, and there's destruction (including a fatal car crash) and injuries, but nothing gets bloody or graphic. Main characters are frequently in peril, but -- despite some close calls -- no one dies. Language is limited to "hell," "stupid," and "good God," and there's nothing more risque than flirting and a couple of double-meaning jokes..." however the story does "promotes teamwork, courage, and friendship and shows how even the seemingly inexperienced can make a difference."