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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was the first potentially “real” challenger to Avengers: Endgame’s box office championship belt, but fell just under 9 million shy of taking it. As Avengers was the fourth film with that moniker, so was Detective Pikachu the fourth Warner Bros produced Pokemon movie (Though not in any continuity as the first 3 were animated from the later 90s/early 00s). There was potential for this movie to be a big hit, vying for a potentially mega popular franchise plus potential nostalgia. Though it wasn’t some juggernaut, the film did do some respectable global box office and came just shy of recouping its budget within the domestic US wide release on its own. Potentially the budget was a bit too much but I’m sure Warner had their eyes more on the global prize that just what it would do at home. The film is not heading its way to home video on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on August 6th where you can pick it up in stores or use the Amazon link below.

Film 

Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

Let me begin this by making note that my knowledge of Pokemon and interest in it have never been a thing at all in my life. Not a complete ignorant bastard or renting a condo under a rock, I do know what they look like, who Pikachu is, am familiar with the art some small tid bits. So that means I’m a total square to the Poke-heads. I didn’t even get into the mobile game that took the world by storm just a few quick years ago. HOWEVER! When I saw the trailer to Detective Pikachu, it garnered my interest and was actually a movie I did have interest in seeing in the theater. Crazy me or good marketing? You decide.

What I saw in Detective Pikachu was a pretty charming movie that really tries hard to make it a wonderful experience for both myself and the hardcore fans at the same time. There were things in place that I recognized were inside jokes but I didn’t understand why I should laugh, but there was enough carefully place and constructed that I could follow the plot, characters and rules being set forth. If anything, there’s a bit too much crammed and force exposition in this movie to cater to me that even I was like “Yeah, yeah, yeah lets move on”. Even though, its a cute little mystery for kids even if I had some of it pegged just a hair after the second act began.

Detective Pikachu features some fun voice work from Ryan Reynolds, but Justice Smith carries the movie and is a wonderful protagonist to sell this movie to the finish line. Likewise Kathryn Kewton whenever she enters the film. Each Pokemon in the film makes for some fun and nabs some good moments as well. I found this children’s film to be fun enough and my children were thoroughly engaged from start to finish of the film. I’d say its a pretty solid family experience and even better one for the kids.

Video 

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the 4K UHD Movies Anywhere stream, not the 4K UHD disc. 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu was shot on film and finished with a 4K digital intermediate, making it a native title. That’s a pretty surprising and insanely respectable factoid for the film. It handles the black levels quite well in the crisp picture and the CGI creatures and elements all feel like a warm fit with the live action stuff never looking out of place. Oddly, you might expect the film’s fantastical things to come off a little brighter than they do, but such as it is. This one does have some room for some improvement as it can look pretty murky at times and seems like it could be a hair sharper. Overall, this is an above average picture and for the more casual crowd is going to be just fine for presentation, but for the hardcore nit picker, there’s room for improvement.

Depth:  Spacing isn’t as freewheeling or pushed back as you’d expect. The image isn’t some flat disaster, but it isn’t as open as you’d be wanting from it. Movements are natural, consistent and free with no distortion issues about from rapid action scenes.

Black Levels: Blacks are well done here, seemingly as this has a very dark noir vibe for the whole thing. Details are not lost among the image and there is a lot of good contrast between the shadows. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors stick out when used on neon signs or a Pokemon. They contrast the dark moody city and seem to build a nice vibrancy using the HDR with their powers, fires and more, but they seem to be holding back a little too.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film Facial features and textures like make-up, wrinkles, stubble, bruises, scuffs, dirt and more are plenty discernible from any reasonable camera distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio (US), English Descriptive Audio (UK), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Chinese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Bulgarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hindu 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Romanian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, SLK 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Spanish, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu comes at you with a pretty nice Atmos track that you can’t help but think it could have been just a hair nicer. Its not quite as all encompassing in this mix, leaving more to be desired from the ceiling and sub contributions, but as something of a 7.1 track it works a little bit better.

Height: Ceiling channels are used and contribute, but not as much as you’d think. While what you hear is nice, you’re left expecting a little more.

Low Frequency Extension: Like the ceiling, there are many moments in hoping for something to crash or hit harder with the subwoofer than it actually does. But then again, sometimes it pounds just right. A very up and down experience, but overall fine.

Surround Sound Presentation: The remaining channels do a good job of whirling and twirling around the room. Many unique sounds can it you from behind or on the side. Travel rolls quite effectively and naturally around the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Pokeman: Detective Pikachu comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy code. The bonus features appear on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Detective Mode – This is a sort of Making of/Video Commentary/Behind the Scenes/Trivia Track version of the movie with pop up videos and text that pop up related to the scenes/characters/actors/effects in that specific sequence.

My Pokemon Adventure (HD, 2:13) – Justice Smith talks he and his sister’s love for all things Pokemon and some of the games and characters he was into and how he was honored to be a part of the film and hopes there are more films in the future.

Creating the World of Detective Pikachu (HD, 21:22) – A 5-part series of featurettes hosted by Justice Smith and Kathryn Newton that briefly takes us through the various stages and parts of production including interviews with the cast and crew (Ryan Reynolds included). This plays out like something Disney would put on the Disney Channel to promote one of their movies.

Alternate Opening (HD, 1:41) 

Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary (HD, 3:00) – Mr. Mime introduces that he’ll be doing a commentary on his interrogation scene in the movie. Which plays the scene as is and then Mr. Mime reminds you he can’t talk. Ha…Ha…?

Ryan Reynolds: Outside the Actor’s Studio (HD, 1:32) – A little parody interview on Ryan Reynolds disappearing into the role of Pikachu. Features a cameo from Blake Lively.

“Carry On” Music Video by Rita Ora & Kygo (HD, 3:51)

Summary 

Detective Pikachu is a solid bit of fun and my kids seems to be taken with it a bit more than I was. Fans of the film will find some good fun with the extras here as they aren’t overbearing and well put together. The video and audio is very good, though with the nature of the source and the fact that its a native 4K title this one would have you expecting a little better. An easy pick up for fans or parents looking to give their little kids a bit of live action fun to escape the normal super kiddie movie/television or animated fare.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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