Pokémon: Detective Pikachu 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Summary
When detective Harry Goodman goes missing, his son Tim (Justice Smith) and Harry’s former Pokémon partner Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) join forces to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together on an epic adventure through Ryme City, they uncover a shocking plot that could destroy the whole Pokémon universe.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Movie Review
I am too old to know Pokémon that well. It became big after I was in college, and so it wasn’t something I grew up with or understood at all. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu does nothing to help you understand what Pokémon are about and puts you right into the world, but it isn’t too hard to catch on. While I avoided taking my kids to see it in the theater, I actually wouldn’t have minded since the film winds up being fairly enjoyable. Ryan Reynolds is great as Pikachu, a coffee-addicted Pokémon who is helping Tim find out what happened to his father. I never felt lost while watching the movie, though if I had a lot of knowledge about the Pokémon universe I probably would have enjoyed it even more. For parents, I’d say you can watch it with your kids and enjoy it with some jokes aimed more towards you than them. Kids will also enjoy it, and those that grew up with Pokémon will as well. As strange as the idea of a live-action Pokémon film was when the trailer came out, they did quite a good job with it here.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Technical Review
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was shot on 35mm film and, per the IMDB, has a 4K digital intermediate. The film is presented in HDR10, though streaming offers a Dolby Vision version. The on-disc metadata is surprising and indicates the maximum light level in the whole film is only 200 nits, with a maximum frame average light level of 89 nits. Watching the film this matches my observations and is a bit of a let-down for such a high-profile title. The image has that natural film look to it, as I noticed it looked like film in the opening shot. But it doesn’t take much advantage of HDR at all. The overall presentation is quite flat, and colors don’t extend out beyond the SDR gamut that much to my eyes. Pikachu on the box cover is a brighter, more vivid yellow than he is in the film.
Bright highlights, some of which I’ll note below, exhibit clipping instead of resolving detail past that 200 nits level. While this avoids the main issue with HDR and 35mm films, where film grain can make itself apparent in highlights, it results in a dull image for an HDR title.
Fine details are often very good here, but also subject to the limitations of the medium as they aren’t as sharp as a straight digital transfer. Darker shots exhibit more film grain and less fine details, and there can be some crushing of shadow areas. Other films shot digitally with 2K masters have more detail in the shadows than this does with a native 4K master.
The audio sometimes goes big and uses all of the Atmos channels, but more often than not is a bit laid-back. There are some scenes you can turn to for demo material, and voices are always clear and easy to understand, but it is like the image here and not up to the standard I expected for the title. It’s better than the image, and the battle scene is demo-worthy for audio, but often it is very quiet.
Audio and Video Scenes:
- 9:15 Arrival in Ryme city. The soundtrack comes alive in all channels, some use of HDR but not much, highlights could certainly be improved. For a bright outside city shot, it isn’t as dynamic as it could be.
- 12:43 Loss of details in shadows, more film grain, very much a 35mm look and not HDR/Digital, the complete opposite of Avengers: Endgame for darker scenes
- 24:08 Neon signs have plenty of brightness, and no excess film grain is visible, but the DISCO sign doesn’t have the bolder, more vivid and saturated red you expect on HDR
- 38:30 The battle arena will let you know if your subwoofer is working or not, it has some serious bass. Charizard has some nice HDR with the flames, probably the best HDR in the title to this point, though when he breathes fire it is solid and clipped and not taking advantage of HDR.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Special Features
- Detective Mode
- Alternate Opening
- My Pokémon Adventure
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Welcome to Ryme City
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Uncovering the Magic
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Action
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Colorful Characters
- Creating the World of Detective Pikachu: Bringing Pokémon to Life
- Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary
- Ryan Reynolds – Outside the Actor’s Studio
- “Carry On” by Rita Ora and Kygo (Music Video)
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Review System
LG C9 65” OLED, Panasonic UB820 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio Subwoofer.
Enjoyable film for parents and kids, film grain mostly absent with a decent amount of fine detail visible at times.
HDR is hardly used and the color gamut doesn't offer much beyond SDR, shadow details not as good as they could be.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a film that I enjoyed despite knowing nothing about Pokémon going in. The native 4K transfer comes off a bit flat, without much HDR or WCG use, and the soundtrack isn't as dynamic as it could be for a release this big.