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For fans only R ob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens, Gulliver’s Travels) directs this adventure comedy about Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who comes to the aid of 21-year-old Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), whose detective dad, Harry, goes missing. It turns out Pikachu and Harry were former Pokémon partners, and even more amazing, only Tim can understand what Pikachu is saying. (104 min.)

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU What’s it rated? PG What’s it worth, Anna? Rent it What’s it worth, Glen? Stream it Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

doesn’t stop Tim from tracking down vials of purple gas called “R,” which turn Pokémon violent when inhaled, as well as an underground Pokémon fight ring in Ryme City. Then there’s Glen I’m definitely not this film’s Clifford’s son, Roger (Chris Geere), who target audience. I don’t know anything may not share his father’s altruism about Pokémon. I had to ask my wife when it comes to Pokémon. It’s a lot to if they were the same as Pogs. They’re apparently not. Instead, they’re some kind process, but that didn’t stop me from rolling my eyes, fighting off a nap, and of creatures that partner with humans hanging onto the only shred of interest to wage battles, which is apparently bad, which is why Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) in the film, which was Ryan Reynolds’ wisecracking Pikachu. I’m sure this film creates Ryme City so that Pokémon was everything its target audience hoped and humans can live in harmony. The for, but I was bored stiff. film does a pretty good job of educating Anna The nostalgia aspect of this film novices like me on the Pokémon basics isn’t entirely lost on me. Though the before launching into its story about Pokémon phenomenon hit a little late for the disappearance of Detective Harry my age bracket, my younger brother was Goodman, who was investigating a all about it for a while, so I came into this secret installation that has a captured movie knowing some of the creatures and Mewtwo, a very powerful Pokémon. Tim some of their powers. That being said, and his father’s old partner, an amnesiac it’s in essence a kids’ movie made semiPikachu, go in search of clues and also watchable for adults by Reynolds and team up with Lucy Stevens (Kathryn his wisecracking, oh-so-cute and sassy Newton), a journalism intern looking Pikachu. The fact that humans are not for her big break, and her Pokémon required—but certainly expected—to partner, a Psyduck. Tim’s warned against have a Pokémon partner is established his investigation by Harry’s old boss, when Tim’s pal, Jack (Karan Soni), tricks Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe), but that him into tracking down a Cubone in hopes of capturing it. Jack’s motive to try and pair up Tim with a Pokémon is soon clear: He’s leaving town, just like all of Tim’s other friends have, and he’s worried about his friend being lonely. We don’t spend much time with Tim in his current life; the call about his father’s tragic death soon pulls him to Ryme City and into the life of his father, who he hardly knew. He CUB REPORTER Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) is meets Lucy and, soon desperate for her big break, so she joins the search for after, Pikachu. He’s not Harry Goodman. looking for anyone in

At the

his life, but these two along with Psyduck have no intention of letting Tim leave without finding out the truth behind his missing father. The series of events that follows is pretty predictable, and while I have no doubt that kids are going to eat up all the action, it falls pretty flat for adults. There are a bunch of cute Pokémon though! Glen I didn’t really find it predictable. The switcheroo on who the real bad guy was kept me guessing. My problem was I didn’t really care. The whole underlying premise of exploiting Pokémon simply didn’t excite me because I didn’t really find much redeeming in the Pokémon. From Lucy’s Psyduck to Lt. Yoshida’s purple bulldog-looking Pokémon, whatever it was called, they seem like jerks. And what’s up with Mewtwo? Whose side is he (or she?) on and why? And why do they keep focusing on its crotch and where are its genitals? Maybe if I had more backstory I’d get it, but it all seemed surreal and unnecessarily weird. And the end is especially unfulfilling and all too easy. There were no real stakes involved. Do you think Tim finds his dad? Will their estrangement end? Will Lucy get her big break? Will the real bad guy get caught? Of course everything will work out, which is boring! I was impressed with the seamless special effects and the Ryme City set, so it was


Editor’s note: Listings for Rodkey Theaters—Fair Oaks of Arroyo Grande (805) 489-2364 and Sunset Drive-In of SLO (805) 544-4475—were not available at press time.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: AMAZING GRACE What’s it rated? G What’s it worth? Full price Where’s it showing? The Palm Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack co-direct this documentary about soul singer Aretha Franklin with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in January of 1972. There are a lot of amazing elements to this documentary. The fact that Sydney Pollack (This Property Is Condemned, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Jeremiah


TEAM WORK Detective Pikachu, left, (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) helps Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, right) search for his father, in Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Johnson, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Firm) directed the 1972 filming and is now given co-direction credit 11 years after his death is pretty amazing. The fact that this footage languished for 47 years before seeing the light of day is pretty amazing. I should also mention it’s a pretty rough edit, and there are a lot of moments where the camera operators struggle to get into focus. None of that matters because the most amazing element of all is Aretha’s voice. She was 29 years old, and she’d had a string of popular R&B hits such as “I Say a Little Prayer,” “A Natural Woman,” “Respect,” Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “Do Right Woman—Do Right Man,” and many more, but she decided to return to her gospel roots in performances filmed over two days. The concerts’ live recordings yielded Amazing Grace, the best selling

gospel album of all time. Watching her work with Rev. James Cleveland, a great gospel singer in his own right, the incredible music director Alexander Hamilton, the Southern California Community Choir, and members of her own band is mind-blowing. The concerts had an improvised, organic feel to them, similar to the call and response gospel sounds of black churches all over America. The difference is Aretha’s supple, nuanced, thrilling voice. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, watching this film will fill you with the spirit. The close-ups on Aretha’s perspiring face, her eyes closed in solemn prayer, a serene Buddha-like glow of the divine all around her—you know you’re witnessing a kind of magic, a kind of mass hysteria, a kind of miracle. It’s also fun when the camera catches The Rolling Stones

visually arresting, but that’s not enough for me. There were a lot of kids in our screening, and they seemed happy with the film, but I couldn’t wait for it to end. If someone decides to make a film about Pogs, I’ll have the good sense to skip it! Anna I guess what I mean by predictable is that everything works out in the end far too easily. It’s like the writers hit the hour-and-a-half mark and said, “OK! Gotta wrap it up! Let’s just fix everything really quick!” Pretty lame. The word “Pokémon” is Japanese for “pocket monsters,” and they’re designed to battle, so of course you’ll run into some jerks—but people are jerks too! While Mewtwo initially looks like the bad guy, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, and there definitely are twistyturny moments. But just like you, I didn’t care about it all that much. If you can talk an older brother or sister into taking a group of kids to the theater for this one, do it. Otherwise, this is one to stream at home or pick up at Redbox when it gets released. Reynolds is fun as Detective Pikachu, but beyond that there’s little that makes it worth watching, especially at theater prices. ∆ Split Screen is written by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at

REVIEW SCORING FULL PRICE .... It’s worth the price of an evening showing MATINEE ........ Save a few bucks, catch an afternoon showing RENT IT .......... It’s worth a rental STREAM IT ..... Wait ’til Netflix has it NOTHING ........ Don’t waste your time frontman Mick Jagger in the back of the room on the second night. Obviously word got out after the first night, and Jagger had to see for himself. Everyone in that room hung on every note. I watched the film the day before Easter, and it’s all the church I need. Simply amazing! (89 min.) —Glen Starkey

AVENGERS: ENDGAME What’s it rated? PG-13 What’s it worth? Full price Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10 Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) co-direct this follow-up to their 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War, which resulted in Thanos turning half the universe’s population into dust. The


remaining Avengers reassemble and work to undo Thanos’ destructive act and restore the universe. It’s the eleventh film in the connected Marvel Universe series. This direct sequel to the events of Infinity War opens with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), aka Hawkeye, enjoying a picnic with his family on their rural property. He helps his daughter with her archery skills, and as he turns back from responding to his wife’s call of lunchtime, the girl is gone … vanished. When he turns back to his wife and sons, they too have disappeared. It’s an emotionally resonant reminder of the stunning loss the survivors of Thanos’ act experienced. This scene is followed by other scenes introducing the various main characters and reminding viewers of their loss. This turns out to be both the film’s strength and weakness. It’s got a surprising emotional

heft for a superhero flick, but it’s also overlong and repetitive as we explore in detail the dozens of characters, their relationships and connections, their losses and reaction to those losses, and their eventual reunification and renewed fight to reverse what Thanos wrought. As I wrote in my review of Infinity War, Thanos’ act felt like a stunt. Too many of the characters who disappeared had already scheduled films and sequels coming up. It didn’t feel final, and of course it wasn’t because … wait for it … time travel! If that’s a spoiler to you, you’re obviously not a fan of the Marvel Universe because those who are know that Thanos’ destructive act cannot stand. Lucky for everybody, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aka Iron Man, is wicked smart MOVIES continued page 41 • May 16 - May 23, 2019 • New Times • 39

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