As a longtime Pokémon fan and a film enthusiast, this film always intrigued me when I first heard about it; especially given the rocky track record both mediums have had (Super Mario Bros., anyone? How about Dragonball Evolution?), but I can definitely say that as the first entry into a proposed shared "cinematic universe" based on the series, this not only fulfills my lofty expectations; but easily has made the best live-action adaptation of a popular anime and video game franchise yet. Rather than trying to cram roughly 23 years of video game lore and roughly 1,000 episodes of TV into a single movie; director Rob Letterman and a group of screenwriters use subtle nods to previous entries in the series in a family-friendly sort of "neo-noir" based on the 2016 spinoff title "Detective Pikachu" on 3DS. Though the script does take some creative liberties with said 3DS title, the basic plot remains the same: a young man named Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) has come to Ryme City to search for his father Harry, who went missing; presumed dead prior to the events of the story. Teaming up with the eponymous Detective Pikachu (voice of Ryan Reynolds), the two seek to uncover the truth about what happened while also unraveling a greater mystery that could threaten the entire Pokémon world. Though it may be easy to dismiss this as just another kiddie flick based on a video game, make no mistake: there is more than just novelty at play here; and the visual flair is nothing short of spectacular. Combining elements of European cities and a neon-lit "Far East" aesthetic, the decision to focus on world-building was a great one on the filmmakers part. By downplaying reliance on battles, this allows for all manner of creative comedic setups that are recognizable for newcomers and true believers alike. An underground battle arena known as "The Roundhouse" is a notable standout, and the film renders 54 of the 809 (and counting!) Pokémon in a manner that somehow works for the story without straying too far from what made the original designs work. The movie's tone harkens back to the earlier days of the PG rating, when it often meant that it wasn't merely "parental guidance suggested;" and more "highly recommended." The film opens on a fairly realistic car accident and people die. The film also has more realistic action and risqué jokes, yet through it all; there was very rarely a moment I wasn't laughing. In the moments I wasn't, I was invested in how the writers made this story work; and how unlike other travesties adapted from video games (such as Uwe Boll's work) and anime (like the infamous 2017 remake of Ghost in the Shell), there was a sense of wonder and care in every frame in the film's 104-minute runtime. Its tone is equal parts "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Blade Runner" and an overall strong first live-action film in the long-running series. Reynolds' performance as the title character draws some of the biggest laughs; electrifying what could have easily been another live-action cash-in into a family-friendly counterpart to his role in the "Deadpool" series. Whatever happens next on film with the series (a sequel is already in development from the writers of "22 Jump Street"), it's clear that the foundation has been set for a Pokémon world that's well worth exploring. Let's hope that more films in this vein can be released in the future, since American comic book superhero films also went through years of dreck to get to being really good. Whether or not the filmmakers seek to adapt existing material from the series or create their own, "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" is a highly recommended film that's "a bolt of brilliance!"