Pokemon: Detective Pikachu – music by Henry Jackman

I all but had to invent a new movie category for Detective Pikachu, because this is a movie that falls under the “well, that worked so much better than I was expecting it to” category. Given that the Pokemon IP holders were going to throw whatever was necessary at this film to make sure it didn’t fail, I wasn’t expecting abject failure, but I wasn’t expecting a movie that I’d be so utterly engrossed in.

Henry Jackman’s score was a big help in that regard. While it does have some synth elements lending it something of an “old video game” feel (and Jackman has become the de facto “video game movie” composer in recent years, with the Wreck-It Ralph franchise and Pixels under his belt), the bulk of the score wisely plays to the movie’s emotional core. You know, that thing that I wasn’t expecting to be there, and wasn’t expecting to be engrossing.

The music also does a lot to play up the sheer wonder of the movie’s universe, a world where Pokemon do, in fact, exist and have always been there alongside human beings. Absent from this universe are cats, dogs, and other familiar animals; in their place are the fictional creatures from the Pokemon franchise down through the years – Skitties and Growliths instead of cats and dogs.

Some of my favorite music cues are those, like “Apom Attack”, “The Roundhouse,” and “Pikachu vs. Charizard”, accompanying scenes that really highlight what that kind of a world would be like (in both good and bad ways). Taking a world of trainers and gym battles and so on into something resembling our physical reality is not an easy task; the score sells the viewer on these things as a reality (maybe not the viewer’s reality, but a reality for the characters in the movie). Some of this music gets almost hyperkinetic, bordering on dubstep, and it’s fun to hear that colliding with a more traditional orchestral treatment.

4 out of 4Other tracks, like “Embrace” and “Digging Deeper”, to name just a couple, have more traditional supporting roles to play in underscoring the emotional thrust of their respective scenes, helping lend weight and menace to the movie’s central mystery (what happened to Pikachu’s former partner?), which, if the whole movie hadn’t hung together so well, might have been seen as a really silly solution to that portion of the plot. Overall, Detective Pikachu is as engrossing a listening experience as it is a viewing experience, and one can certainly hope that Jackman is on board for whatever next installment might be waiting in the wings to happen.

Order this CD

  1. Mewtwo Awakes (1:19)
  2. Catching A Cubone (2:05)
  3. Bad News (1:17)
  4. Howard Clifford (0:56)
  5. Ryme City (2:11)
  6. A Key To The Past (2:06)
  7. Aipom Attack (1:58)
  8. On The Case (1:26)
  9. Childhood Memories (1:42)
  10. Buddies (1:08)
  11. Interrogation Of Mr. Mime (1:53)
  12. The Roundhouse (1:50)
  13. Pikachu vs. Charizard (3:06)
  14. Embrace (3:07)
  15. Digging Deeper (3:55)
  16. Unauthorized Access (3:38)
  17. Greninja & Torterra (2:59)
  18. The Forest Of Healing (3:53)
  19. Shock To The System (1:19)
  20. Save The City (1:07)
  21. True Colors (2:11)
  22. Merge To One (2:08)
  23. Game On (1:05)
  24. Ditto Battle (2:26)
  25. Howard Unplugged (2:35)
  26. Epiphany (2:22)
  27. Together (2:20)

Released by: Sony Classical
Release date: May 3, 2019
Total running time: 58:02