Every Pokemon Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

The Pokémon Company has produced over two decades worth of beautiful, heartrending, action-packed movies. Which one of them is the best?


Every Pokemon Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

For over two decades, the fantastical creatures called Pokémon have been jumping from television to the big screen - here's every Pokémon movie ranked worst to best. Whether out of nostalgia for the video games or newfound fascination with the series, the Pokémon movies continue to draw audiences of all ages. However, the question stands: which movie is the best?


Based on its namesake video game, “Pokémon” refers to both the world and the elementally powered animals that inhabit it. Humans of this world celebrate these animals, capturing or befriending them. Often, these Pokémon trainers use their creatures to battle one another. One such trainer, Ash Ketchum, travels the world with his lightning-wielding mouse Pokémon, Pikachu, to become a true hero. They meet new friends, legendary beings, and persistent villainy, usually in the form of the evil organization Team Rocket.


While the Pokémon television series is successful, the movies provide a unique opportunity. With the benefit of longer runtimes and higher budgets, animation can be enhanced, especially exhibited in the battles between Pokémon. More than this, the movies tend to explore deeper themes, as the best of these movies include both thrilling action and heartfelt emotion. Keeping this in mind, here is every Pokémon movie ranked worst to best.


24. Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution

2019’s remake of Pokémon: The First Movie replaces the hand-drawn style with rubbery CGI. That’s all the change that occurs, as the story is the same as the original: Ash confronts the powerful, lab-created Pokémon, Mewtwo. The movie fails to add more action, improve dialogue, or fix plot holes, relying on pure nostalgia.


23. Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi – Voice Of The Forest

In an early attempt at incorporating CGI, 2001’s Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi – Voice of the Forest falls flat. In a story stretched thin, a time-traveled boy needs to find Celebi and return back to the past. Celebi’s messy CGI monster form doesn’t mesh with the rest of the aesthetic, and the film misses a chance to explore the interesting history of Pokémon.


22. Pokémon: The Movie 2000

1999’s Pokémon: The Movie 2000 consists of Ash collecting gemstones to summon the winged storm-god Lugia to rectify the weather. Though poachers and elemental birds threaten Lugia’s return, the stakes are never thoroughly established. Though the movie's plot is very simple, Pokémon 2000’s battles are some of the most interesting of the hand-drawn films.


21. Pokémon Heroes: Latios And Latias

Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias tried to bring real pathos to 2002’s theaters. Unfortunately, the themes of sacrifice and love get confused and end up feeling meaningless. When Ash visits a Venice-like seaside town, he finds himself protecting the town’s legendary dragons from kidnappers. Despite the movie's overall emotional emptiness, the water-chariot races are pretty fun.


20. White – Victini And Zekrom/Black – Victini And Reshiram

In 2011, Pokémon took a risk and made two versions of the same movie, a stunt reflecting the source games’ two versions. Unfortunately, White – Victini and Zekrom and Black – Victini and Reshiram are almost completely identical: to reclaim his lost kingdom, a man uses a legendary dragon (either Zekrom or Reshiram) to capture the victory Pokémon, Victini. In a missed opportunity to play with alternate version movies, as seen in the classic mystery movie Clue, White and Black find some redemption with their pretty castles and scene design.


19. The Power Of Us

The electric cat Zeraora reluctantly helps a town stop the spread of pollution in 2018’s The Power of Us. The story is very simple, although interpersonal conflict keeps the conclusion from coming early. The movie isn’t particularly beautiful, although the incorporation of drawn characters and CGI effects works well. The scenes of combat would have been better if they impacted the plot. As it is, The Power of Us introduced nothing new with its 2018 release.


18. Diancie And The Cocoon Of Destruction

2014’s Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction embraces the fantasy aspects of the Pokémon world, following the crystal fairy Diancie on her quest to save her underground kingdom. Despite the journey being filled with encounters with legendary creatures, this movie is mostly forgettable. Additionally, while not uncommon for Pokémon movies, Ash and his friends are present without anything to do. Fortunately, a clear premise and quality animation allow this movie to be perfectly watchable.


17. Secrets Of The Jungle

In 2020’s Secrets of the Jungle, a young boy raised in the wild by a powerful giant ape must reconcile his humanity with his animalistic nature. Beautiful scenes in the jungle are handled in a way that’s not messy or confusing: the zooming shots in the action scenes are dizzying, but not distractingly so. The message conveyed by the movie is pretty clear, and overall the movie is a fun one.


16. Pokémon: The First Movie

Nostalgia is strong with Pokémon: The First Movie, the original 1998 hand-drawn account of the tyrannical Mewtwo’s struggle to defy the limits of its birth. This film has one of the stronger stated morals, although it really only comes into play at the very end of the film. The combat between Pokémon mostly consists of slaps and jabs, especially at the climax, which doesn’t do the creatures justice. However, it is the charm and heart that fills every minute that makes this movie great.


15. Pokémon Ranger And The Temple Of The Sea

2006’s Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea is unlike others in the series. While most Pokémon movies are action-based, this film resembles something like a heist movie. Pursued by a greedy pirate, Ash must return a water spirit to its underwater kingdom. Though heartstrings are tugged when the characters leave the spirit, the action scenes are the most interesting aspect, with races against time and abilities unique among Pokémon movies.


14. Volcanion And The Mechanical Marvel

Though most Pokémon movies feature the value of teamwork as a major theme, 2016’s Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel builds its plot around this theme more directly. When the heart of a mechanical fairy is stolen, steam-spewing Volcanion must reconcile its grudge against humans and work with Ash. By having its characters’ arcs be tied to the story’s solution, this film works better narratively than most Pokémon films. The battles are pretty intricate and fun, as well.



13. Arceus And The Jewel Of Life

2009’s Arceus and the Jewel of Life seeks to explain the lore behind the Pokémon universe. Arceus, creator of all existence, seeks revenge for humans stealing a gem containing some of its power, causing Ash to travel back in time to prevent the original betrayal. Lots of spectacular action and ethical conflict make this movie one of the franchise's more solid entries.


12. The Rise Of Darkrai

Pokémon movies are prime for legendary battles too big for the series, and 2007’s The Rise of Darkrai takes advantage of this. Two dragons embodying space and time fight in the middle of a town, causing the nightmare Pokémon Darkrai to intervene. The movie doesn’t let themes or sets get in the way, showcasing a series of flashy fights.


11. Jirachi – Wish Maker

2003’s Jirachi – Wish Maker is overall slow, yet superb at its climax. When the wish-granting Jirachi awakens from its ancient slumber, a criminal-turned-magician uses it to resurrect a Godzilla-like monster. The final confrontation between the mutated monster and a dragon-riding Ash has incredible tension. However, the bulk of the film is spent passively getting to know Jirachi and the magician. The complex relationship between the magician and his partner adds even more depth to the film, making it a worthy watch.


10. Destiny Deoxys

When the powerful alien Deoxys crash lands in 2004’s Destiny Deoxys, its partner, with help from Pokémon's Ash Ketchum, must save it from a furious sky dragon. A very simple plot fueled by the alien versus dragon battles, the moral message is nevertheless relevant: don’t judge someone before you know them. Having Deoxys be a more intelligent character helps its fish-out-of-water story be more than previous films.



9. Zoroark – Master Of Illusions

2010’s Zoroark – Master of Illusions takes a twist on the usual Pokémon antagonist, as the illusion-creating wolf Zoroark is forced to fabricate a fight between the town’s elemental protectors, thus allowing a greedy businessman to acquire the ability of future-sight. The battles in this movie involve a satisfying mix of elemental powers and martial combat, though the plot does get overly complicated at times.


8. Giratina And The Sky Warrior

Beautiful and creative set-pieces highlight 2008’s Giratina and the Sky Warrior. A flowering hedgehog-like creature must return home, getting involved in an attack on the interdimensional dragon Giratina. Warning viewers of the dangers of uncaring ambition, this Pokémon movie’s mediocre action mistakes are made up for by its gorgeous art design.


7. Kyurem Vs. The Sword Of Justice

2012’s Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice benefits from its straightforward narrative: a water-wielding unicorn must find the humility and courage to save its friends from the ice dragon Kyurem. The battle scenes have more weight in this movie, serving as the medium through which the unicorn expresses change, making this a stronger movie than most of the Pokémon catalogue.


6. Hoopa And The Clash Of Ages

Some of the most epic battles in all of Pokémon occur in 2015’s Hoopa and the Clash of Ages. When the portal-making genie Hoopa loses control of its powers, a shadow version of Hoopa engages nearly every legendary Pokémon in a gigantic battle. Though the narrative is merely a guide for the action, the pure power of each god-like Pokémon is on full display. It’s a thrilling watch for any Pokémon lover.



5. I Choose You!

2017’s I Choose You! reimagines Ash and Pikachu’s Pokémon origin story from the first season of the television show, adding new stakes and speeding up the pacing. The movie unashamedly pulls heartstrings showing Charizard’s evolution, Pikachu and Ash’s first meeting, and an original, heartbreaking climax. I Choose You! is an excellent mix of nostalgia and innovation.


4. Genesect And The Legend Awakened

Incredible action can be done without excess, as shown in 2013’s Genesect and the Legend Awakened. Mewtwo returns, as a hero this time, to stop a horde of ancient, robotic insects, called Genesect, from taking over a city. This film steps away from the fantasy genre and becomes a superhero film, pitting two superfast, powerful Pokémon against each other. The film even has a happy, peaceful ending for everyone.


3. Lucario And The Mystery Of Mew

Though Pokémon is rich in historical lore, only a few Pokémon movies explore this. 2005’s Lucario and the Mystery of Mew takes place both in present-day and hundreds of years prior, during a full-scale medieval war involving armies of Pokémon. Forced from its historical home to the present, the warrior dog Lucario learns forgiveness and the importance of sacrifice. Rich with moral insight, tight action, and rare history, this film shines beyond others.


2. Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell Of The Unown

2000’s Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown is both beautifully hand-drawn and narratively interesting. When a little girl loses her parents, she must choose to escape a fantasy world made by mysterious living symbols, the Unown. Ash and his friends have actual significance in the story, as Ash’s mother is kidnapped by the Unown. The film beseeches the audience to accept and move past bad things to avoid hurting others with the repercussions of ones’ pain.


1. Pokémon Detective Pikachu

With a simple, yet potent story and ambitious animation, 2019’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu mixes mystery with action and science fiction to create arguably the best Pokémon movie. In the film, a former Pokémon trainer teams up with a talking Pikachu to solve the disappearance of his father. By keeping the main stakes grounded, the action is used to increase tension rather than carry the entire film. The only live-action movie in the series, Pokémon Detective Pikachu may indeed beat out all other entries to be the best Pokémon movie of all.

Harriet Angela

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