In 1996, Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan and would spawn one of the biggest media franchises in the world. This was thanks to their simple yet fun mechanics based around capturing unique monsters to form an RPG team. Within a few years, a trading card game and an anime were created, which helped expand the fan base.
In 1998, Pokemon: The First Movie became the franchise’s first theatrical release based on the anime and the adventures of Ash Ketchum. Since then, the number of films has grown to twenty-three. While most are enjoyable movies with stellar animation, especially for fans of the franchise, some just fall short.
10) “Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages”
A thousand years ago, the mythical Pokémon, Hoopa, who can open portals, had his dark power sealed to keep it from being unleashed. In the present, Ash is pulled through one of Hoopa’s portals and befriends him. However, the bottle containing Hoopa’s power is opened, which manifests as a shadow fueled by anger and hatred.
Thanks to Hoopa’s powers, the action scenes in this film get creative and include many legendary Pokemon from previous films. This gives the movie a kaiju theme, where the show just saw giant monsters fight. Of course, if you don’t like that, the film’s story and characters don’t offer much else to enjoy.
9) ‘Pokémon 3 the Movie: Unown Fate’
A scientist searching for the mysterious Unown falls into their world, leaving her young daughter, Molly, alone. While playing with some of her father’s artifacts, she summons the Unown into her home, and they create a fantasy world to fulfill all her desires. When she wants to start a family, an Entei created by Unown kidnaps Ash’s mother, so Ash and his friends must try to save her and snap Molly out of her fantasy.
While not strong enough to win over non-Pokémon fans, this movie is lauded for having a more substantial story than those that came before it. Molly’s dream world is a fascinating look into the psyche of a traumatized child desperate for her family’s return and changes throughout the film to reflect her mental state. The battle scenes are some of the best in any Pokémon movie, thanks to memorable visuals and stellar animation.
8) ‘Pokémon the movie: White – Victini and Zekrom’
While attending a tournament, Ash and his friends meet Victini., a mythical Pokémon said to be great victory. Unfortunately, things go awry when a man named Damon arrives with a legendary dragon, hoping to restore the ancient kingdom of the Vale with the powers of Victini. To stop him, Ash will have to find the second legendary dragon and convince him to fight with him.
This film has some great ideas, such as translating the battle for truth and ideals from black and white games and the villain’s quest to restore his broken people. The backstory of the ancient clash between dragons holds together thanks to its epic tone. Unfortunately, the film has to integrate Ash into the plot, which again features him befriending a lovable legend in a new town we’ll never see again.
7) ‘Pokémon: Jirachi – Wishmaker’
Ash and his friends arrive at a festival celebrating a comet that only comes by once every thousand years. Ash’s friend Max participates in a magician act, where he wakes up Jirachi, a Pokémon said to be able to grant wishes. This was all in line with the plan of the Magician, who is actually an evil scientist trying to harness Jirachi’s power.
It is one of the first Pokémon movies to not have Ash as the main character, instead focusing on the friendship between Max and Jirachi. Unfortunately, that depends on your taste for the character of Max: if you don’t, you’ll find this movie boring. The film also has a weird theme about wishes that ultimately boils down to granting your own wish, but the journey to that destination feels half-baked.
6) ‘Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi – Voice of the Forest’
While walking in the forest, a boy named Sam finds the legendary Pokemon, Celebi, being chased by a hunter. As he tries to protect Celebi, he uses his time travel powers to transport himself and Sam to the future, where Ash and his friends meet them. As they try to make sense of the situation, a new hunter arrives to capture Celebi.
Early 2000s CGI is overused in this movie, resulting in some models that haven’t aged well and stand out against the backgrounds and hand-drawn characters. The villain is also rather weak, lacking motivation or a memorable personality compared to those before. Then there’s the time travel mechanic, which is either forgotten when it could help, or used in confusing ways to guarantee a happy ending to the movie.
5) ‘Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution’
This CGI remake of the original movie chronicles Mewtwo’s origins, cloned from the ancestor Pokémon Mew to be the most powerful of all. After being used by humans, Mewtwo decides to fight back and invites many Pokémon trainers to his private island, including Ash and his friends. There, he creates clones of their Pokémon to prove his superiority.
As the film is a shot-for-shot remake, its main selling point is its animation. The Pokemon design is gorgeous and the backgrounds have incredible detail, but the humans all look like plastic dolls that come to life. Beyond that, it relies too heavily on nostalgia without adding anything new, so it’s best to just watch the original film.
4) ‘Pokémon the movie: Noir – Victini and Reshiram’
Perhaps the most controversial thing about Pokémon is that each generation is released in sets of two, with game-exclusive Pokémon in each release. Although the intention is to encourage trading with your friends, it has been criticized for placing artificial barriers in the game that encourage people to buy multiple versions. Luckily, there were no leaks to other branches of the franchise until the fourteenth film.
The plot of Victini and Reshriam is identical at Victini and Zekromthe differences mostly involving background Pokemon and the dragons the villain and Ash get. Zekrom seems to have a stronger reception due to the themes represented by the dragons: Ash is an idealistic character, so it makes sense that he would get the dragon of ideals. Otherwise, the only reason to see one version over another is to watch again to see the differences.
3) “Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice”
Keldeo aspires to join the Swords of Justice, a trio of Pokemon that defend the weak like ancient knights. To prove himself worthy, he challenges the ice dragon, Kyurem, but flees when his horn is broken. Enraged by this cowardice, Kyurem freezes the swords in ice and pursues Keldeo, who has been found by Ash and his friends.
While Kyurem is an intimidating antagonist, the film is unable to capitalize on him due to his excessive exposition. Nurse Joy gives a display of the Swords of Justice when healing Keldeo, then Ash asks for the exact same thing when Keldeo is stronger. It’s also another conflict where the solution is the power of friendship, which has been done in better movies in this franchise.
2) “Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened”
Ash and the gang arrive at Pokémon Hills, a Pokémon shrine in the middle of a city. Unfortunately, the sanctuary is attacked by five Genesect, ancient Pokémon resurrected. To stop them before they destroy the city, Ash and his friends team up with an unrelated Mewtwo to the original that has the power of Mega Evolution.
The awakening of the legend the biggest problem is that it offers nothing new. Its plot is a rehash of the first film, with Genesect’s quest to find a home similar to Mewtwo trying to figure out its place in the world. The new Mewtwo takes on the role of Mew, trying to guide them in the search for peace, which rings hollow since we don’t know how far this Mewtwo has come to get to this point.
1) “Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction”
The diamond of the heart that feeds an underground Carbink kingdom called the Diamond Domain is failing. To create a new one, Princess Diancie travels to the surface world to find Xerneas, a Pokémon with life-giving powers. However, she becomes distracted by the sights and sounds around her, which brings her into contact with Ash and awakens Yveltal, an ancient being of destruction.
This might be the most boring Pokémon movie to date. The dialogue comes out slow and there’s a lot of filler due to Diance’s curiosity. The film’s climax is one of the most disappointing, where the conflict ends with Yveltal flying away after a staring contest with Xerneas.
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