Did you know that even though The Pokémon Company was founded in 1995, it wasn’t until 1998 – 1999 that North America saw the introduction of Pokémon on TV and at the Movies?
With Pokémon – Indigo League first airing in America on September 8th, 1998, we were introduced to Ash Ketchum and his (at first) naughty friend Pikachu. A year later, North America started getting Pokémon movies, with Mewtwo Strikes Back introducing the first lab-made Pokémon, Mewtwo.
Today, we’re going to show some love to the entire movie lineup, whether they’re good or bad. Which movie is your favorite?
Every Pokémon Movie and Why We Love Them
Pokémon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back
Where do I start with this one? Not only was it our initial introduction to the Pokémon series in a movie format, but since it took place during the first season of the TV show, it provided more storyline behind Team Rocket, Giovanni, and why they created the only lab-made Pokémon. MEWTWO!
Pokémon: The Movie 2000 – The Power of One
We’ve all seen movie franchises slowly lose quality and “spark,” right? Unfortunately, The Pokémon Company hit that point somewhat quickly, with The Power of One being regarded as a poor sequel to the franchise's first release.
I personally enjoyed it, though, whether it is because of the nostalgia or not. The Power of One introduced the legendary bird trio and Lugia, who is almost as iconic as Mew and Mewtwo in the series.
Pokémon 3 the Movie: Spell of the Unown
Spell of the Unown is a crucial part of the story; however, I feel it’s one of the worst movies for someone who isn’t already a fan of the series. With the introduction of the Pokémon Unown and the first teaser of Entei (one of the three legendary beasts), and a generally confusing plotline, I can see why many people I speak to have completely forgotten about this movie.
Pokémon 4EVER: Celebi – Voice of the Forest
There’s a lot to take in about the fourth installment of Pokémon movies. With the introduction of the mythical Pokémon Celebi and a weird hint of the water-type legendary beast Suicune, you can barely even consider this movie a “nostalgia pick.”
I personally like going back to it every so often to see the evil side of the Pokémon plotline with the marauder causing trouble, introducing the Dark Ball, which allows him to take a trainer’s Pokémon.
Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias
With this installment in the Pokémon series of movies, the siblings Latios and Latias are protecting a city called Alto Mare. After their father passed, he left behind the Soul Dew, containing his own soul and the ability to power the cities defense mechanism called the “DMA.”
While introducing more legendary Pokémon, Pokémon Heroes’ plotline relies heavily on Team Rocket agents Annie and Oakley as they plot to take over the city and capture Latios and Latias.
Pokémon: Jirachi – Wish Maker
Being the second movie with complete emphasis on a mythical Pokémon (third if you count Mew being seen in The First Movie), you expect another Team Rocket situation, right? Instead, this installment in the series gives us a look at a former Team Magma scientist named Butler.
After getting fired from Team Magma, Butler unearths the rock that encases Jirachi so he can use its power to try to recreate another legendary, Groudon.
Pokémon the Movie: Destiny Deoxys
Many things make destiny Deoxys one of the more interesting movies. Besides being the first Pokémon movie to premiere on TV before its physical release, this installment in the series provides us with a plotline that includes battling Pokémon and strays away from any “evil team” causing the problems, unlike many of the movies before it. After a mysterious meteorite almost wounds Rayquaza, it attacks the Deoxys (a part of the meteorite), thinking it is an enemy.
Pokémon the Movie: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew
Of course, by now, The Pokémon Company would create a movie around a super randomized variation of Pokémon. Besides featuring Lucario and Mew in the movie, it also features Registeel, Regice, and Regirock, the more legendary Pokémon from this series generation.
I did find a couple of cool facts about this movie while writing this article, though! The film premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con in the US, and it was never physically released in the UK – only digitally through iTunes and the Amazon UK website.
Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea
After an egg holding the mythical Pokémon Manaphy is found floating in the sea and stolen by a Pokémon Ranger, Ash, Pikachu, and their friends Brock, May and Max stumble upon the ranger and inadvertently end up a part of his mission.
Fortunately, Manaphy hatches in May’s arms and assumes she is its mother, forming a bond and ensuring its safe return home. This installment in the series is huge for the company due to being the first movie with an English dub done in-house by TPCi.
Pokémon the Movie: The Rise of Darkrai
It’s not very often in the Pokémon film universe that you actively see two alternate universes legendary Pokémon; however, in The Rise of Darkrai, two Pokémon who are not supposed to meet (Palkia and Dialga, the rulers of space and time) end up meeting each other and immediately starting a fight that ends up involving Darkrai, who steps in to try to break them up. Driven by an easy-to-follow plotline and a great story for children, it’s widely respected in the franchise.
Giratina and the Sky Warrior
The sequel to The Rise of Darkrai, Giratina, and the Sky Warrior links the battle between Palkia and Dialga. This creates the first set of movies where the plotline directly affects the plotline of another without being a proper trilogy. When Palkia and Dialga distorted time and space in Alamos Town, it defiled the Reverse World with Pollution, which angered Giratina.
Arceus and the Jewel of Life
The final installment in the Arceus “trilogy” finally brings everything together by explaining the cause of the first two battles. The Pokémon believed to have created the world, Arceus was attacked by a man who saved his life after a meteor storm, causing the destruction of the temple dedicated to it and forcing Arceus into a long slumber.
When Arceus began to awaken, those distortions began to happen, which led to the meeting of Palkia and Dialga and the fight between them and Giratina.
Pokémon the Movie: Zoroark – Master of Illusions
Following an attempt to take over the time ripple created by Celebi, Grings Kodai unleashes an imprisoned Zoroark upon the city, showing her a video pretending to hold its pre-evolution Zorua as a hostage.
Zoroark then uses its illusionist powers to take the form of the legendary beasts, who are the protectors of the city in ancient times, making this movie the first to showcase Raikou. The original protectors are also shiny versions of the beasts, making this the first Pokémon movie to showcase alternate-colored Pokémon.
Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram and White—Victini and Zekrom
While we’ve seen multiple movies in a makeshift “trilogy,” these two are listed together because they’re alternate realities of each other. You know, the way all the video games are?
Both films follow a man called Damon, descended from the residents of a dead kingdom called the Kingdom of Vale. In both films, Damon is lead to the Pokémon Victini to restore his old kingdom.
Pokémon the Movie: Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice
Following the usual premise of introducing new legendaries into the series, this installment introduces Virizion, Terrakoin, and Cobalion. The three called “The Swords of Justice” are in the process of training Keldeo to become a member, with the last challenge being Kyurem.
While nobody thinks Keldeo is ready, it proceeds to escape and start the battle on its own. The movie has a great plotline with amazing writing about Kyurem; however, throughout the movie, Keldeo seems a little… dorky.
Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened
Following the trend of Pokémon specific movies, Genesect, and the Legend Awakened provides one of the darker storylines in the series. Emphasizing an army of Team Plasma modified Genesect with a shiny version as their leader (Red Genesect).
We are also introduced to a style of Mewtwo that is different from the original movie, as it has a female voice-over and distinct personality traits. I’d say this is one of my top favorite movies based on a specific Pokémon.
Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction
The first film in the XY Series of Pokémon showcases Diancie, the ruler of a failing underground kingdom called the Diamond Domain, finding the power to create a new heart diamond to save the kingdom.
After some thinking, she starts the trek to find who I believe to be the greatest legendary ever, Xerneas, who is known as the “life-giving” Pokémon. Of course, along the way to Xerneas, she finds Ash, Pikachu, and friends who accompany her.
Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages
This one was personally hard to watch. While many kids may find it fantastic due to the legendary Pokémon in the game, I found it poorly thrown together and simply made to appeal to the masses. It starts with an emphasis on Hoopa but quickly transitions to yet another Team Rocket theft attempt, and many legendary Pokémon appear.
Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel
The third and final XY Series movie was slightly better than its predecessor, providing a little more substance to the plot with less emphasis on throwing a bunch of Legendary Pokémon in your face.
The main thing I don’t understand about this movie is why it finally took 3 movies to introduce Mega Evolution.
Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!
Coinciding with the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon, I Choose You! follows a story very similar to the beginning of the Anime, with Ash waking up on his tenth birthday ready to become a Pokémon trainer.
I Choose You! starts very similar to the pilot episode of the TV show, but it strays away from the original plotline to provide a new story giving us an “alternate timeline.” While I enjoy the movie, many are thrown off by the fact that new Alolan trainers replace Misty and Brock.
Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us
Continuing the alternate timeline brought to us from I Choose You!, The Power of Us focuses on a plotline involving Zeraora’s home in the mountain forest of Fula City. It’s one of the most successful attempts at telling multiple stories in one film, even though the plot seems super familiar and heavily carried by the human characters and their own personal motivations and secrets.
Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution
With this one being the latest American movie release, it holds a spot in my heart for now. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say. This Netflix original reimagines the first movie of the franchise in a 3D animated style, bringing the fantastic story of the original release to current days, rubbing long-time fans of the franchise the wrong way with its animation style.
While Detective Pikachu isn’t technically a main series Pokémon movie, I felt the need to pin it at the bottom of this list. You’re probably wondering why, and I can explain it simply.
Aipom has human teeth, and it’s terrifying.
Not to mention there are rumors of a live-action Netflix series based on the movie. Hopefully, the rumors are true, and it's live-action with CGI like the movie and not 3D animated like the remaster of Mewtwo Strikes Back.
Even though the Pokémon film franchise doesn’t quite make sense at times, I think everyone can agree on the fact they’ll always be fun to watch. Whether a certain film is genuinely well thought out or carried purely by nostalgia, I can always hang out with the family and find one we can all agree on.