ByAli Murtaza Gulwani, writer at
A geeky media student who loves to play with words
Ali Murtaza Gulwani

In 1996 a pair of video games entitled Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue were created by Satoshi Tajiri and Nintendo. Those video games sprouted the biggest media franchise of all time, resulting in comics, merchandise, trading cards, fan conferences, an anime series and many more.

Pokémon’s anime series has extended to 7 generations, across many different regions, spanning 21 whole seasons. The anime has also resulted in the creation of movies that follow chronologically with the series. Numbering at 17, these movies have been largely disappointing, but there are some diamonds to be found in the rough. Here are the top 7 best Pokémon movies.

7) Destiny Deoxys

Destiny Deoxys is the seventh Pokemon movie and appropriately earns the seventh spot in my list. This was an all-round entertainer from start to finish. The very beginning features an Antarctic setting for a bad-ass battle between Deoxys and Rayquaza.

The film begins with a bang when a mysterious android racing towards Earth almost crashes into the legendary Rayquaza and cracks open to reveal Deoxys. The two engage in battle with the former emerging victorious. A green orb from the meteorite is excavated by scientists and taken to the futuristic Hoenn city of LaRousse. Four years later, Ash, Brock, Max and Misty are in that very same city when Deoxys returns, trying to find and reclaim the orb. Deoxys' return is felt by Rayquaza and the two once again fight it out.

These legendary clashes are the very charm of Destiny Deoxys. No complicated plot or much focus on side characters other than Tory, just two beasts duking it out! The one problem I have with this movie is its climax. The enemy for Ash and friends turns from two raging legendary Pokemon into thousands of malfunctioning machines and the fighting stops because Rayquaza just felt like Deoxys wasn’t a threat anymore after the appearance of the second green orb Deoxys. I won’t deny that Rayquaza’s role in this movie probably made me a little bias as the Dragon-Flying type is one of my favorites.

The promotional poster and DVD cover for Destiny Deoxys
The promotional poster and DVD cover for Destiny Deoxys

6) Rise of Darkrai

The tenth movie of the franchise marks the beginning of the Diamond and Pearl trilogy, the only three Pokemon movies with interconnected plots. The movie deals with larger than life topics such as the manipulation of time and space, alternate dimensions and judgemental stereotypes.

Darkrai, given its name and nightmare ability is easy to assume as the one causing all the chaos and shockwaves around the city, just like our heroes do. The realization of Darkrai actually warning about Dialga and Palkia’s battle spilling out of dimensions is proof that you mustn’t judge a book by its cover. The battle between Dialga and Palkia, the Dragon type controllers of space and time, is a visual treat which turns into an experience once Darkrai enters the frame. Another amazing thing to witness in this movie is the Sinnoh city of Alamos and how it is affected by the conflict between these legendary Pokémon. Rise of Darkrai is great because of the intense stakes involved and the threat to our dimension.

The promotional poster and DVD cover for Rise of Darkrai
The promotional poster and DVD cover for Rise of Darkrai

5) Heroes: Latios and Latias

This heart breaking and gorgeous movie takes place in the Jhoto region with the original trio of Ash, Brock and Misty. Featuring the city of Alto Mare which is based on Venice, the aesthetics of this movie combine with exquisitely developed and loveable characters to present a Pokemon movie that is loved by all.

The film’s antagonists are team rocket members Annie and Oakley who attempt to capture the legendary guardians of Alto Mare and the city’s historic defense mechanism. The two villains are clever, funny and very much flawed. Oakley’s lust for power is one of the most interesting plot points in the entire movie. The show stealers, however, are the two legendary Pokémon Latios and Latias. Their relationship with each other and our heroes draws an attachment in the audience’s heart unlike any other. The film concludes with Oakley losing control of Alto Mare’s defense machine leading to the city’s canals being emptied out in the sea and turning into a massive tidal wave which threatens to drown everyone. It is Latios who sacrifices himself to save the city in one of the most emotional scenes in Pokémon history.

The Promotional poster and DVD cover for Pokemon Heroes
The Promotional poster and DVD cover for Pokemon Heroes

4) The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back

There is nothing quite like the first. The first Pokémon movie came out in 1998 and, despite receiving negative reviews, did many things right.

The entire movie deals with fascinating concepts and fan what-if’s. The film features Giovanni, the villainous leader of Team Rocket, someone all anime viewers had little idea but heard so much about. Mewtwo is the world’s first and only artificially cloned Pokemon who is manipulated by Giovanni to do his bidding and stay under his control. Mewtwo realizes his enslavement and escapes, forming a vendetta against all humans. He tries to manipulate Pokemon into realizing their own voluntary enslavement because of mankind’s manipulation by creating a tournament against the so called ‘best trainer in the world.’ These themes are extremely mature and actually answers the real life controversy with Pokémon accused of promoting slavery and animal abuse.

Mewtwo’s battle with Mew, the vicious fights between Pokémon and their clones, Ash’s sacrifice which proves to Mewtwo that humans can be trusted and the emotional revival of Ash from the tears of Pikachu and all other Pokémon are moments that make Pokémon the first movie truly timeless.

The promotional poster for Pokemon The First Movie
The promotional poster for Pokemon The First Movie

3) Lucario and The Mystery of Mew

The eighth film begins in epic fashion, showing a war between two armies using Pokemon, a sight to behold for all fans. We flash forward 1000 years to our heroes Ash, Brock, Max and May who are at Cameran Palace to celebrate the festival honoring Sir Aaron, who sacrificed himself to stop the war.

The movie offers so much to Pokemon fans. A returning favorite in Mew, a combination of Jhoto, Kanto and Hoenn Pokemon, a throwback and emphasis on the brotherhood of Ash and Pikachu and Lucario who felt betrayed and denied any trust in humans. The entire film was a journey of two heroes, Aaron and Ash, along with their partners Lucario and Pikachu. The former of the two’s relationship had been damaged whilst the latter of the two believed in each other no matter what and helped to rebuild Lucario’s image of Aaron and humanity in general. This is storytelling at its finest! Not to mention this movie also features the legendary Regis!

The promotional poster for Lucario and the mystery of Mew
The promotional poster for Lucario and the mystery of Mew

2) Spell of the Unown

The most artisitic and visually stunning Pokemon movie created to date, Spell of the Unown dealt with dreams and depression, two very mature themes for a so-called kid’s show

After losing her mother and father Molly, a girl living in Greenfield, plays with some tablets containing Unown images. The Unown rise up, sensing Molly’s sadness, and build a crystal castle along with creating Entei who takes on the role of her Father. Ash and heroes try to rescue Molly from the illusions of the Unown whilst battling Entei.

The defining feature of this movie is the climactic battle between the fire types Entei and Ash’s Charizard. Entei’s power and cruelty is witnessed in awe by all fans as he almost kills Charizard until he is stopped by Molly. The movie concludes with Entei, Charizard and Pikachu stopping the Unown and Molly reuniting with her family.

The DVD cover for Spell of the Unown
The DVD cover for Spell of the Unown

1) 2000: The Power of One

In my humble opinion (possibly one driven by nostalgia so don't judge), this is the greatest Pokemon movie ever made! This movie had an amazing roster of legendaries, namely Lugia and the three birds of Kanto: Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno.

The Power of One probably had the most epic and larger than life story out of every Pokemon movie (that’s saying a lot). As Lawrence III, a mediocre villain attempted to capture the four legendary Pokemon, it’s up to Ash to fulfill the legendary prophecy and save the world.

The most grand Pokemon movie is undoubtedly Arceus and the Jewel of life. Spell of the Unown is the most gorgeous whilst Lucario and The Mystery of Mew has the best story-line. Pokemon 2000 is a combination of all these things, making it an amazing Pokemon movie that fans enjoy to this day.

Honorable Mentions:

1) Arceus and the Jewel of Life

2) Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice

3) Giratina and the Sky Warrior

Agree, disagree? Post your favorite Pokemon movie in the comments below!


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