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Pokemon: The Best Movies From The Popular Series, Ranked

Ash, Pikachu and Darkrai in Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai.
(Image credit: Toho)

Ever since I was a young girl, I have watched Pokemon. From the famous anime series, with all of its strange moments, to the video games that come to our screen, to the trading cards in old dusty binders from the early 2000’s, Pokemon was a constant name in my life, and now today, I’m going to go over one of its biggest aspects in entertainment - movies. 

For more than twenty-five years, Pokemon has enchanted its audience through its easy-to-understand concept and fun gameplay (most of the time), but few people I meet ever talk about the Pokemon movies, which honestly are some really fun entertainment, especially for fans of the series. While there are so many movies that have come out with the anime series, today I’ll be going over my personal top six - and why you should watch it.  

Ash and Pikachu in Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

(Image credit: Toho)

6. Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

Okay, listen. 

I know that in the last couple of years, there has been a sharp decline in the quality of the Pokemon anime. It felt like after Sun & Moon, Ash’s story was sort of complete and we didn’t really get to see anything new, and personally, I’m not the hugest fan of the new series on Netflix. 

However, that does not mean I can overlook this surprisingly good movie. 

We all know the original origin story of how Ash met Pikachu, and their road to building the strong foundation of their friendship that they have today. But Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! decides to retcon that and create a whole new story - one that honestly won me over a lot more. 

Maybe it’s just me being a grown-up and learning to appreciate better story-telling, but this new movie is such a breath of fresh air for Ash’s character and Pikachu as a whole, creating a fun experience filled with familiar Pokemon but set in a new adventure. I honestly wish they did more movies like this where we got to see a different version of different stories that we are all familiar with within the world of Pokemon. 

Stream Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! on Netflix. (opens in new tab)

Entei in Pokemon 3: The Movie - Spell Of The Unown.

(Image credit: Toho)

5. Pokemon 3: The Movie - Spell Of The Unown (2000)

Oh, you want to talk about a really good story? Pokemon 3: The Movie - Spell of the Unown is one of the best that Pokemon has to offer. 

While I don’t think it’s as visually stunning or musically appealing as some of the others higher up on this list, Pokemon 3 is such a great movie for so many reasons. When a little girl loses her family, she is whisked away to a fantasy world created by Pokemon called Unown’s, and this in turn leads to a fantastical adventure with high-stakes when Ash’s mother, Delia, is kidnapped, since the little girl wishes for a mother through the powerful legendary Pokemon, Entei. 

I almost feel like this is one of the films where Ash and his companions have the highest amount of threat within the actual story, because someone they really care about is captured. Not only that but the message of the film, that people need to learn boundaries and how to cope with their loss, is important for anyone to know. 

Rent Pokemon 3: The Movie on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Ash, Pikachu, Lucario and Mew in Lucario And The Mystery Of Mew.

(Image credit: Toho)

4. Lucario And The Mystery Of Mew (2006)

Lucario is a straight-up OG Pokemon, and I am so glad that the movie that focuses on him is one of the best. Lucario and the Mystery of Mew is one of the few examples of Pokemon media that actually dives deep into the lore of Pokemon, and how they came to be the companions of humans. 

This movie takes place both in the present, following Ash’s journey to regain Pikachu after he was mysteriously teleported away with Mew, as well as a medieval battle that is full of action in the past, where Lucario is from. While Pokemon is usually aimed towards children, this film almost felt a lot more mature with its handling of its battle scenes, mixed in with some brilliant themes about the importance of love and sacrifice. 

Rent Lucario and the Mystery of Mew on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Arceus in Pokemon: Arceus And The Jewel Of Life

(Image credit: Toho)

3. Pokemon: Arceus And The Jewel Of Life (2009)

As someone whose personal favorite generation was Gen 4 of Pokemon, this movie was what I needed and more to explain who the heck Arceus is. Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life is all about the titular Pokemon, a mythical one that is the literal creator of the universe - that’s right, even above Palkia and Dialga, the literal Pokemon of space and time. 

This is another case where Pokemon effectively uses its interesting backstory and lore to tell a truly captivating story. Ash and his gang end up traveling back in time due to the selfishness of humans stealing a gem that contained some of Arceus’ power, and now, they have to try and prevent the betrayal from hundreds of years ago. 

There’s a lot of great action, mixed in with a genuine conflict about the morality of humans and what they do in a desperate situation. Truly, on of Pokemon’s best. 

Rent Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Darkrai in Pokemon: The Rise Of Darkrai.

(Image credit: Toho)

2. Pokemon: The Rise Of Darkrai (2007)

Okay. I’m little bit biased. I’ll admit it - but Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai makes me cry every single damn time. 

Another entry from Generation 4 of Pokemon, this film focuses on Darkrai, as well as Dialga and Palkia, two Pokemon that get into a literal fight between time and space that causes existence to fade. Ash and his companions try to work alongside Darkrai to try and stop the fight. 

I think what I love the most about The Rise of Darkrai isn’t even the flashy fights that it gives me through Dialga and Palkia - it's Darkrai himself. He’s such a misunderstood Pokemon that causes nightmares, yes, but at the end of the day, he still cares about humans because of the kindness one showed him long ago, and all he wants is to save others from Palkia and Dialga. 

I just can’t get over that. A Pokemon like that is one you want to root for. That and I absolutely love the town they are in for this film, as well as the music. I could listen to “Oracion” all day. 

Rent Pokemon: The Rise of Darkrai on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Mewtwo in Pokemon: The First Movie.

(Image credit: Toho)

1. Pokemon: The First Movie (1998)

The nostalgia fuels me hard with this one, but you know what, I don’t care. Pokemon: The First Movie was what made these other movies possible, and was a huge reason as to why Pokemon exploded in the United States besides the video games.

The film follows Ash and his original companions, Brock and Misty, as they are taken to a mysterious island that is inviting people to fight the world’s greatest Pokemon trainer, but is later revealed to be Mewtwo, a product of cloning that is taking revenge on humanity. And every moment of this film hits. 

While the first small part of the film following Pikachu (one of the best original Pokemon) and his little companions is cute, Mewtwo Strikes Back is so much more interesting and captivating. And face it, as a child (and probably as an adult), you cried when Ash was turned to stone. You can’t look at me and tell me that I’m wrong. 

When Pokemon is brought to Universal, I want a recreation of something like this, a huge battle against Mewtwo. Now that would be some ride. The film is filled with emotional moments that hit just right, mixed in with some legendary battling from Pokemon clones. How can it not be number one?

Rent Pokemon: The First Movie on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Detective Pikachu

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Honorable Mention: Detective Pikachu (2019)

I have to put this on here. While it is live-action and not anime, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is a freaking delight. From the strangely cute Pokemon to the loving story of a son just trying to grow into who he wants to be, the movie is a fun time for all to enjoy. Plus, Ryan Reynolds' voice as Pikachu is a perfect pairing and I want more. 

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like a Detective Pikachu 2 is in the works just yet, but if it does, I know I’ll be in the theaters.

Rent Detective Pikachu on Amazon. (opens in new tab)

There are plenty of other great Pokemon movies other than these, but these are just some of my ultimate favorites. And now, we need to see more Pokemon movies. Maybe a Team Rocket origin story? Now that would be something. 

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!