Best Pokemon movies ranked - Our top picks for 2022

Brock, Misty, and Ash from the first Pokemon movie

Brock, Misty, and Ash from the first Pokemon movie

There are a whopping 24 Pokemon movies released as of October 2022. With so many of these movies now released, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you out with your Pokemon watch order, we’ve put together a list of our top picks for the best Pokemon movies ever made.

Since most Pokemon movies aren’t strictly canon to the main anime series, you can watch them in any order and get the gist of what’s going on without too much background information. This can make finding where to start even tougher.

If you do decide to take on the mammoth task of watching them all, you can find a chronological watch order here. If, however, you don’t fancy watching every Pokemon movie, there’s no better place to start than with the films on this list.

Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel

The main cast of Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel
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Credit: Toho

Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel is the newest film on this list, releasing in 2016 alongside the Pokemon XY anime. It follows Ash and the XY gang working together with Volcanion to save the Nebel Plateau, a sanctuary for Pokemon abused by humans.

While it’s mostly another happy-go-lucky Pokemon adventure, the Nebel Plateau shows us a side of the Pokemon world we very rarely see. In almost all areas of the Pokemon franchise, the relationship between humans and Pokemon is painted as purely positive. Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel stands out from these rose-tinted parts of the Pokemon world and earns a unique identity by doing so.

The Rise of Darkrai

Darkrai, Ash, Pikachu, Dialga, and Palkia in the Rise of Darkrai
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Credit: BBC

The Rise of Darkrai is an excellent look at one of Pokemon’s creepiest monsters. It takes the misconception that Darkrai is an evil Pokemon and flips it on its head with a story about humans who lash out due to their fear of the unknown.

As well as making Darkrai the Pokemon protagonist of the film, The Rise of Darkrai also wins points by its overall scale. Like most of the generation four movies, The Rise of Darkrai has appearances from members of the creation trio, the gods of space, time, and darkness. These Pokemon, and the dimension-altering effects of their battles, bring high stakes that most Pokemon media fails to match.

Lucario and the Mystery of Mew

The movie poster for Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew
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Credit: Toho

Lucario and the Mystery of Mew is the best of the generation four Pokemon movies. While it follows the typical movie formula of focusing on an intelligent or legendary Pokemon, it adds some freshness by splitting up Ash and Pikachu for most of its runtime.

The quest to rescue Pikachu and gain Lucario’s trust along the way is brilliant, showing off some of the best writing that a Pokemon movie has ever had. It also has an unforgettable ending that rivals any emotional moment in the anime.

Zoroark: Master of Illusions

The movie poster for Zoroark: Master of Illusions
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Credit: Toho

Zoroark: Master of Illusions is the best of the modern Pokemon movies. It follows Ash and the gang’s quest to save an imprisoned Zoroark from an evil businessman.

In typical Pokemon movie fashion, the spotlight on the titular Pokemon is the main selling point. Unlike most of the Pokemon films, however, Master of Illusions does an amazing job of highlighting what’s so cool about Zoroark. The Zoroark that the film revolves around has more personality than most of Pokemon’s human characters, showing a heartbreaking amount of emotion for its beloved Zorua.

As well as a great look at Zoroark, Master of Illusions also has a great cast of human characters. Ash, Dawn, and Brock are never better, and the one-off characters of Kodai and Rowena are great additions, too.

The Power of One

Lugia and Melody from Pokemon: 2000
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Credit: Toho

The Power of One is one of the most straightforward Pokemon movies. The main plot follows Ash, Misty, and Tracey on a quest to restore the world’s climate by bringing peace to Kanto’s legendary birds.

While its plot is simple, The Power of One makes up for it with a lot of charm. The heart of the Ash/Misty dynamic from the anime is here in full force. The addition of Tracey adds some great comedic moments, too.

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The Power of One also has the most memorable soundtrack of the Pokemon movies, mostly thanks to the iconic scene which features Lugia’s life-restoring song.

Spell of the Unown

The main protagonists and Pokemon of Pokemon: Movie 3
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Credit: Toho

Spell of the Unown is a favourite of many Pokemon fans, and for good reason. Its emotional plot and well-written characters have given it a reputation that it absolutely deserves.

One of the best aspects of Spell of the Unown is its antagonist, Molly. A scared and orphaned girl, Molly strikes up a deal with a group of Unown, accidentally setting in motion a series of tragic events.

Spell of the Unown is also unique in how it integrates Ash into its story. In a relatively dark twist, Ash’s family is threatened throughout the movie, forcing him to try to save the day.

Mewtwo Strikes Back

Mewtwo charging an attack in the first Pokemon movie
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Credit: Toho

Mewtwo Strikes Back is still the best Pokemon movie, 24 years on from its release. Its unflinching look at the death and pain of Mewtwo’s early life is an unforgettable piece of Pokemon media.

Never before or since has a Pokemon been explored in such depth. Mewtwo’s struggle to come to terms with his birth as a science experiment is deeply compelling, culminating in a line that has transcended the movie itself.

“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that makes you who you are” is Mewtwo’s final line in the film, spoken after witnessing Pikachu’s grief over Ash’s death. It’s a genuinely profound moment that has stuck with many for all this time, and cemented the first Pokemon movie as the very best the franchise has to offer.

That wraps up our list of the best Pokemon movies. For more on Pokemon, check out our Pokemon Unite tier list or our picks for the best games like Pokemon.

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