The five best Pokémon movies

What are the best Pokémon movies? There are more Pokémon anime movies than you can count, so we've picked out the very best of the best.

Best Pokemon movies Rise of Darkrai

What are the five best Pokémon movies? Admittedly, it can sometimes be hard to separate quality from nostalgia, and when it comes to Pokémon, the power of nostalgia is especially potent. That means that creating a list of the best Pokémon movies, whether they’re anime movies or live-action, is a difficult task.

Nevertheless, there are some undoubtedly standout, excellent entries in the animated adventure movies. These Pokémon movies often have a focus on the rare legendary Pokémon, unlike the famous anime series, which instead centres on the everyday adventures of Ash Ketchum and his human and Pokémon companions.

So, to mark the release of a new Pokémon game, we’ve picked the crème de la crème, spanning the regions of the world of Pokémon. Here’s our guide to the five best Pokémon movies.

What are the best Pokémon movies

  • Pokémon: The First Movie
  • Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown: Entei
  • Pokémon Heroes
  • Pokémon the Movie: The Rise of Darkrai
  • Detective Pikachu
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Pokémon: The First Movie

Pokémon: The First Movie is the one that kicked it all off, and it’s a movie that’s packed full of action, mystery, and adventure. It also touches on lofty themes around genetic manipulation and the moral implications of cloning.

Don’t let that apparent heaviness put you off, however. Pokémon: The First Movie is still a lot of fun, filled with moments of visual comedy, and it’s the perfect introduction to the Pokémon franchise for young children.

Its big baddie is the fearsome Mewtwo, a genuinely threatening villain with clear and coherent aims. Like all the best movie villains, Mewtwo is also deeply sympathetic, and at the action movie‘s conclusion Ash and co. instigate redemption for him, proving that there is a path out of villainy.

Best Pokemon movies: Spell of Unown - Entei

Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown: Entei

Have you ever wondered what a movie that combined Beauty and the Beast with the Marvel series WandaVision would look like? Probably not, but Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown: Entei delivers it for you anyway. Like the best Pokémon movies, the star of this one is the Pokémon themselves, namely Entei and the Unown.

Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown: Entei is also a movie about innocence, loss, denial, and the processing of grief. Meanwhile, on a more superficial level, there’s plenty of striking imagery and some exciting Pokémon battles. All this combines to make an entertaining and mysterious adventure movie that has something for everyone.

Best Pokemon movies: Heroes - Latias and Latios

Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias

Set in a fictionalised version of Venice, this is one of the more unusual Pokémon movies. At the centre of its story is the legendary Johto region pair of Pokémon Latios and Latias, who have the power to take on a human form.

It’s a whirlwind adventure where the main trio have to join forces with the legendary Pokémon in order to prevent the plans of the evil Team Rocket from coming to fruition. However, let’s just not get into the fact that it hints at Pokémon/human romance, though, because that’s where the movie gets really weird.

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Pokémon the Movie: The Rise of Darkrai

The Rise of Darkrai is a lesson in not judging a book by its cover, and if that’s all it was, it might be dismissed as being too simple for even young children. Thankfully, it happens to be much more too. This fantasy movie is one of the darker Pokémon movies.

It has a genuinely unsettling, haunting quality about it which means that this is a Pokémon movie with a palpable sense of atmosphere. At almost all moments, this is underlined by a memorable score and some of the series’ best animation.

Its apparent villain, the anime character Darkrai, is one of the most engaging and interesting Pokémon antagonists in the Pokémon movie franchise, challenging Mewtwo for the crown. But the truth is, though he might be intimidating at first, Darkrai isn’t a true villain but a courageous anti-hero saving the world from otherwise impending doom.

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Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu is a genuine contender for the best video game movie adaptation. Certainly, it has reinvigorated the video game movie landscape, paving the way for the success of two Sonic Movies and the upcoming Chris Pratt Super Mario Bros movie. This live-action mystery movie, starring Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds (here utilised to great effect), is the first Pokémon movie to depart from the formula, and it’s a decision that undoubtedly paid off.

Mewtwo returns as a villain, and many of the same themes and plot points are lifted from the first anime movie. Still, this is a huge improvement. The blend of live-action with the CGI Pokémon works shockingly well, and seeing the Pokémon integrated into the life of the city is every Pokémon fan’s dream. The worst part about the movie is that when it’s over, you can’t go outside and start your own real-life Pokémon adventure.

If there was never a Detective Pikachu 2, continuing the adventures that began in the first, that would be a travesty. It would also be a surprising financial decision because – and here’s a fun fact – Detective Pikachu grossed more than the science fiction movie Dune, and on a smaller budget too.

For lists, check out our guides to the best fantasy series and the best animated series. Or if you want to know more about Pokémon, then our sibling site Pocket Tactics have their very own Pokédex