This is a list I wanted to make for a while but wanted to wait until I’d seen the 20th movie before putting together. In preparation for this list I also rewatched movies 1 to 18 back to back and finally got around to seeing the first 5 movies subbed. It’s important to note that this list doesn’t count the movie length TV specials like Mewtwo Returns, The Legend of Thunder or Pokémon Origins. Now on to the list…
Victini and Zekrom/Reshiram (Victini and the Black Hero: Zekrom/White Hero: Reshiram)
While the games having two different versions in the norm this was the only time that format was applied to a movie. Out of the two versions my preference is the Zekrom version but it doesn’t really matter which version you choose as the differences are pretty minor. The battle between Zekrom and Reshiram is pretty neat and what pushed this above the Jirachi and Celebi movies.
Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (The Archdjinni of the Rings: Hoopa)
The reason this makes the list is because of the big battle of legendary Pokémon. The Rayquaza being shiny is a nice touch too as it is one of the coolest looking shiny legendaries. Yes this is just pure fan service but it does its job really well.
Pokémon Heroes: Latias & Latios (The Guardians of Altomare)
This was the last film from the original series and was a great film to go out on. The Venice inspired setting looks great and allowed for several entertaining scenes of characters traveling across the water roads and the music is some of the catchiest in all of the films (and said music is present in both the English and Japanese versions).
Rise of Darkrai (Dialga VS Palkia VS Darkrai)
The first and best part of the Sinnoh trilogy. The battle between Dialga and Palkia starts right away and looks great. The main strength of this movie is Darkrai and the way characters mistake it for the cause of destruction across the city. There’s also an amusing running gag centered around a character turning into his Lickilicky that is especially funny in Japanese where his name (Alberto) sounds a lot like Lickilicky’s (Berobelt, pronounced Beloberto).
Destiny Deoxys (Sky-Splitting Visitor: Deoxys)
Deoxys and Rayquaza are two of my favourite legendary Pokémon so a movie where they fight each other is obviously going to appeal to me. I really like the designs of LaRousse City and the new characters Ash & friends meet there.
The Power of One (Revelation-Lugia)
Getting into the top 5 now. Rewatching this one in Japanese I gained more appreciation for the legend the film centers around. This is also the film where Team Rocket have the most to do and while it’s happened a few times in the show it’s still cool to see Ash and Team Rocket team up, something that really should happen in another movie some time. The ocean setting also gives the film this grand scale, something it has in common with…
Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (Pokémon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea: Manaphy)
Something this has over Power of One is an extra two generations of Pokémon, now the ocean doesn’t just look vast but full of a wide range of Pokémon. It’s also the longest out of all of the other movies and has the best bond with a cute mythical Pokémon storyline of the series. And of course being an Advanceshipper I’m naturally going to like this film thanks to several cute scenes of Ash and May including a scene of them swimming next to a school of Luvdisc.
Mewtwo Strikes Back
The first movie was naturally going to get a spot in this list due to nostalgia alone but it’s this high because when you watch it in Japanese without all the awkward dub mistakes (that I noticed even as a child) and rewrites (“Pokémon aren’t meant to fight, not like this”) it’s a much better movie. Mewtwo’s already great story is improved thanks to the extended origin story, a lot of the music is based on tracks from the show and Mew is just as prejudiced as Mewtwo in the final battle.
Spell of the Unown (Lord of the Unknown Tower)
This is a movie that gets better when watched as an adult due to the rather dark nature of the film’s premise, this time the antagonist isn’t a sinister or greedy villain but a lonely girl who just wants to be with her family again whose wishes are made real. The stakes are also more personal for Ash this time around, there’s that really awesome battle between Entei and Ash’s Charizard, Misty and Brock both get to battle, the visuals are stunning and even the dub is one of the ones more faithful to the original.
Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (Mew and the Wave Guiding Hero: Lucario)
This has been my favourite Pokémon movie ever since I first saw it. It’s the first film to bring Ash’s bond with Pikachu to the center of the narrative, has beautiful music, a fantasy setting that just suits Pokémon so well, the Regis, the most faithful of 4Kids’ dubs (which is good because it was the last one they did), my favourite lineup of Ash & friends and of course Lucario’s story. This isn’t just my favourite Pokémon movie, it’s one of my favourite movies in general.
And as a bonus here’s my ranking for all 20 movies
It was a lot of fun watching all of these again. Even the bottom five are still enjoyable movies, they’re just not really best for repeat viewings or comparing to the other films. I have another rewatch marathon planned for next month, this one won’t have quite as many movies though.