The Pokémon franchise continues to see worldwide success and popularity in its trading cards, video games and standalone films. As of right now, there are an incredible 23 Pokémon films, with the latest movie, Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle, released last year.
Each Pokémon film has its own merits and a unique storyline that contributes to Ash’s adventures and goals of becoming a Pokémon Master. Even so, here’s a look at what are currently the best Pokémon films of all time — and where you can watch each of them.
Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai (2008)
In The Rise of Darkrai (2008), the tenth Pokémon film, Ash, Brock and Dawn must help the citizens of Alamos Town, which is currently suffering from a time-space dimension battle between Dialga and Palkia. The citizens blame the Pokémon, Darkrai, for these events even though it is trying to protect the town. Ash and company must stop Dialga and Palkia from causing a hole in the space-time continuum.
In this movie, Darkrai is a misunderstood Pokémon in that it’s trying to save the world despite being seen as the “bad guy.” This movie stands out for its epic and flashy battles between two colossal Pokémon. The Rise of Darkrai also has a unique setting: the architecture in Barcelona, Spain inspired Alamos Town. More specifically, the Space-Time Towers were based on the incomplete Sagrada Família.
The movie also sets the franchise up for two sequels, Pokémon: Giratina & the Sky Warrior and Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life. Interested fans can watch, rent ($3.99) or buy ($14.99) the movie on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube or Prime Video.
Pokémon 3: The Movie — Spell of The Unown (2001)
Pokémon 3: The Movie — Spell of The Unown was released in 2001. When Molly Hale’s parents disappear, she is sadly left alone. She starts playing with some mysterious tablets that possess the images of the Unown, and accidentally summons them. The Unown uses their power to grant Molly’s wishes — which leads to the kidnapping of Ash’s mom by the legendary Entei because of Molly’s desire for a mother. Ash and his friends must stop Molly and the Unown before her dream world gets more out of hand.
The third Pokémon film has a more compelling storyline than its two predecessors. The plot deals with some thematic issues about accepting loss within a family and handling trauma and pain more productively. Pokémon 3: The Movie can be rented ($3.99) or purchased ($14.99) on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube or Prime Video.
Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
In Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1999), Mewtwo is a bio-engineered clone of the rarest Pokémon, Mew. Mewtwo learns of its origins from its creator, Dr. Fuji, who was hired by Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni, to create a clone for destructive purposes. Angry for being treated as an experiment, Mewtwo unleashes a plot for revenge against humanity and Pokémon to prove its superior existence.
Mewtwo invites several skilled and talented Pokémon trainers — including Ash, Misty and Brock — for an opportunity to defeat the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer at New Island. However, the trainers soon learn of Mewtwo’s actual plan of cloning highly-trained Pokémon so it can dominate the world, and so Ash and friends try to foil Mewtwo’s plans and prove that humans and Pokémon can live in peace.
Pokémon The First Movie brings back major nostalgia for ’90s Pokémon fans. Yet, what makes this movie memorable is the emotional turmoil Pikachu endures when Ash gets petrified as fans get to see the strength of Pikachu and their friendship. Pokémon: The First Movie is available for rent ($3.99) or purchase ($14.99) on Prime Video or Apple TV.
Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2006)
Lucario and the Mystery of Mew is the eighth Pokémon film, released in US theaters in 2006. The story follows Ash, Brock, May and Max participating in an annual festival at Cameran Palace where they learn about Sir Aaron, an Aura Knight. Lucario soon emerges from Aaron’s staff, proclaiming that his master abandoned him. The group learns about Lucario’s origins, while they also have it as a guide to save Pikachu and Meowth at the Tree of Life.
This movie is memorable because fans get an opportunity to learn more about one of the most familiar and iconic Pokémon in the franchise, Lucario. Even those who aren’t massive Pokémon fans are probably still familiar with Lucario, having seen it in the Super Smash Bros fighting games. Furthermore, this film crafted interesting lore behind Lucario, giving the Pokémon a noteworthy backstory unlike others in the series.
Lucario and the Mystery of Mew was even nominated for the Best Anime Feature Award at the American Anime Awards. Fans can watch it for rent ($1.99) or purchase ($14.99) on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and YouTube.