The Pokémon Movies Ranked

Pokémon 3 (2001)

The Best Video Game Movie

PTFM Takes Cues From The World’s Biggest Sci-Fi, Horror, & Action/Adventure Films To Canonize Them With Strikingly-Advanced Religion Allegory, Philogophical Complexity, Sci-Ethics, Pure Emotion, & Fandom-Service

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Overall, Pokémon 3 is the best film of the series – and a masterpiece that just manages to take the crown of Greatest Video Game Movie from 1999’s Mewtwo Strikes Back. The film packs unbridled, powerful emotion unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a children’s or franchise film – a dark, heartbreaking premise of a little girl who loses her parents and forsakes the riches around her to plunge into a dream world to escape the depression and loneliness on the horizon by wish-fullfilment of legendary mythological beings who feel sorrow for her pain. The world-building is absolutely breathtaking; we might go as far to say it’s the most impressive of all-time in its genres and medium [with perhaps the exception of some of Studio Ghibli’s films like Spirited Away] in how it twists an idyllic paradise of windmill-framed rainbow flower valleys into a nightmare of science-fiction crystallization apocalyptica that manages to freeze-but-keep the motif while creating inside a fairy-tale world of diverse landscapes in the overarching feel of a princess story-book/fairy-tale world out of a little girl’s dreams. The scale juxtaposition in incredible in how it bases such an epic and endless dream world in the intimate, small-scale vulnerability and tangibility of a little girl’s loss and wish for her family – and that’s only some of the intellectualization. Themes of grief and our reactions are everpresently-weaved throughout the narrative: Molly’s motivations are never malicious, but she manages to wreak havoc on the world and other families’ realiites for her dream world – begging to question what’s right and wrong in the context of unspeakable loss as she’s proficiently character-developed to eventually grow and realize she has to give up her own happiness for the good of others. Also present is reality vs. dreams exposition and masculinity allegory in the psychoanalysis of real-life being a more treacherous path filled with downfalls that can ensnare you but make life worthwhile by the friendships, love, and experiences being non-fabricated and real and how Entei metaphorizes the role of the father in household dynamics: providing for the family, making his children happy, being strong and resilient to change – the rock and lion of the family Entei physically and symbolically embodies. The score is super-effective in how it swells and underlines the film’s biggest and smallest moments with class and emotion, animation strong, action edge-of-your-seat, and fandom-service palpable in the most epic of ways – from Ash finally battling a legendary head-on to Charizard saving the day in an Easter Egg for the ages. The film also corrects 2000’s biggest flaw by removing the commercialization and going back to aristry; not once does the film feel like it’s selling something and nothing more than a plot device to line shareholders’ pockets, but manages highlight why Pocket Monsters is the greatest franchise ever made by showing they can be friends, play-toys, strategic tools, etc. across demographics, types, and design motifs beyond just battle weapons. Every major character gets their own arc as well, including Ash getting a refreshingly non-Poké-based one in just trying to save his mother to further expose how cleverly the film goes back to caring more about the artistry than box office. Flaws are limited to a couple of gripes: the 3D animation of Unowns, happy ending choice without explanation of what happened to Molly’s mother and father meanwhile, and Team Rocket being a tonally-divergent distraction of inconsistency in big sequences – though they do get some nice signature meta-comedy one-liners – and these problems are easily-forgiven in the context of all it accomplishes and made us[authentically: a miracle in films of this genre and of any franchise] feel. A heartbreaking fantasy dreamscape of wish-fulfillment and grief exposition from something as real and somber as a little girl’s tears after losing her father, Pokémon 3 is a masterpiece children’s movie of pure emotion, breathtaking princess-crystal world-building, masculinity and reality vs. dreams allegory, swelling orchestration, fandom-service, epic action, and non-commercialized artistry while highlighting franchise positives. 9.2/10.

Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (2021 Netflix Remake)

The Best Video Game Movie

PTFM Takes Cues From The World’s Biggest Sci-Fi, Horror, & Action/Adventure Films To Canonize Them With Strikingly-Advanced Religion Allegory, Philogophical Complexity, Sci-Ethics, Pure Emotion, & Fandom-Service

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Overall, Pokémon: TFM [The Japanese Original Version] is the best video game movie. The concept-pitch is brilliant – taking cues from the world’s biggest movies by combining the archeological, action, and historical thrills of Indiana Jones, Bond 007, and Jurassic Park, science-fiction and horror of Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers, and classic monster movies, and tone/adventure of its classic animé and Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games boasting the best world and idea in fiction. The film packs power of experience, emotion, and cinematic feel impressive for its first [or any] feature by a non-studio out of its field – phenomenal action/battle scenes, fine animation, dynamic shot compositions in cinematography, and a diverse score flexing orchestration to booming trumpet drops to soft acoustic guitar strums to techno-pop wherever it’s needed as the film makes you smile, laugh, scare, and cry: epitomized by bold storytelling decisions like killing your own child protagonist for a major crux and turning point of character-development. The biggest achievement of PTFM, though, is how complex it is from an IQ point-of-view; it wasn’t until I watched this movie again as a critic and adult that I noticed how wildly-advanced its themes, ideas, and construction were. The film is a xenomorphic/frankenstian tale of god-complex allegory and the power/elements of nature reimagined into the world’s most powerful being – one enslaved by mankind: a lab experiment that learns it doesn’t need its creators and twists Old Testament biblicisms back on us through a storm out of the book of Noah while breathed in empathizable depth by the prologue backstory of the Japanese original film’s Ambertwo arc of a young Mewtwo forced to watch its only friends die to activate its psychic powers and continually-fuel its changing internalization of what its life meaning and purpose is. The heart of the film is existentialism and complex philosophical and sociological exposition on the meaning of life, nature vs. science, and the similarities and differences we all share across religions, colors, backgrounds, and cultures – one that’s a miracle was tackled in what’s ostensibly a kids’ film and franchise picture that has no business being this smart. There is plenty of pure fandom-service too – what feels like the biggest episode ever of the classic beloved animé series, and one true to its charm, tone/genre stylizations, and characters from the trinity [Ash, Misty, & Brock] to Team Rocket and their light-hearted quips, friendship, and euphoria of its post-prologue opening battle in the grasslands. The film isn’t perfect – a story needing more flesh-out and flawed, at-times self-confused/hypocritical final act highlights some of its own franchise’s potential flaws and child-unfriendliness [the only reason, along with critic-snootiness, animation-stigmas, inexperience with the anime/games, and anticapitalist agenda when it was a pop-culture revolution franchise we can contextualize just why it was so vehemently-hated back in its release in the late ’90’s; oh, how far the tables have turned with every basic, formulaic, mindless, same MCU movie of 30+ in a franchise gets A+’s today.. the hypocrisy is incredible] by turning up the violence and removing the special-abilities that make its remixed animal-fights stomachable, all set to a peculiarly-anticlimactic song choice for the epic all-out war finale and snail-pace that does retread. Still, these are forgiven when you shed tears when Ash is turned to stone and the god and devil pokemon: Mew and Mewtwo are themselves taught a lesson in heart and compassion for life by mankind. The best video game movie, PTFM takes cues from the world’s biggest sci-fi, horror, & action/adventure films to canonize it with strikingly-advanced religion allegory, philosophical complexity, emotion, fandom-service, existential themes, & sociological exposition for a clinic on how to bring TV & gaming to the big screen. 9/10.

Pokémon: The First Movie (Japan Original Version) [1997]

The Best Video Game Movie

PTFM Takes Cues From The World’s Biggest Sci-Fi, Horror, & Action/Adventure Films To Canonize Them With Strikingly-Advanced Religion Allegory, Philogophical Complexity, Sci-Ethics, Pure Emotion, & Fandom-Service

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Overall, Pokémon: TFM [The Japanese Original Version] is the best video game movie. The concept-pitch is brilliant – taking cues from the world’s biggest movies by combining the archeological, action, and historical thrills of Indiana Jones, Bond 007, and Jurassic Park, science-fiction and horror of Star Wars, Alien, Blade Runner, Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers, and classic monster movies, and tone/adventure of its classic animé and Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games boasting the best world and idea in fiction. The film packs power of experience, emotion, and cinematic feel impressive for its first [or any] feature by a non-studio out of its field – phenomenal action/battle scenes, fine animation, dynamic shot compositions in cinematography, and a diverse score flexing orchestration to booming trumpet drops to soft acoustic guitar strums to techno-pop wherever it’s needed as the film makes you smile, laugh, scare, and cry: epitomized by bold storytelling decisions like killing your own child protagonist for a major crux and turning point of character-development. The biggest achievement of PTFM, though, is how complex it is from an IQ point-of-view; it wasn’t until I watched this movie again as a critic and adult that I noticed how wildly-advanced its themes, ideas, and construction were. The film is a xenomorphic/frankenstian tale of god-complex allegory and the power/elements of nature reimagined into the world’s most powerful being – one enslaved by mankind: a lab experiment that learns it doesn’t need its creators and twists Old Testament biblicisms back on us through a storm out of the book of Noah while breathed in empathizable depth by the prologue backstory of the Japanese original film’s Ambertwo arc of a young Mewtwo forced to watch its only friends die to activate its psychic powers and continually-fuel its changing internalization of what its life meaning and purpose is. The heart of the film is existentialism and complex philosophical and sociological exposition on the meaning of life, nature vs. science, and the similarities and differences we all share across religions, colors, backgrounds, and cultures – one that’s a miracle was tackled in what’s ostensibly a kids’ film and franchise picture that has no business being this smart. There is plenty of pure fandom-service too – what feels like the biggest episode ever of the classic beloved animé series, and one true to its charm, tone/genre stylizations, and characters from the trinity [Ash, Misty, & Brock] to Team Rocket and their light-hearted quips, friendship, and euphoria of its post-prologue opening battle in the grasslands. The film isn’t perfect – a story needing more flesh-out and flawed, at-times self-confused/hypocritical final act highlights some of its own franchise’s potential flaws and child-unfriendliness [the only reason, along with critic-snootiness, animation-stigmas, inexperience with the anime/games, and anticapitalist agenda when it was a pop-culture revolution franchise we can contextualize just why it was so vehemently-hated back in its release in the late ’90’s; oh, how far the tables have turned with every basic, formulaic, mindless, same MCU movie of 30+ in a franchise gets A+’s today.. the hypocrisy is incredible] by turning up the violence and removing the special-abilities that make its remixed animal-fights stomachable, all set to a peculiarly-anticlimactic song choice for the epic all-out war finale and snail-pace that does retread. Still, these are forgiven when you shed tears when Ash is turned to stone and the god and devil pokemon: Mew and Mewtwo are themselves taught a lesson in heart and compassion for life by mankind. The best video game movie, PTFM takes cues from the world’s biggest sci-fi, horror, & action/adventure films to canonize it with strikingly-advanced religion allegory, philosophical complexity, emotion, fandom-service, existential themes, & sociological exposition for a clinic on how to bring TV & gaming to the big screen. 8.9/10.

Pokémon: The Movie 2000

A Fine Sequel For The Fandom

Better-Animated W. Epic Mythological Scale, Apocalyptica Thrills, & Characterization, PTM2: More Corporate With Setting, Plot, Score Issues, But A Fine Sequel For Fans

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Overall, PTM2000 is a good sequel that could’ve been great. The film definitely feels cinematic – in fact, this feels like one of the most epic-scale apocalytica blockbusters of late.. and certainly in the animation or children’s movie. The film paints the end of the world by elemental destruction and a mythological lens of gods duking it out that should wow even non-fans of the franchise by the spectacle: highlighting why Pokémon is the ultimate fictional concept and adventure world/premise we can all agree we wish we were Ash riding on the back of a dragon-bird the size of a jet, and a film like this would easily cost $300M+ with live-action VFX we hope we’ll be able to see one day but can rejoice seeing any ways today. The animation is spectacular; feeling just as limitless and aggrandized as its scale compared to the first movie, the japanimation looks 10x more expensive from the opening scene able to captivate the eyes by even the color palettes of this breathtaking adventure film set in tropical paradise taken under a storm. Characterization is more realized than Mewtwo Strikes Back; Ash deals with doubt, fear, and coming-of-age themes, Misty grapples with her feelings for Ash and is able to save the day herself too, and Team Rocket actually become heroes to show their much more depth-ful than just the goofy bad guys any other series would’ve limited them to. Finally, the villain is also intriguing by his rich, cocky smugness and irreverence for the world around him as he navigates the skies with technology and collects Pokémon he devalues into collectible prize-objects – though I really wish he had more characterization and backstory. Though it easily has enough positives to drown its cons in a typhoon wave like the ones summoned by its siren-song Guardian Of The Sea, there are sizable ones that detract heavily from experience. For one, the film bases the story in the worst, most non-canon, and character-incomplete [Gen. 1-2 without Brock feels wrong] part of the original animé: The Orange Islands. The writing is lazier and even full of plotholes that make the one singular flaw in the otherwise-masterpiece First Movie’s U.S. localization antiviolence rewrite seem comparatively-miniscule: why did Ash as a 10-year-old kid put his life in danger to travel the seas and get the spheres in the middle of a storm when he could’ve waited – as the film points out – ’til tomorrow while there was no mention of any time limitation in the prophecy in the first place? The logic is seemingly thrown out the window in things like boats flipping and flying and lack of a real journey this time, tone a bit too doom-and-gloom while clashed in forced/dumbed-down MCU-type scantological humor in stark contrast to the witty puns and meta/adult-references comedyTeam Rocket usually makes [but fit in some better ones towards the end], soundtrack cinematic but not as good as the first film’s and standard of theme songs PKMN set for themselves from the original animé’s iconic rock-ballad theme, and the film feels more corporatized than the original in how often it fits in the word Pokémon itself like in its opening theme. Of course, this was [quite obviously] successful in how it helped build the franchise from a Japanese outcast kid’s dream-world to the world’s biggest media franchise of all-time and is solid entertainment by all other metrics around [except if you’re a snobby, journalistic integrity-less critic going into the Pokémon movies ready to hate them because you hate, for some inexplicable reason, the franchise and hypocritically give dumb franchises that aren’t even kid-focused like the MCU movies 90%+’s when they’re the same-or-worse, just in live- action] but it still lacks some of the magic and mature cinematic pedigree/execution of the original. Better-animated with epic mythological scale, world-building expansion bridging the gap between generations, thrilling apocalyptica action, and an interesting villain, PTM2000 feels more corporatized than the original while going back to the animé’s worst detour arc with a mixed soundtrack and plot-issues – but is, overall, is a fine sequel that will make any fan happy.

Detective Pikachu (2019)

Overall, Detective Pikachu is mostly a win and serves its purpose in effectively and entertainingly (+ subvertively going a ballsy route not just doing the expected Red/Blue/Yellow film and Gen 1 -> Gen 2 -> Gen 3 -> etc. route) introducing us to the many possibilities for a Pokémon Cinematic Universe. A cyberpunk feel, buddy cop dynamism, majestic CGI, huge fandom service, and surprisingly-effective mystery with good characterization and a perfect Reynolds-Pikachu make for an intensely-watchable jolt of a summer blockbuster. Despite a miscast human lead and slow/mistoned first act until it finds its footing and stabilizes mid-film, Det. Pikachu is a good Pocket Monster experience that delivered much of what mega-fans wanted on the big screen, while leaving infinite possibilities for future stories and franchise expansion as large as the Kaiju-ic Torterra Gardens. We finally got a good video game movie.