It’s been a quarter of a century since Pokémon first appeared on the world stage. To say that these internationally beloved creatures have been successful would be an understatement. In 2021, Pokémon is the highest grossing media franchise of all time – bigger than Harry potter, bigger than Star wars, and even greater than wonder.
Originally a video game released for Nintendo’s handheld, the Game Boy, Pokémon has since spawned a blockbuster animated series, a collectible card game infiltrating the school playground, toys of all shapes and sizes. and even food. It is not a question of mentioning the Pokémon brand aircraft.
In 2019, Pocket Monsters took to Hollywood with the first live-action Pokémon movie, moderate success Detective Pikachu, but it wasn’t the media powerhouse’s first foray into theaters. In fact, since 1998, Pokémon has released an animated feature film every year.
These movies are hardly the pinnacle of cinema, ranging from good to downright terrible, and neither are they at the consistent quality of other animation studios such as Studio Ghibli, but fans keep coming back to the series. It seems that even 22 films in its existence on the big screen, there is something eternally endearing about 10-year-old Ash Ketchum and her adorable Pikachu.
In this edition of Class, we here at The cinema magazine judged each of the 22 animated feature films in the Pokémon franchise and judged each in terms of quality, significance, story building, audience perception, and critical reception to bring you: Pokémon Animated Movies Ranked
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22. Genesect and the Legend Awakens (2013)
Pokémon the movie: Genesect and the legend awakens may be the last on this list, but like any Pokémon movie, it still has some bright spots. Namely, the animation is remarkable, and there are a number of slow-motion Mewtwo scenes that are on their own worth admission for longtime fans of the Pokémon universe. This is where the praise ends though …
As a product of the Pokémon cycle, Genesect and the awakening of legend feels almost entirely inconsequential, from its cliché-riddled plot to its superficial exploration of what it means to be a sentient human-made being. It’s also repetitive, going from one battle between Mewtwo and Genesect to another, to another and to another before the film ends.
The biggest offense of this version of 2013 is how she passed up the opportunity to make this Mewtwo the same one who starred in The first movie (1998). Bringing back such a well-known character, with a story deep within the universe and a beloved story within the fandom, every scene could have been elevated, turning this forgettable film into essential viewing. It turns out that was not the case, and Genesect and the awakening of the legend has become the most lifeless of all Pokémon movies released to date.
21. Pokémon Ranger and the Sea Temple (2006)
The final film with the Hoenn gang is the longest in the series… and it shows. Sea temple is a chore to get through, with a generic plot that barely surfaces above the boring. The film is a glorified commercial for the “Pokémon Ranger” video game released that same year, and even then it does the game a disservice.
Lots of those shoehorn movies into Legendary Pokémon to make kids believe the plot is more epic than it actually is. Sea temple might just be the biggest offender on this – during the film’s climax, the legendary Sea Pokemon Kyogre appears for about 30 seconds, having no plot impact; but hey, it gave the producers a reason to put it on the bill.
3D animation seems to have regressed since the previous installment (Lucario and the mystery of Mew), which not only makes it one of the most boring in the series, but also one of the ugliest.
There are glimmers of fun to be had, from the touching friendship of May and Manaphy to the heroic act of Ash at the climax. And the main villain is a pirate with a very cool beard. But if that sounds like a stretch, that’s because it is.
20. Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution (2019)
In 2019, Pokémon took a break from releasing new movies and released a CGI remake of its first release: The first movie.
Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution looks good for the most part, stunning environments with rich detail never seen in Pokémon before – like Ash’s hair no longer being the solid black lump it had been for over 20 years – but the lack of evolution in the narrative and dialogue illustrated Pokémon resistance to evolve.
This new coat of paint doesn’t quite match up, resulting in something bordering on the odd. Maybe if the script had been revamped it might have looked more modern, but instead the movie is a lower version of what it once was.
This is ultimately a harmless remake, but can only be recommended as a necessary viewing for finalists wanting to watch them all.