All 24 Pokémon Movies Ranked Worst To Best

In an early issue of Hidenori Kusaka's 1997 manga "Pokémon Adventures," based on the game by Satoshi Tajiri, the definition of a Pokémon was laid down as merely "a mysterious species not recorded in traditional biological taxonomies." A look around the Pokémon universe, however, finds no animals that have been recorded in traditional biological taxonomies, either. There are no cats and dogs in this world, only Pokémon. Some have theorized that Pokémon takes place in a distant future, a post-post-apocalyptic world where animals evolved into superpowered creatures. Others simply repeat to themselves it's just a show and fans should really just relax, understanding that Pokémon exists in a fantasy world. 

In this world, 10-year-olds are offered the opportunity to leave home with a bindle with a superpowered animal in their charge, all in the hopes of garnering the honor (there is no cash prize) of becoming a Pokémon Master.

The volume of Pokémon media to have entered the world since its inception in 1997 is staggering. In addition to video games, card games, collectibles, and numerous TV shows, there have been a total of 24 Pokémon feature films (with one having been released in two only-slightly different versions, technically bringing the total to 25). While only the first five feature films were released theatrically in the United States (as was the 2019 film "Pokémon Detective Pikachu"), the remaining have been creeping steadily onto home video and streaming ever since. The world never has to wait long for a Pokémon feature film. 

Not all Pokémon films are created equal, however, and the time has come to perform that most onerous of tasks: watching and ranking all 24 films. 

24. Pokémon: The First Movie (1998)

It's rare that a long-running series enters the world on its worst entry, but that's certainly the case with Kunihiko Yuyama's "Pokémon: The First Movie." While the film was considered quite a pop culture event for people of a certain age, the inanity of Pokémon is laid bare in "First Movie." Any parents baffled by the complex world of Pokémon — a world obsessed with a sport that many have compared to supercharged cockfighting — will gain no understanding of the franchise with this one. 

The story follows the bitter and powerful Pokémon MewTwo (Jay Goede in the English dub), who can communicate in plain language; most Pokémon tend chitter, roar, or speak their own names. MewTwo, cloned from the presumed-extinct Mew, resents his own artificial existence, and aims to clone other Pokémon, in order amp up their superpowers and take on the world. By the end of the film, Pokémon fight to the point of exhaustion while the human characters look on in horror. The "Pokémon shouldn't fight" proselytizing seems illogical, given that the franchise is based on high-octane battles. 

Shrill, dumb, and insufferable, this was a bad entrance into Pokémon for any outsiders. Only young kids already deep into the Pokémon mythos could be able to absorb it.

23. Pokémon: MewTwo Strikes Back - Evolution (2019)

In 2019, Yuyama remade "Pokémon: The First Movie" in CGI using a new voice cast and an almost identical script. The screenwriter for "The First Movie," Takeshi Shudō, had passed away, and the Pokémon company had to get permission from his estate in order to use it again. The only returning cast member is Ikue Ōtani, who has played Pikachu in every iteration of Pokémon since its beginning. One has to admire Ōtani for creating a decades-long career playing a single character who only has a single word of dialogue to work with. 

The animation on this film is smooth and static, and the story is just as baffling. It looks and sounds like an extended video game cut scene rather than a feature. "Evolution" calls to mind Gun Van Sant's 1998 remake of "Psycho." Can a film function just as well using the exact same shots and script with updated colors and textures? Like "Psycho," "Evolution" proved that such experiments typically fail. It is only the most minor cosmetic changes that have "Evolution" standing above "The First Movie."

22. Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction (2014)

The story of "Diancie" may remind deeper cinematic explorers of Stan Winston's 1990 stinker "A Gnome Named Gnorm" starring Anthony Michael Hall, Claudia Christian, and an off-putting underground creature that makes lascivious comments and exposes its rear end. One could argue than any film that evokes "A Gnome Named Gnorm" has failed on a fundamental level, earning no small number of demerits for "Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction." 

In an underground cave populated by gem-based Pokémon called Diancie, the powerful magic stone that runs the kingdom is running low on energy. The princess of the Diancie will seek a new magic stone from a deer-shaped Pokémon called Xerneas, but will attract the attention of the usual spate of human protagonists (including Ash and his current retinue) and greedy collectors who seek to capture the power of Princess Diancie. In their attempts to gain access to a powerful Pokémon, the villains will upset the balance of nature and cause a wave of localized destruction until a late-minute catharsis teaches everyone that fighting is wrong. 

Read that last sentence again, and you'll have the template for at least half of the Pokémon feature films. 

21. Pokémon the Movie: Genesect and the Legend Awakened (2013)

The story of "Genesect" would have made a better film in the "Jurassic World" series than "Jurassic World Dominion," but that, one might opine, is a low bar to clear. Genesect are an insectoid, machine-resembling Pokémon that had been resurrected, "Jurassic Park"-style, using ancient DNA. The species had been extinct for 300 million years, putting them square in the Pokémon world's  Carboniferous period (assuming the Pokémon world follows a historical trajectory similar to ours). The Carboniferous period is when amphibians were proliferating around the Earth, however, and Genesect are certainly not amphibians. 

Look, if one is leaping to their encyclopedias to look up information on the state of life 300 million years ago instead of engaging with a film about Genesect, then perhaps the Genesect film is failing to engage in an interesting way. By the end of the film, MewTwo, also cloned from Pokémon DNA, takes Genesect into space, where the two absorb the awe and mystery of the cosmos, which may very well be Genesect's home. Ash catches them when they fall back to Earth. There are a lot of dark corridors and cowering in this film.

20. Pokémon the Movie: Zoroark – The Master of Illusion (2010)

"Zoroark" fits squarely into the "In their attempts to gain access to a powerful Pokémon, the villains will upset the balance of nature and cause a wave of destruction until a last-minute catharsis teaches everyone that fighting is wrong" Pokémon film structure. In this case, an evil businessman named Grings Kodai has been absorbing the power of a "time ripple" that periodically appears in his home city, and is using that power to see into the future. As a consequence, the flora around the city is dying out. In order to cover for his crimes, Grings has employed the titular Zoroark to create illusions throughout the city and manipulate the media. 

On paper, this is a cool idea. If people can train Pokémon to do their bidding, why wouldn't they use them to hypnotize a small town, like in "WandaVision?" Sadly, the illusion plot doesn't ever have a fun or convincing reveal (a "But this entire town isn't real!" moment never comes), and the villain is a little lackluster overall. Ash and his crew's central goal is reuniting a smaller Pokémon called Zorua with Zoroark. The central theme, then, argues for the power of letting animals run free with their young, rather than capturing them to fight. Once again, "Pokémon" is arguing against Pokémon.

19. Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us (2018)

Tetsuo Yajima's "The Power of Us," the second film that takes place in a rebooted Pokémon timeline (the first is 2017's "I Choose You!"), is possessed of a slightly different style than the bulk of the Pokémon feature films, and repeats a lot of elements from previous Pokémon movies. The appearance of Lugia as the McGuffin is something taken from "Pokémon: The Movie 2000," but is glossed over by a rather insufferable plot about a hearty uncle trying to impress his niece with tall tales about what a great Pokémon trainer he is. Naturally, he tells nothing but fibs. 

This intersects with a plot about a Pokémon called Zeraora that once started a forest fire in the area, as well as a shy scientist who must learn to speak out. 

This is one of those well-constructed films that, sadly, falls back into some pretty banal territory. In a wonderful world full of glittering cities, magical animals, clean air, and gorgeous landscapes, must we tell another piddling, facile story of learning to be confident and telling the truth? The stakes seem so very low.  

18. Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel (2016)

A notable feature throughout the Pokémon feature films is their placid, almost utopian settings. The sprawling countryside is always gorgeous and clean and awaiting exploration, and the cities are always pleasant, well-managed, and powered by sustainable energy. Sometimes the cities are vast, technological urban centers full of computers, holograms, and high-speed public transport. Sometimes they're smaller, wind-powered Dutch villages with tiny stone cottages and delicious local agriculture. Something about being in close proximity to a vast new supernatural species of fauna has allowed the world to ascend to a more peaceful plane of existence. 

As such, some of the Pokémon films can be judged (positively or negatively) entirely by their setting. If a Pokémon film looks like a nice place to visit, the entire film will be more pleasant. If, like in "Volcanion," it's set in a bizarre, geek-friendly steampunk universe, then perhaps one ought to view it a little askance. "Volcanion" finds Ash (Sarah Natochenny) electronically tethered to the titular Pokémon who leads him and his buddies into the company of Magearna, a mechanical Pokémon. If it's mechanical, is it still a Pokémon? One for the philosophers. Oh, and a villain wants to rip out Magearna's battery and use it to power a flying fortress war machine. 

Even for Pokémon, this one skews too far into the realm of fantasy.

17. Pokémon the Movie Black: Victini and Reshiram / Pokémon the Movie White: Victini and Zekrom (2011)

The release pattern for Pokémon video games is unique: Games are released in pairs (Gold & Silver, Ruby & Emerald, Black & White, Diamond & Pearl), with one game featuring half of the currently available Pokémon, and the other game featuring the other half. Each one will also have only one of two "final boss" legendary Pokémon. Everything else about the games are identical. The idea is that you will buy one version, your friend will buy the other, and you can trade Pokémon between yourselves. Eventually, Nintendo will release a third version that combines the first two. 

The "Reshiram/Zekrom" movies, released at the same time, offer a fun conceit. In one cut of the film, Ash is seeking the white Victini, and in the other, he is seeking the black Zekrom. Thanks to some clever dubbing and a few swapped-out scenes, one can select which Pokémon they want to be the star. The two films are, like the games, largely identical except for the central creature. 

The plot is, sadly, the usual Pokémon hooey about a creature called Victini that can enhance the powers of other Pokémon, and a mysterious energy field called the Dragon Force. "Reshiram/Zekrom" get some points for the "switch out" gimmick, but both are pretty average beyond it.

16. Pokémon the Movie: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (2005)

As mentioned in the above description of "Volcanion," a good setting can carry a Pokémon movie a long way, while a bad setting can highlight the inherent absurdity of the franchise. When Ash treks through a utopian world, Pokémon feels wonderful, when he attends a Renaissance festival — as he does in "Lucario" — everything feels a little off. Seeing Ash at a Ren Faire would be like watching a Dalek put on a Green Lantern ring. Or Odo from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" teaming up with Penelope Pitstop. It's just a hair too nerdy to accept. 

Lucario is an upright-walking wolf/fox creature who has lost all trust in humans. When Mew (back from "The First Movie" is threatened by a villain, Ash and Lucario trek into a giant tree and up a mountainside to locate it. On the mountainside is a species of flower that, when touched, broadcasts a burst of exposition in video form. It's perhaps one of the laziest exposition devices that a screenwriter can conceive. The atmosphere is thick in "Lucario," but overall the film's story is blunt and generic. 

Note: This was the last time Maddie Blaustein would voice the character of Meowth prior to her death. She was an icon. R.I.P.

15. Pokémon 3: The Movie - Spell of the Unown (2000)

"Pokémon 3: The Movie" was the last Pokémon feature film released internationally in theaters until "Detective Pikachu," so for many this early entry felt like a last hurrah. Despite coming early in the franchise, the film feels like a last gasp. The Pokémon movies, you might find, actually increase in production value as time passes. A look back to this film, released in 2000, shows some dated CGI Pokémon called Unown who are unwittingly manifesting the fantasies of a young girl who is terrified following the disappearance of her father. She manifests a lion/dog called Entei and coats the city in crystals. Ash has to trek inside to reason with her. 

One might notice that the plot of "Pokémon 3" is identical to the plot of the last two seasons of "Star Trek: Discovery." A mysterious damaging cosmic force has rippled across the galaxy, doing untold damage. At the epicenter of the cosmic force is an innocent being, kind of childlike in demeanor, who unwittingly caused the damage. While one cannot say for sure if the writers of "Discovery" are Pokémon fans, it's certainly a strange coincidence.

14. Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

Speaking of recognizable stories, "Ranger" seems to have borrowed its plot almost wholesale from the 2001 American animated film "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." This may be mere turnabout, however, as "Atlantis" was said to have a more-than-passing resemblance to the 1991 Japanese animated film "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water." Each of them borrows heavily from Jules Verne. 

"Ranger" takes place mostly at sea and concerns a small blue naiad called Manaphy, a group of pirates, and a heroic — read: totally bland – Pokémon Ranger named Jack Walker (Rich McNanna). The distinction between a Pokémon trainer and a Pokémon ranger is notable. One trains them for superpowered cockfighting. The other transports them to nature preserves and protects their habitats. Freelance environmentalists are everywhere in Pokémon. While sailing the seas, "Ranger" is a bit of fun. When the movie travels into undersea temples containing large chambers and magical crystals, it becomes far less interesting.

13. Pokémon the Movie: Jirachi - Wish Maker (2003)

Not long into a vast sojourn into the 24 Pokémon feature films, a viewer may begin to realize just how terrifying the world of Pokémon really is. Despite being presented as a future utopia — poverty and disease seem to be on their way to being eradicated — there is always a possibility that the very rules of reality will be re-written at a moment's notice due to the whims of some random 18-inch tall fairy living in a glade somewhere. Gather enough Pokémon together, and one could practically orchestrate their own dimension from scratch. 

Note to the makers of Pokémon movies: Consider the above a pitch. 

The plot involves a comet that returns to Earth every century, and the near-immortal Pokémon Jirachi that briefly awakens when the comet passes. Jirachi also has the power to grant wishes. Naturally, a villain seeks to seize Jirachi and wish for the resurrection of an extinct Godzilla-like Pokémon called Groudon. For a story about the dangers of selfish wishes, and how the resurrection of the dead will ultimately cause devastation, "Jirachi" is a better film than "Wonder Woman 1984."

12. Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice (2012)

Because Pokémon do not speak, audiences have little insight into their inner lives. Pikachu's character emerged gradually over the course of many years of television, but a passing Bulbasaur will remain a mystery to human viewers. "Kyruem" changes that by eschewing human characters for the bulk of its running time and focusing instead on a smiling miniature unicorn named Keldeo. Keldeo wishes to join Virizion, Terrakion, and Cobalion in an elite squad of what is essentially Pokémon superheroes. They call themselves The Swords of Justice. While previous Pokémon movies have seen the title creatures in noble ways, usually inspired by their human masters, this is the first time audiences have seen Pokémon, even without humans, possess a religious-like system of values. Do Pokémon worship?

Keldeo has a "My Little Pony" look to him, so the action scenes near the film's end — where Keldeo faces off against Kyurem, effectively a Pokémon supervillain — look a little silly. But there is something exciting about watching a Pokémon quest without a human companion. "Kyurem" posits that Pokémon are just as sophisticated philosophically as the humans that occupy this universe. A Pokémon can be born and evolve with a sense of justice. 

11. Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (2015)

In the above description of "Jirachi," one can see that Pokémon are an animal species, but one might easily — in a mythological sense — see them as minor deities. They are spirts of nature born of the Earth, and we humans can befriend them if they deem us worthy. If a Pokémon took it upon themselves to cause mischief, then we would have to regard them as impish trickster gods. 

That's certainly the case with Hoopa, a playful minor deity that was imprisoned in a bottle who emerges to play pranks. It is an imp. A Rakshasa. Hoopa's shadow occasionally grows into a massive, evil version of itself. Because this is the world of Pokémon, Hoopa's displays of power have to involve other Pokémon, so it summons many of the outsize creatures seen in previous film, and then supercharges them into even larger, scarier versions. 

I admit a weakness for Hoopa. I like the notion that Pokémon are wrathful deities than simply need to be appeased. Ash and company deal with Hoopa, but, really, they are helpless. 

10. Pokémon the Movie: Arceus and the Jewel of Life (2009)

"Arceus" is a direct sequel to 2008's "Giratina and the Sky Warrior." The previous film was about a dreamlike pocket dimension wherein two enormous monsters (Dialga and Palkia) are constantly doing battle, and the monster (Giratina) that controls the dream realm. "Arceus" expands that already heady premise into the theological. As far as limited research reveals, Arceus is the central Pokémon God, responsible for the creation of the entire universe. All Pokémon exist because of the will of Arceus. 

To solve the eternal conflict between Dialga and Palkia, Ash and his retinue are thrown back in time about a millennium to when a Judas-like human character betrayed Arceus and created a long-lasting theological crisis. Arceus was to sleep for a thousand years, and then return to judge humanity. Parallels to certain facets of Christian theology are most certainly intentional. Arceus can be a gentle New Testament God, or a wrathful Old Testament God. Luckily, the overall benevolence of modern Pokémon trainers appeases the good Lord. 

Pokémon, then, are not only minor deities who have led humanity into a new golden age of peace and sustainable energy, but literally exist to purify our souls. Gotta catch 'em all!

9. Pokémon 4Ever: Celebi - Voice of the Forest (2001)

After the low-budget shenanigans of "Pokémon 3," this theatrically-released feature scaled way back in terms of its story, featuring little more than the fate of a single wood sprite named Celebi, and the threat a villain poses to a small portion of the forest. Celebi, psychically connected to a remote glade, can leap through time, and takes Ash and company back to when Pokéballs — the baseball-sized techno-spheres that can convert Pokémon into energy and serve as their carrying cases — were made of wood. 

Blah blah, supervillain, blah blah, catch Celebi, blah blah, balance of nature, blah blah, fighting is wrong. The story only escapes feeling rote as it was only the second time in the series such a plot would be employed (the first time was in "Pokémon: The Movie 2000"). The fact that the stakes are so low aids "4Ever" in feeling more personal. In the climax, Celebi is mind-controlled into making a fragile monster made of bark. It's a fun image that evokes "The Wicker Man." 

If one can secure access to the "4Ever" DVD, I recommend the commentary track. 

8. Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

Those who saw "2000" in theaters probably sharply remember two things. Firstly, all attendees on opening weekend were given an Ancient Mew Pokémon card for use in the Pokémon card game. Many children refused to extract the card from its plastic wrapping. Late in the film, after its villain had tried to capture three legendary Pokémon (Zapdos, Moltres, and Articuno) for the purposes of drawing out a fourth even more legendary Pokémon (Lugia), he found himself hoisted by his own petard, and watched in horror as his massive flying airship crashed to the ground. Collecting these Pokémon throws nature out of balance, he finds. His motivation was to collect all the Pokémon he could, which is, incidentally, is the goal of the Pokémon video games. Never before has a franchise taught its own fans so repeatedly that it is, in itself, espousing wicked values.

Digging through the wreckage, the villain found his first collectable: The very same Ancient Mew card the members of the audience are all holding! He looks at it and resolves to start his mad quest anew. Holding that real-life card turned you, kids, into the villain. In a twisted way, I love that. 

Also, there's a "Weird Al" Yankovic polka over the credits, which earns "2000" many points. 

7. Pokémon the Movie: Giratina and the Sky Warrior (2008)

"Giratina" is the second of a trilogy of interconnected Pokémon films that involve the raging battles between Palkia and Dialga and the echoes they leave throughout reality. In "Giratina," Ash and his pals find themselves trapped in a bizarre mirror dimension where physics works backwards. The conflict involves Giratina dragging Pokémon back and forth between various dimensions, and a villain who wants to absorb Giratina's powers. 

Giratina is a truly terrifying creation. It's massive like a kaiju, and seems intent on causing chaos. There is a nightmarish quality to the creature, leaving it feeling truly threatening. It's rare that Pokémon actually read as a genuine threat, and Giratina does indeed feel like it's capable of dragging all reality asunder. It's Giratina, and the use of the nightmare dimension (called Reverse World, an Escher-like realm), that elevate "Giratina" above other, similar peers. One might almost be distracted from the usual formula of a villain aiming to steal a legendary Pokémon, etc. balance of nature, etc. fighting is wrong. 

Also of note: While three Pokémon films in a row connect directly, one needn't see them in any order to understand them properly. This is the way sequels ought to work.

6. Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

When it came time to adapt Pokémon in live action for an American audience, many questions arose. With the animated films, one could perhaps count on the fact that an audience was familiar with the TV shows that established the Pokémon world and all the characters therein. There was never a need to spell out the Pokémon world in cinematic form. A live-action film, however, may be many viewers' first brush with the franchise, and fans speculated wildly prior to the release of this 2019 film if it would, say, posit that the world of Pokémon was indeed post-apocalyptic. 

The makers of "Detective Pikachu" went full-bore in the opposite direction, electing to adapt a rather obscure video game offshoot of the franchise wherein Pikachu wore a deerstalker, could speak English, and solved mysteries. Nothing was explained. Audiences were just dropped in. Like with "The First Movie," one had to merely catch up. 

It's almost baffling how well it works, though. Ryan Reynolds plays the titular talking Pikachu, and he must team up with Justice Smith to solve a mystery about Smith's missing father, a corporate magnate (Bill Nighy) and a drug that turns Pokémon feral. He is aided by a plucky reporter (Kathryn Newton). It's textured and fun and funny. It shouldn't function, but it does. Never mind that the plot is predictable; no points for guessing Billy Nighy is the bad guy.

Incidentally, "Detective Pikachu" was the first live-action adaptation of a Nintendo property since "Super Mario Bros." in 1993. 

5. Pokémon Heroes: Latias and Latios (2002)

"Heroes" was the final theatrically released Pokémon film and — if judging by the crowd in my theater was any indication — few cared to seek it out. A pity, as "Heroes" is another Pokémon film rich in alluring, utopian locations. The central city this time is a Venice-like town with canals and the instigating incident is a Pokémon race. Lurking about the city are two benevolent Pokémon shaped like airplanes called Latias and Latios. Later on, Ash and his friends will visit a museum to learn more about the two Pokémon in question. What follows isn't so much a high-stakes adventure as a pleasant, calming European vacation. Even the stakes are low. A pair of thieves – Annie and Oakley — try to kidnap Latias and Latios. But nature doesn't hang in the balance this time. Annie and Oakley just need to be taught a lesson about the evils of poaching. 

What "Heroes" proved was that Pokémon movies, even with a generally accepted mission statement of mayhem, can also serve as a balm. One might not think of a Pokémon feature film as a "hang out" movie, but that's kind of where "Heroes" lies. Sometimes, it's nice to just visit. Wanna hit up the deli after the museum?

This "vacation" notion will come into play again further down this list. 

4. Pokémon the Movie: The Rise of Darkrai (2007)

The first part of the Dialga/Palkia trilogy is also the strongest. As the two kaiju-sized monsters fight in between dimensions, they warp reality around them. It changes the geography of a nearby town that Ash is visiting, and his vacation is ruined. Some people are shunted into the bodies of Pokémon, including a city official who turns into something called a Lickilicki. The warping was predicted in a 100-year-old book, and has something to do with the oblique architecture in the town. The is something appealingly Lovecraftian about the setup. Ancient buildings are used as conductors to attract the attention of fighting gods who have no regard for human existence. 

"Darkrai" already felt like a dank, cosmic horror story even before the appearance of the title Pokémon. Darkrai, with wispy cape-like strands emanating from its back, is a Pokémon that transports nightmares into people's brains. Again, audiences are faced with the notion that Pokémon are, in fact, a canon of minor deities. While the balance of nature does indeed threaten to tip — one might see that such threats are very common — the stakes seem to be even higher. One might get the idea that Ash and his friends are fighting for their very sanity.

3. Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle (2020)

"Secrets of the Jungle" is a Pokémon feature film that gains traction by playing small. The main plot involves an infant who is left behind in the jungle to be cared for by the baboon-like Pokémon Zarude. Like a Pokémon version of Tarzan, but without the distant whiffs of European colonialism, the boy, named Koko, is raised by the Zarude, and learns to speak their language. As a teen, the boy begins to drift away from his Zarude father when he learns he does not have a Pokémon's superpowers. He will flee into the city and befriend Ash. A "wild child" story will unfold.

The plot will eventually concern the fate of Koko's parents, the location of a magical tree, and the scheme of a team of bad guys who seek to tear through the jungle in a tank. "Jungle" is, of all the Pokémon feature films, the most solidly written. It has small character moments, pathos, resentment, joy, and righteousness. The story has consistent themes and the goals are clear and excitingly difficult. Pokémon are allowed to be openly emotional (which helps when the human audience can understand them). We are a long, long way from the inane mayhem of "The First Movie." Here, we have, well, a real movie. 

2. Pokémon the Movie: Destiny Deoxys (2004)

As mentioned above, several Pokémon movies go a long, long way based only on their setting. A major theme of the Pokémon TV show is travel, and Ash lives essentially on the road. He constantly scrounges for meals, sleeps on a bedroll in the wilderness, and rarely has a roof over his head. When he arrives in a major city for a Pokémon tourney or local festival, he can relax, enjoy some snacks, cure his Pokémon of their ailments, and take in the local color. Ash's quest to become a Pokémon Master feels an awful lot like a post-high school gap year. The world of Pokémon is communist and bohemian. Ash is a coffee and a guitar away from being a '90s grunge rocker. 

So "Deoxys" is most appealing for its Quebec-looking city — a wind-powered, high tech wonderland of glimmering spires and lush parks. When the title Pokémon invades from space (!), is drops a force field around the entire city, blocking its wind supply. Deoxys also, in crashing to Earth, upsets the orbit of a massive green dragon called Rayquaza that lives in the atmosphere. The film will end with a kaiju battle between a flying saucer monster and a flying dragon. 

"Deoxys" has the same appeal as some of the earlier Godzilla movies, which is ample. And with the bonus of a great locale. 

1. Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! (2017)

While the existence of Pokémon needs no explanation, the origin of Ash and the start of his journey did need to be established at the head of the Pokémon animated series that first began airing in 1997. In the first several episodes of the show, audiences learn that Ash, an impetuous youth, is all set to pack up and take to the road in the hopes of gaining skills and collecting Pokémon. He oversleeps, however, and is given the last creature at the shop: an equally impetuous Pokémon called Pikachu. For several episodes, the two hate each other. It isn't until Ash repeatedly protects Pikachu from harm that the little yellow mouse begins to trust him. 

In "I Choose You!," the events of those first few episodes are retold in rebooted form with slicker animation and much, much better writing. Like "Legends of the Jungle," "I Choose You!" feels like a proper film that actually builds to something. Instead of feeling like a rushed condensation of a TV series, it feels streamlined. There doesn't seem to be any pressure to milk Pokémon for nostalgia. It simply finds a better way to tell the story. 

By the end, "I Choose You!" accomplishes something that few of the other films manage. It makes Pokémon an understandable, workable world. It's handily the best of the films.