20. Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (2015)
Most Pokémon fans will say that ‘X and Y’ is the best anime series, but they’ll likely also tell you that Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is the worst Pokémon ever. This 2015 release has been described as an over-the-top fiasco of explosions and fan-service; but is this assessment accurate?
Make no mistake, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is far from a good film, but unlike other entries in this list, Clash of Ages is never boring. For better or for worse, there is always something going on, even if that something is the arrival of yet another legendary Pokémon.
Some fun can be found in the the titular Hoopa too, an all-powerful Pokémon with the ability to warp space through it’s rings, allowing the transportation of people and Pokémon. The idea of its unbound form is interesting, as evident in the film’s opening in which Hoopa uses its unrestricted power and becomes a God to humans, summoning and fighting legendaries on command, all to show off its unrivalled power.
These brief positives aside, Clash of Ages is all flash and bang as fans of ‘X and Y’ have claimed: the very loose structure consists of a first act followed instantly by the third; plus legendary Pokémon appear in abundance, being treated in the most generic way.
Legendary Pokémon are typically rare, mystical beings, and barely appear in the Pokémon movies so as to keep them special, but here they are toys in a child’s hand, smashing and bashing each other with no explanation.
While it certainly offers turn-your-brain-off fun, Clash of Ages is ultimately excessive fighting with no substance to warrant repeat watches.
19. Black: Victini and Reshiram / White: Victini and Zekrom (2011)
Let’s just get this out of the way first – the dual movies thing is nothing more than a gimmick. Watching both of the films that make up this entry would not give you any enhanced experience and would be a complete waste of time. The main difference is that Ash uses a different legendary dragon. But while this aspect can largely be ignored, one thing that can’t be is the uninspired and generic (even for Pokémon) plot.
An ancient power flowing through the earth, a rare Pokémon needed to fulfil the villain’s needs, two titans who inevitably do battle… everything has been done before and better. The side characters add nothing to spice things up either – this is at least with the exception of Damon, who offers a somewhat interesting villain – and the film nearly goes against the grain with a third act sacrifice, but this is undone before the credits roll. If they’d have stuck to their guns, this 2011 double-release would have at least stood out more.
Black and White still have some highlights – the opening street battles are creative as each Pokémon weaves through the tight spaces, and the third act is effective in raising the stakes – but overall this is not much more than a skippable affair.
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18. Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice (2012)
The second film in the Black and White series is a much more dialled back adventure than the first. Instead of saving the world, the film follows a Keldeo that must prove itself by battling a Kyurem. In fact, there’s almost no reason for Ash and the gang to be here, other than to give Keldeo a confidence boost.
It’s a very well-presented film. Visually, the animation is solid and makes the battle scenes visceral and intense. The voice acting is strong and surprisingly high profile, with Vic Mignogna (Ed from ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’) lending his talents to the youthful Keldeo. Although the voice acting is a double-edged sword, with every single legendary Pokémon in this film being able to speak and thus make their intentions overtly obvious. There is no room for nuance here…
Even for Pokémon, Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice seems to be aiming young, adamant that it must hold your hand through every story beat, insistent that it must overtly explain every minor detail. The lack of stakes and smaller scope also add to the feeling of Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice being nothing more than a children’s spin-off, amounting to a film that feels more like an extended episode of the series, only lacking in the same patience.
17. Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction (2014)
After the underwhelming Black and White films which ranged from bad to passable, Diancie and The Cocoon of Destruction was a step in the right direction. While not a return to form by any means, this 2014 release at least had a sense of importance and justified its feature length.
Diancie herself is quite fun and has good chemistry with the gang. Being able to create diamonds, the Pokémon proves quite popular with thieves, which leads to a great scene towards the end where three different hunters try to catch her at the same time. It’s a fun moment and serves as a reminder that the series knows when to inject excitement into things that seem highly tense.
Outside of some memorable moments of fun however, the story is subpar with Yveltal (the film’s antagonist) being introduced too late for it to be a genuine threat. As a result, while the stakes are high in the third act, there is little reason to care.
Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction was clearly made to showcase the Kalos region and its native Pokémon more than it was to make waves with critics or at the box office.
16. Pokémon The Movie 2000 (1999)
The follow-up to the wildly successful first film unfortunately can’t surpass the original’s high bar.
Pokémon The Movie 2000 has its moments of course, but ultimately it feels a bit bumpy. The odd pacing results in extreme action one moment, then nothing at all the next, and this means the film goes large chunks of time without showing what the villain is up to, making the already forgettable Lawrence III even more so.
The generic “chosen one” plot focuses too much on Ash, pushing beloved supporting characters to the sidelines. The new characters are even worse off, offering nothing more than exposition and a running joke about Misty being Ash’s girlfriend that gets old fast.
The saving grace is Lugia, the film’s featured legendary Pokémon. The beast of the sea is majestic and powerful, making his on screen debut memorable. Its strong portrayal led to it being incorporated into the games, marking one of the only times the anime created an entirely new Pokémon.
It’s also worth adding that this might be one of the funniest entries: Team Rocket are at their peak, with jokes about Weight Watchers to repeated fourth wall breaks.