Pokemon: The First Movie

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Pokemon: The First Movie Movie Poster Image
Cooperation message buried under lots of violence.
  • G
  • 1999
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

More arcane knowledge about Pokemons and their powers.

Positive Messages

Several humanizing messages are interspersed with cartoon battles and the overarching threat of the planet's destruction: Fighting to the death is a fight no one can win; the real strength of the Pokemon (and others) comes from the heart; it's not your origins that count, but what you do with your life that determines who you are; and would-be enemies should focus on what they have in common rather than on their differences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ash, the human Pokemon trainer who is the leader of the community, proves to be wise, courageous, compassionate, and loyal. He risks his life to stop a war that could destroy the world. Female characters fight alongside their male counterparts. An effort is made to provide background and motivation for the principal villain, who  is ultimately shown the error of his ways.

Violence & Scariness

Continuous cartoon violence. A laboratory is destroyed by explosion and fire as the screams of those trapped inside are heard. In addition to vicious one-on-one struggles, fire, explosives, laser beams, and electrocution are used as weapons in various battles. The villain uses his psychic power to thrown characters from great heights, smash them into walls, knock them down, and capture them. Great windstorms and rainstorms with raging waters threaten the Pokemon team. For several minutes the central human hero is thought to be dead.

Sexy Stuff


Pokemon: The First Movie is tied to a vast franchise of products -- games, toys, apps, trading cards, action figures, etc.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pokemon: The First Movie is almost nonstop cartoon action from start to finish, and is not a good choice for kids too young to understand the difference between real and pretend violence. Dark, suspenseful music accompanies many scenes with explosions, storms, fire, falls, hand-to-hand combat, and what may be the deaths of important characters. Yet the film does contain some plainspoken messages about how destructive it is to fight, about slavery, and how "life is a great miracle and a great mystery." Because all of the Pokemon and their trainers in this film are tied to games, trading cards, action figures, and more, this first full-length movie appears to have two purposes: to entertain and to serve as a marketing tool.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. October 18, 2017

Hands down the best Pokemon movie

Some people do criticize the first film for being hypocritical with a "don't fight" message in a series that revolves around battles. The differe... Continue reading
Adult Written byAfonsoBatista January 30, 2021

One of the best movies I ever watch!

In addition to conveying a spirit of adventure and journey in kids and adults over the world this movie teach that doesn't matter if you're diferent..... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywhyamiusingthissite September 5, 2009

What's hideously annoying?

Pokemon is a Plural and Singular noun. Where in this did anyone use sexist treatment of girls? The child didn't appear dead he WAS dead, then the Pokemon u... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

Parents, back off! Pokemon has a eartfelt message, YOU should listen to!

I'd like to start off by saying that i, myself, am a 12 year old boy. One that happens to be a HUGE fan of Pokemon. To start, i've read your Parent re... Continue reading

What's the story?

In POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE, human scientists have figured out a way to create a bigger and stronger clone of the most powerful Pokemon ever, Mew. The result is a sort of Maxi-Mew called Mewtwo. Mewtwo decides to go after that goal of all movie bad guys worth their salt, total world domination, by capturing and cloning all the Pokemons. Mewtwo lures the best Pokemon masters to his island for the ultimate battle. He points out that the Pokemons are slaves to the humans. Then each of the Pokemons must fight its clone in a sort of existential crisis. Then it all ends happily -- if hypocritically -- with everyone in favor of cooperation instead of fighting.

Is it any good?

Excruciating as it can be for parents to endure, this film will appeal to kids, especially Pokemon fans. Anyone who has ever seen the Pokemon TV series, played the game, or bought the cards knows what to expect here: The characters usually undergo some transformation or make use of a secret to attain power. This theme is interesting to kids who can feel overwhelmed by a world built on a scale that is often too large for them.

Kids, especially those ages 6-10, also love to memorize and sort endless facts. It gives them a sense of mastery, especially because they can do so much better than adults. And it becomes an important part of their social development, creating a shared language with their friends. This can be particularly meaningful for kids who are insecure about talking to other children.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's theme of cooperation. What are some examples of how it's better to work as a team instead of alone or in competition with one another?

  • How does this movie compare with other Pokemon entertainments, like the TV show, video games and apps

  • Why do you think Pokemon has reamined so popular for so long? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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