Godzilla: The King's Best and Worst Films
The King of the Monsters Returns!
Godzilla (2014) continues to generate revenue in theaters, so there's no better time to pay tribute to the tall, dark and scaly King of the Monsters. And there's no better way than with a best/worst-of compilation to celebrate everyone's favorite kaiju. With 30 films to choose from, here are The King's Best and Worst Films.
5. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
This film is often criticized because the scenes which focus on the humans trying to thwart the aliens are very lethargic. Let's be honest, those sequences are slow and boring. So, it's a fair critique because most fans want to see Godzilla and the other kaijus battle, but viewers are rewarded at the movie's conclusion.
The final battle is not only worth the wait, but it's what makes No. 5 on the countdown a must-see Godzilla flick.
Originally slated to be the last Godzilla film, Destroy All Monsters united almost every major Toho goliath including Godzilla, Mothra, Son of Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus, Kumonga, and Gorosaurus to battle the evil, three-headed King Ghidorah at the film’s conclusion.
This is one of the most epic monster battles ever, and the massive, royal rumble offsets any boredom leading up to the final act. If you absolutely can’t stomach the slow storytelling, skip to the end, but do not miss the fight!
4. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Don’t let the lengthy title discourage you, this is one of the most action-packed and visually pleasing Godzilla films ever produced. And this time around the King of the Monsters faces off against a trio of his deadliest adversaries: King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon.
There’s a great scene, which rivals any of the action sequences in all the other Godzilla films During the final battle, Godzilla seems fed up with everyone while Mothra attacks the army.
Suddenly, Godzilla unleashes an unforgettable, fire-breathing attack directed toward the humans which burns tanks, buildings and sends soldiers careening through the air.
Godzilla then turns his attention to the giant butterfly, and he lights Mothra up with his atomic breath! Yes, this entry in the Godzilla franchise includes some amazing special effects and plenty of “Oh, did you see that?” moments to satisfy every monster movie fan imaginable.
3. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The year was 2004, and Final Wars was the ultimate monster-mash movie. It was the 50th anniversary of everyone's favorite kaiju, and Toho celebrated by producing the most action-oriented of all the Godzilla films.
Seriously, there are barely any lapses in action because the cutaways to the humans are also laden with fighting. The bottom line: There’s very little story here. Final Wars is roughly 95 percent action, and the King of the Monsters tussles with a who’s who of creatures.
In the end, after Godzilla has stalked and wiped out the other creatures like a serial killer, it comes down to Godzilla and Monster X aka King Ghidorah!
There's a particularly memorable scene which any hater of the American Godzilla (1998) will appreciate.
Godzilla obliterates the American Zilla!
You can tell Toho was trying to send a message to the United States for screwing up the King of the Monsters in the late '90s. Well, message received, and fans loved it!
Zilla tries, emphasis on tires, to attack Godzilla, but Godzilla smacks him through the air with one swipe of his mighty tail. Zilla then crashes into a building, and Godzilla torches him with his atomic breath. The fight, if you can call it that, lasts about 20 seconds. Ah, sweet justice!
2. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Toho sprinkled a little time travel into this installment of the franchise, as some baddies from the future return to the past. The visitors' twisted agenda: Make sure Godzilla is never created.
Once the bad guys have made sure Godzilla will never exist, they want their own diabolical creature, King Ghidorah, to be born in the King's place.
Unfortunately, for these bumbling, inept fools, another Godzilla is created despite their best-laid plans. Surprisingly, the King of the Monsters easily defeats his three-headed adversary, but the titan is rebuilt and reborn as Mecha-King Ghidorah!
Yes, this installment includes Godzilla, King Ghidorah and Mecha-Ghidorah, but, believe it or not, the best scene isn't a battle between these mighty creatures. No, the best scene occurs when a misguided war veteran makes the mistake of thinking Godzilla is actually his friend.
The guy really believes Godzilla recognizes him, from the past, so the gentleman decides to get up close and personal with the King of the Monsters.
The veteran and Godzilla stare at one another, and the man nods from inside the building he believes himself to be safe in. He's sure Godzilla recognizes him, but the war vet is delusional, and Godzilla unleashes his fiery breath on the man and incinerates him and the building.
What can be said? The war veteran was a very bad judge of character.
1. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)
The original is still by far and away the best of the franchise. Now, purists may argue Gojira (1954) is the better film, but there is an element about the American version which outshines the original:
No, not the comedian, but the intrepid reporter played by the late Raymond Burr only appears in the American version. U.S. filmmakers added Martin to Gojira for representation, and Burr does an excellent job even if it is mostly as an on-screen narrator.
Also, Godzilla appearing in black and white seems so much more menacing than the colorized versions which came afterward, and, honestly, you can’t go wrong with the '56 version or Gojira.
Toho's original and the American update are more akin to horror films, and noticeably absent are all the other monsters which so frequently appear in the sequels. Everyone should see this film at least once. It’s a true classic, not just a genre film.
5. Godzilla's Revenge (1969)
This film marked the beginning of a slump in the franchise, and the Godzilla movies began to cater to a much younger audience:
The plot involves a young fanboy of Godzilla being kidnapped. As a coping mechanism, while in the clutches of his abductors, the boy envisions himself on Monster Island with Godzilla’s son (Minya). How do they become so close? Well, Minya can now shrink down to the boy's size!
And, as unbelievable as that notion is, Minya can talk, too. It's hard not to laugh at the movie, especially in one scene, in which Minya tells the boy, “Godzilla says I should fight my own battles.”
What’s worse, from a filmmaking standpoint, is when the boy and Minya watch the King of the Monsters fight: it’s just stock footage from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) and Son of Godzilla (1967).
There’s very little redeeming about this film. Who did Godzilla get revenge on? The devoted fans?
4. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)
Toho was on a decidedly negative roll during this period. If you happened to be watching Godzilla films during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it’s a miracle you ever became a fan of the King of the Monsters. The movies during this stretch were awful.
This was another Godzilla film that incorporated music beyond the film score. Just when you think the song the fairies would sing to communicate with Mothra was annoying, here comes “Save the Earth,” which is the theme song constantly playing throughout the picture.
The song gets stuck in your head and you just can’t get it out, but what's even worse is the villain of the plot: the Smog Monster. This creature is essentially a giant turd.
There’s a scene where the Smog Monster drops Godzilla into a hole, and the Smog Monster seems to crap all over the King of the Monsters! Apologies, but there’s no other way to put it: yes, the Smog Monster essentially has a bowel movement on Godzilla.
Oh, and that poor kitty! If you torture yourself, and give the film a shot, you’ll find out about the cat. What were the filmmakers thinking? Okay, it’s supposed to be vehicle to promote the environment, and the dangers of pollution, but couldn’t the powers-that-be put a little more effort into this?
Avoid The Smog Monster all costs!
3. Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
What if someone told you cockroaches from outer space were the primary antagonists in a Godzilla film? First, would you believe them? Second, would you double over in laughter? Well, start chuckling.
At this point, there may not have been anyone qualified for upper-management filmmaking working at Toho. This was the third-straight Godzilla film which creatively tanks, and it takes nearly 45 minutes before any of the actual monster action shows up in the movie.
Who cares about a plot involving villainous cockroaches? Fortunately, King Ghidorah makes an appearance with a new monster known as Gigan, but both are controlled by the cockroaches.
And again... the monsters talk. Godzilla actually says, “There’s something funny going on.”
He must have seen the movie, too.
Pile all that on top of Godzilla bleeding, his famous roar screwing up due to poor audio and the famous suit actually falling apart on screen, and you’ve got Toho’s crowning achievement in poorly executed cinema.
2. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
At least there aren't any cockroaches this time around, but the baddies in this installment of the franchise are underground Earth dwellers. Oh, and the movie poster shows Godzilla battling Megalon on top of the World Trade Center Towers which never happens in the film. Talk about your false advertising.
Who was running Toho during this stretch of time? The cockroaches perhaps. All levity aside, this Godzilla film also introduces the robot Jet Jaguar. Fans can't entirely blame Toho for Jaguar, though, because he was a character created by an elementary student via a contest to come up with a monster for the movie.
And, of course, Jaguar comes armed with yet another infectiously catchy and obnoxious theme song rather than lots of cool powers. Jaguar's theme is just as bad, if not worse, than the King Caesar song. Despite the silliness of the song, Godzilla and Jet Jaguar team up to thwart Megalon.
Now, there is a reason to watch the film, one redeeming moment: Godzilla glides across the screen on his tail and dropkicks Megalon, like a WWE wrestler, while Jet Jaguar holds the baddie in place.
It’s an awesome, memorable moment in the franchise, but it’s sad audiences back in the day had to watch the whole film to enjoy that one moment. Luckily, we can skip ahead on whatever streaming service we please to witness the tag-team spectacle.
1. Godzilla (1998)
Compared to the vomit-inducing Godzilla films from 1969 to 1973, this movie is watchable. However, it doesn’t forgive what director Roland Emmerich did to the King of the Monsters in the first, original American-made Godzilla film.
There isn't anything god-like about this monster.
Godzilla more closely resembles a dinosaur rather than Toho's famous kaiju. The American Godzilla, now infamously known as Zilla, is inspired by the Jurassic Park film franchise. He’s much too small, he barely spits fire and he is actually killed by the army forces. Did Emmerich ever view a Godzilla film?
Doesn’t he know missiles, bullets, planes and tanks can’t kill the King?
In conclusion, the Americans did finally get Godzilla right with the 2014 installment. The story is solid, the action between the MUTOs and Godzilla is amazing and it's delightful to see Godzilla done properly on the big screen.