With the advent of this summer’s big-budget American remake of Godzilla, there are sure to be plenty of moviegoers looking to dive into the famed lore of the Godzilla franchise. There are now 30 Godzilla films, which could be quite intimidating for new fans. Each film is entertaining in its own special way, but I’ll trim the fat and talk about the 10 films in the series that are must-sees
This is the original, classic Godzilla film, and one of the best sci-fi/ monster films of all time. Gojira is a slow, somber movie pulling no punches when showing all of the death and destruction left in Godzilla’s wake. The American version infamously replaced many of the more depressing scenes with a new storyline, and American actors. Although this film is emotional and slow paced, its underlying themes and story make it a classic monster flick.
This is the 3rd entry in the Godzilla series and probably the most famous. Cinema’s biggest monsters are in a battle royal throughout the Japanese countryside. This film is one of the most tampered with of the series when it comes to American dubbing. What was originally a social commentary on Japan becoming over industrialized with big business, American dubbing completely altered the film into a goofy, child-friendly mockery of the genre. Along with the storyline, Akira Ifkube’s amazing score was replaced by that of the Creature from the Black Lagoon’s. This is a really fun movie and an absolute classic, but make sure to watch the Japanese version!
In the 90’s, Godzilla was reborn and given a more serious tone as opposed to the super hero-esque qualities of the 60s and 70s. This era was known as the Heisi series and all entries are generally good movies. Mothra is awakened to fight Godzilla and a dark version of herself known as Battra. Godzilla is the villain and there is good mixture of human characters and monster battles along with a satisfying ending.
This is the direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Mothra, and definitely one of the best in the series. The Japanese Self Defense Force has created a robotic clone of Godzilla using space technology from a villain in a previous film. Meanwhile, scientists find a Godzilla egg on an Island, which is being protected by the giant pterodactyl named Rodan. The fight scenes are awesome, and Godzilla really gets his ass kicked throughout the movie. This entry is known for having possibly the best musical score in the entire series and it begins the three-movie story arch of Godzilla’s son.
During the 70’s, the Godzilla series became a product of the times and each entry during this era became more trippy than the next. The story revolves around a struggling comic book artist who gets hired to create creature designs for a new theme park called “Children’s Land”. The main attraction of the park is a giant tower shaped like Godzilla called, Godzilla Tower. The people in charge aren’t who they claim to be and are actually Giant Cockroaches from space. They try to take over the minds of children but Godzilla, his partner Anguirus, and the comic book artist interfere with their plans. The main villain- Gigan is bizarre looking with hook hands and a buzz saw on his stomach. A notable scene is when Godzilla and Anguirus plan their attack. Keeping with the comic book theme, speech bubbles are shown over their heads detailing their conversation. The antics between Godzilla and Anguirus make for a ridiculously fun film.
Many consider this the ultimate Japanese monster movie. The film takes place in 1999 where all the earth’s monsters are confined to a location called Monster Island. Aliens invade and break down the barriers that once held these beasts in check. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus, and more go on a world tour of destruction, which culminates into an epic battle, pitting a team of monsters against Godzilla’s biggest foe, King Ghidorah.
This is one of the most popular Godzilla movies. Shape-shifting Ape Men from space build a robotic replica of Godzilla in order to take over the world. It takes the combined forces of Godzilla and the giant Japanese lion god, King Ceasar to take down the powerful MechaGodzilla. One of the best scenes is when MechaGodzilla is disguised as Godzilla and they duke it out in an oil refinery.
Mothra may be Godzilla’s most recognizable adversary. The movie follows a business tycoon who stakes claim to a giant egg that washes ashore after a typhoon. Little does anyone know that it is Mothra’s egg. Two twin fairies come to Japan to warn our heroes that the egg must be returned or Mothra will come. Godzilla also wants the egg, for whatever reason, and that’s enough to make Mothra come defend it. An all-around classic movie, great miniature effects, great fight scenes, and score.
King Ghidorah is Godzilla’s archenemy. Ghidorah is a three-headed dragon from space that hops from planet to planet destroying all life. When Ghidorah makes his way to earth he is greeted by Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan. One of the charms of this movie is that Godzilla still has a villainous side, yet he is coaxed by Mothra (translation is done via the fairy twins) to stop destroying and fighting with Rodan so that they can save the earth. It’s incredible how much personality the monsters are given without even having any dialogue. The musical score in this film is arguably one of the best in the series.
Godzilla vs. Destroyah was made with the intentions of being the final Godzilla movie. In the original Godzilla film a weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer killed off the first Godzilla. 40 years later and those chemicals fused with some of Godzilla’s cells, creating a creature of immense power. Destroyah looks like a demon from hell. He has gigantic horns, wings, and is blood red. Godzilla is dying and will soon go into a melt down. If this happens, the impact from the melt down will destroy the earth. The military is trying to cool him down so that he can die in peace. This is indeed a sad movie, as the theme of imminent death is present throughout. You know the main character will die, but how? It’s the longest in the series, it has amazing effects work, and the emotion and drama is through he roof. It brings the series full circle and the ending credits show a “best of “montage of the series along with Godzilla’s theme.
Written by: Chris Kulik