There is only one, undisputed, king when it comes to Kaiju movies. No, it’s not freaking King Kong you damn Americans. That title belongs to Godzilla. Godzilla, or Gojira, is a legendary Kaiju created by Toho Studios way back in 1954. There are thirty-six movies currently with the Big G starring in them and, like all series, there have been some good and some bad films. As the first in my series of Worst to Best, I chose Godzilla because of two reasons. One is the longevity of the series. The Godzilla series has spanned 67 years to date. There really aren’t many film series’ with that kind of longevity or number of films to their name. The other reason is that I’ve been a huge Godzilla fan since I was five years old. I remember staying up for days watching the old Godzilla marathons on TNT back in the day.
Let’s get back to our list, starting at #20! You can find the previous article here.
20. Godzilla King of the Monsters (2019)
Number 20 belongs to 2019’s King of the Monsters. Now, I personally loved this movie and I feel like they did a great job with each of the focal monsters and the battles between them, but I had an issue with how the human element was handled in the film. The whole human plot just seemed convoluted and unnecessary to me, especially when you’ve got the big 4 of Toho monsters on screen. Come on guys, You could have easily focused 80% of the film on Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah but instead you gave us the ridiculous plot for the humans to fill in between monster sightings. I may be in the minority here, but I want Kaiju films to be 75-80 percent Monster action and 20-25 percent human focus. Most human subplots in the Godzilla movies are dull, with a few exceptions, and this one’s is why it ranks so low on the list.
19. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack (2001)
We’ve got a doozy of a plot for number 19’s Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. It goes something like this.. Strange incidents begin to occur when an American submarine has been destroyed by a mysterious force at sea off the shores of Guam. Only Admiral Tachibana was certain that behind the disaster was none other than the destructive King of the Monsters, Godzilla! 50 years after his attack on Tokyo in 1954, Godzilla has mysteriously returned to life to destroy Japan, and General Tachibana, whose parents died in the monster’s destructive wake, was prepared for his return to protect Japan from yet another tragic disaster, but is dismissed by the overly confident Japanese government, who underestimate Godzilla’s power. But to further prove Tachibana’s claim, his daughter Yuri, who works for the TV news program “Digital Q,” investigates strange phenomena in three separate areas in Japan (two of which involve the deaths of immoral youths), and meets a mysterious old man named Isayama, who proclaims that aside from his infamous nuclear origins, Godzilla is an accumulation of vengeful souls (of both Japanese and non-Japanese) abandoned to die in the Pacific War, and thus, mere weapons cannot kill him. While Tachibana has now been vindicated by the government, Isayama awakens the Three Sacred Guardian Beasts of Yamato, which protected Japan in its ancient past, and were then put into hibernation in the aforementioned three areas of Japan. The three monsters, King Ghidorah (sky), Mothra (water) and Baragon (earth), fight the rampaging Godzilla, while Tachibana also prepares to go into battle against his old radioactive nemesis. A lot to take in, isn’t it? It’s a good watch, if a bit out there for the plot. Especially since Ghidorah is a protector of Earth in this film and not an enemy.
18. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2 (1993)
We’ve got our third Mechagodzilla appearance at number 18 today folks. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2 follows as a direct sequel to 1991’s Godzilla vs King Ghidorah where the United Nations establishes the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNGCC) to stop Godzilla. Their military branch, G-Force, salvages Mecha-King Ghidorah’s remains and use them to reverse engineer two anti-Godzilla machines: an aerial gunship called Garuda and a mecha modeled after Godzilla called Mechagodzilla. This film introduces the adorable Baby Godzilla as well as an improved version of Rodan entitled Fire Rodan. It’s not a sequel at all to any of the Mechagodzilla films that came before it and it marks the first time that Mecha-G fought for the humans and not trying to destroy them all. Monster Zero said that “some critical flaws exist” but felt overall that “of all the films of the [Heisei era], Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II represents Toho’s most technically and artistically successful effort,” adding that “the action sequences in this film are impeccable… excitingly staged, logical, and quite dramatic.” American Kaiju said the film “stumbles in the areas of both story and special effects” but concluded it to be “a good, solid entry in the Godzilla series,” saying that “the battles between Godzilla and Mechagodilla entertain” and “Akira Ifukube’s music score soars.” Japan Hero said “the story was interesting,” “the soundtrack is plain gorgeous,” and “the costume designs are just as great,” concluding: “While this is not my top favorite movie [of the Heisei series], it is definitely one of the best.”
17. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Shin Godzilla marks perhaps the most drastic change to Godzilla’s look over his tenure, and also is the first time he has ever had to go through metamorphosis phases. An unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bay’s Aqua Line, which causes an emergency cabinet to assemble. All of the sudden, a giant creature immediately appears, destroying town after town with its landing reaching the capital. This mysterious giant monster is named “Godzilla”. His design is actually really creepy, but with this new design comes new powers. Like shooting lasers from his dorsal spines and a much more destructive breath attack. Something that was hinted at the end of the film, but has yet to be explored, is that it seems to reproduce asexually, as miniature Godzilla’s can be seen frozen in place on the tip of the creature’s tail. It is one of the strangest and darkest films in the series and I love it for that reason. Godzilla is such a destructive force and a despair inducing presence. I wish they had followed up with a sequel though.. maybe some day. hin Godzilla received critical acclaim from Japanese critics, while Western critics gave it a more mixed response. The special effects and new depiction of Godzilla were praised but the film was criticized for its long scenes, confusing dialogue, over-crowded characters and subplots. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 73 reviews, with an average rating of 6.70/10. The site’s consensus reads: “Godzilla: Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi – and altogether entertaining – return to the monster’s classic creature-feature roots.” On Metacritic, the film has a score of 67 out of 100 based on 14 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.” Japanese pop culture site RO65 called the film a “masterpiece of unprecedented filmmaking”, and felt that the film retains a “strong respect for the fundamental message within Godzilla”. Oricon Style praised directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi for their realistic approach and the film’s reality vs. idealism themes, calling it a “world class” Godzilla film. Cinema Today called the film a “thrilling experience” and a “masterpiece”, feeling that the film was a return to form similar to 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. Kazuo Ozaki from Eiga.com praised the film as well, stating, “Hollywood, even with all its money, can’t approach this kind of perfection” while Koichi Irikura of Cinema Today called it a “birth of a masterpiece that boldly announces the revival of a Japanese Godzilla”.
16. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
One of the more controversial and less well critically received films graces us at number 16 today. Critics wrote stuff like.. Joseph Savitski of Beyond Hollywood said “This entry in the popular monster series is a disappointing and flawed effort unworthy of the “Godzilla” name.” Film historian and critic David Kalat wrote “Despite its shortcomings, illogic, and overpopulated cast, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is crammed full of ideas, richly visualized innovations, a genuine spirit of fun, and some of the most complex emotional manipulation ever to grace the series.” As for the controversy.. The film was considered controversial at the time of its release, being contemporary to a period of economic tension between America and Japan, but mainly due to its fictional World War II depictions. Gerald Glaubitz of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association appeared alongside director Kazuki Ōmori on Entertainment Tonight and condemned the film as being in “very poor taste” and detrimental to American-Japanese relations. Ishirō Honda also criticized Ōmori, stating that the scene in which Godzilla attacks and crushes American G.I.s went “too far”. Conversely, Godzilla historian Steve Ryfle said American media reports of supposed anti-Americanism “weren’t really thought-provoking or insightful.” Ōmori has denied all such allegations, stating that the American extras in the film had been “happy about being crushed and squished by Godzilla.” All that said, I love this film but it just barely misses the top 15. It introduced us to an awesome version of King Ghidorah, the monster fights were spectacular and the human plot wasn’t as terrible as most films are. It was actually a bit interesting. Give this one a watch, it’s definitely worth it.
Keep your eyes peeled for part five, coming soon!