A Bloody Good Time 05.08.14: Ranking The Godzilla Series, Part 2 (#20-11)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.08.2014
From Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla vs Megaguirus to Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II and more, 411's Joseph Lee continues his ranking of the Godzilla films with #20 through 11!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Part one of the Godzilla countdown seems to have been received well, so let's see how it goes with part two. This one focuses on the Godzilla movies that aren't good enough to be the best but aren't bad enough to be the worst. They're right in the middle, with some obvious flaws but a lot of entertainment value.
#20: Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)
This is one of the only direct sequels in the Millennium series, as it is a follow-up to Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla. This one also features Mothra, who isn't pleased that the original Godzilla's bones are being used to power his robotic counterpart. Mothra's always angry about something involving nature. Anyway she gets involved and fights Godzilla, eventually dying and allowing her babies to take up the cause. Typical Godzilla vs Mothra fight. In the middle of all this, the original Godzilla's soul is awakened and it decides to take out its replacement once and for all.
The Millennium series more or less blends together for me, as they don't really have the nostalgic attachment and there's no real continuity between them. This one gets a little silly in the plot, what with Godzilla's soul being reborn thanks to a roar and all. That happens in its predecessor but I tend to enjoy that one more for reasons I'll get into a little later. It's still an entertaining enough monster mash, but it's one of Mothra's lesser appearances.
#19: Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000)
This is a follow-up to Godzilla 2000, but it doesn't share that film's continuity. Instead, it counts only the first film with this as a direct sequel. It's something many of the Millennium films did that I'm not really a fan of. I guess maybe Toho thought that constant monster attacks would eventually make everyone decide not to live there and they needed to keep Japan as the setting. Otherwise I can't imagine why they wouldn't borrow elements from Godzilla's already extensive franchise.
Megaguirus is created when a prehistoric dragonfly flies through a black hole (which Japan created as a possible weapon against Godzilla), lays some eggs and creates a horde of insects that eventually combine. Godzilla's DNA is also present in the beast, which means it can fire it's own atomic blast. Megaguirus is one of the lesser-remembered monsters, and I don't think it's anything special. The multiple monsters becoming one to fight Godzilla was done already, and in a much better monster battle. This one is just okay.
#18: Godzilla 2000 (1999)
After the crap Roland Emmerch released with his version of Godzilla, Toho was not happy and immediately went to work on bringing the big guy back with some style. This is probably what the American Godzilla should have been (and probably will be in the new version). The monster surfaces, destroys a city, then ends up saving us by battling a worse monster. In this case, the "worse monster" is called Orga, an alien that mutates with Godzilla's DNA to become an even greater threat.
Godzilla 2000 is kind of cheesy and their attempts at CGI (which they'd try again a few times) for the monster don't look good at all. However, Orga is a solid threat for Godzilla to face upon his return and reminds me at times of Biollante. That's probably because it also tries to eat Godzilla's head, but that ends as you would expect it to. It was the last Toho Godzilla movie to get a theatrical release in the US, which is a shame.
#17: Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla (1994)
I've mentioned before that I enjoy the look and abilities of SpaceGodzilla, and really think he's a strong threat for the monster. I just wish that SpaceGodzilla had a better movie to showcase his abilities in. This movie is fun, but it has a lot of the sillier moments in the Heisei series, which mostly attempts to be a more serious take on the monster. Most of these come in the form of Godzilla's kid, which looks a little too close to Minilla/Minya for comfort. It gets itself captured, which is the plot of the film for Godzilla: he wants to save his kid.
My problems with Little Godzilla and the plot aside (and really, who cares about plot in these things), SpaceGodzilla is a force to be reckoned with. Since it has Godzilla's DNA (there's that plot device again), it has defenses for Godzilla's attacks and thanks to its ability to control crystals, for some reason, it provides a strong fight for both Godzilla and M.O.G.U.E.R.A. Outside of a few of the original films, the Heisei series overall is my favorite, as I don't think there's a really bad movie in the bunch.
#16: Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth (1992)
This is also called Godzilla vs Mothra, but I'm trying to make my list a ltitle less complicated so I'll go with the alternate here. This is a much better appearance for Mothra, as she's fully in her "Guardian of Earth" mode. Godzilla is more or less just caught in the middle, but he's also more of an evil prescence in this. He's considered the greater enemy as Mothra and Battra eventually team up to take out the King of the Monsters.
I've always found it interesting that Mothra is such a threat to Godzilla considering she's essentially just a giant moth. However, she manages to take the fight to him every single time, proving that looks can be deceiving. Battra, on the other hand, looks more like a threat in that it has spikes and armor, yet it's Battra that Godzilla takes out. I like the monster fights but the road to get there is a little boring, which is why this one ranks a little low.
#15: Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II (1993)
This features the beginning of the end for the Heisei series, as Baby Godzila was introduced to eventually replace the main Godzilla when it dies later on. Of course that was ignored by Godzilla 2000. This one features Godzilla as a destructive presence, with MechaGodzilla created from the technology used to make Mecha-King Ghidorah two films ago. MechaGodzilla as a good guy is something that would continue through the rest of the series, as he remains a robot created by the government to stop Godzilla.
This film also sees MechaGodzilla become Super MechaGodzilla after it combines with another weapon, and Godzilla adopt Baby Godzilla as his own. Rodan also makes an appearance but gets messed up royally by Super-Godzilla and killed. The Heisei series had better designs in my opinion and some better monster fights. The monsters actually died sometimes too, which raises the stakes. Even Godzilla didn't make it out of this series alive.
#14: Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
Once again, MechaGodzilla is a good guy. This time he was created with the bones of the originally 1954 monster and named Kiryu. As in the follow-up Tokyo SOS, '54 Godzilla's soul awakens thanks to the roar of the current Godzilla. However, there's a twist. This causes MechaGodzilla to snap and damage Tokyo worse than Godzilla was doing, which causes the Japanese government a lot of embarrassment.
While it moves a tad slow in places, I enjoyed the human characters and the fact that it was placed as realistically as possible for a series like this. MechaGodzilla can't stay powered for long because it's so massive. Airplanes have to carry it to the fight with Godzilla. Sure, the stuff with Godzilla's soul awakening reduce the "realistic" nature, but I did say "as much as possible." It's one of the better MechaGodzilla stories, but not the best. That comes next week.
#13: The Return of Godzilla (1984)
You may have seen an American version of this called Godzilla 1985, but this is the Toho version, which contains less Raymond Burr and better editing. The problem with this movie is that no one really cares about a solo Godzilla movie anymore. That's been done in Gojira and won't be topped. Even the American version will feature a monster for Godzilla to fight. We want to cheer Godzilla and we don't buy that that the Japanese government can actually take him down.
However, you'll notice right away that the Godzilla costume is improved from Terror of MechaGodzilla, as it now contains animatronics and looks more like a monster and less like a cartoon. The Heisei series also had my favorite look of all of the versions. This is the version I think of when I think of Godzilla. It tries hard to be more like Gojira but instead it is just a decent Godzilla follow-up.
#12: Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Just in time for Godzilla's tenth anniversary came the first appearance of my favorite Godzilla foe, King Ghidorah. It's also the first film in the series to introduce aliens as a subplot, something the series really liked to do in the early days. This is also the start of the sillier Godzilla entries as we get a translation of sorts for what the monsters are saying ("Oh Godzilla, what terrible language!") when they argue.
However, Ghidorah is one of Godzilla's greatest goes. It's a three-headed dragon that can fly and spit lightning out of its mouths. The movie also includes Mothra and Rodan, making it a very fun monster bash, with probably the most monsters in one movie until Destroy All Monsters. Godzilla is also a hero for the first time ever, which makes this one of the more historically significant films on this list.
#11: Godzilla Raids Again (1959)
Speaking of historically significant, this one is often forgotten but contains a few firsts on its own. It's the first sequel in the series and features the first monster fight. It features another Godzilla appearing after the death of the original by the oxygen destroyer. Luckily, Anguirus is around to try and defend Japan, but he doesn't do very well. Anguirus usually shows up to get curb stomped by whatever monster he goes against and this is no exception.
This is a solid Godzilla film that is mostly notable for being the first time Godzilla fought anything than the Japanese military. After a film as epic as Gojira, the only way to top it would be to introduce another monster and let them fight. The military wasn't completely useless yet either, as they are the ones to force Godzilla to go into hibernation thanks to blowing up ice around him. He'd stay in hibernation for a few years before his biggest film ever.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook. Next week, I present the top ten Godzilla movies!
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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