A Bloody Good Time 05.15.14: Ranking The Godzilla Series, Part 3 (#10-1)
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.15.2014
It's time for the top ten.
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Here we go with another week of Godzilla movies. This is the top ten of the entire. Some of these are really good monster movies, at least one or two are just good movies period. The best part is that none of them feature an irradiated iguana that really likes to eat fish. Minya does make an appearance, however.
#10: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
That title's a mouthful, isn't it? Nicknamed "GMK" for obvious reasons, this one features not only the three monsters in the title, but Baragon as well. He debuted in Frankenstein Conquers the World and made his Godzilla related debut in Destroy All Monsters. He teams up with Mothra and King Ghidorah (a good King Ghidorah? Since when?) to take on Godzilla, who was brought to life in this movie by the souls of the deceased of World War II and begins destroying Japan.
So yeah, the retcon of Godzilla and making King Ghidorah a force for good are both a little weird, but this is definitely one of the best monster bashes in the series. The stakes are also a lot higher here as all of the monsters die. All of them. Usually the monsters take some damage but they don't always get killed so gloriously as they do here. Not even Godzilla survives this movie, which is rare.
#9: Mothra vs Godzilla (1964)
To answer question in the comments, I'm not sure why Toho loves Mothra so much. She is just a giant fluffy moth but she does manage to do a lot of damage to the monster she fights. She does have a variety of powers, so she's not just flying around being annoying. Anyway, Godzilla beats Mothra in this movie but ends up losing to her babies. It's one of Godzilla's most embarrassing losses.
However, this is one of the better movies because the monster fights are fun to watch. The pacing is also pretty good. The eggs of Mothra show up on the beach, Godzilla arrives and Mothra dies trying to protect him. Then her kids hatch and get their revenge. You get two different monster fights for the price of one. This was also the last Godzilla movie before he became a hero for nearly twenty years.
#8: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Final Wars is like Destroy All Monsters, only updated for the modern generation and including many of the monsters that have appeared since then. Even Minilla/Minya returns to be Godzilla's kid again. Godzilla fights off all of the monsters as part of an alien plot, but Godzilla himself really isn't on the side of humanity. He's just looking for a fight and all of the monsters that get in his way are toast. Toho also does the awesome thing and has the real Godzilla kill off Roland Emmerich's version with ease.
This movie features many monster fights, a new "Monster X" that is actually King Ghidorah in disguise and even some human action as they battle the aliens. It's really long but there's enough in it that you never feel bored. It's the last entry in the Toho series (for now) and they pulled out all the stops to make it one of the best. If you're a fan of monster movies you will probably love this one. I wonder if the reason Toho hasn't made another Godzilla movie is because they aren't sure they can top this.
#7: Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)
Biollante is one of the more underrated monsters in Godzilla's rogues gallery. It's a giant plant/Godzilla hybrid that really takes the fight to Godzilla. This was the first film in the Heisei series to feature a monster fight and it takes advantage by introducing a completely brand new and unique monster. This is something that it would stop doing for the next three movies as it wanted to remake Rodan, MechaGodzilla, Ghidorah and Mothra instead (although Battra is new).
As I've said before, I really like the monsters that take on multiple forms, especially if Godzilla fights those multiple forms. There's always something about big fights that are cooler when someone suddenly ups the ante by transforming. It's part of the reason why I liked Dragon Ball Z and Power Rangers so much growing up. Power-ups are cool, and Biollante was the first real monster to display different forms while in a fight with Godzilla. He wouldn't be the last, however.
#6: Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla (1974)
One of the last of the Showa era, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla comes during the period when the King of the Monsters was firmly established as a hero. So imagine being a kid, cheering on Godzilla and then seeing him show up to wreck Japan, seemingly becoming a villain. Angurius tries to find out what's going on and gets his jaw broken. It seems like with Godzilla back on the side of evil, all hope is lost...until the real Godzilla shows up.
The impostor is soon revealed to be an alien creation called MechaGodzilla, which has a plethora of weapons including missiles and lasers to use on humanity if Godzilla can't stop it. Luckily, Godzilla gets some help from King Caesar and manages to twist the robot's head off. That stops it until it comes back with Titanosaurus in the next movie.
#5: Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)
This is the last Godzilla movie of the Heisei series and it is a good one. Godzilla shows up in the first minute going on a rampage. His chest is red and glowing, and it's discovered that he's about to have a meltdown thanks to his nuclear-powered heart. The threat of a Godzilla suffering a meltdown turns out to be more dangerous than Godzilla on his own ever could be: he'll destroy the world. So to open the film we already have some incredibly high stakes and his opponent wasn't even introduced yet.
Destoroyah, which is created from Precambrian creatures that were changed by the Oxygen Destroyer formula that killed the original Godzilla. They eventually combine into the titular monster, which looks like some demonic hellspawn. It slaps around Godzilla Junior like he's nothing, and even proves to be a formidable foe for the original Godzilla. At the end, Godzilla does die, but Japan's freezing weapons manage to cool him down enough to prevent global destruction. Instead, Godzilla Junior absorbs his energy to become the new Godzilla. A fitting end to this particular series.
#4: Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
When I was growing up, I had a very select few Godzilla movies on VHS. Most of them were Goodtimes releases of the Showa era (Godzilla vs Megalon, Mothra vs Godzilla) but I had one Heisei film and it's the one that got watched the most. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah combines my favorite Godzilla villain with my favorite form of Godzilla, throws in some time travel and even gives Ghidorah an upgrade (to become Mecha King Ghidorah!) at one point. For a one-on-one monster fight movie, it contains a lot to take in.
Godzilla's origin is explained as being a dinosaur dubbed Godzillasaurus, which is killed by the Army after inadvertently saving the lives of the Japanese forces during World War II. The atomic bomb goes off and the dinosaur becomes the Gojira we all know and love. Some aliens have decided that Godzilla is our only hope against them, so they erase Godzillasaurus from history and plant three little creatures there instead that become King Ghidorah. But as it turns out, they not only failed to erase the original Godzilla (from 1954), but created a bigger and badder Godzilla (from 1984) instead. It's a lot of plot for a movie that didn't need it, but I think that's why I like it so much.
#3: Destroy All Monsters (1968)
This movie was originally intended to be the final entry in the Godzilla series, but it ended up only being yet another sequel. However, that didn't stop Toho from going all out as they grabbed every monster they've used up to that point, even a few that hadn't appeared in Godzilla movies before, to come together for one movie. The plot has the aliens unleash every monster onto the various cities of the world. Eventually Japan manages to stop the mind control of the aliens, which causes them to release King Ghidorah as a backup plan.
The end result is seven different monsters showing up to fight Ghidorah (and three more sitting around doing nothing). Even Minya manages to get some attacks in, wrapping some of its stupid little smoke rings around Ghidorah's neck. Ghidorah's the most evil of Godzilla's enemies and it makes sense that he'd be the final boss of the movie. They followed this up with some of the worst entries in the series, so it makes you wonder why they kept going.
#2: King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)
You'd think that Toho would wait a little bit before putting Japan's biggest monster against America's most famous monster, but they didn't. They wanted to get this colossal fight out right away, even if they had to change Kong a little bit to do it. Kong's bigger, powered by electricity and in Japan for some reason. He challenges Godzilla for his throne and the result is one of the most iconic battles in monster movie history.
By now, everyone has probably heard the rumors that there were two endings. The rumor was that in America, Kong won and in Japan, Godzilla won. The truth is that Kong wins the fight. As a kid I always wanted to see the Japan version because I liked Godzilla better, but I learned the truth and was very disappointed. As for the fight itself, Kong and Godzilla beat the crap out of each other. They know what you came to see and don't waste much time getting to it. It's Godzilla's most famous battle and it's a really fun movie on top of that.
#1: Gojira (1954)
Gojira really is the best Godzilla movie ever. The sequels are fun, but none of them really come close from a quality standpoint. This movie plays Godzilla as a grim force of destruction, brought about by atomic radiation and unleashed on the world. Godzilla doesn't even appear a whole lot at the start. We get footprints and a brief glimpse of him appearing over a hill. He finally appears later and get at least twenty minutes of destroying Japan without anyone being able to stop him. It's a somewhat disturbing scene because we have to watch all of these people suffering as a result of this unstoppable force.
After Godzilla's initial rampage, he doesn't return until the end of the film when he's killed. The movie plays the concept completely straight and the result is a very good film, not just a good monster movie. The special effects, while not exactly timeless, have their own charm and you can see the hard work that went into the movie. If you must see this movie (and you must), be sure to check out the Japanese version. The American version is fine, but it plays the film more like a typical B-movie when it's a lot better than that. It's the first and it's the best. I've seen reviews that seem to indicate that the new version matches this one in tone, so I'm even more excited about that movie opening Friday.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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