Godzilla films are something I love and grew up with. When I was young and living in rural Connecticut I would frequent a now long gone video store known as Video Visions. They had all sorts of wonderful videos and games, including anime (before it was popular or widespread), documentaries, Sega and Nitendo games, and of course Godzilla movies. Whether “good,” or not I was a huge fan of Godzilla films and would watch them over and over again. I was always excited to go to the store and rent Godzilla films that were new to me. I have so many wonderful memories of watching Godzilla films at home with my family or even occasionally alone when I was at my father’s office. These films were fun and exciting, and part of their charm was that they were often not good films by any means based on empirical reviewer judgement. This didn’t stop me though from devouring them and enjoying even the worst of the Godzilla film.
I decided to write this best and worst of list to go back and share my experiences with these films. For this reason I will not be including animated or non-Toho films on this list (consider yourself lucky Godzilla of 1998). I will also be limiting this list to films I have seen, so I will be omitting any films on this list that I have yet to see such as Ebirah, Horror of the Deep or Godzilla Tokyo SOS.
Another important thing to remember with this list is that just because a film is on my worst films list, doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t see it and that it isn’t fun to watch. I tried with this list to factor my selection based more on how others might feel about these films rather than just my own opinions (though this list is still very opinionated), and some movies that are on the worst movies list are enjoyable even if they aren’t very good. Also keep in mind that most Godzilla films require a large tolerance (and love) for cheese (a word I use repeatedly on these lists for good reason) and a suspension of disbelief. Godzilla is definitely not for everyone, but for those who are looking for a good time that isn’t too serious many Godzilla films will have you covered.
The first Godzilla film holds a very special place in my heart, because it is the only real film that presents a serious tone. The first Godzilla movie is almost exclusively about the terror and destruction nuclear weapons create. The film opens with something mysterious making ships disappear near an island off of Japan. The island’s elder claims that a fearsome creature they call Godzilla the cause of these disappearances. Although scientist initially find footprints and get glimpses of the monster, it at first it rarely is directly visible.
The military’s actions to stop Godzilla though are in vain and the King of the Monster soon begins to devastate the main island. While this is happening there is a human drama involving Emiko a woman who falls for salvage ship captain Hideto Ogata, and wants to break off her engagement to Daisuke Serizawa a scientist building a super weapon. After the military’s attempts fail Godzilla he rampage across the city causing destruction and devastation. Despite misgivings Serizawa finally reveals his weapon an oxygen destroyer to the military in hopes of stopping Godzilla, on the condition that the device it is never recreated or used again.
This film is entirely serious and includes both a terrifying monster and powerful human drama. The original Godzilla isn’t sugar coated or cheesy, it’s absolutely serious about its message surrounding the dangers of nuclear war and with its characters. In this film Godzilla doesn’t battle aliens, other monsters, or show pity. Instead Godzilla causes massive destruction, and unlike in most Godzilla films we get to see the real damage he causes on a human level.
Godzilla is an unstopped monster in this film, which humanity is not ready to handle, and can only defeated at great personal cost. Because the film is in black and white, it also feels more real and more frightening then later films because of the more fleshed out human elements. While there have been attempts to recapture the serious nature of the first Godzilla film, there is no sequel to this film with the same level of gravitas or feeling of realistic loss. Despite having a number of great sequels and some trying to have powerful messages, I would be hard pressed to say that any other Kaiju film has the same serious impact as this one does. The first Godzilla is a film that even non-Kaiju fans can easily enjoy and is a genuinely well-made film that even non-Kaiju fans should see.
Destroy All Monsters
This is the sort of film that Godzilla Final wars should have been. Destroy all monsters not only features a huge and diverse of cast of Kaiju from throughout Godzilla’s and Toho’s movie history, but also includes a classic plot that fits with the tone of the period. In this film all the monsters now co-exist on a seemingly peacefully island, but then things (as they always do) soon go wrong. After the monster research team on mainland loses communications from the island, all the monsters suddenly begin appearing and leveling cities around the world.
The problem is once again an alien one, this time caused by a mind controlling device used by female aliens who as you know by now want to take over the earth and for humanity to surrender. The alien’s stronghold is hidden within Mt. Fuji, though it is eventually found and destroyed by the Japanese army. This leads the aliens to trot out plan B and use their secret weapon King Ghidorah. Luckily the no longer controlled Kaiju don’t take to kindly to King Ghidorah and his antics, and proceed to beat the ever loving shit out of him. The aliens then try using a flaming “fire dragon,” only to be taken out by Godzilla on the ground and in the air by the Japanese army. The Kaiju then wander back to the island pleased with their handy work.
This was initially supposed to be the final Godzilla film so the Toho team pulled out all the stops for this film. Destroy all monsters contains tons of monsters, Kaiju action, and clearly pulls out all the stops. It is also clear that a ton of love was put into this film and it shows. This movie is perhaps the most Godzilla like of any Godzilla film I have seen and one of my favourites. The plot is silly, but it’s also what one would expect and want from an early Godzilla film. The filmmakers were smart to make the human parts of the film thankfully short, which created plenty of time to focus on monster action. The Kaiju action in this film is amazing, and I can’t tell you how exciting it was as kid to see even brief scenes of all the monsters fighting together or destroying cities. This is the Godzilla film I have seen the most and I still enjoy seeing it immensely. This film is so much fun and so important to Toho’s history that I consider it as a must watch for Kaiju fans!
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster
This film is the classic that first introduced Godzilla biggest nemesis King Ghidorah, the three headed space dragon. The film begins with Princess Selina Salno of Selgina (Kirby, Ditko, and Lee probably came up with this name) nearly being killed by an assassins planted bomb. It isn’t long though until she suddenly reappears in Japan claiming to be from Venus (oddly enough she is a heroic alien rather than an evil invader) and prophesizes the return of monsters including a new three headed space dragon called Ghidorah.
Meanwhile poor Mothra tries to get Godzilla and Rodan to help her defend the earth, but they don’t give a fuck and continuing enjoying their time blowing up cities. Mothra gets sick of their shit and then decides to face Ghidorah alone, only to get her abdomen kicked by the electricity spewing dragon. This finally prompts the two selfish jerks to stand with Mothra and fight to kick Ghidorah’s ass. While this is going on the assassins continue to try to kill the monster prophet princess, while the monsters are waging battle.
This movie is just amazing; the human action is not overwhelming and is somewhat interesting, and the monster battles are some of the best Godzilla has to offer. What I found most notable about this film was how it showed the warring tendencies of the three earth Kaiju, and was the introduction to Godzilla number one nemesis King Ghidorah. The film also features some amazing Kaiju battles. Thankfully the movie keeps Godzilla and the revived Rodan as unruly menaces, despite them eventually coming together to defeat the alien menace. There’s no cheesy looking aliens trying to invade earth (other than Ghidorah) or cut aways to boring exposition or matrix battles, just great Kaiju and miniature action. This is one of the best films in the Godzilla series.
While technically Rodan isn’t a Godzilla film, it stars one of Godzilla’s most common companions and is a genuinely great film that deserves to be on this list. Rodan starts with a miner who survives a cave in, after seeing something in the mine that traumatizes him deeply. He does his best to recall what it is that horrified him so much, but ultimately has trouble recalling it. After giant man eating larvae and a prehistoric insect are discovered in the mine, they are then crushed by fleeing humans in another mine collapse.
Things for the humans though sadly don’t improve after this, as another miner is knocked on the head and gets amnesia after seeing something important. While this is happening another mysterious force seems to be flying around incredibly quickly and causing massive destruction. It is soon revealed that this flying force is actual Rodan a giant Pteranodon who hatched within the mine, was feeding off the giant insects, and is the real menace the two miners saw. This new beast begins to terrorize the city of Fukuoka, and is soon joined by a mate. The military then proceeds to desperately try to trap and destroy the two flying monsters.
What makes this film stand out is how compelling the narrative build up is. For a long time the characters don’t realize what is going on, and the real monster lays in the shadows. Because of this the characters only slowly come to realize the true danger lurking in the mine. This build up leads to a great miniature, toy tank and plane destroying festival payoff as the Rodan uses wind and their body to wreck city miniatures. While this isn’t a Godzilla movie many of its elements are similar enough to a Godzilla movie to be on this list and are done well, making Rodan an incredible monster origin film. This film was so important and in line with the Godzilla franchise in fact that Rodan later reappeared in many Godzilla sequels as one of the most important and reoccurring Kaiju of the series.
Godzilla 2000 is one of the best modern Godzilla films I have seen. Mixing both the old and new aspects of Godzilla, Godzilla 2000 stands out as my personal favourite films designed to resurrect the Godzilla series. The film features the adventures of an independent Godzilla disaster research team as they predict that Godzilla will be returning soon. But trouble is brewing when an alien race seeks out information on Godzilla, so that they can discover the source of Godzilla regenerative properties. Eventually these aliens try to create a monster to defeat Godzilla after gathering what information they can about him, and the two monsters end up battling.
One thing that really sets Godzilla 2000 apart from many films is how well they balance a variety of elements that make up Godzilla. Godzilla is also well portrayed within this film, balancing his protection of the earth with a real sense of unstoppable menace. Godzilla gets plenty of time not only to fight aliens, but to also menace the city and provide real destruction. This balance makes the film a lot of fun and was a great way to revive the franchise making it entertaining and exciting again. This film also features the human characters that are actually kind of interesting. The conflict between the independent Godzilla research team who knows more about Godzilla and the overconfident government team is fun to watch, while still retaining the cheesiness that makes Godzilla fun. This been the only Godzilla film I have ever seen in theatres, and it was so enjoyable to that it helped to revive my interest in the Godzilla series when I first saw it.
The Return of Godzilla
The Return of Godzilla tries to return Godzilla to his threatening roots as a menace. As Godzilla once again attacks Japan it is decided that Japan should use a new flying battle ship in hopes of stopping the Big G. Things are tense though as Cold war tensions also erupt between the US and Soviet Union who both threaten to take care of things their own way with nuclear weapons. The Japanese army is of course sent to stop Godzilla, but initially has no luck. Though the army eventually briefly stops Godzilla with their new ship, he is revived by an accidental nuclear blast, and then continues his rampage as the Japanese forces try to lure him away from the city.
What makes the Return of Godzilla so interesting is how much destruction Godzilla gets to cause. Godzilla gets to battle all sorts of toy tanks including new laser tanks, and a flying super battleship. This not only brings him back from his kid friendly defender of earth phase, but also restores Godzilla to his previous level of menace allowing him to destroy model cities once more. This film was a really big departure for its time, because it allowed Godzilla to once again be a dangerous monster villain who ravages cities. This ultimately helped to keep the franchise alive, and for it to come up with fresh ideas. I personally love this film and feel it still stands up, due to all the time the film spends on Godzilla just doing what he does best, destroying miniatures.
Mothra vs Godzilla
Mothra vs. Godzilla is a classic early film that introduced the giant guardian moth Mothra and her larvae to the Godzilla franchise, as well as her two miniature singing guardian twins. The film involves a greedy capitalist who is trying to use these twins and Mothra’s egg for profit. Things go bad though when Godzilla hits the scene and does his thing (destroying cities). While the adult Mothra cannot defeat him, her eggs eventually hatch revealing her larvae offspring. These larvae are sent out to stop Godzilla’s destructive rampage after the human toy tanks once again fail to stop the King of the Monsters.
I call this film a classic for good reason. It is the first of the Godzilla films to be shot in colour, and introduces the tone and character of many later Godzilla films from the early period. Though the plot is relatively simple, it has plenty of neat monster action and destruction. Godzilla really goes to town in this film, and helps to provide some of the most fun battles of the franchise. Even the scenes with the two worms like Mothra larvae manage to be a lot of fun, and the toy tanks are at their best here. While the human plot isn’t as interesting as in the original Godzilla, the plot is definitely much more interesting than in many other Godzilla films. This is because the plot is less complex and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s is a great film and one I highly recommend, especially for Kaiju fans.
Godzilla vs King Ghidora
The reboot film for Godzilla’s nemesis King Ghidora is strange. After aliens come from the future they reveal that Godzilla mutated from a dinosaur exposed on an island used for bomb tests in World War II. These aliens seem nice enough at first and offer to help prevent Godzilla’s creation by teleporting the dinosaur away from the island’s radiation. But of course the aliens are actually jerks, who create a Ghidorah monster instead of Godzilla to (get this) stop Japan from becoming the world’s biggest super power (nationalistic much?).
The humans with the help of a traitor future person Emmy help to get Godzilla back, only to discover that Godzilla was already back having gotten his radiation elsewhere making him bigger and badder than ever. The two monster’s duke it out, and Godzilla emerges triumphant. This leaves a problem though as Godzilla isn’t exactly great news for Japan. With Emmy’s help once again though King Ghidorah is brought back as Mecha King Ghidorah in hopes of stopping Godzilla.
While this plot is more cliché, confusing, and complex than it should be, it still gives plenty of time for monster action. Both Godzilla and especially Ghidorah also look amazing in this movie, and get tons of opportunities to destroy things. What also makes this one of the best Godzilla films though is that it has one of the best face-offs between the two rivals put to film. All this helps to outshine all the cheesy and corniness (though that too is part of the appeal of the film), and made it one of the better Godzilla films.
King Kong vs Godzilla
King Kong vs. Godzilla is a strange hybrid film with an even stranger history. Originally this film was supposed to star a giant Frankenstein’s monster rather than the Godzilla. Toho purchased the script for the film though after Universal who could not get the film off the ground, and decided to replace the Frankenstein monster with Godzilla as part of Toho’s 30th Kong is once again captured briefly on an island in this film, before escaping his captors. Godzilla then ends up battling the newly freed Kong, after once again easily overcoming the human military threat. A great battle rages on between the two monsters, ultimately leading to a purposefully inconclusive ending.
This movie’s concept is alone enough to get any Kaiju fan excited. The matchup between these two monster legends is so important that soon Hollywood is hoping to have them battle again in the new monster film series. One part I found especially interesting though about this film is how Kong was given an affinity to electricity like some sort of giant ape battery. This was never a part of Kong’s character before, and was added as a strange result of script changes.
Although Kong was originally part of the script, many elements that were meant for the Frankenstein’s monster were re-scripted as Kong elements when Toho rewrote the film to include Godzilla. Kong and Godzilla also use very true to form fighting styles that represent them well. For example Kong tries at first to use tools such as boulders and shoving a tree up Godzilla’s throat, while Godzilla is shown to use brute force and his atomic breath which initially easily outmatches Kong (as it should).
The fight gets really intense though when Kong uses electricity to power up and become recharged for round 2. These elements helped to make the fight between these titans even more fun. While there is a plan to reboot this film I will probably still prefer this film even with (and probably because of) this films cheesiness and its use of interesting practical effects, rather than CG.
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah
Giant Monsters All-Out Attack: One of the best of the newer Godzilla films Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is a film with tons of fan service. This film is given a new twist with Godzilla being the equivalent to some sort of Kaiju serial killer, and Ghidorah, Mothra, and Baragon (poor Baragon is left out of the title) acting as prophesized heroes trying to stop him. The film is all about the other monsters desperate attempts to stop Godzilla’s destructive and deadly rampage.
This movie certainly is cheesy, has a questionable ending and has a side plot with humans that doesn’t really work, but makes up for it with the pure fun of the film. King Ghidorah finally has his chance to shine as a hero, and we get a fun return of Godzilla as a destructive unstoppable menace. Godzilla is pissed off throughout the movie, and nothing stands in his way. He is a ruthless engine of destruction which raises the stakes on the battles as he plans on destroying the earth, rather than saving it. While I don’t have the same nostalgia for this film as some of the other Godzilla films, I still really enjoyed it and the cool monster battles it presented.
Godzilla vs. Megalon
Oh Godzilla vs. Megalon how cheesy you are. Trying to explain Godzilla vs. Megalon’s plot is hard, because it isn’t easy to follow and at times makes no sense (and trying to recall it in person often makes me burst out in laughter), but I will do my best. After years of atomic bomb abuse the underground Seatopians (what a brilliant name) decide they’ve had enough and send out the drill handed giant beetle Megalon to wage war on the surface.
Meanwhile two scientists that are working on inventing a super robot name Jet Jaguar (a sad Ultra-man knock off) barely avoid capture by the Seatopians. After more hijinks with the Seatopian’s trying to capture the scientists they eventually get a hold of and use the newly completed Jet Jaguar to direct Megalon, and the Japanese defence force fails to stop the big beetle (big surprise). The scientists’ use a programming override though to regain control of Jaguar and send him to get Godzilla to help them in the fight against Megalon, while Megalon becomes confused about what to do without him.
In order to solve their confused monster problem the Seatopians call up the Hunter Nebula “M” for Gigan’s help (apparently Ghidorah was busy or tired having his necks stomped on). Luckily there is a rapid response to their message which is sent to and from space instantly (the Seatopians I guess have amazing space phone service) stating, “We are sending you the monster Gigan, as requested.” Soon Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, and Megalon and Gigan are squaring off in a fight to protect Tokyo in a quasi-wrestling match.
This film manages to be both boring and the pinnacle of cheesiness as well, turning the cheese factor up to eleven. Somehow this film even tops Godzilla’s Revenge (in most areas) in terms of how terrible it is. The human narrative is bad, but not in a good way. It’s both boring and silly at the same time, lacking the charm or fun of a better cheesy narrative found in films like Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Then we have the problem of the Seatopian’s.
Not one good idea other than Megalon can be associated with having them in the film. First off all their outfits are terrible. Every decision about their costuming is just wrong, whether it be their clear plastic tarps that to quote Jame Rolf from his monster madness review makes them look like, “Seductive Ku Klux Klan members,” with white bikinis, the Doctor No style white coat, or roman style togas it’s all just unbelievably terrible even for a Godzilla film.
Then there is the Seatopian’s response to their problem. While having their underground society being bombed by the surface is bad it isn’t as though they went through the trouble of introducing themselves to those on the surface (maybe they were afraid of being laughed at), and asked them to politely to stop with all the bombing. Before Seatopian’s sent their giant monster to the surface, the people above ground didn’t know that these weirdly dressed people even existed (what a rude introduction).
Another thing that makes absolutely no sense is Jet Jaguar. I get that he is a poor Ultra-man knock off, but why does he still have to be so terrible? Jet Jaguar is so bad that he wasn’t even included in Godzilla final wars, a film that was not ashamed to include King Cesar and the American made Zilla. Plot wise not only did it not make sense that the Seatopians needed Jet Jaguar to help direct Megalon, but it also didn’t make sense that they never used his giant form against the above ground people.
Their use of Jaguar felt convoluted and could have been easily remedied by just having Jet Jaguar initially help Megalon wreck stuff when he was being controlled. It’s also incredibly important not to forget that Jet Jaguar has a theme song that is at least as cheesy as King Caesar’s is, and that is played to tie up the film as he wanders off into obscurity never to be used again in a Godzilla film.
Next is the question of why any Kaiju other than Megalon and Jet Jaguar are included in the film? I get that Toho didn’t think that Jet Jaguar and Megalon could hold a film by themselves, but the reasoning story wise for Godzilla and Gigan’s involvement is beyond weak. The Nebula where Gigan comes from is suddenly is mentioned offhandedly in the story, and without any major reason immediately sends down Gigan to fight.
Meanwhile Godzilla the once feared monster and symbol of nuclear testing ends up helping not Ultraman fight the two foes. This fight is also beyond any level of cheesiness before seen in a Godzilla film. At least in the previous (but also lousy) film Godzilla vs. Gigan the filmmakers tried to make the fights epic, even with the lack of budget and overuse of stock footage. In this film though there is no gravitas or redeeming aspects to the monster battle. The film’s big fight is unashamedly silly, and involves high fiving, body slams, kangaroo kicks (shown twice in different angels), spitting napalm bombs, and wrestling throws. The battle isn’t epic and feels silly for all the wrong reasons. Still it at least beats the boredom of the human elements of this story, which seem determined to be as dull as possible.
Amateur doesn’t even begin to describe this film, and as badly made as some Godzilla films are there is no other Godzilla film as poorly made and as shockingly terrible as Godzilla vs. Megalon. This is a film I dare others to watch. I enjoyed watching this film somewhat for its camp value (mostly in retrospect) when I saw it once, but that one viewing was more than enough times.
Oh how I dreaded having to view this film for this review. I almost was not going to include Godzilla’s Revenge, because I thankfully hadn’t seen it before I started writing this list and I didn’t want to see it based on what I had heard about it. Also since this film doesn’t really follow the usual Godzilla film formula I was hoping to just avoid it. Unfortunately my father pushed me to see it, and because of this I was writing this countdown I felt really should view it and share my thoughts.
Godzilla’s Revenge is hardly a Godzilla film at all in the sense that the Kaiju scenes are mostly part of a kid’s imagination and cobbled together from other Godzilla movies. The plot of the movie is all about a kid who is being bullied (I guess?) by a gang of kids led by a classmate, and who later is captured by two bumbling crooks. This kid has narcolepsy and constantly seems to dream and daydream about going to Monster Island and hanging out with Godzilla’s son Minilla. Through dream experiences on the island he learns to fight off the crooks and stand up to the bullies, letting his imagination influence his real life.
I rightfully dreaded this film for a number of reasons. First of all it features even more of Godzilla’s son then even the film Son of Godzilla. Putting aside the question of how Godzilla had a son in the first place (is there a female Godzilla he mated with and just disappeared? Does he asexually reproduce?) Minilla is just an awful character. His design just looks terrible, and lacks the Godzilla like appearance of the Godzilla’s later offspring Godzilla Junior (whose birth is also a mystery).
Instead of looking like Godzilla Minilla has this terrible pug nosed goofy non-threatening look to him. Minilla was more tolerable in other films despite his appearance, because it was just him and other monsters, and he lacked a human voice. Minilla is monumentally more insufferable in this film though, because he actually does talk and he shrinks down to the kid’s size so that he can be the kid’s pal. My favourite versions of Godzilla and his fellow Kaiju are as a destructive force, and as a menace and jerk even when they save the world, not as a friendly pal for a kid that speaks in a voice that in the dub sounds similar to Goofy.
Even if for some strange reason someone would actually like Minilla or the plot, the production quality would be enough to drive them away. This film is a perfect example of why having a good musical score is so important. Never have I missed Akira Ifukube’s fantastic music more than when I had to listen to deal with this films insufferable use of 70’s funk music.
The quality of this music is so poor that it made me long for the terrible and distracting funk music of films like Hammer’s Dracula 1970 AD, which at least didn’t repeat a terrible main theme over and over again to save budget. In other scenes the film is too cheap to even include much needed music, emphasizing how absolutely boring the non-Godzilla scenes really are.
Even the new Kaiju battles in the film are terrible, somehow managing to be even worse than the painfully obvious stock footage the film shamelessly uses (which even with the added music, poor editing, and stupid commentary from Minilla and the kid are sadly still the most interesting and best parts of the film). To top it all off the messages this film presents is almost as bad as the shameless use of stock footage. The film wraps-up with lead kid being a jerk to a poor sign painter after he earns the respect from the assertive kid and his gang’s through a fight. Do yourself a favour and avoid this film.
Godzilla Final Wars
I’m sorry if this is an unpopular opinion, but this film just isn’t good. It involves a group of mutants (including American Stalin) who have to help save the world from yet more evil aliens (the earth in Godzilla films by this point seems to have just as big of an alien problem as a Godzilla one). These alien mutants unleashed and control most of the Godzilla series past Kaiju (except for Jet Jaguar who was too crappy even for this film) to attack the earth. To stop them the human mutants release Godzilla, who has had enough of the other Kaiju’s shit and reigns down vengeance upon them. Meanwhile the human mutants battle the aliens, in long drawn out fight scenes sometimes on top of (the much more interesting) a giant lobster.
This movie is mostly a messy X-men and Matrix rip-off with some Godzilla thrown in. The biggest problem is there just isn’t much Godzilla at all in the film (which is especially bad for a film that was to be Toho’s last Godzilla film until Godzilla 2000). When Godzilla shows up it is impressive, but the film always seems to cut back way too soon to matrix style human battles (yawn).
This film has the opposite problem with Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and somehow has too much mindless human action that carries no meaning. I was hoping that this film would have focused on Godzilla and his monster legacy like Destroy all monsters, but instead it was a disappointing film bogged down by way too much cheesy human action. Way too much of this film is about sword wielding American Stalin and Japanese X-men wannabes doing bad Kung Fu moves. I know many people genuinely enjoy this film, but I see it as one of the Godzilla franchises biggest misfires and wasted opportunities.
Godzilla vs Monster Zero
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero can sadly be summed up in a single word, “Boring.” This film is the first film where aliens come down to earth this time from Planet X with a promise to help humans, only to turn out to be bloody rotten liars who you guessed it, “Want to take over the earth.” The aliens end up transporting Godzilla and Rodan to their own planet to help drive off Ghirodah, in return promising to send the earth a cancer cure. After moving the two monsters though the aliens prove to have other plans. Instead of sending the promised cure for cancer to earth they instead send out threats to world governments (bummer), and a mind controlled Godzilla and Rodan to wreck cities. Luckily a captured human scientist just so happens to have created a sound device that weakens the aliens, and can break the hold of their mind controlling devices. The humans use this device to free Godzilla and Rodan, and then they fight Ghidorah.
I really wanted to love this film, as many consider it a classic but it just isn’t fun to watch. The problem can be easily summed by saying that the film has way too much of a human focus and way too little monster brawling. I see Godzilla movies mainly to see Godzilla, not some humans in a cheesy overly long SciFi drama (most of which I cut out of summary because it was just too boring to include). It’s as though the monsters were just added into the movie in order to make it less dull. While some of the fights are okay, the most memorable moment of this film was when Godzilla defeats Ghidorah on Planet X and then starts doing an absurd jig, while the alien’s leader states in a dead pan voice, “A happy moment.”
This scene is most memorable not only because it is absurd, but also due to the fact that the monster fights are constantly bogged down by the dull as dirt human drama, and as a result lose a lot of their potential impact. When watching this film with my father who originally saw it in theatres he told me that he remembered it being far more exciting as a kid. He then commented that after seeing the movie again it actually seemed incredibly boring. Sadly I entirely agree with him, and still regard this film as one of the first Godzilla films I remember not enjoying much.
Godzilla vs Gigan
Godzilla vs. Gigan is a film that feels tired. Many of the ideas in this film were done many times before at this point and done much better, despite being classic Godzilla film tropes. The film involves giant cockroach aliens disguised as people using an amusement park to call Godzilla’s nemesis the three headed dragon Ghidorah, as well as a new monster the parrot headed, claw handed, buzz saw bellied weirdo Gigan. With the help of humans and his pal Anguirus Godzilla battles to defeat the two menaces and save the earth from the roaches.
This film is just lazy. While Gigan and Ghidorah are great foes, the film relies far too much on stock footage from previous Godzilla movies (much like Godzilla’s Revenge) and recycled plot elements to be entertaining. For the scenes that were new there were many bad ideas and concepts used as well. Some of these bad featured plot elements include having Godzilla and Anguirus talking like grumpy old men, and yet another dull human subplot which doesn’t do the film favours. While the plot is still somewhat fun and ridiculous even with these issues, they only help to confirm the lack of original ideas or footage found in this film.
Another huge problem is how many of the monster battles were filmed. By this point the current monster suit that was being used for Godzilla was falling apart and it shows in this film. In order to try to hide this problem the filmmakers tried to employ way too much smoke and some violence. This just doesn’t work though and makes the film a smoky hard to see mess rather than fun. These features also help to highlight just how much stock footage was used, making it’s use stand out as even more as lazy. It’s a real shame that this film wasn’t made better, had they put in more effort into filming new scenes, reduced the smoke by at least half, and gotten a new Godzilla suit this film could have been great or at least a lot better.
Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla
Despite being on my worst of list, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla is a lot more fun than some of the movies on this list. What ends up bringing Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla to this worst films list is the cheese in this film is turned up to ten. Not only does this film have Godzilla facing off against his robot double, but it also features perhaps the second silliest monster of the entire series King Cesar. The film revolves once again around aliens, who this time make a robot Godzilla in hopes of taking over the world. Godzilla and his buddies, however will have none of this and fight to protect the earth. Meanwhile the humans also battle the aliens in hopes of stopping their plan to capture innocent people and take over the earth by controlling their robot monster.
What stands out about this film is just how cheesy it mostly is, and that the films Kaiju fights have a lot of tonal dissonance with the rest of the film. While the monster fights try to be more serious and brutal, most of the film is just absurd making these battles stand out awkwardly. One of these silly elements are the aliens who are revealed to actually look like sad rejects from the Planet of the Apes when they are shot. The alien designs and dialogue in this film is some of the most laughable even for a Godzilla film (which is a major feat).
Perhaps what is most ridiculous though is the addition of King Cesar, a strange Chinese Lion like guardian with one of the goofiest designs ever. Cesar with his silly name, floppy ears, and ridiculous suit design is a laughable monster. What is most hilarious about Cesar though is how he is summoned. Literally the laziest of the monsters, Cesar can only be awoken from sleep through the use of a terrible song sung by a priestess that seems to go on forever. For those who are looking for a Godzilla movie that lays on the cheese, and don’t mind some pretty good but out of place fight scenes this movie actually won’t disappoint, but for all others I would advise avoiding this film.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is not the worst Godzilla film by any means if you can tolerate some cheese. During this period of films Godzilla lost a lot of his menace, becoming a kid’s character and hero. This film stars Hedorah a disgusting monster made up of toxic waste who has to be stopped by Godzilla. In most of the Kaiju parts without weird psychedelic fish masks and ham-fisted moralizing, Godzilla faces off against the alien pollution monster, defending the earth from his sludgy menace.
Despite being a children’s film with many hilariously absurd scenes such as Godzilla using his fire breathe to fly through the air like a rocket (I’m not sure how this works but okay), there is also a surprising amount of violence in this film. Godzilla vs. Hedorah contains scenes where Hedorah drops acid on hippies who are dropping acid reducing them to bones, and of Godzilla ripping out eggs out of the polluting menaces body. One thing that is consistent about this film though is how cheesy it is. The dialogue and the action is just ridiculous. For those looking for the serious gravitas of the themes of the original Godzilla film or the spectacle of other Godzilla films, the only thing that will be found is disappointment (and that Godzilla can for some reason defy gravity and fly using his atomic breathe).
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
One of the many reboots of the original Godzilla film, Godzilla vs Megaguirus is really confusing. It retcons the original death of Godzilla, and includes a new anti-Godzilla force, as well as a new experimental technology that is used in hopes of avoiding the dangers of nuclear energy and Godzilla’s wrath. The film begins with a worm hole accidently opening up during a SciFi scientific experiment which releases a prehistoric dragon fly who then lays eggs. These egg hatch and the dragon fly monsters then end up doing battle Godzilla and the army. Though most of them are defeated some escape and then with the help of stolen energy create a huge moth like monster that Godzilla and military battles.
Godzilla vs. Megauirus is like Godzilla vs King Ghidora, only a lot more boring and less memorable. Though technically it probably is a better film than Godzilla vs King Ghidora, it just doesn’t have the same fun or appeal. Godzilla vs. Megauirus takes itself way too seriously, and tries hard make the human military heroes interesting (they aren’t). The best parts of the film are the monster fights, and even those can’t really compare with the better Godzilla films.
Though I boiled down the plot in my summary above there are still a lot of elements I found confusing overall such as a plot about Plasma power, satellites, and human elements that just didn’t come together. I had a hard time following this film though largely because I just didn’t feel invested in it. The films greatest crime is that it just isn’t interesting enough to decipher or care about the various plot details. Though it is more competent then many earlier films I’d much rather watch many of those early films, because they kept my interest even if they were needlessly complex.
Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II
Not to be confused with the second Mechagodzilla film, The Terror of Mecha Godzilla, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II is a strange film. Taking place supposedly after Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, the army decides to build a MechaGodzilla and flying battleship out of the robotic remains of Mecha King Ghidora in order to defend Japan against Godzilla. When a research team goes to Monster Island and ends up taking Godzilla’s egg to the mainland while Godzilla is distracted by Rodan, I bet you can guess what Godzilla then does. Yes, Godzilla once again goes on a rampage destroying all things in his path searching for his missing egg.
It soon hatches and the scientists study the new Godzilla baby. Meanwhile Godzilla’s destructive search doesn’t sit well though with the Japanese army who sends out MechaGodzilla to stop Godzilla. This doesn’t go well for the army however, and they then decides to use the baby Godzilla as bait and to get the help of the famous Godzilla physic lady who tries to help fight against Godzilla in the newly upgraded Super MechaGodzilla. Rodan comes back though, and the three end up duking it out.
This film again is by no means a terrible one. The action is good, and it has some good fights. The problem lies in the plot, which is very silly. Capturing Godzilla’s son is a dangerous and foolish thing to do, which isn’t help by the already lousy concept of discovering that Godzilla has two brains (a concept so ridiculous that it is never used or mentioned again after this film). The concept of using parts of the previous movies monster to build a MechGodzilla and ship was also convoluted, as was the return of the simpering psychic lady who doesn’t add much of anything to the film. While this is far from the worst Godzilla films, it is also far from one of the best due to its poor plot and added concepts.
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is actually not that bad of a movie for Godzilla fans. I personally love this film, even though I can clearly admit it really isn’t very good one. This movie stars Space Godzilla a monster that somehow is formed by a black hole with Godzilla and (the Plant Godzilla) Biollante’s DNA. Questionable physics aside somehow this mixture has created an evil Godzilla with crystal powers who decides to invade the earth (because why not). Japan decides to try to fight this menace with M.O.G.U.E.R.A. a wannabe Mecha Godzilla with a drills. This plan at first fails though with Space Godzilla breaking the machine, lands on the earth, and kidnaps Godzilla’s son just to piss earth Godzilla off. Meanwhile if things weren’t ridiculous enough the two mini Mothra priestesses find a psychic lady, who first warns the earth about Space Godzilla before having to be rescued from Yakuza (the Japanese mob). After this Godzilla and the Japanese army’s robot battle Space Godzilla in his crystal fortress.
This film is a bit of a mess, with tons of sub plots going on that are distracting and don’t lead much of anywhere. The inclusion of the simpering psychic lady (a term coined by my father) makes little sense and the many armies planning scenes are often boring compared to the monsters. None the less I actually really enjoy this film despite its flaws. The destruction of miniatures caused by the monsters and machines are good really, and I really like Space Godzilla’s weird yet fitting design. Those who are not Godzilla fans though will probably find this film confusing and unsatisfying.
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