After many years of waiting, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ is finally here! It’s highly divisive, with critics complaining about the story and fans complaining about the critics. I’d love to contribute to the conversation with my own review. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet.
Hey, I’m a busy guy, okay? As much as I’d love to sit in a tent outside a movie theater to catch it as quickly as possible, I am a busy guy. I don’t have time for that.
But if you’ve been around for a while, then you’ll know this simple fact about me: I love Godzilla, and I’ll talk about the series whenever I’m given the chance. So I’m going to take this opportunity before having seen the film. And I’m going to try giving you newcomers a helping hand.
Getting into Godzilla can seem daunting to potential new fans. It is a fair feeling; the series has been around since 1954, experienced several reboots, and actually getting some of the films can be a challenge in it of itself. The question of “Where do I start?” can be a huge pain. Which can be a turn-off for potential fans.
Which brings us to today. For your convenience, I’m going to give you a list of every single Godzilla movie and which ones you should watch. I do this with the aim to ease you into the series, so that you may easily decide whether or not you think this franchise is for you and you want to watch the rest.
Now, this is going to be challenging. Not just because I love basically every one of these movies. But because there are thirty-fucking-five of these things! These are:
The Showa Era
- Godzilla Raids Again
- King Kong VS Godzilla
- Mothra VS Godzilla
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
- Invasion of Astro-Monster
- Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
- Son of Godzilla
- Destroy All Monsters
- All Monsters Attack
- Godzilla VS Hedorah
- Godzilla VS Gigan
- Godzilla VS Megalon
- Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla
- Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Heisei Era
- The Return of Godzilla
- Godzilla VS Biollante
- Godzilla VS King Ghidorah
- Godzilla VS Mothra
- Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla 2
- Godzilla VS SpaceGodzilla
- Godzilla VS Destroyah
The Millennium Period
- Godzilla 2000
- Godzilla VS Megaguirus
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
- Godzilla: Final Wars
The Reiwa Period
- Shin Godzilla
- Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
- Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle
- Godzilla: The Planet Eater
- Godzilla (1998)
- Godzilla (2014)
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
Yeah. Monstrous. Quite literally, in this case.
Now, before we get to which ones you should watch, I want to establish something. See, there are two kinds of Godzilla films.
The first type are the films with a message. These are the movies that take themselves seriously and use Godzilla as a means to deliver powerful themes. These include the dangers of nuclear weapons, the failings of the Japanese government, and others. These, if you ask me, are the strongest films.
Not to say the second type is bad. Cause the second type is where most of the films fall into. I’m talking about the cheesy, dumb and fun movies. These are the ones that focus less on delivering a message, and more and giving the audience a great time. They’re the ones that’ll give you scenes like this.
You get the picture.
The Serious Movies: The True Classics
Godzilla has a number of movies that take the King of the Monsters seriously. These films are not cheesy action movies; rather, they are character driven dramas with some horror elements. They are the films that treat Godzilla less like an unstoppable warrior and more as a terrible force of nature.
In this regard, there are two movies better than any other. They are: the original 1954 film Gojira and the 2016 film: Shin Godzilla. These, in my opinion, are the best films in the whole series.
The original film has aged surprisingly gracefully. Sure, some of the special effects scream ‘I’M FROM THE FIFTIES!!’ and the Godzilla suit itself looks a little rough. But the film is nigh perfect in every other regard, from its pacing to its visuals. Watching it is still a total blast.
Now, I want to make one thing clear: you need to watch the Japanese version of this film. Do not, under any circumstances, watch the American version. It completely butchers the film in order to censor it for audiences in the US. If you want the full, powerful vision of the movie that started it all, you need to watch Gojira. Not King of the Monsters.
Next is my personal favorite movie: Shin Godzilla. This movie turns Godzilla from a metaphor on nuclear destruction and into one based on the numerous natural disasters that have struck Japan in the last few years. On top of that, the movie is a satire of the Japanese governments, pointing out the numerous issues that they have in terms of responding to natural disasters.
The visuals in this movie are stronger than any other film in the series. This is particularly true for Godzilla himself. His design is given a major overhaul, transforming him into the single scariest Godzilla in the whole series. Plus, the score is absolutely fantastic! Everything in this movie is just so damn good!
Gojira and Shin Godzilla. If you’re looking for the more serious-minded films, there are no better than in this series.
But what if you’re not looking for something serious? What if you want to watch something dumb, cheesy and fun? Well don’t you worry! This franchise has plenty for you!
The Cheesy Ones: The Fun Classics
This is going to be hard. There are so many of these to choose from! I want to just say ‘Watch all of them’ and move on. But for the sake of not being a lazy dick, I’ll pick out three that you should watch.
My first pick is the Showa era’s Mothra VS Godzilla. This movie is one of my favorite films in the whole series. The story is simple with equally simple themes, the action and visuals are some of the best out of any Showa era movie, and the monsters themselves actually look really good for a movie from the 60s. Plus, it serves as a fantastic introduction to Mothra. If you’re going to watch any movie before the new one, this is the movie.
Next, I’d say to check out the Heisei era’s Godzilla VS King Ghidorah. This serves as a decent enough introduction to Ghidorah for newcomers, and it gives an extra little layer of fun with the time-travel heavy plot. Out of all the Heisei era, I personally feel that this one has the best visuals, including the best looking Godzilla and Ghidorah that we’ve gotten up to this point.
And finally, my final recommendation: Godzilla VS Megalon. This is the best of the ‘so bad they’re good’ section of Godzilla movies. It is incredibly stupid, but in an entertaining way! It features some of the most iconic moments in the whole series, including the legendary anti-gravity drop kick from above! This is the best bad Godzilla movie.
Trust me. If you love ironically good movies, this is a great one. In fact, I’m pretty sure MST3K did an episode on it.
I hope to have been some help to any newcomers who may have found this post. If not, then I hope you at least enjoyed reading it. Either way, I’ll have done my job.
It is a fantastic time to be a Godzilla fan, new or old. The franchise is experiencing a strong resurgence, both on the Japanese and American side of things. I’m glad to know that we’ll have plenty more movies to watch and discuss for years to come.
Even if it’s only to complain that they haven’t remade this scene with modern technology.