In an attempt to get my mind of recent events, I decided to go back and rewatch my Godzilla collection again and finally made my Top 10 Godzilla movies. I should put a massive disclaimer that these are my opinion, obviously, and that I picked these more on "would watch again" value than anything else. Also, I'm actively -not- including the original Gojira/Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It's on everyone's fuckin' lists, every single time, and is practically a given. By not including it, it gives me more flexibility for my top 10. So here we go, you all can see what horrible taste I have.
10. Godzilla vs. Biollante – While this movie single handedly spawned everything frustrating for me about the Heisei era, taken on its own it’s an interesting plot with a lot of nifty elements to it. There’s some phony bologna science to get Biollante, but who cares because we get one of the most badass, terrifying monsters in the whole franchise out of this movie. I really do wish we could somehow get more of her, and I would love to see the deleted scenes or the alternate ending. Again, not perfect and not my favorite, but it’s a very serviceable movie and probably one of the overall better flicks out of the Heseisi era.
9. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus – To this day I’m not quite sure if this takes place in the same universe as 2000, or if it’s one of the many “direct-sequel/reboots” that are all over the Millennium era movies. Regardless, this movie features a badass Godzilla and a very nifty opponent for him to fight too. While Orga was extremely tanky and could take a lot of damage and keep regenerating, Megaguirus was a very different beast in more ways than one. Lot of cool fights and neat action scenes and even a couple gags, this movie is a bit slow but so worth the build to action.
8. Godzilla vs. Megalon – I won’t pretend, this movie is a bit silly, but that’s also why I like it and I’m not just talking about the MST3K version. Godzilla is practically a super hero in this movie as he fights alongside a robot that just, somehow, programs himself to grow kaiju sized. Megalon is a goofy spaz who just pairs so damn well with the more mercenary like Gigan. This movie just speaks to the inner kid in me and I will never not cheer to myself when Godzilla and Jet Jaguar fly out of the circle of fire.
7. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah – While this movie is plagued with every issue I have with the Heisei era, I really enjoy the thematic elements of this movie. The full circle nature of the Oxygen Destroyer origin for Destoroyah, Godzilla’s own death, and the overall feeling of doom in this movie really does sell the “end of an era” thing for me. I also really enjoy the visuals of Burning Godzilla, and the final scene with him melting down was one of those major tear jerker moments for me growing up. The only thing that spoils it is the extent of the “we gotta stop Godzilla” mentality throughout that scene, which for me knocks it several rungs below Godzilla 1985.
6. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster – It may seem odd, but this has one of my favorite human plot lines. A guy and his friends steal a boat to find his missing brother, accidently meet a bank robber, and together they thwart a para-military organization with the help of Godzilla. The monster action isn’t great, and there are times where it feels like a King Kong movie (cause it originally was), but I’d be hard pressed to say I don’t enjoy watching this movie. Not to mention I really like, even though it’s not written for him, how this movie characterizes Godzilla. It’s got a fun adventurous feel and Mothra makes an appearance. And I really love Mothra.
5. Godzilla 2000 – What I really like about this one, especially when stacked up against later movies in the Millennium era, is the fact it’s not a direct-sequel/reboot. Instead it just jumps right in the middle of a larger universe, Godzilla is a thing, he’s been around for a while, and we don’t have to get bogged down introducing things. I’m also a big fan of the “unconventional” design Godzilla has, pink spines, orange fire, bright green skin, and a more stylized lizard feel. Also giving it to the English dub for giving Orga that really off-putting, wheezy roar.
4. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth – I love 90s Mothra to death. I love her spinoff series of movies and I love every time she shows up on screen. Her bold, stark, stylized colors and super good-guy, wants to protect all life on Earth mentality warms my heart. So while this movie is relatively weak when it comes to production value, I always enjoy watching it. Not to mention it’s one of the painfully few movies in the Heisei era that doesn’t just follow G-Force, instead we get off-brand Japanese Indiana Jones!
3. The Return of Godzilla/ Godzilla 1985 – Possibly my favorite of the “dark” takes on Godzilla, for me it does nearly everything Shin Godzilla tries to do but better. I’ll admit, I’m biased, as this was one of my first Godzilla movies. Both versions are on par for me; the Japanese version has more nuance and is a bit more consistent in tone, while the American version has Ramon Burr and a great ending monologue. It certainly does something right in that all these years later the ending still makes me cry. It’s also the only of the “Godzilla dies” type movies that doesn’t view Godzilla as a thing that just needs to be destroyed and nothing else, which is nice.
2. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster – One of the more strange and experimental entries in the franchise. This Dada inspired flick features Godzilla against a personification of industrial pollution in a battle for the future of the planet. Despite still being part of the “kiddy” phase of Godzilla, this movie is actually pretty dark and ghastly when you come right down to it. Hedorah actively murders people, people die in gruesome ways, and Godzilla suffers horribly to try to stop him. I’m sure to watch it every Earth Day, it’s a true classic to me.
1. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla – This movie is so wonderful I can barely describe it without just being a total dork about it. Great soundtrack, terrific production value, amazing monster action, and while it can be a bit camp, it never detracts from the joy I have watching this movie. The only possible thing I could say against it is the King Caesar song is a bit long, but it’s an easy 3 minute skip. Overall I’d have to say this might be the peak of Showa era, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a movie I’ve seen as many times and so consistently enjoyed.
Shin Godzilla – While I feel this is a grand political satire movie, I can’t for the life of me really call it a Godzilla movie. Sure, the monster looks like Godzilla, but it’s written so much more like Hedorah that it boggles my mind as to why they didn’t just make him Hedorah. Once you get passed that, the core joke of this movie is very simple: The audience knows what it takes to deal with Godzilla, but the characters in the movie do not. Watching the Japanese bureaucracy constantly act a step behind the treat makes for great dark comedy.
Destroy All Monsters - Had it not been for the fact that a lot of the monster action comes through monitors that the protags are watching, I'd place this on the list itself. But sadly, a lot of the movie is spent with our human cast, and while there are fun elements of alien invasion, spy stuff, space action, it never quite goes over the top enough to become really really fun. Granted, the final kaiju fight between King Ghidorah and -all- of Earth's monsters is fun to watch and has lots of neat stuff. While a classic, I still can't give it as high praise as I have other movies in the series.
Godzilla (2014) – This is a damn solid entry in the series overall, and a good start for a new universe. It’s got some fun backstory, the monsters feel fantastic, and they really capture a true sense of scale with Godzilla and the MUTOs. But jeeze, Kickass is so lack luster for me. I feel you really could do more with his character but he’s so goddamn blank, and it doesn’t help that Brian Cranston is so much better as a leading man and he just dies half way through. This would be way higher up there if we didn’t have to deal with Kickass.
Godzilla: Final Wars – An utterly bonkers movie. Like someone took Godzilla and the Matrix and SLAMMED them together at mach2! Godzilla is less of a monster and more of a kaiju-sized slasher in this movie, effortlessly murdering other monsters as he chases our protags. Any flaws this movie has are compensated by the fast pacing and high energy of the plot and characters, and when it’s not quick it’s just wacko.
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack -Another of those dark, edge-lord style Godzillas, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I love the overall monster aesthetic of this movie. Mothra is the only one who I feel is off, but everyone else is great. Lots of different types of monster fights in this, even though it doesn't bring too much new to the table overall. This is also one of the first Godzilla movies I was really hyped for, I had an issue of Fangoria with an article about this one, and I was so excited for it! Still have that issue to this day.