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These Are The Best And Worst Godzilla Movies In History

The very premise of Godzilla: King of the
Monsters asks us to look back at Godzilla’s history, which includes nearly three dozen
films. They range from dark depictions of post-nuclear
Japan to comedic sci-fi romps to time travel sagas and everything in between. There’s a reason the new Godzilla film, King
of the Monsters, features the foursome of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah,
and much of it can be traced back to this colossal classic released ten years after
the first Godzilla film. In his first appearance, King Ghidorah hatches
on Earth to rain down destruction with its three heads, two tails, and lightning breath. Mankind’s only hope is a team-up of Godzilla,
Rodan, and Mothra. It’s a lot of fun, and the kaiju carnage is
some of the most powerful in the franchise. For a little while in the middle of the Showa
era of Godzilla films, Toho experimented with broadening the franchise’s appeal through
the introduction of various new characters. At the same time, they were trying to keep
budgets low, which unfortunately brings us to Godzilla’s son, Minilla. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Godzilla
having offspring. In fact, later films also toyed with this
idea to varying degrees of success. Here, though, the interactions between Godzilla
and Minilla are played with such a comedic, put-upon-father sensibility that it starts
to grate on you almost immediately. That’s not the only problem with the film,
though. The creatures this time around — the giant
mantises and the giant spider called Kumonga — look cool, but because they’re puppets
instead of men in suits, the fight scenes are rather limited in terms of intensity. The Heisei era of Godzilla films kicked off
with an attempt to return the character to its atomic horror roots with the somewhat
divisive The Return of Godzilla in 1984, and things remained rather dark with Godzilla
vs. Biollante in 1989. Those are both solid films, but the Heisei
period really picked up steam with its third entry, which managed to maintain a relatively
serious tone while also developing its own version of the Showa era’s “throw everything
at the screen” approach. The story begins with the notion that Godzilla
actually first appeared to humans as a smaller, less mutated dinosaur version of himself in
1944, when he saved a group of World War II soldiers. A group of time travelers from the future
embark on a mission to stop the dinosaur from being irradiated and thus turning into Godzilla. “Got him … take that you dinosaur.” It turns out, though, that their real mission
was to swap the dinosaur out for three smaller creatures who would then be irradiated to
create… King Ghidorah. Things only get more convoluted from there,
but what all of this essentially builds to is a battle between Godzilla and Mecha King
Ghidorah, a version of the three-headed monster that’s been mechanically modified by people
from the future to give it one cybernetic head and a host of other gadgets. The whole film is a blast, but it’s worth
it for the final battle alone. All Monsters Attack, also known as Godzilla’s
Revenge, is the story of a young boy named Ichiro who dreams of Monster Island to escape
his lonely, bullied life. In his dreams he befriends Godzilla’s son
Minilla, and the two deal with their respective bullies through the power of friendship. “Hey, come on over here. I won’t hurt ya.” This isn’t necessarily a bad concept, but
the film also leans heavily on footage of Godzilla that’s been recycled from Son of
Godzilla and Ebirah: Horror of the Deep, among others. There’s also the problem of Minilla, who remains
annoying despite his noble quest to overcome his bully. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the
premise, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The final film in the Heisei period of Godzilla
films had to go out with a bang, and while that could have been just another monster
team-up movie, what we got is one of the most moving and ambitious films in the entire franchise. The film hinges on the discovery that the
original “Oxygen Destroyer” device used to kill Godzilla in the very first film also
mutated a group of prehistoric sea creatures into giant crustacean monsters, which then
merge into one super-monster that basically looks like the devil itself. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah has it all: Godzilla
in ultimate peril, and a monster antagonist that’s both legitimately creepy and appropriately
massive. It even somehow manages to pull off a “Godzilla
Junior” plot that really lands. It all culminates in a truly effective finale
that shows us the death and rebirth of Godzilla in a way no other film has. In the 1970s, Toho was hoping to create its
own giant hero modeled after the success of the Japanese character Ultraman, and held
a contest asking children to design their own hero. The resulting character, after plenty of tweaks
by the studio, was the giant robot Jet Jaguar, who was originally supposed to get his own
film. Somewhere along the way the Jet Jaguar film
was merged with a Godzilla film, and Godzilla vs. Megalon is the result. Godzilla and a giant robot man in the same
movie definitely sounds like fun, but the film itself suffers from a rushed production
process, some of the less impressive monster designs in the franchise, and a plot that
spends more time with Jet Jaguar than you end up wanting. The film is also infamous for its depiction
of Godzilla executing the most fundamentally ridiculous drop kick in movie history, and
the monster fights don’t really improve beyond that. Yes, the very first Godzilla movie is still
among the best, and not just because it’s where our favorite giant radioactive lizard
originated. Back when his story began, Godzilla was a
metaphor for post-atomic Japanese anxieties about the future. Director Ishiro Honda leans into that metaphor
with an atmospheric, dread-filled story about a nation haunted by the specter of something
with massive implications and destructive potential. Honda took particular time to focus in on
the consequences of this giant monster’s destruction, and it remains an absolute classic more than
six decades after its release. Yes, director Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla
film, the first American attempt at a reboot for the creature, gets a lot of hate thrown
its way. People don’t like the creature design, they
don’t like Matthew Broderick cast as the scientist poised to take down Godzilla, and sometimes
they just don’t like the 1990s of it all. “Ugh, tell me that’s not another parade.” Despite all of those reasons, though, the
biggest problem with Emmerich’s film is the frustration that comes from watching it, because
if you’re really paying attention you get the sense that there was almost, maybe, possibly
a hint of a good movie lurking in there somewhere before everything went wrong. There are some interesting moments in the
film, but they aren’t enough to carry the film even as a campy “so bad it’s good” movie. It’s just a series of confrontations with
a monster so things can explode for a few minutes before the film sets things up for
the next set of explosions, and then it ends. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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