Friday, July 29, 2011

Top 10 Godzilla Movies

The Incomparable King of the Monsters!

All throughout my early childhood, I was obsessed with dinosaurs. So when I was very young, my Dad introduced me to something that would change my life forever: Godzilla movies! My dad has since passed away, but I will always love everything about Godzillaa films. Not that BS atrocity made in the US in 1998, I'm talking the real-deal films made by Toho in Japan. So go ahead and add Godzilla, along with Star Wars and LOTR, to the list of reasons why I'm a huge closet nerd. But I will always be a huge G-fan! I've recently made some key additions to my Godzilla collection, to the point where it is almost completed (I only lack 4 movies in the entire series of 29). As part of the celebration, I'm going to write a Godzilla-marathon (Godzillapalooza if you will), reviewing each and every film of the franchise in detail and in order! And what better way to kick it all off than with a list of my Top 10 favs! I knew you'd enjoy this. So sit back, relax, and absorb the sheer glory that is GODZILLA!!!

10. Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, 2001:
The Godzilla film with by far the longest title rounds out the number 10 spot on my list. I guess I'm a Godzilla-purist, if there is such a thing, and for that reason I have a lot of issues with this movie's bizarre plot points and differences from every film prior (I'll discuss these more in my full review). However, I feel like overall the positives outweigh the negatives with this installment. First of all, Godzilla is evil in this one and because of that he looks extremely badass. There are also tons of homages to the first movie in this one, and I always love that. The special effects are terrific and the monster battles are pretty top notch. I also love the inclusion of Baragon in this film, even though he still doesn't get enough respect to be put in the title. Poor Baragon, nobody appreciates his genius.  

9. King Kong vs. Godzilla, 1962:
Of all of the classic Godzilla movies, this is the one that I would love to see get re-made the most, provided of course it is done right. It goes without saying that this match-up of the two most famous giant monsters in history is one of epic proportions. While it's predecessor, "Godzilla Raids Again", was the first time Godzilla faced another monster in battle, this movie was the first truly successful film of the "VS series" if you will. It's got all the elements of a solid, classic Godzilla movie: superstitious dancing natives, destruction of a pagoda, and a great monster brawl! The other cool thing about this movie is that there's not really a clear cut winner in the fight, leaving it open to debate. This movie is a fantastic introduction to the series.

8. Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, 1965:
Many G-fans prefer the original "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster", I personally am partially to it's direct sequel. This is the first in a long line of G-movies centered around alien invasion of earth through the use of monsters. It is  one of many films pitting Godzilla against his most famous enemy, Ghidorah. This is also the second in a long line of films in which Godzilla saves the earth, and it's generally ungrateful inhabitants, from destruction. Rodan also joins the party, which is an added bonus considering he was always probably my favorite of Godzilla's allies. I'll discuss the plot in more detail in my official review, but I will tell you it's pretty campy and it's a blast! You also gotta love the inclusion of the brash American astronaut character who is a ladies man with a bullet-proof attitude. Haha, Japanese impressions of American culture.  

7. Godzilla vs. Destroyah, 1995:
This movie blew my mind when I first saw it and is actually pretty sad at the end. It was originally intended to be the end of the series, as the Godzilla we've grown to love has his heart go into meltdown, which could trigger an explosion that could destroy the world. Eventually he dies, converting all of his energy to his dead son, thus reviving him. But let's not get too carried away with the plot. His enemy (one of the series' most original) is basically a byproduct of pollution caused by the Oxygen Destroyer weapon used to kill the original Godzilla. Thus the tie-ins to the first movie are abundant, which is always really cool (especially the title sequence, which is awesome all by itself). The movie is very well done and doesn't cast Godzilla in the role of clear cut villain, which is always nice. I can't wait to review this one in full!

6. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, 1974:
The Big Guy fights a robot version of himself many times throughout the series, but this first time is one of the best. Mechagodzilla is built by a race of ape-like aliens bent on, what else, world domination. So it's up to the real Godzilla to save the day. Fan-favorite, Anguirus, also makes an appearance, as well as a new ally with a goofy theme song, King Caesar. King C is kind of a bipedal Japanese lion-type thing who shoots lasers out of his eyes (exactly what you were expecting, I'm sure). For all its hokie-ness, it's an awesome Godzilla flick, though. Mechagodzilla is armed to the teeth (literally) with weapons and a bad attitude, which makes for some awesome battle scenes. Godzilla (the actor) also sports one of the better looking rubber suits of the early era. This movie is a true classic and a must-see for any G-fan!

5. Mothra vs. Godzilla, 1964:
Probably the first movie that comes to most people's minds when they think of Godzilla films. This is a benchmark piece in the Godzilla franchise. Grant it, I have never quite understood the Japanese's obsession with Mothra, in every movie everyone's totally in love with her. Whatever, I always give Godzilla the benefit of the doubt myself. In her last days, Mothra sets out to save her abducted egg and two surprisingly fashionable twin fairies from greedy businessmen. Meanwhile, Godzilla just kind of gets in the way, poor guy. The result is a memorable monster brawl, involving the hatching of Mothra's egg. Fun stuff. If you're not going to start out watching the series with the first movie or King Kong, I'd definitely recommend the first Mothra. 

4. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, 1993:
While the title says "2", in reality this is the 3rd installment of Godzilla against his metal doppelganger. The main difference is this time Mechagodzilla is built as a protective measure against Godzilla, by the "G-Force". A much improved version of Rodan makes an appearance and plays a key role in Godzilla defeating his much improved robot foe. The movie kind of becomes centered around Godzilla's son, not that dopey misfit Minya from earlier in the series, but Godzilla's legit son who is way cooler. Monster battles are superb and the special effects make the first Mechagodzilla look like he was built in someone's basement. This Mechagodzilla (while far more advanced) is much less menacing looking than it's predecessor. But I guess that's fitting since this one is used by humans and not malicious monkey aliens. Those damn, dirty apes!

3. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, 1991:
This movie is SWEET! It's got time-travel, probably the best looking version of Ghidorah, World War II scenes, references to movies and pop-culture, and Godzilla... what more could you ask for??? It explores Godzilla's mutation from a dinosaur that saved a group of Japanese troops on an island during WWII. Evil westerners from the future basically want to erase Godzilla from history, so they can use Ghidorah to destroy Japan themselves. It becomes a tangled web in the end, but makes for a completely awesome Godzilla movie. It also contains the sole appearance of Mecha-King Ghidorah after Godzilla rips the first one's head off (I know that made you want to see it so bad). It's really great on all fronts. It was easily my #2, that is until I saw the next beauty on my list.

2. Godzilla: Final Wars, 2004:
All I can say is WOW! Simply put, this movie is like the classic "Destroy All Monsters" on supernaturally enhanced steroids! The plot itself is kind of like the Godzilla meets The Matrix meets Crouching Tiger meets Star Wars meets X Men meets Star Trek meets Star Fox meets... I don't know Halo??! It's out of control and oh so awesome! Toho really ended the series right! Alien invaders take control of all the most awesome monsters (there's like 15 in the movie) and use them to destroy the world. Of course, Godzilla is having none of that shit and kicks some major ass! It's non-stop action from start to finish. Even the humans fight like there's no tomorrow! This movie is like G-fan heaven. The best special effects of any Godzilla movie, and probably best of all, it actually aknowledges and ties into all the previous movies (something that many of the most recent G-movies failed to do). Even the opening title sequence kicks ass! It's amazing. Need I say more?

1. Godzilla, 1954:
As is the case with so many things in life, you simply can't beat the original. The tone in this movie is different that any other Godzilla film and it's very powerful. It demonstrates the horrors and senselessness of nuclear war from people who experienced it first-hand. It's a masterfully made piece and was state-of-the-art for it's time. There's so many little things about it that make it superb, all of which I will touch on in my review. The score by Akira Ifukube (used in some form or fashion in every consecutive G-movie) is simply breath-taking and gives me chills everytime. Godzilla is presented as an unstoppable force of nature, but at the same time a creation by the recklessness of man. Such a great motif! The way in which Godzilla is finally destroyed is also very creative and a powerful scene. The scenes of the aftermath of G's attacks are also more sobering than any other G-film as they are a direct representation of WWII. Whether you love Godzilla or not, I strongly recommend this film to anyone who loves movies. It is simply a must-see and the the film (pardon the cliche) that started it all! 

Well there it is fair readers, my Top 10! Now let's kick off this movie marathon with a video dedicated to the Big Guy himself, courtesy of "clpking" on youtube! Enjoy!

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