My Top 10 Godzilla movies, written in anticipation of the new one.
10.) Godzilla; Tokyo SOS-When I first got interested in Godzilla, I fantasized of the possibility of Mothra and MechaGodzilla meeting. Kiryu is kind of a different sort of monster than the "standard" MechaGodzilla, in that he's a cyborg built around the original Godzilla's skeleton, but this ties into the message that it's wrong to bring creatures back from the dead to fight. I am personally against the idea of human cloning and was glad to see a Godzilla movie that highlighted why it doesn't feel right to bring the dead back to life. Also, it has homages to some of my more favorite Godzilla movies and the monsters truly feel like characters, while it brings back Professor Chujo from the original Mothra film.
9.) Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla-The prequel to the above, it starts with Godzilla destroying my hometown's sister city, so I felt kind of connected from the get-go. Also, the timeline of other 1950s-1960s non-Godzilla Toho monsters was a fun concept and Kiryu is my favorite "version" of MechaGodzilla. I actually got to see Hideki Matsui (who makes a cameo in this movie as himself) play in three games when he was in Major League Baseball, and the design of Godzilla here is also one of my favorite designs. Akane is also a great lead character that I really felt for during the film.
8.) Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985-The start of the Heisei series of Godzilla films. It has many exciting scenes like Godzilla attacking the power plant, Godzilla fighting the planes in Tokyo Bay and Godzilla beating the Super-X. I've also seen three versions of this movie, all of which had something unique and worth watching at least once; the 1985 US dubbed one for quicker editing on action sequences (and making Tokyo look evacuated) and Raymond Burr, the International dub for making the Russians speak accented English and having Rik Thomas voice a cabinet member and a bum (also the effect of the "what if Godzilla was in DC or Moscow" scene isn't lost) and the original Japanese version is probably the most engaging version, especially since I noticed the detail on the volcano set at the end I had missed previously.
7.) Godzilla; Final Wars-Yeah, fight me, as they say. It's a guilty pleasure movie, for sure, but it's a delicious guilty pleasure movie. Godzilla's like a WWE Wrestler defending his title from a bunch of fights the Xilien places with the belief these will stop him. Don Frye's performance is also fun to watch, while the Xilien commander is so over-the-top, he's hilarious. It's mainly a popcorn film to just watch and enjoy, which really appeals to me because sometimes I feel films get bogged down trying to be too serious.
6.) Godzilla vs. Monster Zero-Last year, my Church group was talking about Outer Space and the movie Contact (I would recommend this movie, personally). One question they asked was, what are your favorite Space movies, to which I answered this film and the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I love the battle on Planet X, I love Fuji and Glen, I love that I've half-memorized dialogue from when the Controller shows Fuji and Glen Monster Zero, or King Ghidorah, as we know him. To me, this is a classic Sci-Fi movie and the best "aliens are invading Earth" movie I've ever seen.
5.) Ghidorah; the Three-Headed Monster-The film that introduced King Ghidorah and fully revealed the shared kaiju universe Toho had made. The director of the new Godzilla film, Michael Dougherty, points to this one as being key in Godzilla lore because Mothra asks Godzilla and Rodan to help fight King Ghidorah. They respond they don't want to because humanity is cruel to them and it wouldn't be any of their business if mankind died. It's a well-made kaiju film that shows Toho's cast of monsters at their peak and will be well-homaged in the upcoming film in at least the roster and King Ghidorah trying to destroy Earth.
4.) Godzilla 2014-I saw this on my 25th birthday in 3D and left smiling broadly. I loved how it subverted expectations I was thinking of, making Godzilla the hero against the evil MUTOs. It was a film that made me feel like a kid again, and still is, and I look forward to how the Monsterverse pans out. I also liked a quote by Godzilla novelist Marc Cerasini in an interview with Toho Kingdom, in which he pointed out Godzilla's journey parallels the soldier main character. Ken Watanabe was amazing, too, of course, and seeing Elizabeth Olsen in this makes it easy to understand how she went on to play the Scarlet Witch.
3.) Gojira/Godzilla; King of the Monsters-If this were based on emotional resonance, this would be number 1, easily. I cry often at the end because of the deaths of Serizawa and Godzilla. I actually like Raymond Burr's addition in the American version, but the film does stand on its own without him. The effects are impressive for the time and the music is amazing, as well. I also love that Akira Takarada was 19 in this movie and has shown up in Godzilla; Final Wars and was intended to be in Godzilla 2014, but his scene was cut. There are also many iconic shots and scenes during the rampage. Highly recommended.
2.) Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla-This is a PERSONAL enjoyment list. This movie's not for everyone. However, I really want the series to go back to some elements from this movie because I enjoyed them so much; Godzilla discharging energy through his touch, a celestial Godzilla doppelganger, the Mothra Fairies giving advice to the characters and Miki Saegusa/psychic power. For a while, this WAS my favorite Godzilla movie and favorite movie, too, namely because of Godzilla's "never give up" attitude being on full display here. He fights SpaceGodzilla both close quarters and from a distance, even biting him in one scene. Kyo is also a good comic relief and Akira Yuki is a character type I'd also like to see again in the series, not so much someone driven by revenge, but someone who comes to a kaiju fight with all kinds of weaponry prepared.
1.) Godzilla vs. Mothra or Mothra vs. Godzilla or Godzilla vs. The Thing-To me, this is the perfect example of a kaiju film done right. Well-done fight scenes, memorable rampages, memorable emergences of the kaiju characters and a likeable human cast all make this film work well. I love the slight bits of comedy, I loved Godzilla's design so much in this film I wanted to make a sequel where 20 years later, Godzilla attacks Seattle and Mothra has to stop him again, this is a classic kaiju film. I prefer it, though, with the Frontier Missile scene, solely because it adds a military attempt before the characters decide to ask Mothra for help.
So those are my top ten. Feel free to let me know what yours are, and it's okay if your top two aren't Gojira and GMK, it's a free fandom.