Top 10 Favorite Godzilla Movies (Part 2)

May 15, 2014 at 1:53 AM | Posted in (All Posts) | Leave a comment
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5. Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster (VS The Bionic Monster / VS MechaGodzilla)

Caesar

I have seen this film countless times. It’s so easy for me to watch it, even with the disproportionate screen time for the kaiju. A bulk of the middle of the film just deals with the human and alien characters, but the big fight at the end is such a great sendoff. Some Godzilla films save the big fight towards the end, but end up falling short. This one really delivered.

You’ve got this great scene of the woman on the beach singing to King Ceasar to waken him from his slumber while MechaGodzilla is slowly approaching from afar. Thankfully, Caesar is awakened in time…to put up a bit of a fight until Godzilla arrives and it becomes a proper handicap match. MechaGodzilla actually almost wins, but thanks to Godzilla’s temporary (and totally logical) magnetic powers, he locks MechaGodzilla in a headlock and twists MechaGodzilla’s head off completely — an iconic Godzilla moment.

But enough about the final fight, I just really think as a film for its time — it was well put together. You could make the argument that the human drama is rather campy, but that’s subjective. It’s hard to explain why a Godzilla fan might like one Showa film over another because all of them suffer from the same complaints to some degree, just some more than others. I feel that this film has a good balance, and it features some of my favorite kaiju — Anguirus and King Caesar, and of course Godzilla and MechaGodzilla.

MechaGodzilla’s first appearance was successful enough to bring about the sequel “Terror of MechaGodzilla” which came out a year later, and is generally more well received than this one, but out of the two I prefer MechaGodzilla’s first appearance here.

If for nothing else, the King Caesar worship song is just fantastic.

4. Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S.

I was so pleasantly surprised with this film. I love all of MechaGodzilla’s  designs from all three eras of film, but I was so disappointed with Kiryu’s (The Millenium Era’s MechaGodzilla nickname amongst kaiju fans —  meaning “metal dragon” in Japanese) first apperance in Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla — which came out in Japan in 2002. When I saw the sequel — Tokyo S.O.S. — I thought it would be more of the same, but it was a huge improvement. The story following the human plot was much more tolerable, and the kaiju scenes were so much more enjoyable.

Tokyo SOS Mothra

The biggest surprise for me was how much I loved Mothra in this film. Mothra normally has never been one of my favorite kaiju. Truth be told, I always felt a bit of resentment for the kaiju because it made multiple appearances, when the kaiju I normally liked like Anguirus or Rodan seemed to take a backseat to Mothra’s popularity. But this film — I don’t know if it was Mothra’s sleeker design — or how the Mothra twins were handled in a slightly more serious way — I found myself really enjoying Mothra’s presence here. It’s role felt significant, and I liked the idea that Mothra (as a sort of protector of Earth) disagreed with how Kiryu was essentially a cyborg-Godzilla of the original Godzilla corpse.

There’s also a brilliant scene a child in the film recreates Mothra’s symbol with a number of school desks to summon the kaiju. This scene in particular could have been so campy, but it’s one of the coolest and most memorable scenes from all the Millennium films for me.

3. Godzilla / Mothra/ King Ghidorah: Giant All-Out Monsters Attack

GMK

This film dances around on the list of my favorite kaiju films all the time, and it’s always near the first spot. Simply put, if someone was skeptical about watching a new Godzilla film, this would be the one I would recommend. It’s so well done on so many levels — and probably has the most well put together soundtracks of any kaiju film.

Normally, I like my Godzilla to balance on the line of hero and villain, but this film puts him in the role of a hellish demon kaiju. He has no redeeming values. There’s one scene in particular which is now famous (or infamous) where Godzilla is destroying a city, walking past a hospital with a screaming patient in her bed. Godzilla seemingly passes by and the patient breathes a sigh of relief, only for the tail of Godzilla to come swinging into the building, bringing it down on itself. I remember showing the scene to my older brother — another lifelong Godzilla fan — and I could see how visibly uncomfortable the scene made him.

Godzilla is literally the enemy to everything, and the roles are reversed in such a way where Mothra and Ghidorah are saving mankind — or maybe nature is a better word for it.

The special effects for the time were fantastic, and they still hold up today. I think this will certainly be a Godzilla film that ages gracefully, and the story is so intriguing — revolving around an ancient legend of “guardian monsters” who come to fruition in a world that reacts in a way where the viewer feels almost equally as terrified.

If someone put me at gunpoint and asked me to say which Godzilla — from a film critic’s standpoint (one I’m not entirely sure of) — which Godzilla film is the most well put together? I would pick the 1954 original…or this one.

2. Godzilla 1985

Godzilla 1985 Poster

Nature has a way sometimes of reminding Man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up terrible offspring’s of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake, or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of Man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla – that strangely innocent and tragic monster – has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not, or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain…

Old School

Words from Raymond Burr’s character (the journalist Steve Martin) in Godzilla 1985.

I certainly appreciate his character. Burr was a fantastic actor, and while some kaiju fans might feel like his addition is rather forced and awkward, I completely disagree. His scenes felt very organic to me as a child, and while it’s obvious to me now that they were placed in, I can’t help but feel the importance they have. Not just in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but also the 1985 film. It was such a nice nod for them to bring him back, and even though he didn’t have much screen time, he closes the film out with the speech above. As a kid, I just felt like Steve Martin was a real Godzilla expert in the world of Godzilla.

This film…is criminally underrated. It’s notable for being one of only two Godzilla films from Toho that just feature Godzilla — no enemy kaiju. I am quite pleased that the new 2014 Godzilla will feature other kaiju for Godzilla to combat, but there’s something special about the 54 and 84 films because of their sole focus on Godzilla as a threat. While the 1954 film had the Oxygen Destroyer to take care of Godzilla, this film used a combination of the Super X and a bit of nature with the explosions near the volcano to bury Godzilla again.

Godzilla, possibly more so than any other film since the original, is treated like such a terrifying threat — on a global scale. Whether you watch the 84 or 85 version, the entire world is focused in on Godzilla’s return to Japan, and it’s so well done.

Which is another reason I love Burr’s inclusion. He just ties it all together so well, and he’s once again the best western actor in the film. Even if all he does is offer his bold input to the US military and watch the attack on Godzilla from afar, as a kid — I thought it was so cool to see his inclusion.

To be honest, this was another one of the first Godzilla films I had seen, so I was so curious to know who this guy was and why he was so important. After going back years later and seeing the original, it makes Burr’s role that much more special. It’s such a shame he passed away in the 90s. I would have loved to see him make a cameo in Godzilla 2000 — or possibly even the TriStar film.

The film — to me — just doesn’t do much wrong. It really captured the time period with the Cold War and the tensions of a nuclear threat.

I find explaining why I love this film isn’t so easy. So I’ll make it easy. It might have the greatest soundtrack — and single main theme. I’m not saying it’s better than the famous “Godzilla March,” but it can certainly compete with it.

Just listen —

1. King Kong vs. Godzilla

Whenever I ran across the question of my favorite Godzilla movie, this movie — from the time I was little even until now — has unquestionably come to mind first. After reading these two posts, you’ve probably read things like, “I watched this when I was young,” at least a dozen times now, but this movie sums up my childhood love for Godzilla.

The exact cover below was the one on my VHS cover that I still own to this day.

When you really think about it, the fact that this movie happened at all is incredible. Considering how the licensing of King Kong is always in such a mess, it’s amazing that Toho and Universal could come together to let these monsters actually fight in a movie that deserves praise.

The movie is just so good, and I really love the plot layout. The movie is set up in a world where both monsters exist believably. A group of Japanese businessman working for a broadcast station are sent to the relatively uncharted Faroe Island in search for a berry with narcotic abilities. As the group arrives, they hear legend of a monster on the island — who is of course none other than King Kong. You’ve got some good bits of humor with the Japanese characters and the local islanders — who are far removed from the modern day technology (a radio — for example). They search for Kong throughout the evening but have no such luck, and a giant octopus appears on shore and attacks the village. Being a giant monster, this draws Kong out of the jungle and he defeats the octopus, and a ceremony is then held with a juice from the strange berry that puts Kong to sleep — setting up the businessmen and their crew to transport Kong back to Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Godzilla — who is hidden away in an iceberg — awakens and attacks a nuclear sub, soon thereafter making his way towards northern Japan. It seems like an inevitable fight between Kong and Godzilla will undoubtedly take place — but the Japanese government orders Kong to be taken care of, and his raft (connected to a massive ship) is detonated with dynamite. However, the explosion only awakens and angers Kong, and he takes off towards Japan on his own will.

Godzilla and Kong meet for the first time in a showdown where Godzilla gets the upper hand thanks to his nuclear breath.

One thing leads to another (I won’t spoil the entire film), but Kong gains an ability himself to counter Godzilla’s long range attack, and the two are equals — set in mortal combat.

This is a film that I just have to watch the original English dub, because it’s so connected to me. Thanks to the amount of times my brother and I watched it, we know the film almost entirely word-for-word. As a kid, knowing who both Godzilla and King Kong were at such a young age, this movie was just the pinnacle of kaiju films — something that all the others had to be compared to. Even though I have changed my mind about it being my favorite from time-to-time, it always returns to the top spot after time passes. I just think no Godzilla film will have the impact this one did on me.

Of course it could have been better, but all things considered I think it’s still an incredible film that is just enjoyable from start to finish. And just for the record, since I had the US VHS release — I couldn’t accept that Kong had defeated Godzilla. If for that reason alone, I really hope to one day see this film get a remake.

Kong Godzilla

Well — there you have it! My top 10 favorite Godzilla films of all time. As I finish typing this up, the Godzilla 2014 film was released in Korea this morning, but I’ve been in class all day, so I’ll have to wait until tonight to view it. Maybe that will change everything? I’ll have to come back and do a revision if that’s the case. And hopefully I’ll get around to doing a proper review for the film as well!

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