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Top Ten Godzilla Movies

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

The God of Destruction

What began as a sinister metaphor for the pain and destruction caused by the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan has grown into one of the coolest, most unique fandoms to this day. The 1954 Toho film Godzilla, aka Gojira, is the father of all kaiju movies, creating a genre that influenced Japanese cinema in a huge way. From black and white to exotic purples and burning bright blues, Godzilla’s signature atomic breath has burned his way through countless giant monster battles as the physical manifestation of nuclear destruction. 

Officially, Godzilla is the first kaiju in history. The term “kaiju” typically refers to giant monsters attacking major cities or battling each other amongst military fire and explosions. This incredible subgenre of science fiction has come a long way from the days of rubber suits and wirework. Franchises like Pacific Rim, Gamera, Cloverfield, and King Kong are included and all stem from the 1954 film that features the atomic dinosaur.

10. Godzilla Final Wars

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

At the top of the list is one of the most exciting films in this franchise. Godzilla Final Wars is a non-stop montage of giant monsters battling across different landscapes like Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles. Final Wars is a good place to start for fans discovering the genre. It features all of the monsters in Toho’s Kaiju arsenal and allows fans to pick and choose which monster they would like to see more of. After all of the Earth’s monsters are set loose by an organization of aliens, Godzilla goes on an absolute tear across the Earth, battling kaiju from all of the previous films. The movie is also filled with fast-paced hand-to-hand combat fight scenes as secret agents of Earth’s Defense Force (EDF) fight back against the alien invasion. A blazing blue breath of atomic power erupts from Godzilla’s mouth as he is aided by the superhuman hybrids of the EDF. The film provides a taste of both the old and the new style of kaiju film with its mix of rubber suits and computer-generated effects. 

9. Godzilla King of The Monsters 

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

For the more modern fan and someone who does not have a taste for the classic era of destroyed miniature buildings and monster suits, the 2019 Godzilla King of The Monsters brings back Godzilla’s classic rivalries in a modern way. Beginning with the birth of Mothra, a sentient larva that protects the earth, a giant cocoon suspended in captivity is about to birth a protector of the Earth. But with good there must come evil; this evil arrives in the form of a three-headed, winged serpent. King Ghidorah escapes from his frozen tomb when a group of eco-terrorists causes Mothra’s escape. This movie mixes the human story with the monsters better than most by casting relevant names like Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Kyle Chandler (Peter Jackson’s King Kong), and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai). A great blend story is the backdrop to the destruction and terror brought down by Rodan and King Ghidorah as Godzilla and Mothra fight to save the earth.

8. Tokyo SOS 

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

Tokyo SOS pits the atomic lizard against one of his biggest rivals. Godzilla returns forty-five years after the first film to avenge the death of his ancestor. In this sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, a film not on this list, scientists gather to build a biomechanical robot over the bones of the original Godzilla — a Mechagodzilla called Kiryu. Tokyo SOS takes place a year after the initial battle between the two titans. One of the best things about this film is that half of the entire film is dominated by a classic fight among Godzilla, Mothra, and Kiryu. It’s a fun watch and has some interesting ideas at play. For example, as guardian of the earth, Mothra pleads for the bones of the previous Godzilla to be laid to rest as she offers to fight in Kiryu’s place. This entry also has some of the best suit work and special effects for fans to enjoy.  The explosive and fast-paced action scenes definitely carry the film, but no one goes to see a monster movie for the human story, right? 

7. Destroy All Monsters

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

What is considered to be the first kaiju battle royale, Destroy All Monsters brought almost every monster seen in Toho’s library to the big screen. In an alternate 1999, mankind has advanced to the point where it has complete control over the Earth’s monsters. But a race of aliens arrives, revealing they have taken control of the kaiju and intend to use them against mankind unless their demands are met. Destroy All Monsters broke new ground in 1968 by having the biggest cast of monsters on screen at one time in an all-out brawl. Godzilla and each of the monsters get their moment to shine even though the human characters take a back seat. But the action starts right from the get-go, and new fans who want to experience the peak chaos of classic kaiju combat will enjoy this film.

6. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

A film that revived the success of the Godzilla franchise on its twentieth anniversary, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla pits the atomic lizard against its metallic doppelganger in an uncharacteristically bloody death match. When Godzilla returns in a destructive rampage, he is met head-on with — get this — another Godzilla! But after the battle ensues, bits and pieces of this second Godzilla’s skin are shredded and torn to reveal a metallic underlayer. Enter Mechagodzilla, a robotic weapon of mass destruction under the control of an alien race of space apes who want to take control of the Earth. As Mechagodzilla tosses the token lizard around, a group of archaeologists race to uncover and summon King Caesar, an ancient lion god, to aid Godzilla in stopping the mechanized monster. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla delivers on all elements, the plot is intriguing, the monster battles are exciting, and it is paced wonderfully in a way that keeps the viewer invested. It is peak Godzilla.

5. Godzilla 2000

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

In 1999, after the first American Godzilla film opened to critical disappointment, Toho responded immediately and revived the franchise to bring Godzilla back to his roots and restore the name of the franchise. Godzilla 2000, aka Godzilla Millenium, reignited the Japanese Godzilla by returning with a contemporary and more threatening design of the monster while resuming his destructive tendencies. A large meteorite is discovered in the ocean; eventually, it begins to take flight and reveals itself to be a vessel from space. The movie suffers mildly from poorly aged computer-generated graphics, but it does implement some fun concepts into the story with a stronger cast of characters. It is acted well and dives into the science and biology of Godzilla, which has often been left unexplored. As Godzilla takes the fight to the meteorite, it changes and adapts to his attacks until eventually taking shape as Orga, a space monster that has cloned itself from Godzilla’s DNA. Overall, where the CGI falls flat, the Godzilla suit and model work of Japan’s destruction are top-notch. 

4. Godzilla vs. Destroyah

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

An aging Godzilla fights his last battle in the explosively original Godzilla vs. Destroyah. Here, Godzilla returns as his heart begins to suffer a nuclear meltdown, putting the entire planet in danger. When a scientist discovers that a group of fossils has been mutated by the same atomic blast that created Godzilla, a powerful new monster begins terrorizing Japan. The air of Godzilla’s death is ever-present in this very special film; the presence of the older, burning Godzilla is fatefully pitted against an extremely sinister and ever-evolving Destroyah. All the while, a younger Godzilla arrives, attempting to fight the battle in this extremely epic but also emotional entry. Destroyah’s presence is haunting as a remorseless entity that feels totally unstoppable as the old Godzilla fights a losing battle. Its resolution is a bit underwhelming, but overall it is still a fulfilling conclusion to one of the more emotional Godzilla entries.

3. Godzilla vs. Kong

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

This is by far one of the best Godzilla films to date, even though its narrative does fall flat. Like most Godzilla films, the human story acts as the base plate for the monster fights to take place. The third film in Legendary’s Monsterverse and the sequel to Godzilla King of the Monster, Godzilla and Kong are at it for basically the entire film, bringing the iconic duo back together for the first time since the 1960s. The ancient rivalry between lizard and ape is reignited when Kong is shipped from Skull Island as the last fleeting hope to stop Godzilla. The action begins right from the start, taking it to a new scale with a huge Hollywood budget in today’s modern age of CGI monster brawls. Kong and Godzilla square off in a colorfully neon Tokyo, eventually taking their battle to the Hollow Earth. This film delivers an experience that many kaiju fans have been waiting for; it’s epic, and it delivers the ideal experience for kaiju fans, not to mention a surprise inclusion of a fan-favorite monster near the end. For those who want to experience an all-out giant monster brawl, this is the film to watch. 

2. Godzilla (1954)

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

The original film that began a legacy that is still very much alive to this day, the 1954 film is a truly haunting experience. A giant fire-breathing lizard rises from the ocean and begins destroying everything in its path as the people of Japan scramble to figure out how to stop it. This timeless classic serves as the perfect introduction to the beginnings of all kaiju films. As a metaphor for the national tragedy Japan experienced in World War II, Godzilla’s message of nuclear deterrence is seen in the burning buildings as he stomps and thrashes his way through a destroyed Japan. This is Godzilla as he was originally intended, an evil, remorseless killing machine created to punish mankind for its use of nuclear power. This melancholic film is pure destruction illustrated in the stark black and white of 1950s cinema. Everything about it sets it apart from the long list of films that came after it. 

1. Shin Godzilla 

Top Ten Godzilla Movies

Shin Godzilla sits at the top of the list because it is a modern illustration of what the original 1954 film did. A hopeless feeling that nothing can stop a soulless god of destruction permeates this profound film. When a horrifying monster arrives on the shores of Japan, the military throws everything they can at it. However, this Godzilla is the first to change and adapt to their tactics. Eventually, they consider using nuclear force at the cost of many lives. Its lifeless eyes and slow stoic movements paint the picture of a mindless thing of nature meant only to destroy. Shin Godzilla honors the 1954 film in a completely original way, and it remains as such. This apocalyptic monster turns Japan into a hellscape, with its shining purple lasers shooting out in every direction, eventually turning into a storm of fire that shoots from its mouth. The political scenes where high chair members sit in their board room discussing how to stop Godzilla prove just how useless their politics are in the face of pure destruction. For fans who want the most raw and modern form of what the original creators of Godzilla intended, this is by far the strongest entry since the original.

Godzilla Minus One (2023) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.