It’s easy to see why Godzilla is a mainstay of the monster movie genre. He is the king of all lizards. He stomps around the world and fights other animals in epic battles.
The show has changed from the Cartoony Showa era to the darker Heisei and Millennium eras. So, to honor the most famous lizard, here is our list of the best and worst Godzilla movies.
All Monsters Attack (1963)
A schoolboy who is picked on dreams of going to Monster Island, where many of Toho’s kaiju live. He hangs out with Godzilla’s son there and learns how to be brave.
A few other kaiju are also in the movie, like Baragon from Frankenstein Conquers the World. Manda from Atragon (1963), Varan from King Kong Escapes, and Kumonga from Son of Godzilla. It also has several battles that were shot in whole for other Godzilla movies.
Even though All Monsters Attack was directed by Ishiro Honda, who returned to the series after taking a break after Destroy All Monsters. It was different from the usual Godzilla movies about a long battle. It was made for kids and was part of the Toho Champion Festival, a campaign for kid-friendly films.
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1970)
In this direct follow-up to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, rogue scientist Dr. Mafune and scenery-chewing Akihiko Hirata play space aliens who try to destroy Tokyo with their new Mechagodzilla and Titanosaurus monsters.
The human story is also more developed than in the first movie. The plight of Ichinose’s daughter Katsura, who has been turned into a cyborg, gets a bit more attention.
Even though Terror of Mechagodzilla doesn’t look as good as the first one, it still has a great score by Akira Ifukube and some impressive destruction of cities. It’s a step up from the cheap tricks of the last few movies and a much better addition to Godzilla’s history than the one that came before it.
The Return of Godzilla (1980)
Godzilla scared Tokyo 30 years ago, but now the vast monster is back to tear through the city. Teruyoshi Nakano, who was in charge of the special effects, made the movie’s visuals look fantastic. The movie is a kaiju film, and it is a very satisfying and impressive one.
The Return of Godzilla is a great way to start the second part of the series. It shifts the focus of the series back to dark, anti-nuclear themes and brings back Godzilla’s metaphorical roots, which had been lost in the 14 movies that came after it.
The movie tells a story about the Cold War and the tension between the US and the Soviet Union. It also has some of the familiar Godzilla plot points. Keiju Kobayashi stands out as Japan’s Prime Minister Mitamura, who takes us through some gripping political instability and diplomatic tension scenes.
The first few movies in this series were unbelievable, but Destoroyah is a much more evil kaiju. The Oxygen Destroyer made this winged creature and is a scary addition to the bad guys of this time.
In the movie, the Super-X III planes of the Japanese military try to stop Godzilla from blowing up the earth. But the monster is boiling, so cadmium-tipped missiles and cryogenic weapons are fired at it to try to cool it down before it melts into the earth, making a hole that would swallow the whole planet.
This grand finale is one of the best Godzilla movies ever made. It’s the last movie in a long-running series by Toho. It’s a must-see for fans because of how well it does destruction and special effects.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1984)
Mechagodzilla, a robot monster, is one of the most well-known enemies Godzilla has ever faced. It first showed up in the movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which came out in 1974. Since then, Toho Studios has brought it back many times.
At the movie’s beginning, archaeologist Saeko Kanagusuku decodes an old Okinawan prophecy that says a monster will come to destroy people. Mount Fuji gets covered in a dark cloud, and Godzilla emerges to go on the attack.
Even though Godzilla’s friend Anguirus told him not to, the giant lizard continued his rampage. Eventually, the real Godzilla shows up to fight the fake and reveals that the fake is a robot called Mechagodzilla made by ape-like aliens from Black Hole Planet 3.
Godzilla vs. Ghidorah (1985)
Toho wanted to sell more tickets for Godzilla 1985, so they brought back one of the most famous enemies from the series. This time, King Ghidorah would come from the future and be made through genetic engineering.
Kazuki Omori, who also wrote and directed the film, came up with the idea for it. Even though Ghidorah had been seen before the Heisei era, Omori gave this monster a backstory in his movie that helps explain why it is a threat to Japan.
There is a lot of American footage in this movie, and when it is put together with the Japanese version, it can be jarring, but it does work. But if you want a more direct sequel to Godzilla from 1954, you should watch the 1956 version.
Godzilla vs. Mothra (1986)
Mothra was a well-known monster then, and this movie was made for a younger audience. The main character in the film is a child, and the tone is lighter than in most of the other films in the series.
In this movie, Mothra fights Godzilla to get back her stolen egg from the Japanese, but she dies in the process. This is a perfect fight, even though it needs some nerfing to work.
The budget is low, but the special effects are surprisingly good, and the two monster fights in this movie have more action than usual, making it fun to watch. There is also a nice scene where Mothra comes out of her cocoon and sings with her fairy twins, the Shobijin. This movie is an excellent example of the kaiju genre and is one of my favorites.
Godzilla vs. Rodan (1987)
After the success of their Godzilla movies in 1954 and 1955, Toho Studios changed direction in the 1960s and started making more giant monster movies about new monsters.
One of the first was Rodan, a winged pteranodon that had been woken up by nuclear testing and was found to be an enemy of Godzilla. This creature got the most attention, but the English title, “Godzilla vs. Ghidorah,” is a bit misleading because it’s really about Ghidorah, an extraterrestrial engine of destruction with a much more significant effect on our world than Godzilla.
But the movie is alright, and some special effects are significant. The film also has a lot of urban destruction, such as a burning refinery by the ocean that reminds me of the Nagoya refinery in Godzilla vs. The Thing that was destroyed (1971). In the big suit, Satsuma Kenpachiro is once again a force to be reckoned with, and he makes some memorable faces.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Five years after the fight between Godzilla and King Ghidorah, Godzilla attacks an Apex Cybernetics facility. CEO Walter Simmons has asked this new company to help rebuild society after the Titans were destroyed.
Nathan Lind, a scientist who used to work for Monarch, has been hired by Apex to help the company find an energy source for a secret weapon that will kill Godzilla. He also talks Monarch researcher Ilene Andrews into using Kong as a guide to help them find it.
But when the team enters Hollow Earth, they find a throne room with another Godzilla’s glowing axe. Even though Andrews is against it, the Apex team sends this power source back to their base in Hong Kong.
Godzilla vs. Mothra (1990)
This movie is interesting because it has both the angry Godzilla and Mothra. This is the first time the dark Battra shows up. He was supposed to be Mothra’s enemy, but he turned out to be an enemy in his own right.
Even so, it was a fun movie that was less over the top than other monster movies. It also had great music. Mothra’s Song was led by the lovely “Peanuts,” a Japanese singing duo.
Ultimately, the giant monsters are more important than the human drama. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of action, but the story is mainly about the kids and their families. That’s good because it makes the movie less scary for kids and more fun for the whole family.