Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top 10 Godzilla Films

We should just go ahead and get it out of the way. I'm a huge Godzilla fan. I have been since I was about five years old and my parents go me Godzilla vs. Megalon on VHS (I know, awful movie, but it got me on the road). Over the years, it evolved into a love of Toho's films in general (an entire discussion for another day) and their competitors, such as Daiei, producer of the Gamera films. However, nobody does it better than Toho and on this Father's Day (where I get to go lax on my duties and waste time on things like irrelevant top 10 posts) I'm gonna hail to the King of the Monsters once again.

Runner-Up: Gojira tai Supeesgojira (Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla)

Let's just get it out there. Spacegodzilla is my favorite kaiju other than Godzilla himself. The problem is the movie he's in just isn't very good. It's got a confusing Yakuza subplot, terrible direction, an agonizingly slow plot, weird score and worst of all, this...

Yeah, let's move on, shall we?

10. San Daikaiju: Chikyu Saidai no Kessen (Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster)

Most people seem to prefer Invasion of Astro Monster, but I prefer its predecesor. For one, it's an epic smackdown between Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah. Astro Monster just removes Mothra and adds Devo aliens. For two, Ghidorah's "alien prophet in a human body" plot intrigues me in a way few Godzilla films have. Sadly, it's not that well handled, but at least the acting's good, Inoshiro Honda is on the top of his directing game and Eiji Tsuburaya's effects are fantastic.

9. Gojira tai Hedora (Godzilla vs. Hedorah)
Oh God, where to start with this gem of insanity? This is possibly the most heavy-handed environmentalist movie of all time, but even that doesn't being to describe the batshit insanity of this film. Growing up with the American Internation Pictures dub and that bizarrely infectious "Save the Earth" song set to people dance around with fish head masks... Nightmare fuel, pure and simple. The fights are great and Hedorah is a dastardly fun monster, if you can get past the fact that it's a pollution monster spewing his acid poop on everyone and everything.

8. Gojira tai Biorante (Godzilla vs. Biollante)
Note: Out of all the films on this list, this one still isn't on DVD. It was put out on home video by Dimension and apparently it isn't very high on their priority list to get it out and they want too much for the rights for any of the smaller companies to pay to release it.

I guess I must just really enjoy the weird Godzilla films. Another very strange one, thous for way different reasons than Godzilla vs. Hedorah. The score is one of the weirdest ones I've heard from the series, what with the main title "Bio Wars" being carried by a rip roaring guitar ready to burst into a solo at any moment. Biollante is also one of Godzilla's most interesting foes, what with all the "being a genetic abomination of Godzilla, roses and a dead girl's soul" stuff. The plot loses its way a little when it becomes too embroiled in government espionage, but it's still well worth a watch, especially for the first film featuring my favorite Godzilla suit.

Badass, thy name is Godzilla.

7. Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (King Kong vs. Godzilla)
Possibly one of the stupidest Godzilla films plot wise (it's all just an excuse to get the two titans together, and none of the characters matter in the slightest) this film is just a fantastic good time. All I think about when I think about this film is the fantastic effects work and my favorite little bits from the battles (Godzilla clapping his hands together and making little roars to announce his victory over Kong midway through the film; the random half a minute stick puppet battle in the Mt. Fuji climax). Classic Godzilla smackdown material.

6. Mekagojira no Gyakushu (Terror of Mechagodzilla)
You gotta love Mechagodzilla. His entire conception sounds like a drunken alien scientist's way of dealing with Godzilla. "Godzilla stops us at every turn, he's defeated all our monsters!" "Well... wait a minute, here's an idea! What if... what if we just build a robot Godzilla? Yeah, and we'll give him rockets and stuff! God, your eyes are so dreamy..."
*ahem* The original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was a decent film, it just suffered from some really random choices, such as a near five minute song break in the climactic monster fight, which awoke King Seesar, who we don't have enough time or space to talk about how much I hate. Terror... removes Seesar, gives us a huge freaking dinosaur named Titanosaurus and pits them both against Godzilla. Also, gone is Jun Fukuda, who is probably my least favorite Godzilla director and in his place, the master Inoshiro Honda returns to direct his last Godzilla film. The battles are epic and well done and the plot is actually pretty good, for about the tenth alien invasion film in the series at this point.

5. Gojira tai Mekagojira (Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla)/Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira Tokyo Esu O Esu (Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.)
I'm cheating a bit and including these two as one entry, as they are the closest tied films plotwise in the entire series. Where to start? The ingenious concept of Kiryu, who is essentially a new Mechagodzilla created from the bones of the original Godzilla? The fantastic special effects, which are the best of the entire series? The great plot, acting and directing? These are top notch films and I never feel I can watch one without the other, they honestly feel like one long saga. Great stuff.

4. Mosura tai Gojira (Mothra vs. Godzilla)
The last Showa film to feature Godzilla as a full blown city wrecking baddie, this is a tour de force of Tsuburaya's effects, Honda's direction and Akira Ifukube's stirring music. There's not much I can say about it that hasn't been said before, it's just classic Godzilla.

3. Gojira tai Desutoroia (Godzilla vs. Destoroyah)
If I ever have to make a list of movies that bring me to tears and turn me into a bawling baby, this would be very near the top. Godzilla freaking dies, set to Ifukube's beautiful, poignant "Requiem" and it gets me every time. The monster effect here are the best of the Heisei era and this is nothing short of Takao Okawara's masterpiece, hitting all the right notes and even bringing the series full circle.

2. Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju Sokogeki (Godzilla, Motha and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack)
When Shushuke Kaneko, director of the Gamera reboot trilogy, decided to sign on for a Godzilla fim, he decided he was going to do something no director has since the Inishiro Honda directed the first film in 1954. He was going to make Godzilla scary again, and he succeeded. This Godzilla, with his cold, lifeless eyes has become more than just a monster smashing Japan's cities, he is the embodiment of the Japanese soldiers lost during World War II, punishing Japan, lest they forget. Kaneko puts us in awe of the beast again and makes us feel the horror of being under his wrath. A haunting, stirring film that may even be better than Kaneko's Gamera films, if I ever get around to re-watching them.

1. Gojira (Godzilla)
How could it not be number one? The birth of a legend, the terror of a nation and the start of fascinating (and well-deserved) careers. As much of a product of doom saying of the horrors of nuclear warfare as it is a monster film, the original Gojira is a cast and crew not milking a scare, but putting forth their fears and emotions (Honda himself visited the bombing sites in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Godzilla's attack on the fishing boat mirrors the very real Lucky Dragon 5) with more heart than ten James Camerons with ten Avatars. A true classic and my favorite film of all time.

Well, that's it for now, folks. Be sure to comment back and tell me which films you agree with, disagree with and any of your favorites.

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