godzilla 2014

20. Godzilla [2014] 

I am here to court controversy. But seriously, while many praised Gareth Edwards’ gritty, grim ’14 reboot of Godzilla, the fact is: it’s kind of a boring kaiju movie. The decision to keep Godzilla offscreen for most of the film is ambitious but somewhat baffling, paying homage to the original but also ignoring the fact that hardcore fans of this series have already sat through twenty-nine of these things. Sure, there are heady themes to consider – revolving around human self-centeredness in the face of annihilation – but just get to the goddamn good parts already. Furthermore, the MUTOs Godzilla battles are completely unmemorable streaks of CGI nothingness. This is the Godzilla movie for people who don’t actually like Godzilla movies, full of lifeless human drama and a dearth of pulpy violence. Pass.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: When Godzilla “makes out” with one of the MUTOs, it’s a sight to behold. Grabbing the near lifeless monster after pummeling it into oblivion, the King of Monsters tears its jaws open and then fires a beam of atomic breath into its maw, all while trumpets triumphantly blare. It’s as badass a finishing move as any iteration of our most iconic kaiju has pulled off.


19. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S [2003] 

Tokyo S.O.S is a tough movie to rate, as it works perfectly fine as a standalone Godzilla picture, but is a totally unsatisfying sequel to ‘02’s Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla. Not only does the film omit all the characters from the installment immediately preceding it, it also delivers nothing but another battle against Mothra. Look, Mothra is cool and all, but this is the 27th entry into the franchise. At this point, we’ve seen enough Mothra to last us a lifetime. To wit, Tokyo S.O.S is totally serviceable, but also totally tired; a slog for anyone who’s sat through a bunch of these things, expecting a surprise and only getting more of the same.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Man, this one’s even tough to pick out a defining moment from. If anything, its most notable for its overall level of chaos, as MechaGodzilla fires numerous rockets, Mothra creates numerous windstorms with its wings, and Godzilla tumbles through several buildings. This is one of the most IDGAF entries on the filmmakers’ part, which sounds great on paper, but is still somehow difficult to behold.


18. Godzilla: Final Wars [2004] 

Placing this picture so low on the list may upset many Godzilla enthusiasts, but there’s a method behind this madness, I assure you. The biggest gripe this writer has is that the human action set pieces outweigh the kaiju battles, in terms of overall screen-time. While it’s totally admirable to watch Toho try and combine both martial arts spectacle with creature feature madness, they never discover the right balance of both. That said, when we finally get Godzilla taking down Anguirus, Ebirah and Gigan, it’s a total treat, as Final Wars leans into an over-the-top visual aesthetic that may be the most outrageous in the entire franchise. When combined with the driving alt-metal soundtrack (that’s amped up for the American release), you have an entry that’s never 100% in step with itself, but still pretty entertaining.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Watching Godzilla get owned by Ghidorah never gets old, and Final Wars delivers a near fatality that’s totally mesmerizing (if you can get past the cheesy CGI). Not only does the famous foe out-blast Godzilla’s atomic breath, it also levitates him with its own fiery lungful, smashing the King of Monsters through a city block and even toppling an empty skyscraper on King G’s head. Now that’s impressive.


17. Godzilla vs. Gigan [1973] 

If you just want to see nothing more than Godzilla squaring off against two of the baddest mothers this series has ever introduced, then Godzilla vs. Gigan is totally your bag. It showcases both the return of Ghidorah – who’s probably at his most golden-hued in this installment – and the totally baller Gigan, who comes at the King of Monsters with dual scythe limbs and a spinning saw blade square in the middle of its torso. Plus, you get a seriously bonkers plot (which revolves around a kaiju-themed amusement park) and a heap of rubbery weirdness; nothing but pure kaiju bliss to be had. Only drawback: the final battle contains an Ed Wood-level of stock footage, recycled from Destroy All Monsters. Kind of a bummer, but still pretty badass nonetheless.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: Godzilla and Anguirus talk to one another! Sure, it’s a mush-mouthed version of monster speak, but the damage done to your mind will be immeasurable. The usage of cartoon speech bubbles has never been more outlandish.


16. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus [2000]

Probably the worst entry into the Millenium Series (’99 – ‘ 04), there’s really not much to write about this one, besides the production values being some of the best in the entire franchise. These are still relatively low-budget affairs, but Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has some amazing practical SFX that offset the janky, early aughts CGI. The main problem here is that the movie’s just not very original, giving us another version of a Mothra-type flying beast that’s basically a newfangled Battra. At its best, this is a diverting “cheap thrills” installment, delivering more of what fans have seen before, updated with tech from a new age.

Best Instance of Utter Destruction: During their skirmish, Megaguirus dive bombs Godzilla, and he ducks, cutting one of the flying monster’s claws off. Trying to use some shifty maneuvering, the new moth beast zooms off, confusing the shit out of the King. It swoops in again, attempting to utilize its massive stinger, but Godzilla is too quick, wrapping his tail around the weapon and tossing Megaguirus into a nearby building. Bonus points for the pissed off look on Godzilla’s face when his enemy immediately emerges from the rubble.


Part two of the ranking, with the 15 best Godzilla movies of the series, will arrive tomorrow.

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