Godzilla, King Of The Monster Movies
(Warning: Contains several spoilers.)
On the morning of March 1, 1954, a Japanese fishing boat named The Lucky Dragon became the unintended victim of the Bikini Island Atomic Bomb Test, when the vessel drifted into a cloud of radioactive fallout from the explosion. One crew member died and millions of Japanese citizens began to panic over the possible contamination of the fish supply. The incident caused a massive wave of angry demonstrations in Japan and inspired Toho Studios producer, Tomoyuki Tanaka, to create a film that would illustrate the horrors of nuclear war and probably one of the best movies of all time.
Instead of shooting a traditional war movie to make his point, Tanaka decided to use a giant radioactive monster as a metaphor for the Hydrogen Bomb. The film was directed by Ishiro Honda and in the fall of 1954, Godzilla premiered in Japan.
Over the many decades since Godzilla made his debut, the city crushing behemoth has undergone three distinct incarnations. His reign began with the Showa Series (1954ñ1975), during which Godzilla was portrayed as an unstoppable force of destruction, intent on eliminating the human race.
In the early 1970’s, Godzilla began his slow, but steady transformation into an ally of humanity. By the beginning of the Heisei Series (1984ñ1995), Godzilla was saving mankind on a regular basis, fighting against legions of fearsome creatures, and pushing back wave after wave of invaders from outer space.
The final phase of Godzilla’s evolution was the Millennium Series (1999ñ2004). Once again, the creature was an uncontrollable force of nature and he reduced human beings to helpless spectators, desperately trying to avoid becoming collateral damage. Toho did an effective job of updating the look of the films for the new century, while restoring all the traits that made the original Godzilla the most terrifying monster of the nuclear age.
Today, the Toho Godzilla franchise consists of 29 full length movies. Here is the complete list of all the Toho films and a brief description of six of our favorites:
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Godzilla, King Of The Monsters (1956)
King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)
Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1964)
Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero (1965)
Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster (1966)
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)
Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (1971)
Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972)
Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Godzilla 1985 (1985)
Godzilla Vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Godzilla & Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla (1994)
Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Godzilla 2000: Millennium (2000)
Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
1. Gojira (1954) – The first Godzilla movie is considered a classic of Japanese cinema. The monster is terrifying, Tokyo is demolished in a spectacular manner, and film offers a stunning depiction of humanity’s destruction by a force that is simply beyond the control of mere mortals. If you are only able to watch a single Godzilla movie in your lifetime, this should be the one you choose.
2. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) – In this early classic, Godzilla picks a fight with Mothra, an enormous flying insect from Infant Island. After the peace loving lepidopteran (a winged insect with characteristics both of butterflies and of moths) is killed by the enraged lizard, Mothra’s children join the battle and actually manage to defeat Godzilla.
3. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) – Godzilla dukes it out with a monster from outer space. Former enemies Rodan and Mothra team up with the big guy to take out Ghidorah before he can destroy the earth.
4. Destroy All Monsters (1968) – A true battle royal of giant monsters, this epic film features Godzilla, Anguirus, Baragon, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla, Mothra, Rodan and Varan in a no-holds barred fight to the death with King Ghidorah and a devious group of technologically advanced invaders from the Planet Kilaak.
5. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) – This gem takes the award for the strangest monster movie in the history of the modern cinema. Godzilla goes to war against a gigantic creature cloned from a rose, infused with the spirit of a mad scientist’s dead daughter, and mixed with anti-nuclear bacteria made from Godzilla’s cells.
6. Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000) – The second film of the Millennium Series introduces the audience to time travel, black holes and pre-historic dragonflies the size of a 747. Godzilla is pushed to the limit by an angry Anisoptera with an attitude and relentlessly pursued by a special military unit called the G-Graspers. In the end, Godzilla turns Megaguirus into a smoking cinder and as usual, much of Tokyo is reduced to rubble.
Godzilla has enjoyed a 60 year long career as the undisputed champion of Japanese Kaiju (giant monster) films. Born on the wings of a terrible tragedy and inspired by Tomoyuki Tanaka’s heartfelt desire for nuclear disarmament, Godzilla will always be the one and only King of the Monsters.
Here is also a great article I found on the top 100 movies of all time http://www.lifed.com/top-100-best-movies-of-all-time I can’t believe they didn’t include Godzilla in the list but its still a great list and well worth going through – they seem to have captured each movies essence and opened my eyes up to other angles of the films I didn’t think of before.