Short of a new Friday the 13th or a sequal to Streets of Fire or Big Trouble in Little China, few things could make me as eager to pay for inflated movie ticket prices like the new Godzilla. One of my few bits of true nerd cred is that I have seen every single one of the big G's adventures. Knowing the flighty nature of the internet I see this as an opportunity to help guide people to the better parts of the series and maybe generate more than my usual 2-5 views for the week.. With that in mind I'd say it's time for some quick movie by movie recaps of the whole franchise (sans the tv shows) with the important notes on which ones you should bother watching. Let's get smashing.
Gojira AKA Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Most of you have probably seen this one in one form or another so in all truth there's not as much to report on. It's a legitimate classic with some great moments. It ranks as a must see thanks to it's quality. Plus this is the only film in the whole series that stays in continuity. There is one weakness however in that even with it being a top tier Godzilla flick it doesn't feel much like one. It's so serious and lacking in the usual monster fisticuffs that it seems positively alien in comparison to most of the franchise. Definitely watch it. Just don't think for a second that your atomic lizard education ends here.
Godzilla Raids Again
Generally regarded as a letdown, the first sequel really isn't all that bad. The heavy handed nature of all the atomic bomb commentary from part one is pushed aside to make room for a story that's more about what it's like to live in a world with monsters. Even the heroes are of the more blue collar sort. No longer are we following reporters and scientists. Instead our leads work as pilots for a fishing company. Also we get our first enemy monster and the ensuing monster battles that became a staple for these movies. Not a great one, but a decent time waster for a dull afternoon.
King Kong vs. Godzilla
The original vs flick sets the standard for most of them being enormous disappointments. Really this should have been the coolest damn movie made up to that point. I mean you've got both titans of the giant monster world facing off in their first color picture. Apparently someone thought that the serious tones of the previous movies wouldn't work for this one so instead of the giant lovesick ape battling the face of atomic fear in proper fashion, we get two horrid looking versions of them dancing and throwing rocks at each other. To even the playing field Godzilla's powers were greatly reduced and Kong earned some lighting abilities from god knows where. The only important element introduced here is the island adventure theme which would come into play many more times over the course of the series. This one stinks like Kong droppings. Don't bother with it.
Godzilla vs. Mothra
As a kid I always hated Mothra. She was such a goody goody. Every time Godzilla showed up to have some fun at humanities expense there was that damn bug and her gross larva to dump on the party. With that said this is actually one of the best of the early flicks. The island adventure theme from the last one is used again to greater effect. The characters are actually entertaining. The whole thing just comes together in a neat little package that you should probably make the time for.
Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster
Part five introduced a slew of important developments to the series, but don't let that trick you into thinking it's any good. As for the new elements; first is the presence of alien invaders. Next is the first attempt to turn Godzilla into a heroic figure. By this point the producers realized that kids loved the big G and a good way to keep the cash flowing would be to make him the good guy. Thous he needed an even nastier rival in the form of King Ghidorah who makes his entrance here. Honestly this one is just a dull blur to me which isn't helped by the next movie being almost the same thing just better. Let's not forget the lame part where the Mothra girls translate a monster conversation for everybody. Skip it
Invasion of the Astro Monster
Pretty much the same as the one before it just much better. This one takes the same formula of alien invaders, King Ghidorah, and zilla defending the earth but does it all with a darker tone. There's some extra bits to add depth like an alien girl who falls for an earth man leading her own people to kill her. Still; it's largely forgettable so you don't really need to bother with it.
Ebirah Horror of the Deep
Returning to island adventures on even smaller budgets we find this entry to be mostly zillaless. The primary monster this time is the evil Ebirah which is a giant shrimp/lobster that fallows the commands of an evil organization based on some mysterious island. A research team heads to the island to investigate something (can't remember what) and encounters a native girl who saves them from the baddies. It's very much a turn towards simple plup stories for the series but it's not wretched by any means, just a little weak.
Son of Godzilla
Ohhhh boy. With this one, we're introduced to Manilla. The disgusting and fiendishly annoying offspring of our favorite city smasher. This is yet another island based tale that mostly centers around the trials of the king of the monsters raising an awful son. There's some stuff with yet another group of researchers camping out but I couldn't begin to remember what they were actually doing. It's really not as bad as I'm making it sound but there's nothing here to hold the interest of anyone other than crazed fans.
Destroy All Monsters
This was planned as the end all be all of Kaiju flicks. Monsters from all corners of Toho studio are brainwashed by evil aliens in order to conquer Earth. Naturally the monsters eventually break free of this control and battle amongst each other for the top honor of blasting the martians out of the sky. With a much bigger budget than the previous flicks this one is a big fun pile of crazy with lots of violence and city bashing. Definitely one to watch.
All Monsters Attack
While the title might lead you to believe that this is a direct continuation of the previous film it's actually closer in tone to Son of, only sooooo much worse. The entire thing is about the most irritating little kid you've ever seen who fantasizes about living on Monster Island and being best friends with Manilla who can talk. That's it. Just the twisted fever dreams of a kid who wants to escape his awful life. Despite a running time of only like 72 minutes this is akin to having an elephant stomp on your pelvis while you listen to music from Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion piping out of two separate stereos taped to your head. Do not, under any circumstances, watch this miserable pile.
That's enough for today. Next time we'll get into parts 11-20 which feature everything from time travel to intergalactic cockroaches. See ya soon.