It has been over five decades since the first Godzilla movie dropped, giving us one of the most iconic characters to ever grace the screen. Godzilla has played the hero and in some instances, the villain. For many viewers, the character represents chaos, fear, hope, anger, and a warning about how human actions can often create ghastly consequences. If there is anything the franchise has tried to show over the years, it’s that nature will always find a way to save herself even if the end result is the destruction of mankind. Below is a look at the 10 best Godzilla movies in the entire canon that you totally need to watch.
Must-Watch Godzilla Movies
10. Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995)
This 1995 rendition of one of the world’s most beloved monster movie saw Godzilla go up against a monstrous version of his old nemesis, the ruthless Oxygen Destroyer. Godzilla would have to go to great lengths to win this battle and in the process of doing so, he loses his life and nearly destroys the earth. There are new twists introduced into the movie that make it a jump from the old films and a lot more interesting.
Vengeance is the name of the game and Godzilla plays it so elegantly. This movie elevates what would ordinarily have been two vicious beasts tearing into each other onscreen to a deeply emotional story where loss holds a promise and a haunting consequence. As far as Godzilla movies go, this is one that you should definitely see.
9. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
Thanks to the many movies in the franchise, we know what a world with Godzilla is like, but this version asks viewers to imagine a world in which he never existed. Oh, and there’s time travel in it too. The movie begins in the year 2204 when a group of people called The Futurians decide to go back in time to the early 1990s in Japan and prevent the beast from ever being made. The movie has so many hidden philosophies running through its storyline, so your understanding of it might depend on your political leanings and how you feel about the costs of war.
Godzilla vs King Ghidorah also offers a lot more than its predecessors in terms of origin stories. It shows how human actions can often be good and evil because we see Godzilla play the part of the villain as well as the hero. The movie helped set a new standard for the movies that followed and it’s one of the very best in the series.
8. Godzilla Final Wars (2004)
This film basically takes all the best parts of every Godzilla movie that has ever been released and puts a fun spin on it. There’s a lot less focus on the beastly side of things and more attention on the human factor. It tells the story of Earth being invaded by an alien race called Xillians to take control of the planet’s monsters and use them to their advantage in dominating the world. Of course, Godzilla is there to stop that evil plan from materializing, but not before he goes up against all kinds of monsters and enemies from all the previously Godzilla movies in an epic smackdown.
Think of Final Wars as a love letter to the Godzilla franchise. It’s a deeply satisfying movie on its own, but when you consider that the whole point of it is to pay homage and celebrate one of the greatest movie franchises ever made, it becomes even more exciting. You will love figuring out all the little clues that are a throwback to the earlier Godzilla movies while also enjoying the fast-paced action.
7. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla vs. Biollante has some of the most impressive computer-generated imagery in the entire movie franchise. It features a thrilling plot that sees scientists conducting genetic experiments in a bid to create a method of taking down Godzilla if need be, but instead end up making a genetic modification of the beast that goes out of control.
Biollante is a magnificent monster that is actually way bigger than Godzilla, so the latter is in for the fight of his life. The mix of espionage, rock instrumentals, gunfights, royal monster battles, and mindblowing special effects make this one of the best Godzilla movies ever made. The movie set the standard that remained untouched for many years and still stands as some of the greatest interpretations in Japanese kaiju film history. You will not regret the time you spend watching it.
6. Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975)
This was the last Godzilla movie made by the director who started it all, Ishiro Honda, so you know you are in for a treat. In this film, Godzilla’s mechanical nemesis, Mecha-G is brought back to life by a group of aliens called Simians. Mecha-G has a group of helpers which include Titanosaurus – an ancient dinosaur, and Katsura – a woman with telekinetic and cybernetic powers who has a score to settle against humanity.
It’s a classic game of survival and Godzilla is called upon to save humanity from itself once again. There’s a lot of interesting things afoot in this movie from the fights to the graphic effects and exciting twists that keep you locked in your seat all the way to the very end. The movie truly shines in all the right places, so if you haven’t seen it, you need to rectify that error.
5. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Under Shusuke Kaneko’s directorial guidance, this movie is an absolute beauty. It reimagines the infamous character in a disturbing new light. For once, Godzilla is not a nuclear mutant monster, he is a beast possessed by the souls of dead war victims and he is out to wreak havoc on Japan for forgetting the important role it played for the nation in World War II.
The movie abandons the idea of Godzilla as a confused beast who gets it wrong sometimes. He is completely aware, brutal, and mind-numbingly evil in his quest to punish and torment humans and monsters out of pure hatred for them. Japan’s only hope of surviving his rampage is to resurrect three ancient guardian monsters: Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Baragon to fight against him. The storyline and battle sequences are almost poetic, earning it a place on the list of best Godzilla movies you need to watch.
4. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
At the time of its release, Destroy All Monsters was meant to the final goodbye to the entire monster franchise created by Toho, the Japanese film company. Hence, all the monsters came out to play in this movie. Think of it as ‘The Avengers: Endgame’ of Godzilla movies.
It is set at the end of the 20th century in a world where all the world’s monsters are housed on an island, where scientists study them and ensure they don’t leave. This works out just fine for everyone until the earth is taken over by aliens called Kilaaks who can mind control people and monsters. The Kilaaks release the monsters and send them on a rampage around the world. The movie is a little slow in the beginning, but when the action takes off, it becomes everything you can ask for in a monster movie. It was so beautifully made that instead of ending the franchise as intended, it sparked a whole new revival of the series.
3. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
The premise of this film makes it one of the best Godzilla movies you need to watch. Following a tsunami disaster, a massive egg is washed ashore and bought by a greedy businessman who wants to display it in his amusement park as its biggest attraction. However, things quickly go awry when Godzilla shows up to destroy the egg and the earth, so the humans enlist the help of Mothra and other fairy folks to protect the human race.
It’s a very entertaining and emotional plot that doesn’t hold back on the action. Mothra vs. Godzilla has some of the best fight sequences to ever play out in the franchise, and it helped make Mothra one of the favorite characters in the film series.
2. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Shin Godzilla can be considered Japan’s response to the 2014 Godzilla movie which was made in the United States. It saw Hideki Anno, the director of the critically acclaimed anime Neon Genesis Evangelion leading the show. The movie draws inspiration from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and uses it to ground the storyline. This movie’s Godzilla has a lot of new tricks up his sleeve, including the ability to grow in size and reproduce asexually.
Upon its release, Shin Godzilla established itself as a classic. One of the main attractions of the movie is the political satire which ridicules the government’s attempt to battle a creature they do not understand without losing control of the state. Shin Godzilla is a hilarious movie that manages to blend Incredible monster action with sobering tales of human incompetence.
1. Godzilla (1954)
This is the movie that started it all and it is a classic in every sense of the word. Dozens of films have been released in the wake of 1954’s Godzilla, but none of them have managed to match the effect or scale of the original. It is more than just a movie about monsters. At the heart of it is an allegory about the extent of destruction that humanity is capable of.
The premise is fairly simple: the use of nuclear weapons awakens an ancient force of destruction which humans are powerless against. Godzilla completely revolutionized the science fiction genre. It changed the way the world looked at monster/action-horror films and continues to impact the moviescape even today. If there is any Godzilla movie that you need to watch, it has to be this one because it paves the way for all that followed.