With Godzilla: Singular Point’s upcoming release, here are some of the franchise’s best Godzilla films to watch.
Godzilla has starred in numerous shows, cartoons and movies over the years, and the Big G isn’t slowing down anytime soon. His next big appearance will be on the Netflix series Godzilla Singular Point, an anime co-production with studios Bones & Orange. This isn’t the first stab at the monster that Netflix has taken, but with a new live-action movie coming as well, 2021 certainly feels like the Year of Godzilla.
With over six decades worth of movies and other material, getting ready for the big Netflix premiere might seem daunting to those just getting into the franchise. To get newcomers — and existing fans — up to speed, here’s a list of some of the best Godzilla movies from several eras to watch before Godzilla Singular Point’s upcoming release.
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The original 1954 Godzilla film set the standard for the kaiju genre and is in many ways a departure from what people might expect from the series. The titular monster makes a first appearance around half an hour into the film, and the result is a dour, tragic look at the destruction left in his wake. This is accentuated by the movie being in black and white, with the smaller, almost claustrophobic scale making the film even more terrifying.
After this, the series would focus more on Godzilla fighting other monsters, losing much of its originally allegorical depth. From there, it would briefly devolve into sillier and sillier affairs, but the original movie still stands as a poignant reaction to a horrifying war.
Godzilla vs. Biollante
1989 saw the release of Godzilla vs. Biollante, which was the second film in the rebooted Heisei series. The film’s plot was, strangely enough, the result of a contest to decide the premise of the series’ next film, with the winning writer being an everyday dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi. Essentially combining Godzilla with Little Shop of Horrors, the movie has a genetically engineered plant being crossed with Godzilla’s DNA and a young girl, resulting in the eponymous Biollante.
The film was very well-regarded upon its release, and this reception has only intensified over the years. Fans lauded it for its horror elements, as well as having Godzilla fight an entirely original opponent. Sadly, Biollante has yet to reappear in another film in the franchise.
Godzilla vs. Destroyah
The Heisei period came to a stunning conclusion with 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah. This film brought the series full circle in a way, with Destroyah being the result of ancient trilobites mutated by the Oxygen Destroyer that killed the original Godzilla. This boost gives the demonic monster a competitive edge against the King of Monsters, who himself is suffering from an internal radioactive meltdown.
This meltdown threatens to plunge those around Godzilla into a nuclear holocaust, accentuating the already growing threat of the mutating Destroyah. While it had some of the series’ most explosive action sequences, its somber and reflective tone made it the ultimate cap on that chapter of the franchise’s life.
Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is easily the series’ most tongue-tying entry, as well as its most subversive. In most entries, Mothra is one of Godzilla’s greatest allies and Ghidorah his fiercest enemy. In this film, however, the roles are most definitely reversed. The movie is part of the Millennium series of films, which were essentially only in continuity with the original film, creating their micro-continuities after that.
This movie characterized Godzilla as a malevolent being, driven by the vengeful spirits of those who died in World War II. Opposing him were the Guardian Monsters, who included Mothra, Ghidorah and more obscure monster Baragon. Despite recasting its title monster so heavily, this film is considered one of the best in the franchise. Likewise, its concept of ancient Guardian Monsters is being reintroduced in the current Monsterverse movies.
The first film in the Reiwa era was the 2016 Toho movie Shin Godzilla, also known as Godzilla: Resurrection — the first Japanese entry in the series in years. The film was co-directed by none other than Hideaki Anno, the creator of the Evangelion franchise. Much as that series radically reinterpreted the mecha genre, this film was a similar deconstruction of Godzilla tropes and the kaiju genre as a whole.
The film dealt with the Japanese government’s ineptitude in handling the arrival of a horrific mutating Godzilla, who boasts several different forms throughout the movie. This redesign gives the titular monster a much different appearance than usual, and the film itself is one of the more unique in the series. Whereas the original film dealt with fears concerning the fallout of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, this film was in many ways a commentary on the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It’s also worth noting that the movie’s final design for Godzilla is one of the beefier looks for the King of the Monsters, potentially inspiring his design in the upcoming Singular Point. For this reason, especially, it, as well as the other films on this list, should be prime viewing before the Netflix series drops.
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