HomeMoviesA Guide to which Godzilla Movies to See Before 'King of the...

A Guide to which Godzilla Movies to See Before ‘King of the Monsters’

Written by George Heftler

Godzilla: King of the Monsters open in theaters Friday, just in time for the 65th anniversary of the franchise. But with three eras of Godzilla and 31 live-action movies, catching up can be a bit daunting. That’s where I come in. Having watched every Godzilla movie, I’m going to break down each installment and whether it’s worth your time. Here we go!

Godzilla (1954)

Pros – Has a powerful message and some great characterization. Nice introduction to our main man, Godzilla.

Cons – The black and white can dissuade modern audiences, along with people expecting a typical Godzilla movie. Released shortly after WW2, Godzilla is more a look at the consequence of nuclear armament and less a goofy monster movie.

Worth watching? – Oh yeah. In addition to enjoying a good human story while you can in this series, several of the later movies also refer to the granddaddy of ‘em all. Make sure you watch the Japanese version though- the American version faced several edits to make it more palatable to WW2 veterans. 4/5 stars

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

Pros – In addition to still having some anti-nuclear messaging, you get to see Godzilla body slam an ankylosaurus off a cliff, into the ocean.

Cons – The back half of this movie is really not very good (in stark contrast to how many of these tend to go) and the “bad guy” is softer than brie.

Worth watching? – Probably not. It’s fun to see them trying to adjust to a new formula, but there’s definitely growing pains and they have a hard time balancing tone. 2/5 stars

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)

Pros – Lots of homages to the original King Kong and a fun fight between two stone-cold classic monsters. Intentionally goofy.

Cons – Blackface, yikes.

Worth watching? – If you’re a fan of King Kong, sure, give it a watch. If you’re just here for Godzilla, you could probably give it a pass. 3/5 stars

Mothra vs Godzilla (1964)

Pros – Great costumes and music, especially the Mothra theme. At one point Godzilla flops his rubbery self over to a building and smashes it. It proceeds to collapse on him and he just sort of throws up his arms like “what the fuck” in a scene that is a nice summation of what I like about these movies.

Cons – This movie gets sort of adapted and “soft-remade” in several other installments of the franchise, so you’ll probably see this story several times.

Worth watching? – Yes! This movie is fun and weird. Never thought I’d think some moth larvae were cute, but here we are. 5/5 stars

Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)

Pros – Watching Rodan peck the crap out of Godzilla’s head and his subsequent reaction is worth the price of admission alone, but if that’s not enough, there’s more exploding miniatures than you can shake a stick at.

Cons – Rodan’s costume is uh, not good. I also would have preferred to only get the Mothra larva instead of also seeing the moth form.

Worth watching? – Yes. Lots of fun and a great introduction to one of Godzilla’s greatest foes, King Ghidorah. 4/5 stars


Invasion of the Astro-Monster (1965) (AKA: Godzilla vs. Monster Zero)

Pros – At roughly 50 minutes in, Godzilla does a victory dance that is truly adorable. There’s also some wonderful retro-futurism in the set design, and the miniature work is top notch.

Cons – The story is just OK, and having Godzilla fight Ghidorah twice in a row is a little dull.

Worth watching? – Yes overall, but you could probably skip it in a pinch. 3.5/5 stars


Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) (AKA: Godzilla vs The Sea Monster)

Pros – Godzilla suplexes a giant lobster and gets lit up by fighter jets while surf music plays.

Cons – Sort of a half-assed Red Dawn, and not enough fun monster fights!

Worth watching? – Nah. It’s all done better elsewhere. 2.5/5 stars

Son of Godzilla (1967)

Pros – Godzilla does a piledriver on a giant praying mantis.

Cons – Everything else, but in particular, Minilla (the titular son of Godzilla). It feels about 5 hours long and I truly struggled to make it through.

Worth Watching? – God no. 1.5/5 stars


Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Pros – Everyone looks fantastic, especially Ghidorah and Godzilla himself.

Cons – UGH, Minilla is back. Also takes a few too many elements from previous installments.

Worth Watching? – I’m gonna say yes, but it wouldn’t be too hard to drop this one. 3.5/5 stars

All Monsters Attack (1969)

Pros – Makes you think of the Neverending Story, in that, “Wow, I wish I were watching that instead,” sort of way. I guess the kid actor is endearing enough.

Cons – Minilla-heavy and uses a ton of footage from previous movies.

Worth watching? – Not even for money. 2/5 stars

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) (AKA Godzilla vs the Smog Monster)

Pros – Great costumes and we’re back to getting an actual message – this time concerning pollution. There’s also some really cool and trippy animation interspersed throughout.

Cons – Bad voices in the dub. Easy enough to overcome, though.

Worth watching? – Definitely. 4.5/5 stars

Godzilla vs Gigan (1972)

ProsThe Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque space cockroaches are probably the most interesting and fun human plotline yet. Gigan himself kicks ass and Ghidorah is always fun to watch.

Cons – There’s some poorly edited-in stock footage, terrible “monster-speak” between Godzilla and Anguirus, and some of the action is shot from a little too close.

Worth watching? – Yes! It’s not perfect, but you could absolutely do worse than this tag team matchup. 4/5 stars

Godzilla vs Megalon (1973)

Pros – Megalon has a fine design, and Jet Jaguar is neat enough. Gigan also makes a return and I love his design. The final brawl is also fun, including Godzilla’s oft meme’d flying drop kick.

Cons – The human storyline is dreadfully dull, and to counter Megalon’s good design, he bunny hops around the countryside in a decidedly un-intimidating way.

Worth watching? – This is a tough one. Maybe just start from the 50-minute mark? Otherwise, skip it. 3/5 stars

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

Pros – It’s Godzilla fighting a robot version of himself. That’s dope.

Cons – The cool fight is too little too late, I’m afraid. About 75 minutes of this 84-minute movie are about some disguised space apes (spapes?) that I definitely don’t care about—especially since they’re stealing the space cockroaches’ style.

Worth watching? – Nope. You’ll get enough Mechagodzilla in the future that this one is an easy skip in my book. 2.5/5 stars


Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

Pros – HERE we go. The human/alien plotline is way better than its predecessor, and the pacing is helped by interspersed titanosaurus attacks. Then when the final fight kicks off, the fun bumps up to 11. Great miniature work, and some legitimately wonderful shots and pyrotechnics.

Cons – Not long enough!

Worth watching? – You better believe it, baby. 5/5 stars

The Return of Godzilla (1984)

Pros – Some extremely solid miniature work, and Godzilla is here for business this time. No goofing around, just destruction of Japan is on his mind.

Cons – The main human character, a reporter, is boring as hell. The serious tone also doesn’t work for everyone.

Worth watching? – I’d be lying if I said I prefer the serious Godzilla movies to the fun monster vs monster fights. This is probably a skip for me, but if that’s your style, give it a watch. 3/5 stars

Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

Pros – Hits the sweet spot between goofy monster fighting, and a serious message about environmentalism. The final fight is great, and the human storyline is engaging enough to keep you interested while waiting for more monster fights. Additionally, this is my favorite costume of Godzilla’s up to this point, and Biollante’s design and costume is also great.

Cons – Not nearly enough of Biollante.

Worth watching? – Yes! Extremely fun and a good balance of message and monsters. 4/5 stars

Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)

Pros – They combined Godzilla with T2 and a sprinkling of Back to the Future.

Cons – They made this movie just for me, and nobody else is allowed to watch it. Sorry! I don’t make the rules.

Worth watching? – If you were allowed to, absolutely. 5/5 stars

Godzilla vs Mothra (1992)

Pros – Mothra gets a goth girlfriend named Battra and drops a Ferris wheel on Godzilla. Also has a good human storyline.

Cons – It is SO close to the story of the 60’s Mothra vs Godzilla movie.

Worth watching? – Yes, and it is exhibit A for why it’s important to have a likable human plot. 4.5/5 stars

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993)

Pros – Godzilla looks cool! The final fight is not bad either.

Cons – Not a fan of this Mechagodzilla design, not a fan of Rodan’s new design or the fact that they’ve been turned into a total jobber, I am on record as hating the baby Godzilla plotlines and the humans in this are not good either.

Worth watching? – It’s a nah from me, dawg. Pure competence is not enough. 2.5/5 stars

Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla (1994)

Pros – Spacegodzilla is extremely cool looking.

Cons – Toho, I beg you, stop putting baby Godzillas in movies.

Worth watching? – This ain’t it, chief. Another bland one that doesn’t do much. Instead of watching, maybe just look at a picture of Spacegodzilla and go, “hey that’s neat,” and move on? 2.5/5 stars


Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)

Pros – WE’RE BACK, BABY. The previous two are a bit of a slog, but this one made it all worth it. Very cool plotline with “burning Godzilla” and the first half feels like a cool horror movie, then turns into a classic monster brawl instead of the typical exposition dumps that previously filled the time between fights. Destoroyah is absolutely dope.

Cons – I guess it doesn’t always make a ton of sense, as I’m not sure how a bunch of living crab monsters could turn into one giant crab monster, but who cares? There is also a baby Godzilla in this one but I don’t really count it because it’s basically full grown at this point and it’s, to a point, just another Godzilla.

Worth watching? – Yes, and gets the patented George rating of: cool and good TM. 5/5 stars

Godzilla (1998)

Pros – Hmm… Madison Square Garden gets blown up. Boo Knicks, go Sixers!

Cons – Good lord, take your pick. The accents, the story, the Godzilla design, the acting, MORE BABY GODZILLAS. This movie sucks.

Worth watching? – Roland Emmerich? More like “Rollin’ Emrightinthetrash.” Hard pass. 1/5 stars

Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)

Pros – Pretty cool Godzilla costume, although not my favorite. The humans are fairly interesting but we do spend too much time with them. The way Godzilla ends the main fight is extremely cool.

Cons – The CGI is truly dreadful. The rest of the main fight is pretty mediocre.

Worth watching? – This movie is fine. It’s fine! But that’s it. Just fine. So skip it. 3/5 stars

Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000)

Pros – This is probably the most gory of the movies; at one point a dude’s head gets crushed and blood sprays and I actually said, “woah”.

Cons – That’s not how black holes work! That’s not how black holes work at all!

Worth watching? – Nah. Pretty boring, and an uninteresting enemy—which is pretty atypical for the series. 2/5 stars

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

Pros – A cool sort of elseworlds/”what if” story where Godzilla is evil and King Ghidorah is a guardian of humanity! All the costumes look great too.

Cons – WTF they made Godzilla evil!? He’s not just a force of nature in this one, it seems like he is actively seeking destruction.

Worth watching? – Yes. A cool shakeup to keep things fresh, definitely check it out. 4/5 stars

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

Pros – No frills, just a good, old-fashioned brawl between a mutated dinosaur and a giant robot built from the bones of that dinosaur’s predecessor.

Cons – No frills, just a good old-fashioned brawl between a mutated dinosaur and a giant robot built from the bones of that dinosaur’s predecessor.

Worth watching? – You’ll get out of this what you put into it. I happen to be watching these for the monster fights, so the bare bones (heh) plot of this movie totally works for me to just keep things moving until the next fight. If you want something more, you’re not going to find it here. 4/5 stars

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)

Pros – It is definitely a movie. Pure competence. I guess it’s a pro that it also is a direct sequel to Godzilla against Mechagodzilla, so if you were invested in that story for some reason, it continues here. There’s also one interesting point (that is immediately abandoned) about the global reaction to a country having a weapon like Mechagodzilla.

Cons – It’s just so bland! Even the monster fight is just a slurry of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Mothra vs Godzilla.

Worth watching? – At one point I checked the time and couldn’t believe only 6 minutes had passed. SKIP. 2/5 stars

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Pros – This movie is off the wall and moves at a breakneck pace. Delightfully cheesy and they lean into the fun parts of the franchise. There are also 14 monsters in total, which is awesome to see, especially since my boy Gigan got a pretty serious upgrade to his look. Also, the American general looks like Mike Haggar from Final Fight! That’s fun.

Cons – Minilla is back. The CGI is hot garbage. For the first time, the human portion of the movie is more interesting than Godzilla himself. It is extremely racist to black people. It’s a little too long at 2 hours. Minilla is back.

Worth watching? – For sure. I had so much fun watching this. It’s like if Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle fame made a Godzilla movie. 4/5 stars


Godzilla (2014)

Pros – There are some pretty solid performances. I also like the bulky design of this Godzilla.

Cons – This movie is so dark in terms of lighting. In addition to that making it hard to see him, Godzilla is constantly hidden behind buildings or only shown on TV screens. I understand they want this experience to feel more personal, so they’re following specific humans on the ground, but it winds up feeling like they’re ashamed to be making a monster movie. I’m here for Godzilla, damn it!

Worth watching? – Another toughie. I didn’t really enjoy it, but since Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a direct sequel, I guess my answer is yes, watch it. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you! 2.5/5 stars

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Pros – Godzilla has not one but several great designs in this, and we get to enjoy ‘em all! It’s also an interesting story and does the human-based plotline well.

Cons – Godzilla is a little underutilized, made even more of a bummer because I like the designs so much.

Worth watching? – Yes. This is actually the one that reminded me the most of the original 1954 movie, and I really enjoyed it. 4/5 stars

Phew! We did it. Good job team. Now get out there and watch some Godzilla movies. If you want to argue with me about these opinions, talk about King of the Monsters, or even just say hi, check out @gerghef on twitter or Georgehef on Letterboxd.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected