Monday, February 9, 2015

Godzilla movies from worst to best (Part 2)

20. "Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla" - Per the usual, this entry has an overall plot structure that's been recycled several times in the series: Earth gets threatened by yet another space monster, and only Godzilla can stop it. This time, in the words of M. Night Shyamalan, there's a twist. The space monster is an evil clone of Godzilla, and it's caused by something that makes the Hesei series considerably stronger than its predecessor: continuity. During the events of "Godzilla vs. Biollante," some of Godzilla's cells managed to get launched into space, and when they came in contact with a black hole, Spacegodzilla was born. Try to stay with me. I'll give it major props for making an effort to establish a single universe with an over-arching story by tying in to a previous entry, but the overall unoriginal plot structure keeps this entry at the tail end of this part of the list.

19. "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2" - This is not the first film to feature Godzilla fighting a robotic doppelganger, as the title suggests. However, it certainly is slightly better than "Spacegodzilla" for a few reasons. For starters, I like how it starts out introducing the UN-appointed anti-Godzilla group, a paramilitary organization of badasses dedicated to stopping the Big G whenever he surfaces. However, in introducing those people, that's where Mechagodzilla gets introduced, and this one is completely different from the original. Instead of being an alien super weapon designed to help said alien race conquer earth, he's a human super weapon designed to counter Godzilla, since a bunch of karate and judo black belts can't really do anything against a pissed off, skyscraper-sized atomic beast. Otherwise, it's like the original "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," only MechaG is good, and Godzilla is the aggressor. This entry also introduces yet another Baby Godzilla. And this one's probably better than Minya. Solid entry, but Mechagodzilla is much more effective as a bad guy.

18. "Godzilla 2000" - Here we go again with the space monsters. From my understanding, the reason why this (and the entire millennium series) was made was because Roland Emmerich and co. did such a good job screwing up the Godzilla character that Toho wanted to make their own new movies to completely wash the bad taste out. Compared to some of the other entries, "Godzilla 2000" feels somewhat smaller and more personal because it does a good job handling its human characters, who are completely relatable. At least they come off more so that way than some of the humans in earlier entries.The new monster, Orga, is also pretty cool, even if he only has a few minutes of screen time before he gets put in his place. This was a solid way for Toho to draw attention from the 1998 remake, but it's definitely not their best effort.

17. "Godzilla vs. Biollante" - This was one of the more fun entries to rank. It's ahead of two of its contemporaries because it sets the stage for a lot of things that happen in the Heisei series. The space-born Godzilla cells that eventually become Spacegodzilla  get launched in this movie. Recurring character Miki Saegusa also gets introduced. Major props to Toho for establishing continuity that up until this point, the series hadn't seen. Then there's the new monster, Biollante. She has an appropriately tragic backstory for an anti-villain, and there are aspects about her that are genuinely creepy. Of course, when you get a plant/Godzilla hybrid monster with the mind of a human girl, that's what happens. Finally, this is the most "80s" of all the Godzilla movies. It starts out with a shootout that wouldn't be out of place in a contemporary Schwarzenegger or Stallone movie complete with a cheesy musical number that's almost impossible to dance along to. Not bad, Toho.

16. "Godzilla vs. Mothra" - Ironically, this is one of the very first Godzilla films I watched. By all standards, it's not a bad one at all. It has for me, one of the most relatable human characters in the trouble making Fujita, who gets arrested at the beginning for something I could see myself getting arrested for. Being a Mothra movie, yes, the twin fairies are in it. And by the time I got to this entry, I've heard the Mothra chant so many times I can hum it in my sleep. Then, it introduces Battra, sort of a foil to Mothra that looks like Mothra's meth-addicted cousin. I liked this one more than the Heisei entries I just mentioned, even if the plot revolves around more mumbo jumbo about keeping balance in the world.

15. "Godzilla: Tokyo SOS" - This is the second to last movie that Toho made. The millennium-era version of Mechagodzilla got introduced in its superior predecessor "Godzilla against Mechagodzilla," and this had a similar plot, so it feels like a rehash. There wasn't that much that made this all that different from its predecessor, where it established that Mechagodzilla, aka "Kiryu," was a sentient cyborg with the original Godzilla's consciousness trapped in a mechanical body. And he was screaming "kill me" the entire time. Overall, it's another Godzilla fights his machine clone entry, and "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" and "Godzilla against Mechagodzilla" did it better.

14. "Terror of Mechagodzilla" - As far as the Godzilla vs. his mechanical clone entries go, this is one of the better ones. Once again, aliens are using the evil robot to destroy/conquer earth, and now they also have help in the form of a mind-controlled one-shot kaiju called Titanosaurus. At this point in the series, it's already been established how deadly Mechagodzilla is, and Titanosaurus is no pushover, either. So Godzilla has his work cut out for him in one of the Showa series' finer entries. There's even this weird human subplot with a young woman's dad supposedly being dead, but he's not dead. And she's a robot! It's pretty good, but you can't beat the original.

13. "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" - Out of the entire series, this entry has the most ridiculous plot. There's a lot of time travel, and King Ghidorah's origins get redone. I liked the nod to WWII where it showed the pre-atomic Godzilla defending a group of Japanese soldiers probably more out of being territorial, which caused one of the soldiers in the scene to remember and even owe Godzilla his life. There's this plot where a group of future humans want to subjugate Japan on account of Japan's not becoming the lone economic superpower making the future better, so they send these genetically engineered things called Dorats (that look like Furbies or something) back in time to a nuclear test, where they mutate and fuse into King Ghidorah. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills after saying that. Then Ghidorah gets trounced by Godzilla (who just happens to be acting like a territorial animal, and rightfully so) because Japan doesn't want to put up with any of that future nonsense, then Ghidorah gets rebuilt to fight Godzilla again, and Godzilla even has a bro moment with one of the soldiers he saved during WWII before killing him. Wow, just try to digest all that.

12. "Invasion of Astro Monster" - This is the first Godzilla to truly introduce the concept of aliens trying to pull the strings and invade earth. Like many invaders, the aliens come off as friendly, but I've seen enough sci-fi flicks to know where that's going to end up. In this case, they claim they have a recipe for a cure for cancer, but in reality, it's an ultimatum for humanity's surrender. Then they want to use King Ghidorah for the purpose of subjugating earth. In my opinion, this is the first Godzilla film to truly introduce those overt sci-fi themes like aliens and humans going into space (yes, I'm aware that King Ghidorah came from space, but the sci-fi feel of "Ghidorah" is not as overt as it is here). What it does right is pioneer the whole idea of an alien race using the kaiju as weapons with which to conquer humanity. That, friends, is a theme that Toho would then end up beating like a dead horse.

11. "Mothra vs. Godzilla" - Some might argue that I should have this entry a little (or a lot) higher on the list because it's the first on-screen meeting of Toho's two most iconic monsters. This is a notable entry in that it's the last time (at least for the Showa era) that Godzilla gets portrayed as the bad guy. It also cleared it up for me since I hadn't seen that many movies with Mothra till this point that as far as kaiju go, Mothra isn't quite as durable as some of her peers. In fact, it takes the efforts of two Mothra larvae to beat Godzilla after the original gets her butt kicked. Well, that's still pretty embarrassing considering that cinema's biggest, baddest monster got his butt kicked by two oversized caterpillars spitting silly string. It's still the first meeting of two cinematic icons.

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