godzilla movies best and worst
Toho Studios/Oren Aks/Thrillist
Toho Studios/Oren Aks/Thrillist

A Monster-Sized Breakdown of Every Insane 'Godzilla' Movie

Shin Godzilla, the first Japanese Godzilla film to hit American shores in 16 years, makes major changes to 62 years of franchise history and lore. See, some Godzilla movies are giant-sized horror movies. Others are special effects-driven spectacle experiments. A few aim directly at kids, with Godzilla talking to his friends using comic-book word bubbles. Fewer swing for the fences with social commentary. If you think these movies are 120 minutes of monster-on-monster ass-kicking, think again.

With 31 films, including the American incarnations, diving into the Godzilla series for the first time (which you could do on Hulu, Crackle, or iTunes right now) can be a daunting task. That's why we've broken down the entire series with helpful categories and ratings. You ask the questions -- How's the action? Is it super campy? What is the movie pretending to be about before getting to the good stuff? When does Godzilla actually show up? Does anything fight King Kong? -- and we'll smash them with answers. This is the last Godzilla movie guide you'll ever need.

gojira 1954 best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Godzilla Movies That Act Like Real Movies

Gojira (1954)

What it's really about: The horrors of atomic warfare.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 22 minutes in, Godzilla pops his head over a hillside in broad daylight, long before busting up Tokyo.
Human plot: 10 - There's no better Godzilla character than Akihiko Hirata's Doctor Daisuke Serizawa, Japan's answer to Oppenheimer. Early scenes that take place in the outlying villages are the best of the Showa era.
Monster action: 2 - The movie that introduced us to Godzilla is also one of the best B-movies of  the1950s, but facts are facts: the monster only destroys Tokyo.
Camp factor: 1 - This is serious business. Godzilla is standing in for the real horrors of the atomic bomb and all mankind can do is watch as he rampages through cities.

Shin Godzilla (2016)

What it's really about: Democracy doesn't react quickly enough to disasters.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 15 minutes, after a brief appearance of by his tail.
Human Plot: 9 - There's a lot a bureaucracy depicted in this movie as the Japanese government struggles to deal with Godzilla. The plot plays as a strong comment about how that nation weathered the Fukushima meltdown and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Monster action: 4 - Like Hollywood's 2014 Godzilla, this movie is light on the monster action and used motion capture instead of a suit. What monster action there is is great, but it's precious little.
Camp factor: 0 - There's not a knowing wink to this being a Godzilla movie outside of the score and that's subtle enough to not register as camp.

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

What it's really about: Trust, the horrors of war, and time travel.
When Godzilla finally shows up:  A dinosaur-like Godzilla pops up 33 and a half minutes in, when our heroes from the future travel back to the 1940s Bikini Islands. One hour and two minutes until we see him in his recognizable form.
Human Plot: 8 - People from the future convince people from the 1990s to go back to World War II to erase Godzilla from history, but it's a trick. Only time travel and a cyborg kaiju can stop Godzilla.
Monster action: 7 - This is the only time in the Godzilla franchise that Godzilla takes on the three-headed King Ghidorah one-on-one -- and it doesn't disappoint. Even if the first battle isn't as thrilling as it could be considering how much plot was building up to it, the second battle, when Mecha-Ghidorah comes back through time, is arguably the best Ghidorah battle in the series' history.
Camp factor: 4 - For a movie with crazy time travel, there's a ton of slaughter in the World War II sequences, from Japanese soldiers being massacred by American soldiers to Godzilla massacring all the soldiers. Despite that seriousness, one of the WWII Americans is Lt. Spielberg, father of Steven, so har!

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

What it's really about: What if there were two monsters and they hated each other?
When Godzilla finally shows up: Nine-and-a-half minutes in, mid-fight with Anguirus, a kind of spiky ankylosaurus.
Human Plot: 6 - This is the only movie of the early lot where the Japanese defense forces defeat Godzilla without the aid of some other giant monster, narrowing the focus to a vendetta between a single pilot and Godzilla.
Monster action: 3 - Toho hadn't perfected giant-creature suit-battling yet, so certain fight scenes are over or under cranked to tweak the speed. This is still more a '50s sci-fi parable than a Toho suit-fighting movie, so the battle isn't as much of a focus.
Camp factor: 6 - Godzilla Raids Again is ultimately a science fiction sequel that offers twice the monster for half the thematic punch. Time, and the constant re-imagining of the franchise, tarnish the film's shine.

godzilla vs biollante best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)

What it's really about: Genetics
When Godzilla finally shows up: Though monstrous destruction plays over the opening titles, the Godzilla doesn't emerge from his volcano-slumber until 40 minutes into the movie.
Human Plot: 6 - There's a number of interweaving plots: A love story between two scientists, a debate over the creation of radiation-eating bacteria between scientists and businessmen, plus a psychic...scientist (Miki, who will be a recurring character through 1995) and a botanist scientist. They all learn the typical Godzilla message: "maybe don't fuck with science?" There's also a young military guy who tries to prove himself by making good tactical decisions, which he does, though Japan still gets smashed.
Monster action: 6 - Following the '80s movie continuity, Godzilla fights a kaiju built from his own DNA, and it's great. Biollante even has different forms in each of the two battles, and the second one's plant-acid-spewing crocodile mouth is pretty cool.
Camp factor: 6 - The 1989 Japanese pop culture portrayal of an American assassin is just what you'd expect. There's a debate in the movie to if Biollante actually has the spirit of a mad scientist's botanist daughter or if it's reacting to Godzilla's DNA. This is cleared up when the floating, smiling head of the dead botanist drifts up from a defeated Biollante at the end.

Godzilla (2014)

What it's really about: Proving Godzilla can work in America if done correctly
When Godzilla finally shows up: We first see his skin a whopping 57 minutes into the movie. His full airport reveal is two minutes later.
Human Plot: 4 - Aaron Taylor Johnson plays a character with the exact mix of crazy ex-pat scientist father and military background to ensure that he can be everywhere that's important to the plot. It's fine while you're watching, but in retrospect there's nothing (and no one) to latch on to besides Godzilla, who takes on more pet-like attributes.
Monster action: 6 - The Mutos invasion into San Francisco, and Godzilla battling the Mutos in pro-wrestler form, is some of the series' best fighting. Godzilla's "kiss of death" finisher is great. There's just not enough to praise it for action.
Camp factor: 4 - Although appearing serious, this movie also leans into camp moments. Ken Watanabe's "Let them fight" is a perfect example.

godzilla vs. king kong best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Just-Get-to-the-Fighting Godzilla Movies

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

What it's really about: Bringing Godzilla back to theaters as a full-time brawler (in color!).
When Godzilla finally shows up:  26-and-a-half minutes in, the movie cuts away from Kong's summoning ceremony to Godzilla busting out of an iceberg.
Monster action: 8 - Godzilla is fighting a maneuverable humanoid this time, so we get moments like Kong ripping a tree out of the ground and stuffing it down Godzilla's throat. Kong's light electrical powers and Godzilla's radioactive ray are used sparingly, maximizing the suit-on-suit monster fighting time.
Human Plot: 3 - The only human element here is the ad executive who overheared his employees talking about whether Kong or Godzilla could win in a wrestling match, then immediately screamed, "I'll buy that idea!"
Camp factor: 8 - At one point, the humans float Kong to Godzilla by tying him to a bunch of brightly colored balloons.

Destroy All Monsters (1968)

What it's really about: Drawing adults back to the Godzilla franchise with a monster-heavy pile-up.
When Godzilla finally shows up: Three minutes in, a narrator introduces Godzilla at the top of a Monster Roll Call of Monster Island.
Monster action: 9 - There are 11 different Toho monsters that appear in this movie and, by the end, they team up to defeat King Ghidorah once and for all. The final battle is among the Showa era's top monster mashes. Godzilla even attacks New York!
Human Plot: 4 - At the close of the 20th century the alien Kilaaks take control of the monsters on Monster Island and hold the Earth ransom. Earthlings have to destroy the Kilaaks' broadcasting station on the moon. It's all an excuse for the monsters to fight.
Camp factor: 6 - This is a serious Godzilla movie set in "the future" (for the '60s) where the alien threat is real and the monsters don't talk to each other. But all those monsters!

Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

What it's really about: Space gorillas try to invade earth.
When Godzilla finally shows up: Godzilla is expelled from a volcano eruption 18-and-a-half minutes in.
Human Plot: 4 - No one really cares about a prophecy about a black mountain in the sky, the made-up legends of King Caesar, or the aliens that have made a mechanical Godzilla, so neither does the audience.
Monster action: 8 - The main "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" event gives way to a thrilling match between Mechagodzilla and King Caesar, a bipedal lion, before all three have to tussle. This is the best '70s Godzilla battle by far and also has an unusual amount of blood to up the violence.
Camp factor: 4 - Despite an overly-long King Caesar summoning song, most of the camp in this movie emerges from time and cultural differences, not shooting for the fence with kooky sci-fi. But there are ape aliens.

godzilla vs destroyah best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

What it's really about: Putting a nail in the coffin of '90s Godzilla.
When Godzilla finally shows up: Two minutes and fourteen seconds in, to establish that Godzilla's melting down but can still smash stuff while dying.
Human plot: 5 - Attempts are made to wrap-up the whole idea of humans dealing with Godzilla every few years with the '84-'95 continuity, but that just means more time for "Godzilla Junior" apologists and Miki bemoaning her work with Godzilla is done.
Monster action: 8 - Destoroyah tears apart a police car while trying to kill our female heroine and for a normal-sized monster sequence, it rocks. Then once he grows, every monster in the movie fights like their lives depend on it. All three die! One even comes back.
Camp factor: 3 - By connecting this movie to the original Gojira, and giving Godzilla a prolonged death scene with a sad score (after transferring life force to his son), Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah thinks it's serious and comes off as serious as a Godzilla movie in 1995 possibly could be.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

What it's really about: Overcoming your loneliness
When Godzilla finally shows up: Godzilla rides a Typhoon at the start, but that's a tease for his spotlight moment 37-and-a-half-minutes in.
Human plot: 6 - This time, Mechagodzilla is made from the bones of the original 1954 Godzilla, which give it DNA memory. The female loner pilot of "Kiryu" (they give Mechagodzilla a name in this one) must learn to conquer her own demons and work with the machine to battle Godzilla. So, yes, the plot of Pacific Rim.
Monster action: 7 - With the benefits of modern CGI and green screen techniques, the Godzilla-Kiryu throwdown is kicked up a notch from how these characters usually battle one another.
Camp factor: 4 - There are heartfelt moments where a little girl insists Kiryu has a soul and that the soul is tired of fighting. It's hard to tell if it's supposed to be taken lightheartedly, seeing as the main character is emotionless.

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1965)

What it's really about: Add more monsters to the blueprints
When Godzilla finally shows up: 39 minutes in, after we've already seen one of the Mothra larvae and Rodan, the pteranodon who crossed over from his own series.
Human plot: 4 - Not only are the Mothra fairies on a publicity tour, I guess, but there's also a priestess who is possessed by an alien and a lot of hullabaloo over a meteor that ends up containing King Ghidorah, the space hydra.
Monster action: 7 - Even though it takes awhile to get started, this giant monster battle has all the hallmarks of a good Showa battle, dropping in monsters like a kid with a toy box.
Camp factor: 8 - A Mothra larvae shows up to talk to Godzilla and Rodan -- i.e., a 10 minute scene of the Mothra fairies translate what the monsters say while the suit actors flop around like muppets.

invasion of the astro monster godzilla
Toho Studios

Goofy Godzilla Movies

Invasion of Astro-Monster (1966)

What it's really about: Celebrating space sci-fi of 1960s, when alien races were just humans in make-up.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 39 minutes in, yanked from the water by an alien tractor beam to transported to another planet to fight Monster Zero (Ghidorah)
Human plot: 6 - It's from a different era, but the story of some astronauts that stumble across a hidden planet only to enter a negotiation to loan out Godzilla and Rodan to a different species isn't uninteresting.
Monster action: 6 - By this point in the Showa series, we're rooting for a heroic Godzilla, though the fighting becomes more about gags than body slams.
Camp factor: 9 - Creeping towards highest possible camp, this movie is probably most famous for the moment when Godzilla does a victory jig after beating Ghidorah on Planet X.

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)

What it's really about: Terrorists who manufacture "heavy water" enslave a wild island, so… nothing.
When Godzilla finally shows up: We see an unconscious Godzilla on the island about halfway through the movie, but it isn't until 52 minutes in that lightning strikes a sword to wake him up.
Human plot: 5 - The "terrorists" who kidnap the Mothra fairies and keep Ebirah at bay, and our heroes, three kids and a bank robber, who help the monsters destroy the terrorist base. Deep.
Monster action: 4 - This movie was originally written for a giant Frankenstein to take the Godzilla spot in the film, so he's powered by electricity and interacting with the human characters in ways he shouldn't. Also, Ebirah is a giant shrimp whose fighting capability involves a lot of claw thrashing. There's also a giant and weird-looking Condor in this movie for no reason.
Camp factor: 7 - Not only does the story skirt logic for time's sake (the kids steal a boat from a bank robber and the robber decides to join them just because), but the terrorist base is designed like Doctor No's hideout and. Did I mention the giant shrimp?

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

What it's really about: We should really have a Godzilla movie in 1973, don't you think?
When Godzilla finally shows up: No one wrangles Godzilla to participate in the story until about 48 minutes in.
Human plot: 3 - The Seatopians, a society that lives under the sea but breathes air, are upset when a nuclear test damages their home and Monster Island, so they call upon their defending creature, Megalon, to attack. Meanwhile, a scientist and his kid build a battle robot called Jet Jaguar that the Seatopians want to "direct" at Megalon.
Monster action: 4 - The monsters -- Megalon, Godzilla, Gigan and Jet Jaguar -- don't come together until the very end and, when they do, it's in the most generic field you've ever seen. The fights are rushed and... why does Gigan keep abandoning his tag team partners? A-hole.
Camp factor: 8 - Seatopians? The Jet Jaguar theme? Rodan falling into a crevice in Monster Island? This is the Godzilla camp that is most likely to get stuck in your head. Punch! Punch! Punch!

son of godzilla best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Son of Godzilla (1967)

What it's really about: The Godzilla Family: they're just like us.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 30 minutes in, when Manilla, her newborn, has his butt kicked by some giant praying mantis
Human plot: 3 - Some scientists go to Monster Island to perform weather experiments, which seems like the last place anyone would want to run weather experiments.
Monster action: 5 - Lots of stuff with Manilla is played for laughs, but Godzilla kicking the crap out of giant praying mantis ("Kamacuras") and a giant spider ("Kumonga") isn't horrible.
Camp factor: 8 - Tries to make monster parenting relatable by anthropomorphizing Manilla's behavior. Unless your kid plays jump-rope with his or her tail, you won't relate.

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

What it's really about: Don't mess with cultures you don't understand.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 33 minutes in, emerging from the ground at a beach. Someone buried Godzilla?
Human plot: 3 - Some journalists and a scientist find a Mothra egg, but a greedy businessman steals it away, pissing off a pair of tiny singing fairies and Mothra. This is why Bernie Sanders hates the 1%.
Monster action: 4 - How does a giant moth fight a giant lizard? With a lot of wind attacks and a lot of confusing close-ups. It's fine, but Mothra fights always have trouble distinguishing themselves.
Camp factor: 7 - Toho fell in love with Mothra's plot-convenient life cycle and singing six-inch tall fairy twins. Later in Godzilla's lifetime, the creature even gets her own series (twice!).

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

What it's really about: How Earthlings should make peace and embrace technology.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 18 minutes in, chatting with Angilas/Anguirus on Monster Island.
Human plot: 2 - Cockroach aliens disguised as humans work, and plot, at a theme park. A comic book artist stumbles upon their evil plot to use Gigan and Ghidorah to destroy us.
Monster action: 5 - Gigan, a razor-handed aquatic Godzilla thing, is a solid monster addition. Adding in Anguirus and King Ghidorah makes for a good line-up in which to introduce him, but stock footage dilutes this a bit.
Camp factor: 8 - Godzilla and Anguirus talk to each other in speech bubbles to riff off the comic book theme, but that's somehow the least cringe-worthy stuff in the film.

terror of mechagodzilla best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

What it's really about: Space gorillas acquire fish helmets and try again.
When Godzilla finally shows up: At about 46 minutes and 30 seconds, Godzilla makes one of his best entrances with lighting illuminating his details from a hulking shadow just beyond the city.
Monster action: 6 - Introducing a new monster - Titanosaurus - that is built to battle and throwing MechaGodzilla back into the mix makes this film's monster action serviceable. Bonus points given for this decent monster stuff being shoehorned into a horrible plot.
Human plot: 3 - Interpol continues their cold war with the aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole (for budgetary reasons, no one appears in ape form this time) while a mad scientist creates Titanosaurus. They decide to team up and take over the world, but wouldn't you know it?, love and cyborgs gets in the way.
Camp factor: 7 - Despite being a direct sequel to Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, this film's portrayal of the ape aliens and their motivations don't have enough build for them to be accepted beyond an eye roll.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

What it's really about: Wrapping up narrative loose ends for the Godzilla and Mothra series.
When Godzilla finally shows up:  31:10, coming towards Tokyo at the worst time imaginable.
Human plot: 5 - A bunch of aspiring pilots undergo Mechagodzilla training, and a man that stumbled across Mothra many decades ago receives a warning from the Mothra fairies that Godzilla's bones (inside Mechagodzilla) must be returned to the sea.
Monster action: 4 - Although Mothra, now larvae, Mechagodzilla (not referred to as Kiryu anymore), and Godzilla all rumble, it's not anything we hadn't seen before in this Godzilla series and the plot doesn't make any part of the battle memorable.
Camp factor: 6 - It's final, you can't have a movie with two singing, simultaneously-speaking fairies that control a giant moth and not have it be kind of silly.

godzilla 2000 worst godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Weeeeeak Godzilla Movies

Godzilla 2000 (1999)

What it's really about: "Maybe Godzilla... is inside each one of us."
When Godzilla finally shows up: He's in the opening sequence, then retreats to the sea so we can learn about the space rock, then comes back 30 minutes later to remind everyone he's a threat.
Human plot: 2 - The plot also doesn't anchor Godzilla in any continuity, so we don't know if this is Godzilla Junior all grown or the same Godzilla from 1954. Godzilla script word salad.
Monster action: 6 - The Godzilla suit looks a little weird, but once a UFO reveals itself to be Orga, an alien Kaiju that fed off Godzilla DNA, the movie goes straight into suit-brawl.
Camp factor: 5 - The movie thinks it's serious, then a monster comes out of a rock UFO and tries to swallow Godzilla whole. Plus that "one of us" ending line.

Godzilla vs. Mothra: Battle For Earth (1992)

What it's really about: Corporations and global warming
When Godzilla finally shows up: 33 minutes in, pissed from being dumped in the ocean at the end of Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah.
Human plot: 2 - Corporations are destroying the Earth, including Infant Island. The tiny Mothra fairies (called "Cosmos" here) warn everyone that an evil Mothra will destroy the world if humans keep polluting it. No one listens.
Monster action: 4 - There are two flying Mothras when Battera (literally described as the black Mothra) takes on Godzilla, but, again, a moth puppet is an inherently bad fighter. Outside some ferris-wheel-slamming, the "fights" are just wind and animation effects against flapping puppets.
Camp factor: 7 - The fairies who sing to Mothra were weird but forgivable in the 1960s. Now it just comes out of nowhere... like the "save the earth" plot.

Godzilla (1998)

What it's really about: A mutated asexual iguana who might make Godzilla "cool" for Americans.
When Godzilla finally shows up: Never. #NotMyGodzilla
Human plot: 6 - Although it's not executed well, the mix of dopey scientist and reporters who are in way too deep to a national crisis are undeniably Godzilla. Roland Emmerich throws in some French operatives in there is just weird enough to be distinct.
Monster action: 1 - Godzilla movies use human motion to make the monsters. Even the 2014 American Godzilla used motion capture to bring the beast to life. Emmerich's computer monster -- for our ranking purposes -- utterly fails this movie.
Camp factor: 8 - They wink at how "Godzilla" is a mis-pronunciation of "Gojira" and the mayor is named "Roger Ebert." There's a joke about how the French are very peculiar about coffee. Godzilla is "pregnant." What the hell?

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

What it's really about: When you mess with science -- surprise! -- you get monsters.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 30 minutes, bursting from the ocean.
Human plot: 3 - The humans are testing a device that opens dimensional portals. One of these experiments leads to a child finding an inter-dimensional egg that hatches into Megaguirus, the insect kaiju. That on top of Godzilla, and it just seems like they're intentionally making problems for themselves.
Monster action: 5 -  Megaguirus goes from an egg to a flying creature, so it's a bit like Battara, but with more modern computer effects to augment the visuals and sidestep the usual awkwardness of a flying opponent (as much as a Godzilla film can).
Camp factor: 4 - It's mostly serious, but how seriously can you take a movie where a kid ditches an inter-dimensional egg down a sewer?

godzilla's revenge worst godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Godzilla's Revenge (All Monsters Attack) (1969)

What it's really about: Ichiro, a lonely Japanese schoolboy daydreams Godzilla as a way of learning to stand up to bullies.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 14 minutes, seen fighting praying mantis... which is actually stock footage from Son of Godzilla.
Human plot: 2 - Ichiro, the Japanese latch-key kid who talks to Manilla about how he needs to stand up to his bullies while they watch Godzilla fight is not interesting. Why is this a whole movie?
Monster action: 4 - There's a ton of repurposed monster footage in Godzilla's Revenge. There's also a new monster called Gabara that looks like a cat lizard, so the movie isn't a complete waste.
Camp factor: 2 - Manilla is the worst. If you're watching the original cut, Godzilla's kid is a she. If you are watching the American dub, he's a goofy-sounding male voice. The whole plot culminates in a strobing "fight" between two Japanese boys that wants you to know it's "serious."

Return of Godzilla (1984)

What it's really about: The Japanese government's place on the world stage, sort of.
When Godzilla finally shows up: Lice attacks hold us over for 33-and-a-half minutes until the big guy shows up.
Human plot: 2 - Humans try to stop Godzilla and fail. Instead, they manage to muck up international relations.
Monster action: 2 - The suit in the movie isn't well designed and there's no other monster for Godzilla to fight.
Camp factor: 2 - Despite a bunch of world governments discussing if they should fire a nuke at Japan, the flying weapon the Japanese come up with to fight Godzilla is called the "Super-X," which is the sci-fi code for "the flying plot machine"

godzilla final wars best godzilla movies
Toho Studios

Batshit Insane Godzilla Movies

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

What it's really about: FIGHTING!
When Godzilla finally shows up: 30 seconds into the movie. After the opening, Godzilla remains buried under ice for about an hour. But by then, all monster hell has broken loose.
Human plot: 8 - Final Wars plays like the series finale to an Japanese cartoon you never watched. There are mutant soldiers and aliens from Planet-X who both have powers and can fight like they are in The Matrix (the main character actually stops laser blasts in a homage to Neo stopping bullets). There's not a lot of logic, but there isn't a lot of downtime either.
Monster action: 10 - It may not make sense why it's happening, but there are 13 monsters besides Godzilla, all augmented by crazy special effects. Also, the monsters attack cities around the world, not just Japan, which is visually fun. (Yes, this is the movie where Godzilla kills "'Zilla," a parody of the 1998 American version)
Camp factor: 9 - The final battle involves our hero mutant soldier manifesting light/energy out of a drill to power Godzilla. Hold on to something.

Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (1971)

What it's really about: Humans are killing the world and Japan's hippies respond with a Godzilla movie.
When Godzilla finally shows up: 12 minutes in, Godzilla strolls into a sunset while jolly music plays to show he's ready to fight pollution.
Human plot: 4 - Doctor Yano, a marine biologist, and his son Ken realize that pollution has created a monster. They hope the news will convince people to stop polluting. It's not so bad because it doesn't involve the Mothra fairies this time.
Monster action: 7 - The Hedorah suit, a raggedy seaweed contraption, is too large for to really brawl, but the monster's slime powers, and Godzilla's bizarre orb-crushing finishing move, makes the monster action better than the rest of the film.
Camp factor: 10 - There's a fish head LSD sequence that's good for a laugh, a weird sequence where Ken spots Godzilla while on a rollercoaster, and Godzilla's trombone-tastic hero music. All of it would be better suited for a Saturday morning cartoon show, but this will do.

Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

What it's really about: The producers turning to each other and saying, "Maybe serializing this many movies is a mistake?"
When Godzilla finally shows up: About 23 minutes in, to finally care for Baby Godzilla.
Human plot: 4 - This is the sixth movie in Godzilla continuity, and connects the two main characters to a side character from Godzilla Vs. Biollante. Deep. Returning psychic Miki spends most of this movie delivering psychic messages she's been getting from Mothra, who is in space while humans try to use her powers to control Godzilla (it doesn't work).
Monster action: 7 - This movie treats Godzilla battles like a video game. Not only do the humans have Moguera, another battle mech, but SpaceGodzilla's "base" is made out of giant crystals he can throw around with his mind.
Camp factor: 7 - Still not sure exactly how serious this movie thinks it is, but Baby Godzilla triggering tear gas mines buried in the beach while characters laugh at it is... something that happens.

godzilla vs mechagodzilla 2 best godzilla
Toho Studios

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)

What it's really about: Parenting
When Godzilla finally shows up: 13 minutes and 38 seconds in, when he shows up to fight Rodan. This movie does not skimp with the guys-in-suits
Human plot: 2 - Between a scientist who imprints on baby Godzilla as a mother (and keeps calling it "BAY-BEE!" ) and a G-Force member that is obsessed with dinosaurs, there are a lot of stupid characters who exist to move things along.
Monster action: 7 - This version of Mechagodzilla is arguably the strongest and deals an apparently fatal blow to Godzilla's butt-brain. (Yes, Godzilla has a second brain in his butt.) Since we're in the '90s, most of the fighting is just lasers of different widths and colors blasting at each monster. Points for Godzilla wringing Rodan's scrawny neck.
Camp factor: 7 - A romantic scene where the bumbling, dinosaur-obsessed scientist flies over the baby Godzilla pen on a robot pteranodon is DUMB.  

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

What it's really about: Humans coming to terms with "Guardian Monsters"
When Godzilla finally shows up: About 37 minutes in, after Baragon, who looks like Zuul from Ghostbusters.
Human plot: 5 - A nosy trash-TV reporter dreams of going legit with her story about three magical guardians who will protect the earth from Godzilla. This reporter's father is in the Japanese Defense Force, just so we cut to the military when necessary.
Monster action: 7 - The title doesn't lie. In fact, it undersells it, since monster alum Baragon joins in. Watching them all take on Godzilla in their various ways makes up for the weak comparatively King Ghidorah showing.
Camp factor: 6 - There's a creepy old man who tells the reporter about the Guardians in a taped interview, but at the end of the movie, it's explained he was a ghost and no longer appears on the tapes. This is shrugged off, in true Godzilla tradition.

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Dave Gonzales is a pop-culture writer and podcaster who shoots lasers out of his mouth, out of his back, out of his whatever. Follow him @da7e.