Now that I have looked at every single Godzilla film (with the exception of the newest movie, “Godzilla: Monster Planet” but I’ll be getting to that one soon enough), and given my thoughts on each of them in extensive detail, to the point that all of my reviews would probably be the length of an entire novel, I feel like I can take the next step and do one last thing with my Godzilla-thon.
In this case, that would be to look back at the series one last time and look at the finest moments from the entire Godzilla series – these are my top ten favorite moments from the Godzilla series.
The criteria for this top ten is simple – if it happened in any of the 31 Godzilla movies, it can make this top ten. I will be limiting each film to one entry at most, otherwise this countdown would probably be filled with nothing but scenes from “Shin Godzilla,” “Son of Godzilla” and “Mothra vs. Godzilla.” Other than that, these are the scenes that I remember fondly when I think of Godzilla and monsters, the ones that perfectly capture everything that is awe-inspiring and fun about this series.
Let’s start things off with…
Number Ten: The Final battle from “Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster”
While I had some problems with the plot and sillier moments in this movie, the final fight between Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra going up against King Ghidorah makes the whole thing worth it. I love the build-up to the fight and that it introduces that Godzilla and Rodan have egos that they must maintain for some reason. But I especially love the unique way all three monsters fight the golden space dragon, with Godzilla’s brute force and direct tactics, to Rodan’s stealthy yet swift moves, to Mothra’s intelligent yet limited decisions. They each have some great moments throughout this fight, but it truly shines when all three work together to fight an enemy none of them could take on their own.
Add in a wonderful score from Akira Ifukube and great suit acting all around, and you’ve got one of the best monster fights in the entire series.
Number Nine: Godzilla vs. Fake Godzilla/MechaGodzilla’s reveal from “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla”
To me, this scene is drenched with style. First of all, it finally gives us a fight fans have always wanted – Godzilla vs. Godzilla. In that regard, the fight doesn’t disappoint, as the oil refinery around them blows up, as if the earth itself is in awe over their fight. But when the Fake Godzilla sheds its skin and to reveal the decked-out MechaGodzilla and that saxophone starts up, I get goose bumps every time. I love that it comes out of no where, yet makes the fight even better now that MechaGodzilla can fight at his maximum potential, whipping the floor with Godzilla with just a few missiles and eye beams.
A great introduction to my favorite Godzilla villain.
Number Eight: Godzilla vs. Mecha-King Ghidorah from “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah”
While I think the human scenes in “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” are laughable at best and cringe worthy at worst, the monster scenes are some of the best in the entire series, especially when Godzilla and King Ghidorah are fighting. But if there’s one stand-out scene, it has to be the final battle between Godzilla and Mecha-King Ghidorah. From the mechanical three-headed dragon emerging from a hole in the sky to his epic theme song, to Mecha-King Ghidorahs’ cyborg-like design, to its intense struggle with Godzilla that leaves most of Tokyo in ruins, this is one of the most tense scenes in the entire series, and easily one of the best battles in the entire Heisei series.
Number Seven: Mothra’s sacrifice/King Ghidorah’s revival from “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack”
I feel like this one makes the list due to its stellar effects and soundtrack alone. These two elements combine into something more than just another action sequence, but tells a very emotional short story of sacrifice and revival with very few words and awe-inspiring visuals. This is one of a few grand scenes in “GMK,” all of which take full advantage of scale and scope to leave us feeling small and helpless, but is certainly the scene from “GMK” that I fondly remember above all the others.
Number Six: Godzilla vs. Kong on Mt. Fuji from “King Kong vs. Godzilla”
This one is so high on the list mostly for nostalgic reasons, but also because it is just a cool power struggle between two iconic movie monsters. I love how it starts at the top of Mt. Fuji and slowly works its way down the mountain until the two are fighting over a pagoda, each getting the upper hand over the other several times throughout the fight to always make it feel like its evenly matched. The two monsters are honestly pretty brutal to each other at a couple points, especially when Godzilla buries Kong in rocks and lights up the forest around him, or Kong shoving a tree down Godzilla’s throat. If there’s any scene in this series that makes me feel like a kid again, it is the final battle in “Kong Kong vs. Godzilla.”
Number Five: Godzilla vs. the two Mothra Larvae from “Mothra vs. Godzilla”
I had a very hard time deciding between this fight and the one between Godzilla and the adult Mothra, but went with this one for a few reasons. One is the brain vs. brawn battle going on between these monsters and how satisfying it is to see Mothra’s offspring get the upper hand over the evil Godzilla. Another is how great it feels seeing Godzilla all wrapped up in Mothra’s silk, which is one of the most iconic images of the entire series. But I think the main reason is that serves as the perfect cap to a movie that is entertainment from start to finish, giving us a climax that wraps up everything nicely. It is more than just your standard monster overpowering another, but a war of wits and strategy, something you don’t get too often in these films.
Number Four: Rodan’s sacrifice from “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II”
These last four scenes are perfect examples of every aspect coming together to create scenes that are nothing short of masterpieces. While the rest of their films may have their fair share of problems, these particular scenes hit every emotional note to give us a truly memorable scene. And we start with my favorite scene when I was a kid and still love to this day. Maybe it’s because of the hauntingly sad score that Akira Ifukube provides, or it could be Rodan’s utterly selfless act, providing us with one final development to an underrated interpretation of Rodan. It is touching, heart-breaking and makes Rodan far more than just another kaiju. Plus, it leads into one of the most badass sequences in the entire series as Godzilla and Super MechaGodzilla fight after Godzilla is brought back from the dead and given a massive power upgrade. Is it silly? Absolutely. But it takes itself seriously in all the right spots for this to be an effective and awesome sequence.
Number Three: Yashiori Strategy from “Shin Godzilla”
Goddamn, I love this scene!
This is the filmic definition of “triumph” and serves as the perfect cap to an impossible struggle for the Japanese people. While the scene of Godzilla using his atomic breath for the first time is terrifying, this scene never fails to bring a smile to my face. I love how the Japanese people work out this intelligent battle plan without sacrificing on stellar visuals. And that music! I adore the Ifukube military march they used and how it adds an emotional punch to every move the defense force makes against one of the scariest monsters (in both design and concept) I’ve ever seen. In a film about Japan’s fight for an identity in the face of bureaucracy, red-tape and an ever-evolving monster, this scene wrap up all of that in the most satisfying way possible.
Number Two: The Final scene from “Son of Godzilla”
This is not just the only scene in the entire series that makes me cry, but also one of the few scenes in all of cinema that makes me cry. Even with great endings from films like “Mothra vs. Godzilla,” “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” “Terror of MechaGodzilla” and “Shin Godzilla,” this is my pick for the best ending in the entire series, as we finally see Godzilla receive character development in a scene that makes you forget this tender moment is between two actors in rubber lizard suits. This is the sweetest moment in the series from one of the most underrated monster films of all time.
Number One: King Ghidorah vs. the Earth Monsters on Mt. Fuji from “Destroy All Monsters”
You know, I thought long and hard if there was any scene that I felt was better than the final monster battle from “Destroy All Monsters.” And even though I love every single scene in this top ten, I couldn’t think of anything that encapsulated Godzilla and daikaiju films in general than watching this all-out brutal yet awesome struggle between nearly a dozen different monsters. When I think of Godzilla, this scene is typically the first thing that comes to mind. I love the effects, the Mt. Fuji backdrop, the music, the unrelenting pace, and especially how each monster chooses to fight in a battle that perfectly summarizes an entire universe of monster movies. It takes what “King Kong vs. Godzilla” started and cranks it up to eleven, giving audiences the all-out battle we’ve always wanted.
There are of course loads of other scenes I adore from the Godzilla series, especially from films like “Godzilla vs. Hedorah” and “Invasion of Astro-Monster,” but I think this top ten encapsulates the best the series has to offer. Whether it is because of effects, tension, music, development or anything in between, these are the scenes that remind me how great and powerful Godzilla can truly be.