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10 Movies You Must Watch Before You See Godzilla: King of the Monsters

May 29, 2019
10 min read

To tell you an easy way out even before reading the entire list, if you are as hyped for ‘Godzilla II: King of the Monsters’ as I am and have a considerable number of hours to spare, simply type in Godzilla on Google and watch out for any and all films that appear. As of now and including this one, 35 Godzilla films have been produced worldwide, with Hollywood completely producing only 3 of them. In fact, two of those three are part of Legendary Studios’ Monsterverse that began with 2014’s ‘Godzilla’ remake, followed by ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and now this one, that also serves as a direct sequel to the first one, set to be culminated next year in the ultimate showdown between Godzilla and Kong, innovatively titled ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ that is due for release next year.

Keeping those aside too, there are enough sole ‘Godzilla’ movies alone to fill up this list, and enough monster movies based on the Japanese Kaiju legends from Toho to warrant another that you can watch if monsters with a footprint equal to the size of a city block are your taste. While Kaijus are the most popular kinds of monsters for film, Hollywood hasn’t been shy in producing its fair share of monster flicks either. In fact, Hollywood would seem to be a little late to the party, since most of its uber-ambitious projects (including this one and ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ next year) have already been done by Toho, that too with the same names.

Godzilla II: King of the Monsters’ draws its major highlights from Godzilla battling other titans including Mothra and Rodan, and finally his nemesis King Ghidorah, all shoehorned into one massive monster flick, but the Japanese versions on the other hand already have solo films and battle movies with Godzilla out decades ago. So, while I am hoping this write-up above has given you a sufficient amount of choice for monster films, I am listing some more down below that don’t necessarily conform to the Japanese origin legends. But then again, there are the absolute must watch classics. Here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Godzilla II: King of the Monsters’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Tremors (1990)

I consider anything with Kevin Bacon to be twice as fun anyway, but then ‘Tremors’ is a film that already has a cult following written all over it. Walking the thin line between comedy and horror, ‘Tremors’ is set in the deserted landscape of Nevada in the town of ‘Perfection’ where a seismologist discovers that strange underground creatures are attacking its residents from beneath the ground. The monsters may not be as gigantic as Godzilla, but are just as scary, mind you. Graboids, as they are called in the movie, sank an entire building’s foundation. The movie is mostly oddly funny as you’d expect a monster horror comedy mashup to be, and Kevin Bacon surely helps its case. Not a masterpiece by any means, but then again, it manages to be undeniably fun and we aren’t frankly asking for more.

9. Rampage (2018)

Critics identified this one as a brainless kind of blockbuster and I can only completely agree on both the terms used therein. All you need to enjoy ‘Rampage’ is a huge tub of popcorn and only a partially activated brain, which doesn’t for one second imply that the film is dumb, but that you won’t have to use much of it. It’s the monster version of a ‘trigger happy’ movie, and wastes very little time in setting up the action, especially the bits between George, Ralph and Lizzie, who happen to be an oversized gorilla, wolf and crocodile, respectively. To add to that if the CGI mayhem is not enough, you can always count on Dwayne Johnson to deliver the goods.

8. Cloverfield (2008)

As inventive in its approach as a generic monster movie can get, ‘Cloverfield’ pushes those limits too and delivers a cleverly entertaining genre bending piece. Adding to the already long list of found footage horror films, ‘Cloverfield’ is a film about a group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York in the wake of a minster attack on the city to rescue the girlfriend of one of them, while one of them records the entire ordeal on handicam. The shaky cam almost made me dizzy, but added to the urgency that such a situation would entail. I must confess that I was drawn to watch this one just as the ending of 10, Cloverfield Lane left me scratching my head, and while I regret the order, I do not for one second regret the decision to watch it.

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

Spielberg’s groundbreaking, visionary project, adopted from Michael Crichton’s eponymous novel was epic in every sense of the word, the most definitive blockbuster of the 90s, and not to mention, a very well made film as well and an overall technical triumph, and all of that is apart from the extensive nostalgia value it holds to-day. The original Jurassic Park theme by John Williams is still as hair rousing as ever, and Jeff Goldblum’s “Life, ‘uh’ finds a way” is etched into the collective conscience of people, and I assume it will be for long. This is what makes the original stick out even so many years hence. Call it the thrill of a first time or plain good filmmaking, the magic never fades irrespective of the number of repeat viewings.

6. The Beast from 20000 Fathoms (1953)

Fans might disagree, but objective audience will agree that it was ‘The Beast from 20000 Fathoms’ that did it first. A classic film in every right, you have to watch it simply owing to the screaming ingenuity it displays for its period and setting, especially in the effects and music. A monster movie that is also high on nostalgia value and emotional quotient, ‘The Beast from 20000 Fathoms’ is the first “nuclear activity awakens giant monster who attacks the city” flick, and even for that, it’s pretty darn good, the highlight being a Ray Harryhausen stop motion special. Seriously, the stop motion in there is exquisite.

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5. Pacific Rim (2013)

You can always be assured that the end product of something already much revered would most definitely be a distinctive one, especially when somebody like Guillermo Del Toro helms it. ‘Pacific Rim’ is Del Toro’s love letter to the world of giant Kaijus, mecha-robots and geeks everywhere even remotely interested in any of them. The human bits are alluring, but in all its quintessence, ‘Pacific Rim’ is popcorn entertainment of the highest order, especially when the Kaijus battle the Jaegers through buildings and ports and bridges. It’s machine vs monster in this one, and through commendable production design, especially with the design and realisation of the Kaijus in flawless CGI and 3D, this one is not to be missed if for some absurd reason you haven’t caught it.

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4. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)

The final battle for the title in ‘Godzilla II: King of the Monsters’ is already a full Japanese film featuring the two monster nemesis, and safe to say when they meet, sparks fly, quite literally. The music is great, and so is the titular battle, but Godzilla’s screen-time is roughly limited to around the same as the latest Hollywood produced Godzilla film, which may divide loyal fans of the monster. This one starts with a couple of time travelers warning Japan of impending doom, and while a lot many things are off with this one, the rest of it is pretty standard of what you’d expect a monster movie with that title to be.

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3. Kong: Skull Island  (2017)

The second one in Legendary’s MonsterVerse beginning with the 2014 ‘Godzilla’, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ nicely sets up a worthy foe for Godzilla to face in the titanic battle next year, ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’. While it is inferior to Peter Jackson’s 2005 ‘King Kong’ in almost every aspect that matters for a film, firmly bending on the commercial side of things, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ does get one thing right that Jackson’s version doesn’t quite, and that is Kong’s size. ‘Kong’ shows the ape king in all his magnanimous glory, and the film’s set pieces from 1973 on Skull Island, as opposed to primarily cities for this kind of films. The film is elevated from standard monster movie to a truly enjoyable fare courtesy of an amazing ensemble in Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John C. Reilly.

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2. Godzilla (2014)

If there exists a handbook on making ‘Godzilla’ films with a set of thumb rules that absolutely must be adhered to, this one throws them right out the window, which is the only cause for the relatively divided reception over this film, given especially how commendably well-made it is, technically at least. Yes, it’s a risky outing and takes several questionable crucial decisions, but fortunately enough, almost all of them, the casting notwithstanding, ended up working for me.

For starters, the film reduced Godzilla to a secondary character almost, limiting his screentime to only the second half of the film, and it is safe to say that this is the major complaint most fans and viewers had. Again, personal opinion, but this only added to the anticipation for me, and when Godzilla finally arrives on scene, the payoff isn’t just huge, it’s glorious. The CGI is spotless with Godzilla and the MUTOs, and the destruction they unleash worthy of their legends. The plot is serviceable too, even if the performances are inconsistent. However, all of that barely matters when the king of the monsters shows up. It’s an absolute blast from thereon. The scene where Godzilla blasts the MUTO open with his plasma mouth beam is purely badass. I may be among the minority on this, but I actually quite like this film.

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1. Godzilla (1954)

Of course this had to be on the list. While I mentioned in the introductory paragraph that I wouldn’t include obvious classics, at the same time assuming that one pivotal film in the franchise would urge you to look up the others if they interest you, this one makes for a special case. The first Godzilla film by Toho, this is where it all began for the big G-monster. Needless to say, this is the film that sparked off an entire franchise, lasting well unto this day, very much being the reason that this Godzilla sequel is happening today. To add to its merits, director Ishiro Honda stays true to the roots of the giant lizard as reawakening as a result of nuclear activity, and uses that imagery sensitively but strongly, to impinge on the country’s dreadful history with nuclear warfare. Reigning high in the ranks of classics, ‘Godzilla’ lives up to its gigantic name here.

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