Of the figure of the Kaiju, the gigantic monsters of Japanese origin monsters always ready to strike like disasters on cities and monuments, a lot has been said and written, especially in recent times, also following the success of franchise come Pacific Rim and the most recent films concerning the Monster-fresh. About what a kaiju, of how these monstrous creatures originated (both in fiction and how this particular figure of popular culture was born) and how they have now “colonized” much more than a media, we have talked extensively in this article.
But one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacle of boundless power and destruction that these marvelous creatures are able to offer us, remains undoubtedly the one connected with film that concern them. Film production, both Western and, above all, Eastern is literally exterminated. They range from immense productions, made with pharaonic budgets and exceptional special effects for the time in which they were made, to low quality films, produced with very few ideas and even less money, passing through an infinite series of films and productions medium level.
Literally a kind of jungle, in which it is not easy at all to find your way, especially if you have recently approached the genre. So let’s go see a short list of “essential” films to get to know and appreciate the kaiju genre. A note before we begin: it is deliberately missing from this list Shin Godzilla, of Hideiaki Year. According to the writer, this film, however a must see if you are interested in the subject, “reinterprets” the figure of the kaiju too much to be included in this list. However, we will not fail to talk about it in the future.
Best Kaiju Movies
Every journey always has a beginning. Our journey into the world of kaiju could only start with the first film in history starring Godzilla, the King of Monsters, the best known and most loved kaiju ever. Directed by Ishirō Honda and produced by That, the first Godzilla film lands in Japanese cinemas in the now distant 1954.
Son of the trauma suffered by Japan after the double nuclear attack of Hiroshima e Nagasaki, and of the more than understandable fear of atomic radiation and its effects, Godzilla presented himself as a true incarnation of nuclear terror, represented here in the form of a monstrous and gigantic being reptiloid hostile, generated precisely by the radiation resulting from some military tests.
Crude in its visual part in our eyes (and perhaps even a little at the time), the figure of Godzilla was however so convincing and frightening as to give way to a real “family” of film productions, which still continue today. Definitely a successful title. You can buy the original Gojira at this link.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla versus Biollante is the seventeenth kaiju-themed film produced by Toho. Directed by Kazuki Ōmori in 1989, this title can easily be seen as a sort of turning point in Toho’s kaiju series, recovering a much darker tone of the plot, a feature that was somewhat lost in previous chapters, and introducing background themes more in line with the times, such as those related all’ambiente and to genetic manipulation, which here goes as if to replace atomic radiation as the main cause of the birth of new kaiju.
Biollante, the main antagonist of Godzilla in this film, is in fact a carnivorous rose over two hundred meters high, created by the mixture of Godzilla cells, a vegetable and those of the deceased daughter of the scientist on duty in a genetic engineering laboratory. . You can buy Godzilla versus Biollante at this link.
Cloverfield it’s a weird movie. Directed by Matt Reeves and produced by J.J. Abrams, Cloverfield arrives in the rooms as a classic “found footage“, A genre that was very popular in those years. The spectator was thrown directly in the middle of the attack of a mysterious and gigantic creature in that of New York. The nice thing is that, for practically the whole film, the kaiju is not seen or almost, revealing (not too clearly) its appearance only in the final part of the story. Furthermore, absolutely nothing is known about him.
Nothing is explained about it during the film, not even if the kaiju was one or had a partner, except to try to put together the tide of clues that the producers have inserted in the various scenes and around the net, both before and after its theatrical release. The success of Cloverfield it is largely due to his “virality” and various fan speculations. Excellent product, atypical and well packaged. You can buy Cloverfield at this link.
This 1998 film directed by Roland Emmerich would like to be a sort of “reboot”Of the figure of Godzilla himself. In this version, our kaiju is a species of iguana, heavily mutated by the radiation caused by the French nuclear tests in Polynesia which, out of the blue, decides to migrate to a New York battered by rain, make the nest and begin to reproduce.
An unlikely team of improvised heroes will put a spoke in the wheel, among which a masterful Jean Reno as a French secret service agent. The film is not a masterpiece in itself, but it is nevertheless pleasant and shows the figure of the kaiju in a more “realistic” guise, being here basically just a simple animal of abnormal size, which behaves in a coherent way and does not it has no “superpower” whatsoever. No atomic breath, no rays fired from the eyes, nothing. A curious variation on the theme that must be taken for what it is. Zilla, thus the creature has been renamed, either you love it or you hate it. You can buy the movie on this version of Godzilla at this link.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Pacific Rim, directed and produced by Guillermo del Toro it is perhaps the total sum of the modern kaiju imaginary! In Pacific Rim, del Toro has composed a sort of mosaic, where practically every piece is a very precise reference, if not a real quote. The Jager, gigantic robots used by PanPacific Defense Corp to counter the kaiju, they are a continuous homage to Japanese robotic series from the 70s and 80s, and not just because some elements of the lore that concerns them, and which will then also be expanded in the animated series Netflix Pacific Rim The Dark Zone, lead us directly to the Evangelion of Hideiaki Year.
Obviously, the kaiju are also represented in a masterly way in this film, also referring to the suggestions of the vintage science fiction series. Everything is brought to the screen in an impeccable and tremendously suggestive way. Such a masterpiece, essential for anyone who is even intrigued by the figure of these giant monsters. Too bad that the direct follow-up to 2018, Pacific Rim: The Uprising, it was absolutely not up to its predecessor. You can buy Pacific Rim at this link.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
We close this list of “essentials”About kaiju with the second episode of the saga Monster-fresh dedicata a Godzilla. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is, so far, the most emblematic film of this huge reboot operation that takes the name of Monster-fresh. In King of the Monsters we finally learn more about kaiju and their origin in this narrative universe. The plot, although some may find it almost “in the frame” of an infinite series of spectacular special effects and ruinous fights, actually proves to be very interesting and well done, with some really hit plot.
And then there are them, the kaiju. In addition to Godzilla, which we also see here in a super-enhanced version, we find Rodan and Mothra, as well as the terrifying Nemesis of the King of Monsters: King Ghidora. All represented really best, as well as the other kaiju, which in this franchise are called titanium, which appear, albeit briefly at the end of the film. So far, the best made in title Monster-fresh. You can buy Godzilla: King of the Monsters at this link.