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Toho's Godzilla Series

Godzilla (January 9/14)

The one that started it all, Godzilla details the chaos after an enormous, malevolent creature emerges from the sea to wreak havoc on nearby Tokyo. Though it kicks off with a compelling (and surprisingly contemporary) opening credits sequence, Godzilla quickly (and perhaps inevitably) segues into a terminally erratic narrative that's more dull than engrossing - with filmmaker Ishirô Honda's inability to offer up even a single compelling human character certainly ranking high on the movie's list of failings. It's consequently impossible to work up any real interest in or enthusiasm for the film's many non-monster sequences, while the movie's final half hour, which revolves almost entirely around the efforts to ready a weapon that could destroy Godzilla, is nothing short of disastrous in its execution (ie it's just thunderously boring). Godzilla's heavy emphasis on long, dull scenes of expository chatter ensures that it never builds up any momentum, and it goes without saying, as a result, that the film's final attack by the titular creature comes off as anticlimactic and pointless. It's ultimately rather difficult to discern why Godzilla has amassed a reputation as a classic of the genre, as the film is entirely lacking in elements designed to capture and hold the viewer's ongoing attention.

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Godzilla Raids Again

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Mothra vs. Godzilla

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Invasion of Astro Monster

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

Son of Godzilla

Destroy All Monsters

All Monsters Attack

Godzilla vs. Hedorah

Godzilla vs. Gigan

Godzilla vs. Megalon

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

Terror of Mechagodzilla

The Return of Godzilla

Godzilla vs. Biollante

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

Godzilla vs. Mothra

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla

Godzilla vs. Destroyah

Godzilla 2000

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Godzilla: Final Wars (December 8/05)

Godzilla: Final Wars has been directed by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura, best known for wildly over-the-top action flicks such as Versus and Azumi. But it becomes clear almost immediately that Kitamura is absolutely the wrong choice for the material, as he infuses Godzilla: Final Wars with exactly the same sort of kinetic restlessness that has become his trademark. Far more problematic, however, is the lack of screen time reserved for Godzilla himself; he's in about a quarter of this two-hour film, with the rest devoted to an entirely superfluous storyline involving aliens and mutants (no, really). As has been widely reported, Godzilla: Final Wars eventually features the green giant going up against all his former enemies - though to get to that point, one has to sit through an interminable opening hour that couldn't possibly be more dull. When the various monsters from Godzilla's past (including Rodan, Gigan, and even Roland Emmerich's Godzilla) begin simultaneously wreaking havoc, all seems hopeless - until a group of seemingly friendly aliens effortlessly take care of the problem moments after arriving on the scene. As it turns out, the aliens are - in fact - even more dangerous than the monsters, leaving the surviving humans with little choice but to revive Godzilla and send him on an abomination-killing rampage. Given that Godzilla is almost entirely absent from at least half of Godzilla: Final Wars, it's certainly possible for the viewer to forget that they're even watching a Godzilla movie. Kitamura seems far more interested in imbuing the film with wildly over-the-top action sequences and Matrix-inspired shenanigans than offering up anything resembling a traditional Godzilla flick, which lends the proceedings a dated, unrelentingly tedious vibe.Having said that, the battles - when they finally arrive - are admittedly quite entertaining, though they invariably wind up overstaying their welcome by going on far longer than necessary (however, it's hard not to get a kick out of the sequence that finds the old-school Godzilla dispatching the American Godzilla with a flick of the tail). But Kitamura's inexplicable need to revel in excess (there's a space battle, for crying out loud) will undoubtedly alienate Godzilla neophytes and most likely irritate even the most die-hard fans of the legendary creature.

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© David Nusair