Top 10 Modern Kaiju Films

Pacific Rim (2013) via Warner Bros. Pictures : Rampage (2018) via New Line Cinema : Godzilla (2014), via Warner Bros. Pictures

Humanity has a long history and fascination with gigantic monsters. The idea of facing a foe or even being in a world of gargantuan creatures is a fascination us humans just can’t seem to let go.

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With the advent of special effects and CGI technology, films have sought to make more and more realistic Kaiju monsters — which has prompted the genre to boom in the modern age; something that is definitely worth applauding.

10) Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Gipsy Avenger standing tall and mighty in Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018), Warner Bros. Pictures

Pacific Rim is one of those movies that’s hard to do a follow-up for. This goes doubly true if the stars and director aren’t returning. However, the movie still managed to showcase exactly why viewers tune in, which is to see giant robots and monsters fighting.

It might not have risen to the level of the first film, but Pacific Rim: Uprising has enough of the gigantic CGI brawls and ridiculous plot to keep fans of the franchise entertained. If anything, it opened the door for a very good anime spin-off with Pacific Rim: Black.

9) Monster Hunter (2020)

Black Diablos charges towards Artemis (Milla Jovovich) in Monster Hunter (2020), Sony Pictures Entertainment

It’s always great to see films that break away from the stigma of terrible video game adaptations. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. Monster Hunter makes the same mistake of having a muddled plot with generic, uninteresting characters.

However, as a Kaiju film with some great monster action, it does its job. Milla Jovovich excels in these types of movies. She doesn’t let issues like characterization and theme hold her back from being a badass action star.

8) Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla uses Atomic Breath to kill Female Muto in Godzilla (2014), Warner Bros. Pictures

A lot of fans weren’t going to hold their breath that a new American made Godzilla movie would be good. However, the film wisely had an intricate plot that put Godzilla in the light of hero rather than destructive monster.

With a very real and emotional character arc for its human characters, the movie also created real stakes that made it interesting to watch. It might not have spawned something as expansive as the MCU, but Godzilla (2014) should still be commended for creating the MonsterVerse.

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7) Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong is overpowered by a giant Skullcrawler in Kong: Skull Island (2017), Warner Bros. Pictures

The same with Godzilla, fans were skeptical about a modern Kong movie. It had already been done with Peter Jackson, so this film had to take a much different approach.

It did so by bringing the action primarily to King Kong’s home: Skull Island. Like the Godzilla film, it also put Kong in the role of hero. It was a smart maneuver that immediately pitted the two characters against each other for an inevitable clash.

6) Rampage (2018)

An enraged George devours Claire (Malin Åkerman) in Rampage (2018), New Line Cinema

Rampage is kind of a crazy game to make a movie about. It essentially had no story and is just about giant monsters destroying a city. Luckily, the film put that kind of action front and center.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who plays the main lead in the monster film, does his job in Rampage as a largely generic action hero that tries to contribute to the fight the best way he can. In the end, the film knows that its human characters aren’t the main attraction and has more than enough monster fighting to satisfy Kaiju fans.

5) Shin Godzilla (2016)

Godzilla uses Atomic Breath to obliterate Tokyo in Shin Godzilla (2016), Toho Pictures

Even though the American and Japanese Godzilla franchises were getting refreshed at a similar time, they both embody very different forms of storytelling. This is obvious based on the fact that they appeal to very different demographics.

Wisely setting itself apart from the Americanized CGI slugfest, Shin Godzilla focuses more on the practical side of Godzilla’s presence. What’s also interesting is seeing Godzilla’s evolution throughout the film as he doesn’t just start out as the gigantic lizard fans know and love.

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4) Pacific Rim (2013)

Category-5 Kaiju Slattern emerges from The Breach in Pacific Rim (2013), Warner Bros. Pictures

Guillermo del Toro is mostly known for bizarre horror films, so the idea of him making a mech versus Kaiju movie was met with passionate excitement. There were many ways this film could have gone wrong. Luckily, it managed to do just enough to work.

As an added measure, the film doesn’t have one mech pilot but two. This requires them to work in synch, which adds a whole other character element to the film. Throw in a bizarre monster brain subplot and Pacific Rim is a fun time at the movies.

3) Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

A powered-up Godzilla releases an Atomic Breath ray in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Warner Bros. Pictures

It was inevitable that the MonsterVerse would expand to incorporate the other Kaiju that Godzilla has encountered over the years. However, rather than have individual films that focused on each of them, this film decided to just pour them in all at once.

It might have seen like a bad move to do this; superhero movies run into this problem all the time. Fortunately, monsters are easier to introduce than superpowers, so seeing Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidora worked within the confines of the film’s streamlined plot.

2) Cloverfield (2008)

The United States military fights back against Clover in Cloverfield (2008), Paramount Pictures

Cloverfield should be praised for a multitude of reasons. Besides the fact that it brought the found footage genre to Kaiju, it also made an attempt to create a purely American monster for the modern era.

Throw in a personal character story as well as birthing an entire franchise of speculative fiction films, and Cloverfield is deserving of more recognition than it sometimes gets. The other films in the series are barely connected, so hopefully a legitimate Cloverfield sequel is on the horizon.

1) Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Godzilla and Kong duke it out in Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

Since the moment Godzilla and King Kong had their own films, fans have been dying to see the two face off. Luckily, Godzilla vs. Kong delivered on its promise to have these two titans clash both on water and on land.

The human elements of this film might have been lacking but that’s just fine. It was mainly a driving force in creating a third factor in the movie’s plot, which the surprising appearance by Mechagodzilla. Seeing these two monsters face off against the mechanical threat was a treat no Kaiju fan could turn down.

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