In little over a month’s time, Kaiju movie fans around the globe will be tuning in to the colossal match-up of the century, “Godzilla vs. Kong.” In the first couple of trailers shown, Godzilla has mysteriously begun rampaging across the globe, so the humans decide to capture King Kong in order to bring down the big G himself.
Both iconic movie monsters have a long lineage of movies that stretch across decades, and their rivalry might be a lot older than you think. While there are tons of movies to watch to get you hyped for the big bout, here are the top four films you should watch before “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
“King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1962)
The legendary match-up between these two titans actually began over half a century ago. In this film, the JSDF captures a sleeping Kong on a nearby island and uses him to combat a recently awakened Godzilla who is rampaging through Japan. Based on the trailers we have seen so far, “Godzilla vs. Kong” seems to take a lot of inspiration from this particular film.
During its time, the film was a massive success, and while a sequel was planned, it was ultimately cancelled.
While certainly dated with its visuals, there is an undeniable charm to this film. “King Kong vs. Godzilla” was primarily aimed at children, so expect a lot of goofy antics between the two, like Kong trying to force feed Godzilla a tree. It may not be the best film of the bunch, but its certainly worth a watch just for the laugh.
“Godzilla,” also known as “Gojira” in Japan, is the first ever Godzilla film and is a must watch for any fan who is remotely interested in “Godzilla vs. Kong.” In his long career, Godzilla has played the role of both destroyer and protector of humanity. Ask any G-fan, and they will tell you Godzilla’s role largely depends on the movie he’s depicted in.
In the original “Godzilla,” the grandfather of Kaiju is a destructive force of nature. An allegory of the nuclear destruction that Japan had faced at the end of World War II, Godzilla is an unstoppable monstrous force that tears apart Japan.
The film is surprisingly brutal in Godzilla’s destruction, with one scene depicting an overrun hospital with many patients who are either injured or dead from Godzilla’s actions. Some of the patients even suffer from radiation sickness due to being in the vicinity of Godzilla.
“Godzilla” is a somber meditation on nuclear weaponry, and more of a horror film than a traditional Kaiju flick. There’s a reason this movie has been hailed for so long as a staple in cinematic history, and any monster movie fan worth their salt should give it a watch.
King Kong (2005)
While Kong is certainly older than Godzilla (his first movie debuted back in 1933), Kong’s film history has not been as robust as the overgrown lizard’s. However, his second reboot film in 2005 may not just be the best “King Kong” movie, but also the best monster film out there period.
Directed by Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame, Jackson brings his directorial eye for world-building detail and epic-scale action to Skull Island, the home of King Kong. While most of Skull Island and the monstrous inhabitants there are CGI, these special effects hold up remarkably well even a decade after its initial release. Kong himself is given a great deal of emotional depth with his mocap and facial animation being provided by the excellent Andy Serkis.
Not only is Skull Island delightfully creepy and dangerous here, but Peter Jackson also accomplishes what so many monster films fail at: making interesting and believable human characters. Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, and Jack Black round out the cast with great acting while also supporting a robust supporting crew.
Finally, “King Kong” depicts the Kong at one of his most brutal, with his duel between multiple V-Rexes being a particular stand out. Any fans who have seen the film will remember where Kong executes a V-Rex by splitting its jaw with his bare hands. With a runtime of a little over three hours, this epic film will certainly sate any Kong fans out there.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
While Godzilla himself has a wide-range of monstrous rivals, probably none is iconic as his robotic counterpart, Mechagodzilla. While its origins have varied over the years, Mechagodzilla in this film is of alien origin and is a super weapon meant to dominate the human race.
This film is classic Godzilla with an all-out monster brawl between not just big G and his mecha doppelganger, but the film also features the spiny Anguirus and King Caesar. Fans will get plenty of monster action as well as some lovable goofs from the cast of monsters.
Also, one notable plot point is that Mechagodzilla himself is first introduced into the film disguised as the real Godzilla. It’s not revealed until later in the film that the rampaging Godzilla is a fake until the real one shows up to save the day. While nothing is confirmed, this could potentially tie into what is going on in “Godzilla vs. Kong” and feeds into some of the online fan theories going around.
Honorable Mentions: The Monsterverse Films
While not technically on the list, this should be a no-brainer to anyone interested in watching “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Legendary Pictures has been building up this monster universe since 2014 with their reboot, “Godzilla.” Your watch list should include “Godzilla” (2014), “Kong: Skull Island” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019).
These movies are a lot of fun to sit through, with each one aiming for a different tone. “Godzilla” (2014) is definitely the darkest of them all with a slow-burn buildup that pays off in a grand, down-and-dirty brawl in its finale.
“Kong: Skull Island,” meanwhile, is a fun, pulpy action flick with a Kong that is just a resourceful with his mind as he is with his fist.
Finally, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) is just an all-out monster romp that revels in its ridiculousness. This film features a huge cast of monsters with Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah and Mothra. With only three films, it shouldn’t take long to get caught up on the Monsterverse series. So Kaiju fans, go out and do your homework!