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Check out these three essential “Godzilla” movies to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for the release of “Godzilla vs Kong”.

In case you have been living under a rock, Godzilla vs Kong is releasing in theaters and direct to HBO Max on March 31st. It will remain on HBO Max for 31 days. Outside of the U.S., the film hits paid video on demand services starting today, March 24th, 2021.

Godzilla vs Kong is the latest entry in the longest-running film franchise in history. And with over 30 films from the past 67 years, you may be asking yourself, “Where to start?”

Luckily for you, I’ve spent the last 3 weeks watching all 36 films, and I’ve put together a list of the best three to watch in preparation for Godzilla vs Kong.  

1. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)

Why watch this one before “Godzilla vs Kong”? 

You should watch this film to prepare yourself for the idea of Godzilla as a villain, as well as what looks like an appearance by Mechagodzilla.

In both 2014’s GODZILLA and 2019’s KING OF THE MONSTERS, Godzilla is seen as a hero, a weird kind of anti-hero. But in the trailers for the new movie, he is shown as a villain, with King Kong being the only thing that can stop him.

In the seven films leading up to Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, Godzilla took on a more comical role as he played a weird kind of anti-hero. In previous films, he helped some surfers fight off a giant crab, had a son who’s pretty goofy, teamed up with a gigantic kids’ toy, learned to talk, and even helped defeat pollution.

When he appears in Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla destroying everything and brutally murdering his best friend Anguirus, it’s truly a shock. The premise of the film is pretty insane, as are most Godzilla films. There is an ancient prophecy that talks about a giant monster who is going to come and destroy the Earth. Godzilla shows up and starts wrecking stuff, which at this point in the series is odd for everyone’s favorite giant lizard.

It’s even more shocking when a second Godzilla appears and the two start fighting each other. But there can be only one king of the monsters, and it is soon revealed that one of the Godzillas is actually a giant robot in disguise and under the control of angry green ape aliens. Godzilla has tons of enemies, and it seems like every time a new film is released, there is a new monster for him to fight. But none are more terrifying than Mechagodzilla.

The idea of green ape aliens showing up on March 31st is pretty low. But this new, villainous Godzilla actually being Mechagodzilla in disguise is a very real possibility.

2. Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995)

Why watch this one before “Godzilla vs Kong”? 

You should watch this film to prepare yourself for the possibility that Godzilla dies.

This film was the final film released as part of the Heisei Era of Godzilla films. Every time an era ends, Godzilla is written off and the franchise is deemed complete — until they of course reboot and start all over again.

After defeating SpaceGodzilla in the previous film (You read that right, SpaceGodzilla), Godzilla and his son head to a secluded island to live out their lives in peace.  On a routine check-up of the giant monsters, the world’s government finds the entire island destroyed and the monster missing. When Godzilla does show up, he’s glowing red. And according to the junk science that accompanies all these movies, the red glow means he is radioactive and will soon explode the whole earth.

While humanity deals with this, they are also confronted with a bunch of weird mutated monsters born of the Anti-Oxygen weapon from the original film. And when these little monsters get together, they turn into a giant monster called Destroyah.

Godzilla Junior shows up to fight Destroyah, but he ends up dying. Godzilla shows up, pissed, and uses his radioactive powers to bring Godzilla Junior back to life just long enough for him to die again in a very heart-wrenching scene. Godzilla gets more pissed, kills Destroyah, and then dies from the immense radiation. Everyone in the film starts crying as Godzilla Junior is revived by the nuclear fallout from his dying father.

The whole thing is very powerful. Who knew a giant monster movie could invoke so many emotions?

Box office revenue is one of the key indicators of a film’s success, especially big-budget blockbusters like Godzilla and the rest of the Legendary MonsterVerse.

The truth is, revenue on the Monsterverse films has been dropping with every entry, and it’s entirely possible that this may be the end of the Monsterverse franchise.

3. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Why watch this one before “Godzilla vs Kong”? 

I am not entirely sure if FINAL WARS is the worst film I have ever seen or the best.  You should watch this film because, with GODZILLA VS KONG, either you are going to love it or hate it.

This was the final of the Millenium Era of films which acted as an anthology.  Each of the five films in this era had a different director who had a different take on the Godzilla mythos. In one film, he is birthed from the souls of those who died in Hiroshima. In another, he fights giant bugs that come out of a black hole when they try to shoot Godzilla with a black hole gun. And in this film, there are aliens and mutants and every monster ever.

Starring former MMA fighter and all-around badass, Don Frye, the film centers on a bizarre future where Godzilla is half-dead at the south pole and some humans have developed mutations that make them superior soldiers. When all the monsters suddenly appear and start wrecking everything, aliens show up and offer to get rid of them. It turns out the aliens just plan on eating the humans, and when the humans find out they release all the monsters again. Don Frye, armed with a samurai sword and accompanied by a bunch of mutant super soldiers decides to wake up Godzilla. Then all hell breaks loose.

The second hour of this film is basically just Godzilla kicking ass as he fights every giant monster from the entire series.

Monster X, Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, Gigan, King Caesar, Anguirus, Manda, Kamacuras, Kumonga, Hedorah, Ebirah, and even the Godzilla from the 1998 American film show up just to get beat up by Godzilla before he wanders off into the sunset — followed by Godzilla Junior who is back in his pudgy, smoke circle blowing wimpy form.

This movie was made in 2004, and it looks very early 2000s. The CGI is overused and terrible, and the dubbing from Japanese to English is like they didn’t even try to match the words to the lips. The soundtrack includes music from Sum 41, and everything about this film is so incredibly stylized that it’s uncertain at times if you are watching a theatrical movie or a cut scene from a video game. It also has more giant monster fight scenes than any film in the entire series, and the fights are absolutely insane. Godzilla does flying dropkicks and backflips.

It’s amazing, but also, terrible. And this is probably a good indicator of how the audience will react to this new film. Prepare for something highly polarizing. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

With so many films, it is very difficult to narrow a list down to three. I wanted to make sure you had time to catch up on the most important films before watching Godzilla vs Kong. Thus, there are a few films I took out of contention for this list.

First, I eliminated all of the three films titled Godzilla from 1954, 1998, and 2014. I consider these essential viewing for any movie fan, so I didn’t make a special note of them for this list. If you haven’t seen these, please try to watch them as soon as. you can. The 1954 film is a dark gritty classic that created the entire Kaiju genre; the 1998 film is over the top in every way, making it the definition of a giant Hollywood blockbuster; and the 2014 film is just absolutely a masterpiece visually which sets the stage for Godzilla vs Kong.

Another film I believe it goes without saying is a mandatory watch is the original King Kong vs Godzilla. It’s a completely ridiculous film where King Kong gets drunk on red berry juice and they use balloons to fly his drunk ass around looking for Godzilla.

If you are an HBO Max subscriber, you will find an incredible 14 of the 15 Showa Era films available on the platform. 12 of the 14 films from Heisei, Millennium, and Reiwa Era films are available on Amazon Prime. And there are even 3 anime films on Netflix that are well worth the watch. Enjoy and happy monster hunting. Come back and let us know what you thought of Godzilla vs Kong

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