Kong: Skull Island hits theaters this week. And if you’re a monster fan, you know there’s just 3 years until the Godzilla revival and a single year until Pacific Rim: Uprising. So, it’s safe to say we’re living in a monster movie renaissance.
Considering Godzilla vs. King Kong has been slotted for a 2020 release, it’s high time to explore classic giant monster flicks you should check out with your kid before seeing Skull Island. (Note: some of the older movies on this list are unrated by the MPAA, so use discretion before watching with younger kids.)
King Kong (1933)
This is the original which inspired generations of movie directors and launched monster movies from Godzilla to Jurassic Park. It might be a little tough for your kid to understand how this old-timey Hollywood black-and-white film is a classic, but thankfully you can just show them highlights on YouTube. The stop animation is considerably laughable, but remind them, this movie is older than grandma.
The king of the monsters got his crown here. There’s no fighting or weird plot lines. Here you see a giant nuclear-created-monster destroying Japan because it’s angry. Much like the original Kong, it may be hard for kids to fully grasp why this slow-moving film is highly regarded, but at least in black and white, Godzilla looks more realistic in his rubber suit.
Mothra vs. Godzilla
Also known as Godzilla vs. The Thing, this film makes it hard to believe that a giant moth could be a legit threat to Godzilla. Yet Mothra is somehow the best-known monster that’s not a nuclear lizard or a giant ape. Make no mistake, if you’re going to watch this movie, you’re going straight to the fight scenes, as it’s some of Toho’s best. Where else can you see a man in a rubber suit swat at a moth on strings?
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
You know what Godzilla really needed? Time-travel. The plot is a little convoluted, but in short, people from the future warn that Godzilla will destroy Japan. But it’s really just a ruse by an alien race from the future. Oh, and Godzilla fights a three-headed dinosaur in Ghidorah. That’s some Jim Henson level puppetry magic.
King Kong (2005)
After Peter Jackson finished up his Lord of The Rings trilogy, but before The Hobbit, the director was tasked with remaking the Hollywood classic. And Jackson did a great job, both making viewers care about Kong and making Ann (Naomi Watts) more than just a screaming damsel in distress. Although it’s not a comedy, Jack Black also stars in the film, and your kids may be yearning for a laugh from the voice of Po.
Godzilla: Final Wars
In what was meant to be Godzilla’s final film, Toho Pictures created an epic assembly of past Godzilla opponents (and human characters). The giant monster, of course, destroys everything that comes his way including the 1998 Godzilla monster, which for some reason feels so good to see. This film is really an homage to the Godzilla franchise and has some of his best fights compacted into one film.
It’s not the best Godzilla movie, but it’s definitely the best American Godzilla release (the less said about the 1998 version, the better). Bryan Cranston shows up in this reboot which succeeds in making Godzilla feel epic and scary. Plus, it’s actually canon. The film’s plot references the original 1956 film and it is meant to be the same world. That’s pretty nerdy for a monster movie.