Godzilla and five more kaiju I have loved
This week, Denver residents have a rare opportunity to see the genesis and current pinnacle of the kaiju genre with showings of both the original 1954 Japanese classic Godzilla (at the Sie FilmCenter) and the brand-new iteration (screening pretty much everywhere else movie tickets are sold). The original is better than you'd think, given its legacy of rubber-suited dudes laying waste to HO scale cities, and the new one not only is getting a fair number of positive reviews, it also stars current Best Living Actor Bryan Cranston. More important, both feature giant monsters doing what giant monsters do best: laying waste to giant swathes of civilization.
Once you've seen the original classic and the latest, greatest model, I have no doubt you'll come to love kaiju (Japanese term for "strange creature") movies as much as I do (okay, maybe not quite as much, unless you also spent your childhood watching shitty dubs of Gamera and Mothra movies on late-night TV) and if that happens, you're going to need a few pointers on where to look for your next kaiju fix. To help guide you on your magical journey of kaiju love, I offer a few of my favorites as humble suggestions. (Note to kaiju purists: I take a pretty lose definition of what qualifies as a kaiju film: if it has a giant monster, it's good enough for me. Feel free to tell me what a moron I am for this in the comments section.)
Not all aliens are little green/gray men. Sometimes they're giant, city-crushing beasts, like in Cloverfield. This one's also a found-footage film, which can be a turn-off for some, but on the plus side, it serves up one-time Denver resident TJ Miller in one of the lead roles, plus one of the biggest, baddest most terrifying kaiju this side of the international date line.
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Can a killer shark movie also be a kaiju film? It can be when the shark is the size of a city bus. This one is for the so-bad-it's-good crowd, because this movie is seriously fucking awful. It's also seriously awesome at the same time, thanks to the generous use of terrible CGI and a loopy, nonsensical plot. Plus, both John Barrowman (Torchwood) and Ryan Cutrona (Grandpa Gene on Mad Men) are in it, which makes it one of the best casts you'll ever see in a direct-to-DVD movie about a plus-sized shark.