Godzilla Films are an Awesome, yet very lonely hobby! Yes I have always loved Godzilla films; but unless you know someone nearby who is also a Godzilla fan, you are going to struggle to enjoy sharing it with others; especially if you live in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, they are not the only films I like, I like a lot of other films too, but if you were to ask me which are my top 10 favourite films, I would choose my 10 favourite Godzilla films.
But, as other people are more likely to be not as big into the Big G as me, there are other films I can talk about. I like all sorts of films that aren’t necessarily Big G featured or related, and I do like those films a lot too. But, which of those do I like the most. Well, a few years ago I did a list on my previous blog, ranking which films I really liked, but more crucially did not include a certain Monster whose name begins with the letter G. This list allowed me the option of two lists, so if people wanted to know what my genuine Top 10 are; I could tell them, but then if they started to leave the room, I could mention the list of films not featuring that name also.
Well, that was about 10 years ago; and many more films have been released and seen since then, and so I thought it was time for an updated list. Coming up with this list though was tricky, as it meant refining it down to literally say which film I thought was better than another, and it took about five attempts of starring at the candidates, to choose which ones I liked more than others. It was a tricky thing to do, but right now I am relatively O…K with my choices. But it does of course mean there are those who were rather unlucky. But to give them a spot on the honours list, here are those which were just outside my Top 10:
- Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa,
- Batman Begins,
- Independence Day,
- Pom Poko,
- Spirited Away,
- Seven Samurai,
- The Count Of Monte Cristo,
- V For Vendetta,
- X-Men 2,
- Your Name.
And finally, before we get this list underway; I thought It would be fun to add a nice extra little statistic for each entry. I thought some of my wonderful readers might be interested to see how these films performed in comparison to the previous list. So, next to each title, I have put in brackets a number, which highlights the position of that film in the previous list. I have then coloured it in with the following code:
Higher than previous position – Green
Lower than previous position – Red
Exactly the same position – Blue
New addition/Debut – Orange
I just thought something like that would be fun to mention. But I won’t go the whole hog and mention what it replaced, or which unlucky films won’t get a mention this time around; after all, the future is currently present. Anyway, without further ado; here are my My Top 10 Favourite Films That Are Not Godzilla Films (at least for the next few years or so); Enjoy!
10. The Raid 2 (Debut) – Following on from the failed attempt to remove a major crime lord from his own block of flats; Rama (Iko Uwais) is sent to prison undercover to spy on the son (Arifin Putra) of another major crime lord!
I did not see the first Raid film before this one, I saw it the other way around. From the outset I had no real understanding what was going on, but the story did begin to grow on me. What I was more focused on though was the fight scenes. They are some of the best fight scenes ever made; detailed, fast, energetic, and adrenaline pumping. And it’s not like there’s one or two here and there, there are loads of them, all leading to a major conclusion: an epic battle as one man takes on the Jakarta underground. It features great character creation, and a detailed story which isn’t all blood and guts, but about a cop going deep undercover to infiltrate a major crime ring. But of course it all leads to him taking on the henchmen of this crime ring; one of whom is this cool assassin simply known as Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle)! It’s an amazing film; one of the best action films ever made!
9. Pacific Rim (Debut) – In the not too distant future; mankind’s survival is threatened after the planet is continually besieged by giant monsters known as Kaiju. To respond to this threat, the world creates giant robots known as Jaegers to fight back!
Less than a year before the release of the 2014 Godzilla film, Legendary Pictures gave us an additional Monster Movie; and it was brilliant! Pacific Rim was inspired by the works of Japanese Monster Movies and TV Shows, but more importantly gained input from having Guillermo del Toro as it’s director, who helped flesh out the idea, to create something truly special. The interesting thing is that whilst it is about Robots fighting Monsters, quite a large part of the film focusses on those who need to pilot the Jaegers. Their personal lives, fighting their inner demons, and horrifying pasts. So it’s not until the halfway point that we get a proper full scale fight. But when the fights do come, they are not quick bouts; they are long and technical, showing the strengths of both sides, and making it a real challenge for the heroes. It’s a really well thought Monster Movie, as it does have something for everyone; from action and drama, to love, and comedy!
8. Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (9th) – During the events of the concluding battle from Guardian of the Universe, a teenage girl’s family is destroyed when Gamera smashes through the building they were evacuating from. Three years later, anger has welled up inside the teenager (Ai Maeda), and wants above all else, to kill Gamera!
The third and final film in the epic Gamera Heisei Trilogy comes to a close, with a climactic duel between the giant turtle Gamera, and a teenage girl who blames him for the death of her family. Gamera 3 is a very clever film, as every fine piece of detail is important towards the film’s plot, there is no wastage. It tells an interesting story, as it asks the question: what about the innocent human victims caught in the fight between the monsters? And then adds an extra question on there, that of: what happens if it was accidentally the good monster who killed the humans? This then set’s up this interesting story, of a fight; not between two monsters, but between the Hero Monster, and those it tries to protect. It’s so very well thought out, and becomes a unique experience, one which will be incredibly difficult to replicate anywhere else. It still has plenty of Monster on Monster action, it has a great soundtrack, terrific monsters, brilliant special effects, and is on the whole, one of the best Monster Movies ever made!
7. Akira (Debut) – The year is 2019, and following Tokyo‘s rebuild after a sudden explosion in 1988, and the city is now known as Neo-Tokyo. In this new city, a biker gang suddenly gets involved in a secret government project, involving psychic children!
I have seen Akira about four times over the last eight years; and I have loved every single viewing. The animation may look a bit aged now, but the art style is still amazing. The film creates this incredible world, filled with corruption, crime, and pretty much anything and everything bad you would expect in a falling city. In this landscape we get this very detailed story, which is represented through detailed art which makes the whole film look like a graphic novel come to life. But the story is practically an entire novel; as it starts out one way, but ends in a way that you cannot predict ever happening. The interesting thing though is that the film is rather imperfect, given that the film misses out about half of the Manga it is based on, which means whilst the action side of the film comes to a good close; you are sort of left with more questions than answers; but you feel too tired to raise them up, and so accept the film as it is. But wait, there’s more; it has an Fantastic soundtrack; a practically perfect composition featuring infectious scores, and simple but incredibly effective sounds. It’s a real work of art, but come to life in a very graphical, as well as very violent fashion!
6. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Debut) – A reporter and a one-of-a-kind computer hacker team up to investigate the disappearance of a young girl 40 years earlier!
It feels weird to say that I have really enjoyed watching this film. It’s weird because enjoyed sounds like a fun word, when this film isn’t a fun film, it’s a very brutal film. It depicts in a very detailed and graphic nature the early life of Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), through her years of abuse from both her father and the system. Unlike the Swedish trilogy of films made a few years earlier, this one highlights that life through a few mentions, and one incredibly graphic scene. That’s why it’s hard to say the word enjoyed when talking about this film, as that word just feels wrong given the context; but I have absolutely enjoyed this film, ever since I first caught a glimpse of it. It has been one of the most consistently enjoyable films of the last decade! It features an interesting investigative story, and casts a different light on Daniel Craig, showing he is not just James Bond, he can do more! It features some interesting relationship dynamics between Craig and Mara, and Mara throughout is this incredibly strong female lead, who is also very cool, especially when you learn what she is capable of! You also get an inclination of a hint that perhaps David Fincher really wants to make a James Bond film, given the opening titles to this film. It feels like a real shame, that they didn’t make any more of these film’s with the same cast!
5. The Host (5th) – In 2000, an American Pathologist orders his Korean assistant to dump several bottles of formaldehyde down the drain. Just a few years later, a mysterious creature rises out of the Han River, and kidnaps a teenage girl!
The Host is easily one of the best Monster Movies ever made, which is kind of surprising when I wouldn’t necessarily class it as a Monster movie in the same way as I would Godzilla. For a start the creature is big, but not huge; it’s roughly no bigger than a small bus. Also, whilst the creature is a focal point in the film’s story, it’s not a monster movie entirely, as it’s more a family comedy drama. It’s about the Park family, who are trying to rescue one of their own who has been taken by the monster. This personal route though is what makes the film so good in essence, as it features a personal connection to the monster in the story, and everything that happens in the film, is directly connected to the Park’s. To this end we get action sequences when attacking the monster, but also scenes of drama through potential loss, as well as comedy from sudden surprises. It’s such a cool film altogether, as it combines certain things that you wouldn’t expect in a monster movie, and mixes them with brief but obvious parts you would expect to find in a monster movie. It’s a surprising film, and one that from the outset, you don’t expect to be surprising!
4. Escape From New York (8th) – In 1988; Manhattan is turned into a giant maximum security prison. In 1997, the President (Donald Pleasence) lands inside the prison, following his escape from a hi-jacked Air Force One flying over the prison. But when his escape pod is located, he is nowhere to be found!
The first time I watched this film, I was captivated from start to finish. Escape From New York is a pretty simple bang for your bucks action film, featuring a cool hero in Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), who is attempting a simple rescue mission. It’s the film’s setting though that really grabs your attention. It’s set on the streets of New York, but that city is now a prison, filled with gangs, savages, and even a nice cab driver (Ernest Borgnine). The film creates worlds and ideas within a confined setting. It features a great supporting cast featuring (but not limited to) Lee Van Cleef, Isaac Hayes and more. It’s fast, and energetic; but still takes time to slow down, and explain, plus take a well earned breather, before the next crisis starts. Plus it has a unique soundtrack composed by John Carpenter himself!
3. The Raid (Debut) – A group of armed police storm a block of flats owned by a local crime lord; but just as they gain a foothold, everything goes horribly wrong!
Just as I mentioned above, I saw this film after I saw the sequel, and enjoyed it just as much on my first viewing; but after my second viewing, I loved it even more! The Raid is such a cool and engrossing movie, but it doesn’t jump straight into the action, because firstly it needs to set the scene. The main scene is pretty simple to set-up, as it’s literally what it say on the tin: it’s a police raid. But, it does some additional setting up to; as it plunges the lead character Rama (Iko Uwais) into an ironic situation. He is a cop, and his brother is one of the lieutenants of the crime lord holed up in the apartment complex. Additionally, Rama’s wife has a child on the way; so he has more than enough reasons to succeed. The initial action scenes begin with simple police scenes, to scenes where the complex is locked down. But soon after that, we get our first real fight scene; and it is spectacular, and best of all, it’s not the only one; there is still a lot more to get into, not to mention a killer soundtrack to back it up. In comparison to the sequel, this is pretty plain and simple; but the simplest things usually go on something of a winning streak; and this film’s incredible detail in everything it does, grabs your attention, and holds on to it until the very last glorious second!
2. The Hunger Games (2nd) – In a dystopian society, every year a young boy and girl are chosen from each of the 12 districts, and are brought to the capitol; where they are forced to kill each other!
Before I saw this film, I had not read the books; and like many other people, I thought it was just a rip-off of Battle Royale! But for some reason I was drawn to see this film, out of knowing nothing about it; and I left the cinema, Loving It! It’s not really a rip-off of Battle Royale, as the story leading up to the slaughtering is very different, as it makes references to our own world’s habits of over-engaging in reality TV shows. The focus is really on the impossible love story of two characters in Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson); who are both from the same district, but are forced into killing each other. But whilst the premise sounds brutal and horrifying; the film isn’t really that at all. Yes, that does feature in it; but the story is kind of relaxing and peaceful. It has moments where the focus changes, and the plot goes on holiday, allowing the scene to take a breath, forget about outside worries, and just live in the moment. It has great scenes of impossible love and friendship, which are sweet to watch, but brutally heartbreaking when it all comes crashing down. It’s an amazing film, there is practically nothing like it; before or since, and is one of the most truly unique movies ever made!
1. 13 Assassins (4th) – Towards the end of the Edo Period in Japan, the sadistic Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki), The Shogun‘s half-brother; is soon to be promoted to a major position. Fearing a civil war, the justice minister Sir Doi (Mikijiro Hira) asks Shimada Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho), a trusted old samurai; to assassinate Lord Naritsugu!
Acting as a remake to the 1963 Eiichi Kudo film of the same name; 13 Assassins has an interesting feeling about it; as it feels very similar to the classic samurai films from Akira Kurosawa. The film itself feels at the beginning at least a lot like Seven Samurai, as each of the assassins are hired, and their particular skills shown. But you still need to remember that this is a Takashi Miike film. And as a result the film does create some hard to watch imagery; even very near the start; but this does help set up the villain in the correct way. We are not supposed to feel the least bit sympathetic to this guy; he needs to die! That sounds cruel, but it’s true. 13 Assassins is so beautifully constructed, but in the simplest way possible. There’s no major subtleties, or hidden messages; it’s all about making the film work with the viewer, and as a result we get this rather cool samurai action flick. It contains really good character work and creation, which is backed up with terrific acting (especially from Koji Yakusho, as soon as I saw this he became one of my favourite actors). It has some cool recruitment and training scenes, as well as some detailed moments where very little is happening, but remains both important, and very satisfying to see. The soundtrack is absolutely perfect (particularly Juu), and the story is so engrossing, but also throws in some surprising twists and ironies at the end. Plus, most important of all, the final battle is about 50 minutes long; filled with some details and subtleties that I am still discovering for the first time even now. This is a terrific film, a modern variant on the classic films of the 1950-1960s, but given modern injections, to allow new audiences to gain the same appreciation of these classic stories. And in creating this list, it was the only film I knew for certain I would include!