Toho's huge monster franchise Godzilla is the longest running film series in history, making it by default the most popular sci-fi and horror series of all time.
While Legendary Pictures continues to make their own larger MonsterVerse shared cinematic world that incorporates the legendary atomic-powered behemoth, Toho has continued to release their own Godzilla films, and the current reboot Godzilla Minus One is one of 2023's best.
Western audiences are familiar with Godzilla thanks to decades of Japanese films airing on TV and in theaters, as well as the success of Legendary Pictures'
modern MonsterVerse universe of films — including Godzilla, Godzilla: King of Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong — all of which I liked to varying degrees — and the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, as well as the excellent new streaming series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters on AppleTV+.
The films and spinoffs have had different degrees of success, with some becoming box office smashes and others fizzling out. Qualitatively, Godzilla films have provided a wide range of experiences, some excellent, some good, and others fairly poor.
The original Godzilla, released in 1954, is considered a masterpiece of foundational science fiction and horror cinema, responsible for establishing the kaiju genre in a film with deep social and historical themes, strong characterization, and an unexpected verisimilitude applied to what could have been a sillier B-movie story.
The visual effects are sometimes considered quaint and cheap in comparison to 1953's The War of the Worlds, but I'll argue that the flashier and more colorful Oscar-winning VFX of Hollywood's alien invasion film don't have the same raw sense of place and time Godzilla achieves,
and the sense of scale and impression made by Godzilla's visuals is inspired and effective in ways more expensive and supposedly more "realistic" film visuals didn't achieve.