A good movie will draw you into the world it has created and make you feel part of it. So much so, that there’s a chance you’ll leave the theater after with a bit of an adrenaline rush. Maybe the latest Bond flick has you feeling like you can be the next 007. Maybe an over-the-top car chase has you pressing on the gas pedal and drifting like a pro. Maybe the story of a talented musician has you thinking you could pick up a guitar and strum a perfect rhythm.
Most of the time we’re left with wanting more. We want something similar, yet new at the same time. You don’t want to watch the same film again, you want to watch something that pairs nicely. Here at ScreenAge Wasteland, we’ve selected six films that you should watch after Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Here are the pairings.
Where the Wild Things Are | Sailor Monsoon
Although King of the Monsters is a pretty badass subtitle for the latest Godzilla movie, there’s already a character who’s earned that distinction and its not the 350 foot tall, city destroying mega lizard, it’s an emotionally troubled 8 year old in a shabby wolf costume. Based on the beloved children’s novel of the same name by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are tells the story of Max (Max Records) a young boy who, after a violent outburst at his mother, runs away from home and sails to an island filled with creatures as troubled as he is. After immediately crowning him their king, they play games, get into adventures but soon Max realizes that being king is not all it’s cracked up to be.
A commercial flop, the film proved to be a bit too depressing for audiences at the time but eventually, it became a cult hit with many declaring it a masterpiece and one critic even named it one of the best of the decade. If you’re looking for a monster movie with all the fun of a Godzilla flick but with more emotional depth and amazing performances, Where the Wild Things Are would pair nice.
Cloverfield | Romona Comet
If you walk away from Godzilla: King of the Monsters craving more monster-based destruction, look no further than Cloverfield. 11 years ago, J.J. Abrams gave us what is still arguably the best film in the late 2000’s onslaught of found footage productions, as well as the beginning of The Cloververse, consisting of two secretive sequels that appeared just as suddenly and out of the blue as Cloverfield itself.
Inspired by various monster figures that he found in a toy store in Japan, Abrams decided that America needed its own Godzilla-type monster, one he thought should be more insane and intense than Godzilla or King Kong. He began to conceptualize the film and thus Clover was born, a monster of unknown origins awakened from its slumber deep within the sea to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting New York. The film is presented as footage from a recovered handheld camera after the disaster, having been recorded by a man named Hud Platt as he follows his friends through the ravaged city to rescue another.
The mysterious nature of the movie, as well as an imaginative marketing campaign, catapulted the monster flick to $170 million at the box office against a $25 million budget. Directed by Matt Reeves, Cloverfield is an innovative re-imagining of the monster movie genre. In the midst of the chaos presented by not only the monster’s rampage but the shaky cam shooting style as well (those sensitive to motion sickness beware), we’re still given fully fleshed out characters that we come to know and root for, both in front of and behind the camera. The movie seems to understand that if we’re not invested in their journey and survival, then there’s nothing truly at stake and Cloverfield is just another run of the mill monster flick with impressive special effects and a cool looking creature.
But Cloverfield takes you along on this horrifying, gripping adventure, giving you an intimate, first-person point of view of the monster’s relentless destruction. I think what makes Cloverfield so frightening is the fact that throughout the movie you are only given brief glimpses of the creature rather than placing it front and center for prolonged periods of time the way monster flicks have done in the past. There is something to be said about the fear of the unknown, and Cloverfield does a masterful job at exploiting this.
Cloverfield is a bleak but engaging and thrilling nod to Godzilla and similar monster movies and should no doubt be in the conversation as one of the best of all time.
Q: The Winged Serpent | Vincent Kane
As Godzilla: King of the Monsters stomps and roars its way into theaters this weekend on its $200 million-dollar budget, how about we check out some good old fashion 80’s claymation of an oversized creature wreaking havoc on the Big Apple. Larry Cohen was king of the B-horror and sci-fi movies as a writer and director. He knew how to take a small budget and a crazy idea to make it work into some schlocky cheesy fun that was usually entertaining as hell. He was a master at showing the human side of the horror or sci-fi story he was telling. He gave us gems like a mutant monster baby who murders people in It’s Alive and crazy religious murderers who are simply following the Lord’s command in God Told Me To. He told us campy stories about werewolves and strange killing “Stuff”, but perhaps one of his most ambitious films was a noir-ish type police procedural that happens to have a massive winged monster murdering people all over the city of New York.
Usually in these big budget monster flicks the city or setting itself is simply there for the big bad creature to destroy and for the crowd to be in awe of the destruction. However, here Mr. Cohen is able to give you an authentic feel of the real New York city as detectives try to figure out what is going on and a strung-out thief tries to do his best to make a buck and survive the whole ordeal. Unlike other creature features where the filmmakers try their best to use the gimmick of not allowing the creature to be seen too much till a certain point in the film, Cohen does so masterfully because of his budget limitations to make you know something is there and then have a grand finale. Story and characters over spectacle. Please seek out and enjoy.
Gamera Trilogy: Guardian of the Universe, Attack of Legion, Revenge of Iris | Bob Cram Jr
Adolescent female character with a possible connection to the title monster? Hidden history of the world that includes giant monsters? Secret society/government agency that’s involved? Monster bone graveyard? Epic kaiju battles between a destructive hero monster and creatures unleashed by misguided humans?
That’s the new American Godzilla films, sure, but that’s also the Heisei era Gamera series – a weirdly enjoyable 90’s reboot of the kid-friendly Godzilla ripoff.
Gamera has always been something of a joke. A giant turtle who flies like a spinning top with jets coming out his leg holes? Despite his initial destructive appearance in 1965’s Gamera, the Giant Monster, the googly-eyed, tusked terrapin with the sub-par special effects became a big hit with kids who enjoyed a slightly less menacing monster. One that could safely be cheered on as a “friend to all children”. Gamera defended the earth against all comers for 8 films before the series finally petered out with Gamera: Super Monster in 1980.
In 1995, seeing the success of the Heisei Godzilla films and with the 30th anniversary of the first Gamera film approaching, original studio Daliei teamed up with Godzilla’s parent studio Toho to distribute a new film – Gamera: Guardian of the Universe – with Shusuke Kaneko in the director’s chair.
The new film – with a darker tone and emphasis on (for suitmation) better special effects – was a hit, resulting in two more films in a loosely connected trilogy that features aliens, giant creatures meant to destroy humanity, giant creatures meant to save humanity, psychic kids, aliens, and very gory kaiju battles – including one in which Gamera severs his own arm. Despite some dodgy 90’s CGI, the budget and monster design quality increases over the course of the series, culminating in Gamera: Revenge of Iris, which boasts some of the best special effects of any kaiju film of the Heisei era, Godzilla films included.
Yes, it’s still a series about a giant, fire-breathing turtle who spins through the air on leg rockets, but the Gamera trilogy is a ton of giant-monster-on-monster fun with some decent human characters and a blockbuster sensibility. They’ll pair great with the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and, if you see some similarities between the two series, you won’t be the only one. Kaneko himself has commented on how similar the new films are to both his Gamera work and his one Godzilla film – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidora: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
Monsters | K. Alvarez
Monsters is the movie that basically got Gareth Edwards the job to direct the reboot of Godzilla in the first place. While he may not have returned to direct its sequel King of the Monsters, I definitely think it is a solid choice to pair with the release of the new film. Though Monsters suffers from the same issue as the 2014 Godzilla release (the severe lack of actual giant monsters), it more than makes up for the absence of spectacle with character development.
Monsters takes place mainly in Mexico years after a NASA probe crashes there and leads to the appearance of giant tentacled monsters. It follows Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), an American photojournalist tasked with escorting his employer’s daughter Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) back to the United States by crossing through the “Infected Zone” where the creatures reside. The two of them basically have a Planes, Trains and Automobiles trip ahead of them while we slowly learn more about them as they get to know one an another. Through their short, but very intimate time together they begin to grow fond of each other.
I know most people probably go into this film expecting a giant monster spectacle, but Edwards did a great job keeping this film low budget by not only writing and directing, but acting as the cinematographer, production designer, and visual effects artist as well.
The title of the film also has somewhat of a double meaning, as we also realize both of the characters are flawed and somewhat monsters in their own way. Andrew, who initially doesn’t want to help Samantha, is obsessed with getting a photo of one of the creatures live in action and is also estranged from the mother of his son who he hasn’t in a while. Samantha has been traveling to avoid going back to her fiancé who she isn’t in love with anymore. Both are flawed but very relatable characters.
As I said, that is where Monsters differentiates itself from Godzilla; the characters are well thought out and feel like they belong in the world they inhabit. Where the only character I wanted more of in the latter film was Bryan Cranston’s character – who was sadly cut short.
If you haven’t seen it yet, add it to your queue.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End | Marmaduke Karlston
If you’re looking for an epic adventure after watching some monsters go at it, look no further than the third installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise: At World’s End. Sure, Dead Man’s Chest may actually feature the sea monster the Kraken alive, but At World’s End features some of the best action to ever grace a film screen.
Pirates battling, ships firing, tides crashing; at the time it was the grand finale of the franchise. Allegiances kept changing, twists kept happening, and, the true monster of all mankind, love was out in full force. Davy Jones and Tia Dalma show us how love can transform those with the best intentions into monsters. There was no way I could pick a film with an actual monster in it that could top the monster beat down King of the Monsters is promising to deliver, so I pulled a 180 and picked a film that showed the monster lurking inside us all, and the heartbreak that might lead to it coming out.
It also features an amazing pirate battle royale centered around a maelstorm which needs to be seen to truly understand the massive scope and awe it brings to the table. So after watching King of Monsters, watch At World’s End to witness a different kind of awe-inspiring wonder.
Those are our pairings; now it’s your turn. What do you think would pair nicely with Godzilla: King of the Monsters?