Photo: StyleCaster
Godzilla Vs. Kong. Photo: StyleCaster

One of the most anticipated movies to spin out of Warner Bros.’ upcoming phalanx of 2021 movies heading to theaters and straight to HBO Max is “Godzilla vs. Kong.” .

Ahead of the film’s theatrical and HBO Max debut, here are 10 movies from the Godzilla and King Kong franchises to stream:

1.Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler, who will both appear in Godzilla Vs. Kong, as well as Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe reprising their roles from the first Godzilla film.

Dr. Mark Russell (Chandler) and his ex-wife, Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) are both Monarch scientists. Emma and her daughter Madison (Brown) are kidnapped by eco-terrorists whose goal is to awaken all the various Titans, including Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidarah. Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham enlist the help of Mark Russell, to help find the mother and daughter. Meanwhile, the terrorists – including Emma, who is actually one of them – unleash other monsters all over the world. The monsters and their destruction prove too powerful to control and Emma realizes the err of her ways and unsuccessfully tries to get the rest of her team to stop.

The only thing that can overpower all these monsters? Godzilla, of course. Monster battles ensue and Godzilla seemingly defeats Ghidarah, and the rest of the surviving Titans bow to their king. King of the monsters. At the end of the film, all the remaining Titans arrive on Skull Island, and just like in Kong: Skull Island, cave paintings of battles between the Titans are shown, including one between…wait for it… Kong and Godzilla. Which leads us to Godzilla Vs. Kong.

In Godzilla Vs. Kong, Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role as Madison, and her father, Mark Russell (Chandler), makes a cameo, too, but her mother Emma was sacrificed to the Titans in King of the Monsters. While there are references to other characters (Shun Oguri plays Ren Serizawa, son of Dr. Ichiro Serizawa), Brown and Chandler are the only main characters from the other films to reprise their roles.

2.Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Photo: Thegioibluray
Photo: Thegioibluray

Kong: Skull Island proves even further that either there are only a few actors in Hollywood, or that every actor ever has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because the main cast of Skull Island consists of Marvel faves Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John C. Reilly. Skull Island is set in 1973, as a team of scientists and soldiers led by Bill Randa (John Goodman), head to Skull Island with Lt. Col Preston Packard (Jackson), James Conrad (Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to investigate the presence of primeval creatures.

They find not only a giant ape, but a World War II pilot named Hank Marlow (Reilly) who has been living on the island since a 1944 dogfight crashed his plane there, where he lives alongside the native Iwi tribe. Marlow reveals that Kong is a peaceful creature who protects the Iwi from the Skullcrawlers, subterranean creatures who have killed off the rest of the giant apes and threaten the Iwi’s existence. While some of the team investigating want to kill Kong, others want to protect him, leading to a fight where Randa and Packard are ultimately killed and the rest of the team escapes, leaving Kong behind.

At the end of the film, Monarch obtains cave paintings featuring other mythical creatures in battle, including Mothra, Rodan, Gozdilla and Gidorah.

3.Shin Godzilla (2016)

Photo: Roger Ebert
Photo: Roger Ebert

The 31st entry into the Godzilla franchise has an 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of Godzilla’s most critically-acclaimed films. Also known as Godzilla Resurgence, the film is a satisfying return to the character’s roots after a decade of underwhelming movies.

4.Godzilla (2014)

An American reboot of the long-running Japanese kaiju series, Godzilla starts out as a mystery as a nuclear engineer named Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) tries to figure out what caused a reactor meltdown that killed his wife 15 years prior. Before long, the culprits are revealed to be giant monsters who have been hibernating deep underground for centuries. Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Naval officer, eventually ends up on the front lines as he attempts to save himself and his family from two giant bug-like MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) who are on a collision course with a newly awoken Godzilla.

This film’s biggest contribution to the MonsterVerse is the first appearance of Project Monarch, a secret organization that has spent decades tracking the gigantic creatures. Two of Monarch’s top scientists, Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), will appear again later in the series, as will David Strathairn’s Admiral William Stenz, the Naval officer in charge of hunting the monsters for the military.

5.King Kong (2005)

The second remake of the 1933 film, this version is a period drama monster adventure directed by Peter Jackson. The film is known for having at the time, a record-breaking budget of $207 million, and Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance as Kong.

6.Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

The 22nd installment of the Godzilla franchise is one of the best films in the series. The film is the debut of Destoroyah, a monster that eventually mutates and matures into a creature larger than Godzilla. Destoroyah has only made one appearance on the big screen; however, it’s still highly regarded as one of Godzilla’s best villains.

7.King Kong” (1976)

Everyone’s favorite giant ape comes back swinging, this time in New York City, in the 1976 reboot of the Kong franchise, starring Jessica lange, produced by Dino De Laurentiis, and directed by John Guillermin. While not critically beloved, “King Kong” did earn a Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. And it was of course a big blockbuster vehicle for the rising Lange. It’s currently streaming on HBO Max.

KING KONG, King Kong, Naomi Watts, 2005, (c) Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Photo:Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

8.Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” (1974)

Directed by Jun Fukuda, the beloved “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” is currently streaming on Criterion Channel, which writes, “Godzilla’s evil twin Mechagodzilla first reared its head in this Jun Fukuda–directed film. A robot designed by aliens to conquer Earth, the enduringly popular villain has since been resurrected by Toho Studios several times. With the help of earnest direction, spectacular pyrotechnics, and guest appearances by veteran genre actors, this film recaptures the feel of the sixties Godzilla movies.”

TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA, (aka MEKAGOJIRA NO GYAKUSHU, aka MONSTERS FROM AN UNKNOWN PLANET, aka THE TERROR OF GODZILLA), Japanese poster art, from left: Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, 1975.

9.“Godzilla” (1954)

You can’t beat Ichiro Honda’s monster movie masterpiece in terms of sheer originality, and the launch of a mega media franchise owned by Japanese studio Toho. It’s currently streaming on Criterion Channel, which calls the film “a remarkably humane and melancholy drama, made in Japan at a time when the country was reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing in the Pacific. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning almost 30 sequels.”


Photo:Everett Collection

10.“King Kong” (1933)

The 1933 pre-Code original that started it all, “King Kong” starred Fay Wray in a star-making performance, and launched the entire Kong franchise. It’s currently available to stream on HBO Max, where the synopsis reads, “Shipped from mysterious Skull Island for display in the United States, a gigantic ape escapes from his bonds and carries a beautiful blonde to the top of the Empire State Building.”

GODZILLA, (aka GOJIRA), Godzilla, 1954

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

This is the fight we’ve been waiting for. The soon-to-be-released Godzilla vs. Kong will bring the MonsterVerse’s two biggest names together for one epic throwdown that takes place two years after Godzilla: King of the Monsters. No doubt Monarch will be involved as well, as Chandler and Brown are both returning along with Zhang Ziyi, who played twin Monarch scientists in King of the Monsters (a fun nod to the original Japanese Mothra films). Plot details are scarce at the moment, but what we do know is that something is causing Godzilla to behave erratically, abruptly switching from his role as a stoic defender of the planet to attack cities around the globe for seemingly no reason.

According to the official plot synopsis, "The epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth." So we can probably expect to see some nefarious, shadowy entity (either another human organization or maybe even a new monster) reveal itself to be responsible for essentially goading these two icons into throwing hands at each other. Godzilla vs. Kong debuts March 31 in theaters and on HBO Max.

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