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(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Born from nuclear brimstone, the Godzilla series since 1955 has, by turns, served as a manifestation of ecological fears and unchecked human aggression, a satire on politics and government bureaucracy, and a vehicle for giant monsters yelling each other to death.

In this countdown of the best Godzilla movies ranked by Tomatometer alongside the worst, we have the aforementioned 1955 original, and the kaiju-popularizing American version (Godzilla: King of the Monsters!) with Raymond Burr. Naturally, Japan became Godzilla’s deathmatch ring for decades, with title bouts featuring Ghidorah, Space Godzilla, Ebirah, Mechagodzilla, and more terrors of the deep, earth, space and beyond.

Since 2014 Godzilla fans have been eating well, with the American adaptation creating the MonsterVerse (leading into King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire), along with the more classically-trained Shin Godzilla and Godzilla Minus One, which are drawing some of the strongest reviews of the 70-year-old franchise. Now, we’re ranking all Godzilla movies, with Certified Fresh films first. (And if you want to untangle the timeline, you can check out how to watch Godzilla movies in order.) Alex Vo

#1

Adjusted Score: 106867%

Critics Consensus: With engaging human stories anchoring the action, Godzilla Minus One is one kaiju movie that remains truly compelling between the scenes of mass destruction.

Synopsis: Japan is already devastated by the war when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster…. [More]

#2

Adjusted Score: 102091%

Critics Consensus: More than straight monster-movie fare, Gojira offers potent, sobering postwar commentary.

Synopsis: A fire-breathing behemoth terrorizes Japan after an atomic bomb awakens it from its centuries-old sleep…. [More]

#3

Adjusted Score: 88743%

Critics Consensus: Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi — and altogether entertaining — return to the monster’s classic creature-feature roots.

Synopsis: A mysterious monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and wreaks havoc upon Japan…. [More]

#4

Adjusted Score: 50277%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Scientists freeze a radioactive dinosaur and contend with a horde of lethal creatures formed from its cells…. [More]

#5

Adjusted Score: 92602%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Japan comes under attack from two monsters in a giant monster battle between a rampaging Godzilla and the colossal genetically… [More]

#6

Adjusted Score: 76635%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An Okinawan monster-god helps Godzilla defeat his bionic double…. [More]

#7

Adjusted Score: 85984%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A U.S. newsman (Raymond Burr) in Tokyo recounts the story of a huge dinosaur roused from the sea by an… [More]

#8

Adjusted Score: 53002%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A radioactive dinosaur fights a genetically engineered monster and battles pterodactyl Rodan for custody of a reptilian infant…. [More]

#9

Adjusted Score: 82571%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Scientists (Jun Tazaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya) face Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and more obscure Japanese monsters sent by she-aliens…. [More]

#10

Adjusted Score: 15631%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Mothra’s twin fairies appear with a warning to Japan… Kiryu (aka Mechagodzilla) must be put to rest at the bottom… [More]

#11

Adjusted Score: 70492%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: After a meteorite awakens Godzilla, Mothra and a dark counterpart named Battra join forces to defeat him…. [More]

#12

Adjusted Score: 77919%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra team up to save mankind from the deadliest threat of all — a fire-breathing space monster…. [More]

#13

Adjusted Score: 95796%

Critics Consensus: Delivering squarely on its title, Godzilla vs. Kong swats away character development and human drama to deliver all the spectacle you’d expect from giant monsters slugging it out.

Synopsis: Legends collide in “Godzilla vs. Kong” as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the… [More]

#14

Adjusted Score: 91823%

Critics Consensus: With just enough human drama to anchor the sweeping spectacle of giant monsters smashing everything in sight, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla satisfyingly restores the franchise’s fire-breathing glory.

Synopsis: Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy bomb expert, has just reunited with his family in San Francisco when he is… [More]

#15

Adjusted Score: 34722%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The planet is beset by the emergence of colossal creatures that roam the earth, and king among them is “Godzilla”…. [More]

#16

Adjusted Score: 51097%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The monster dinosaur wrecks Tokyo some more and meets a monster plant created from his own cells…. [More]

#17

Adjusted Score: 63485%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla and Angorus fight three-headed dragon Ghidrah and huge bird Gigan at a cartoonist’s theme park…. [More]

#18

Adjusted Score: 44969%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Three monsters battle the giant lizard to prevent it from destroying Japan…. [More]

#19

Adjusted Score: 64806%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla fights pollution in the form of living sludge found by a scientist (Akira Yamauchi) and his son (Toshie Kimura)…. [More]

#20

Adjusted Score: 64398%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

#21

Adjusted Score: 64096%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: In this Japanese monster movie, the massive Godzilla comes to the aid of his newborn son, who hatches from an… [More]

#22

Adjusted Score: 63153%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla and Mothra put aside their differences to battle a giant crustacean that can regenerate its broken limbs…. [More]

#23

Adjusted Score: 13420%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The Japanese government has devised a new weapon, dubbed the Dimension Tide, in their fight against radioactive monster Godzilla (Toshiyuki… [More]

#24

Adjusted Score: 17361%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The powerful, three-headed Ghidorah threatens to destroy the world…. [More]

#25

Adjusted Score: 17398%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Haruo and his allies encounter a mysterious aboriginal tribe descended from the humans left behind on Earth 20,000 years ago,… [More]

#26

Adjusted Score: 59131%

Critics Consensus: Godzilla 2000 is cheesy, laughable, and good entertaining fun.

Synopsis: It has razor sharp teeth in a gargantuan mouth; claws that can cut through steel; a roar that echoes back… [More]

#27

Adjusted Score: 32867%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla prepares for battle with an extraterrestrial creature that was formed from his own particles in space…. [More]

#28

Adjusted Score: 49738%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Time-travelers’ efforts to prevent a dinosaur’s mutation result in the creation of a three-headed dragon that terrorizes Japan…. [More]

#29

Adjusted Score: 66632%

Critics Consensus: Come to Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire for the sheer monster-mashing spectacle — and stay for that too, because the movie doesn’t have much else to offer.

Synopsis: This latest entry in the Monsterverse franchise follows up the explosive showdown of Godzilla vs. Kong with an all-new cinematic… [More]

#30

Adjusted Score: 53915%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The monster ape and dinosaur toss around a boulder and slug it out on Mount Fuji…. [More]

#31

Adjusted Score: 22359%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Humans revive a frozen and gargantuan creature to save the Earth from sinister aliens and the monsters they control…. [More]

#32

Adjusted Score: 50181%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An astronaut (Akira Takarada) goes to Planet X to fetch Rodan and Godzilla, lent to aliens supposedly in distress…. [More]

#33

Adjusted Score: 38916%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The real Godzilla fights a cyborg Godzilla and another monster sent by aliens…. [More]

#34

Adjusted Score: 60504%

Critics Consensus: Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers spectacular kaiju action — and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story.

Synopsis: Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides… [More]

#35

Adjusted Score: 38130%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Godzilla and flying cyborg Jet Jaguar meet a giant cockroach and a big black chicken sent by Seatopians…. [More]

#36

Adjusted Score: 29084%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A bullied schoolboy dreams of traveling to Monster Island, where Godzilla’s son, Minya, is also dealing with the the problems… [More]

#37

Adjusted Score: 27121%

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The Japanese dinosaur wakes up and swims toward Tokyo, leaving a wake of nuclear destruction…. [More]

#38

Adjusted Score: 29307%

Critics Consensus: Without compelling characters or heart, Godzilla stomps on everything that made the original (or any monster movie worth its salt) a classic.

Synopsis: During a nuclear test, the French government inadvertently mutates a lizard nest; years later, a giant lizard makes its way… [More]

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