Netflix just got the best ‘Godzilla’ movie of all time — and it’s 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

An close up image of Godzilla from "Godzilla: Minus One"
(Image credit: Toho)

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a huge Godzilla fan. I tend to group kaiju movies alongside the likes of “Transformers” and “Fast & Furious” as popcorn flicks with a lot of blockbuster spectacle but very little substance. That stance changed when I saw “Godzilla: Minus One”. 

This long-held opinion was promptly squashed with all the force of a sky-scraper-sized lizard flatting a metropolitan city when I saw the latest Toho “Godzilla” movie in theaters last year. To say this epic monster movie blew me away, would be a huge understatement. This blockbuster opened my eyes to the genre's strengths and had me feeling like a fool for being initially dismissive.

I’ve been desperate to rewatch this modern masterpiece for months, and I practically cried out with joy when Netflix confirmed that “Godzilla: Minus One” was being added to its streaming catalog this month. And the streamer isn’t making subscribers wait to start watching either, it’s available now in the U.S. and U.K. 

After its surprise drop over the weekend (Saturday, June 1), “Godzilla: Minus One” is already ranked No. 4 on the platform’s most-watched list, with its ascension to No.1 looking all but guaranteed at this point. Let me explain why it’s the one Netflix movie you need to watch right now, and easily the best Godzilla movie ever made. Period. 

What is “Godzilla: Minus One” about? 

Opening in 1945, “Godzilla: Minus One” sees a kamikaze pilot named Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) first encounter the colossal laser-spitting lizard while attempting to desert his duty as a soldier. This experience leaves him traumatized, and he returns home to find his country in ruins following the bombing of Tokyo during World War II. 

Plagued by intense guilt over his military abandonment and failure to take action against Godzilla, he takes in a homeless woman named Noriko Ōishi (Minami Hamabe) and an orphaned baby. The three start to grow into a family unit as Japan rebuilds, but the shadow of the kaiju looms in the background, as he slowly makes his way through the ocean. 

When the gigantic creature surfaces off the coast of Tokyo, Kōichi is compelled to join a group of army veterans who are planning to take down the beast and in the process earn redemption. Mixing character-drama and blockbuster thrills, “Godzilla: Minus One” is a potent mix that is so much more than a movie about a huge dinosaur wrecking shopping.

“Godzilla: Minus One” is a modern masterpiece

Yōji Akitsu (Kuranosuke Sasaki) at the helm of the Shinsei Maru as Godzilla gains on the boat

(Image credit: Alamy)

In the past, I’ve found “Godzilla” movies to be little more than the cinematic equivalent of a kid bashing action figures together. In particular, 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was such a mess of CGI monstrosities doing battle without stakes that I ranked it as one of my least favorite films of the year. But “Godzilla: Minus One” is a very different type of beast. 

What I love most about “Godzilla: Minus One: is that the eponymous monster isn’t the real star. In fact, in the 125-minute movie, Godzilla is on screen for less than half an hour.

What I love most about “Godzilla: Minus One: is that the eponymous monster isn’t the real star. In fact, in the 125-minute movie, Godzilla is on screen for less than half an hour. And there’s a period in the first act where he’s a non-factor, as instead, we focus on Japan’s attempts to rebuild following the devastating bombings of WWII. This part of the movie might be my favorite as I loved the relationship dynamic between Kōichi and Noriko. 

This focus on sketching out compelling characters first, only makes the action sequences when Godzilla does show up even more powerful. Unlike previous “Godzilla” movies where the titan is destroying cities with reckless abandon and the stakes feel small, in “Minus One” they feel deeply personal as you care so much about the cast you want to see them survive. 

A promotional image for Godzilla Minus One displaying Godzilla

(Image credit: Toho)

It also helps that “Godzilla: Minus One” looks downright fantastic with some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen. Its Oscar for Best Visual Effects was well earned, and I continue to be stunned that this movie was made on a budget of around $15 million, and yet it looks remarkably better than many movies that cost upwards of $200 million (yes, I’m calling out the rubber CGI effects from “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” here)

“Godzilla: Minus One” really does have it all. It’s not only a phenomenally well-crafted action movie, but its characters are compelling and well-fleshed out. Heck, I’d probably have still adored this movie even if the massive monster never showed up at all. This is a testament to the strength of the movie’s writing and its engaging post-wartime setting. The fact the movie offers both a riveting story and compelling characters alongside epic action is a pure marvel.  

“Godzilla: Minus One” reviews are spectacular 

I’m certainly not the only admirer of “Godzilla: Minus One”, it’s quickly become a favorite around the Tom’s Guide office, and critics have heaped praise on the movie too. 

The 2023 flick currently holds an impressive 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes. And viewers agree, also rating the movie the same near-perfect score of 98%, making it the highest-rated “Godzilla” movie. 

The site’s critical consensus reads, “With engaging human stories anchoring the action, ‘Godzilla Minus One’ is one kaiju movie that remains truly compelling between the scenes of mass destruction.” Which echos my thoughts on this must-watch movie. 

Kevin Maher of The Times of London called the movie “outrageously spectacular” while Lucas Trevor of Washington Post was even more impressed, saying “The result is nothing short of magical: a feast for the eyes, an entertaining epic in every sense of the word.” 

San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Strauss noted that while it’s taken several decades “here’s finally a Godzilla movie with compelling human interest” in another extremely positive write-up.

Should you stream “Godzilla: Minus One” on Netflix?

I think the answer to the above question is fairly obvious at this point, but just in case I’ve not made myself clear, yes, you should stream “Godzilla: Minus One” on Netflix. And you should stream this incredible epic as soon as you possibly can. Cancel your weekend plans, put the kids to bed early, or call in sick from work if you have to (okay, maybe don’t do that last one).

“Godzilla: Minus One” is a monster movie of rare quality. Its combination of emotionally devasting human drama and a massive scaly lizard leaving a trail of destruction in its wake is potent and blends beautifully to deliver a blockbuster with brains (and heart) to match its brawn. 

If you need further Netflix recommendations, check out our list of all the new movies and shows on the popular streaming service this week including the also excellent “Hit Man”. 

Watch "Godzilla: Minus One" on Netflix right now

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.