With Super 8, J.J. Abrams pays homage less to kaiju and more so to Steven Spielberg's legacy. In Super 8, a UFO crashes in a sleepy Ohio town in 1979. With federal agents about, a group of kids take it upon themselves to investigate, a la The Goonies or E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Before Gareth Edwards took the reins of Godzilla—and later Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—he imagined a near future in which alien life has crashed along the U.S.—Mexico border and has left the area under quarantine. Scoot McNairy stars as a man tasked with escorting his boss’s daughter through the chaos. Remarkably low budget relative to its scale, Edwards shows plainly the marvel that is digital cinema.
With his biggest film to date, Guillermo del Toro takes a page from the kaiju genre and does so in exciting fashion. Beneath the Pacific Ocean, a hole in spacetime rips open and releases lumbering beasts onto unsuspecting humans. To combat this, an elite force takes up arms piloting gigantic "mecha" they call Jaegers.
Having apparently suitably proven himself with Monsters, Legendary Pictures saw fit to let him take the reins of their Godzilla reboot. He delivers a bleak but entertaining, surprisingly-claustrophobic film that revels in allusion to Spielberg's movies.
In the style of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s Kong: Skull Island was made to eventually connect with the preceding (and succeeding) Godzilla movie. Vogt-Roberts crafts an Invasion of Vietnam-era disaster movie in which a platoon of U.S. soldiers is sent to investigate a mysterious nearby island instead of being sent home. It is a fascinating, brightly-colored, satisfying reimagining of King Kong's origin.