Godzilla: Final Wars 2004
Now we come to the last movie in the Godzilla franchise and it is one of the most controversial. It was released in 2004 and was supposed to be Godzilla’s 50th anniversary send off. It is so different in tone and feel that it really is a unique Godzilla film. At first I really did not care for the movie over the last few years it had begun to grow on me and it has become a guilty pleasure to enjoy. Therefore, I can see both sides of the issue of whether this was either a spectacular and extravagant way to end the Godzilla series or was it a catastrophic dud and cinematic train wreck?
This is basically a remake of the late 60s Godzilla classic “Destroy All Monsters” with hyped up special effects and nods to such modern day popular movies as The Matrix and X-Men. This movie has the flavor of the late 60s Godzilla movies which tended to be campy and way over the top while still being enjoyable. This tone marks a departure from the manner in which the Millennium series of movies were made which tended to have a more serious tone. However, I still think this movie has the level of camp toned down to at least a digestible level.
The plot returns us to another alien invasion theme, one that is very familiar to Godzilla fans. At the start of the movie we see the Gotengo (a submarine battleship first seen in the Toho movie Atragon in 1963) corners Godzilla in the South Pole locking him into an iceberg. Earth Defense Force (EDF), which has as its members some mutant humans with special powers, discovers a giant mummified monster. The Shobijin fairies reveal that the monster is Gigan a cyborg sent to earth 12,000 years ago. It is also discovered that Gigan and all the monsters of the earth and the human mutants have a thing called M-Base in their DNA.
Suddenly all the monster of the earth are out rampaging through the cities of the world. Rodan attacks New York and Zilla (the 1998 American version of Godzilla) attacks Sydney. The EDF tries to defeat the monsters but are unsuccessful. As suddenly as they arrived the monsters start to disappear as a giant alien mother ship hovers over Tokyo. The aliens, called the Xillians, have captured all of the monsters. Ozaki, Miyuki, the Gotengo‘s captain Douglas Gordon do not trust the aliens and as Naotaro Daigo the UN Secretrary-General is about to create the Space Nations unifying earth with the Xillians it is discovered that the real UN secretary-general has been replaced by an Xillian and that their true motive is to conquer the earth and use the humans as cattle to consume them. The Head Xillian, called X, releases all of earth’s monsters to destroy the earth. One by one Godzilla defeats each monster in a swift battle. After Ozaki battles X in a final show down it is Godzilla’s turn to battle Monster X which quickly morphs into King Ghidorah, now called Kaiser Ghidorah. I won’t give the ending away but I will say it ends with a nice Son of Godzilla moment.
This movie does play like a Saturday morning episode of Power Rangers hyped up on cough syrup with Godzilla and all of his friends thrown into
the mix along with Law of Physics defying Ninja mutants and Matrix style aliens all vying to destroy the world and each other. So if that sounds like an
enjoyable way to spend 2 hours then you may like this movie. If that doesn’t sound like fun, then I suggest staying away. Yes, this movie is silly, over the top with pretty good special effects, bad acting and cheesy corny dialog with an implausible story and many monsters fighting and trying to out maneuver one another with professional wrestling tactics which would make Hulk Hogan proud. As I said this movie has grown on me and this movie appeals to my inner nerdiness and I can accept it for what it is: a 50th Anniversary all-star campy Godzilla extravaganza.
I am not alone in my love for this movie but I am certainly in the minority. Other than the 1998 American Godzilla movie, Final Wars is a film that many hard-core Godzilla fans hate with passion. I just don’t share the hatred. In reality this movie is so much fun that it is one of my top five movies to watch. It is not a movie for main stream audiences, then again not many movies are. Here is my reasons for enjoying the movie as I do:
My reasons for liking the film may have more to do with my personality and other things I like rather than the film as a whole. One of the things I appreciate about the film is that it includes many of the elements that made Godzilla popular. Things like Godzilla being a bad ass, alien invasions, attractive strong women and colorful characters and a lot of monster action. Some may like how all of that was executed while some may not. I am also interested in Japanese culture and I think this movie is reflection of modern Japanese culture. Things like anime and manga are very popular in the West and Final Wars is like an anime cartoon come to life. The movie celebrates their culture and their nation. Placing Akira Takarada in the role of UN Secretary General is a good example of that.
I like when the mutants fight Ebirah. I do wish other monster battles were as good as that scene. I like the macho Captain Gordon Character and the one liners and the attitude in the face of authority is enjoyable. I also like the alien invasion plot. I think it is clever how the mutants and the monsters share the same M-Base and how the aliens control the monsters and the humans have to risk unleashing Godzilla to be defeated. Some of that is similar to DAM and yes, that is an emotional play at nostalgia. Enjoyment of art/movies is partly emotional so I wouldn’t be too quick to discount it nor dismiss it. Enjoyment of movies is not always a rational experience.
So in the end all of these elements make the movie entertaining for me. It certainly has its flaws and some of the flaws make up the charm it has for me.
I rate this movie: A
With that the review of all 29 Godzilla movies comes to a close. I await with excited anticipation for the next Godzilla movie, directed by Gareth Edwards, to come out next year, May of 2014.
Posted on March 7, 2013, in Godzilla Movie Review and tagged Captain Gordon, Don Frye, Ebirah, Gareth Edwards, Godzilla, Godzilla 2014, Godzilla's 50th Anniversary Film, Godzilla: Final Wars, Son of Godzilla, Toho Studio. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.