Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

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Image freewebs.com

“Listen kid.  There are two things you don’t know about the Earth.  One is me.  The other is Godzilla!”

For Godzilla’s 50th anniversary, Toho decided that it was finally time to retire the beast.  Despite the success of “GMK” and “Godzilla X Mechagodzilla”, the Millennium series had not performed as well as they had hoped, and to avoid further diminishing returns, it was decided that Godzilla would take a rest for at least ten years.  However, it was also decided that if Godzilla was going to go, he’d go out with a bang!  Toho recruited director Ryuhei Kitamura, best known for action movies, to direct.  In addition, several monsters that hadn’t been seen since the Showa series made their return, and even the American Godzilla (now called “Zilla”) put in an appearance.  Add in an alien plot and an action-driven soundtrack composed in part by Keith Emmerson of “Emmerson, Lake, and Palmer”, and the result is a chaotic, adrenaline-fueled, love-it-or-hate-it monster movie.

After many years of fighting, Godzilla is finally buried in a glacier at the South Pole by the crew of the flying battleship “Gotengo”.  Following the incident, the “M Organization” is created to respond to the growing monster threat.  Superhuman mutants are found among the population and are recruited into the organization.  40 years after Godzilla is buried, the upgraded “Gotengo”, piloted by Captain Gordan, battles and narrowly defeats the monster Manda with a freeze ray.  Gordon if recalled and put in the brig for his repeated clashes with his commanders.  The mutant trooper Ozaki and scientist Dr. Otonashi head off to an archeological dig where a mummified monster is dug up.  It is noted that the monster has the same protein in its blood that the mutants have.  At that point, the Mothra fairies appear to the protagonists and reveal the monster is called Gigan, and it fought Mothra several thousand years ago.  They also warn the evil in Gigan is present in teh mutants, but they must make their own choices.  After the fairies disappear, cities all over the Earth are attacked by monsters simultaneously.  Rodan attacks New York.  Anguirus appears in Shanghai.  Sydney is attacked by Zilla.  Okinawa by King Caesar.  Paris by Kamacuras.  Arizona by Kumonga.  Ebirah attacks a power plant near Tokyo.  And Minilla, the Son of Godzilla, appears at Mt. Fuji to a hunter and his grandson, who take the creature with them.  All seems lost, but alien spaceships suddenly appear and remove the monsters.  The aliens reveal themselves as the Xilians, and they have come to save Earth from the monsters and from a rogue planet called Gorath that will collide with Earth in 36 hours.  Humanity welcomes the Xilians with open arms, especially the charismatic second-in-command who calls himself “X”.  Dr. Otonashi and Ozaki are suspicious of the aliens, and along with Otonashi’s reporter sister, they discover that the Xilians have replaced several high ranking members of M Organization with clones and that Gorath is a hologram.  They form a small group of people they can trust, which includes the freed Captain Gordon, and begin a revolt against the Xilians.  The aliens are exposed, and just as the Xilian leader is about to explain himself, X assassinates him and reveals the Xilians intend to use humans as food.  X takes control of most of the mutants and turns them against the heroes.  Captain Gordon, Ozaki, Otonashi, and a few others escape to regroup.  Meanwhile, X unleashes the monsters to attack humanity.

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Image sancho-asia.com

The crew discovers that the extra mutant protein was created by the Xilians, which is why they can control the mutants and the monsters.  However, they can’t control Ozaki for some reason.  The crew commandeer the Gotengo and Captain Gordon devises a plan to release Godzilla to defeat the monsters while they take on the Xilians.  The crew head to Area “G” at the South Pole with Gigan in hot pursuit.  They successfully release Godzilla, who effortlessly defeats Gigan.  The crew of the Gotengo lead Godzilla on to various spots around the world, as he easily defeats Zilla, Kumonga, and Kamacuras.  Rodan, Anguirus, and King Caesar team up against Godzilla near Mt. Fuji, but Godzilla beats them unconscious after a short battle.  Minilla watches the fight, and grows larger afterward.  The Gotengo stages its attack against the Xilian mothership.  They get inside but are ambushed by X.  The Mothra twins summon Mothra to aid Godzilla, just as he finishes off Hedorah and Ebirah.  Suddenly, the Gorath appears, not a hologram as previously thought, and is blasted by Godzilla.  The meteor breaks open to reveal a new creature, Monster X.  Godzilla and Monster X battle as Mothra arrives.  The Xililans release an upgraded Gigan to battle Mothra.  As the monsters battle, X reveals that Ozaki is a Kaiser; a special mutant that has the potential to become an immensely powerful being.  X is also a Kaiser, and demonstrates by firing a beam from his hand at Ozaki.  Mothra and Gigan mutually destroy each other, while Ozaki’s Kaiser powers manifest themselves and he and X fight.  The various characters join in different fights at different levels of the mothership while Godzilla battles Monster X.  The two titans trade beam blasts as the mothership explodes and the heroes escape.  Monster X survives the blast and begins to transform into a new, but slightly familiar creature; Kaiser Ghidorah.  Kaiser Ghidorah tramples Godzilla easily and begins draining his power.  Ozaki straps himself into Gotengo’s cockpit and channels his Kaiser energy at Godzilla, giving the monster a much-needed boost.  Godzilla overpowers Ghidorah, blasting off two of its heads in the process, throws the beast into orbit as he finishes it off with his red spiral beam.  Godzilla then turns his attention to the Gotengo and blasts the ship with his nuclear ray.  He is about to finish the crew off, when Minilla appears and implores him not to.  The hunter and his grandson also appear, and the grandson implores the humans to stop fighting Godzilla.  Everyone drops their weapons, and Godzilla heads off into the sunset, letting out one last roar.

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Image godzilla.wikia.com

“Godzilla: Final Wars” is an exercise in excess.  There is always some bit of action on screen at any given point.  The movie is so cramped with monsters, aliens, and kung-fu that it at times causes some sensory overload.  The script is all over the place and the humans come off as one-dimensional, but it could be argued that spectacle is this movie’s purpose and in that sense, it succeeds admirably.  The return of so many Showa monsters, some which hadn’t been seen in 30 years, is more than welcome, though it is a shame that no Heisei-exclusive monsters made an appearance.  The fights are much more animated than before, with monsters leaping around and in-close battles being much faster.  If the Showa series had monster fights that felt like wrestling, this movie feels like MMA.  Captain Gordon has become a fan-favorite character due to his crazy awesomeness, and several Godzilla actors put in an appearance, including Akira Takarada, who played Ogata in the original “Godzilla”.  “Godzilla: Final Wars” is by no means the best Godzilla movie, or even the best in the Millennium series, but is best viewed with several slices of pizza, a handful of rowdy friends, and most higher brain functions shut off.  This movie marked the last Godzilla movie of them all.  Until May 16, 2014, that is…

Trivia

The ending credits feature several scenes that did not appear in the movie, such as what appears to be an extended fight scene featuring Hedorah.  There is also a scene of Mothra returning to Infant Island, suggesting she may have survived her fight with Gigan.

While he killed them in the original script, Godzilla does not finish off Rodan, Anguirus, and King Caesar in the final movie.  This is a bit poetic, as Godzilla spares the monsters that were his sidekicks in the Showa series.

This movie premiered the same day Godzilla got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

This movie also featured the final use of the “Big Pool”, a large water tank used for water-based action scenes since 1960.

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Image whatculture.com

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~ by Chris on May 16, 2014.

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