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Godzilla: Final Wars - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Gojira: Fainaru uozu

Japan 2004


Ryuhei Kitamura

Masahiro Matsuoka
Rei Kikukawa
Don Frye
Maki Mizuno
Kazuki Kitamura
Kumi Mizuno
Kane Kosugi
Akira Takarada

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Godzilla: Final Wars

Story: Since the Earth is constantly devasted by giant monsters the Earth Defence Force is established in which mutants are being trained. Those mutants share one special gene with the monsters which puts them in a position to actually have a chance against the giant creatures. One of those mutants is Ozaki (Masahiro Matsuoka) who has been assigned as bodyguard for female biologist Otonashi (Rei Kikukawa). Otonashi is supposed to examine a newly found monster that is 12.000 years old, but is also equipped with extremely advanced technology. Then countless monsters suddenly appear on Earth that pulverize whole cities. Fighting them seems pointless, but then out of nowhere the alien race of Xilians appear and destroy the creatures. The Xilians supposedly come in peace and are here to warn the people that a giant planet-sized meteor is approaching Earth. Only together humans and Xilians can prevent the pending catastrophe from striking Earth. However, the aliens seem to have a different agenda and the only one that can help humans now is the creature trapped in ice at the South Pole - Godzilla...

Review: There is one thing that needs to be pointed out right away - I'm not a Godzilla fan. People who wear rubber suits and destroy toy cities are something that even looked ridiculous in the 70s, and it still does. But: I'm quite aware that this sort of trash entertainment has an audience and a part of me even understands that. Although I have seen several parts from various Godzilla flicks I never watched one from start to finish. The reason why I decided to see "Final Wars" simply was Ryuhei Kitamura. His refreshing adrenaline-heavy way of making high-paced movies actually proves to be a nice addition to the newest Godzilla installment. At the same time it stays true to the original material. And that's as good as it is bad.

Godzilla: Final Wars - Film Screenshot 11

The last few Godzilla movies have focused strongly on tactical talks and delivered less high-paced action compared to the 70s versions. Kitumara deviates from that approach and manages to keep up a great pacing all the way through. Accordingly, the movie never becomes lengthy. Also a good idea was to weave the story around certain characters so that the film doesn't become a mere monster-fighting movie. In fact, this is where the action movie surprises the most. The story is actually pretty complex. Which on the other hand doesn't mean that it is smart in every detail. There are quite a few plot holes, but it's still a pleasant thing that the director didn't just fob us off with with the most basic of premises.

Godzilla: Final Wars - Film Screenshot 12

The story also presents us with some individuals to relate to. They might not be elaborated that well, but it's enough to make us care. There are some inconsistencies concerning the technology used, though. Obviously it is in fact possible, we see that much in the introduction, to put down the giant monsters with advanced weapon technology. But later on everyone's completely helpless without Godzilla. Yes, you read that right: plural. And a big one at that! You will more or less meet every monster you know from those countless Godzilla movies here. And this brings us to another problem. Since the movie can't go on for hours and hours Godzilla takes down most of his opponents in mere seconds. Back in the day he needed almost a whole movie to finish off just one...

But Kitamura doesn't make any compromise. He gives fanboys something to marvel at by making the special effects look... outright bad. After all, there is an actor in a pretty bad rubber suit trampling through papier mâché. There might be people who consider this great stuff - but I'm not among them. That you can do better than that becomes obvious during a few scenes. Godzilla's breath is computeranimated and well done and as some sort of side blow Godzilla is owning his American alter ego of the Roland Emmerich adaptation in just a few seconds, thus proving his superiority. And it's exactly this Godzilla that looks very convincing thanks to the CGI effects. Accordingly, it's safe to say that Kitamura didn't want to do without the trash factor in his version and in this respect he has done well.

Godzilla: Final Wars - Film Screenshot 13

The soundtrack that needs getting used to and the villain, who despite being the leader of a whole army and even a civilisation turns out to be a defiant kid, also count among the movie's downsides. But Ryuhei Kitamura is known for his high-octane action as in "Azumi" or "Sky High" and this style once again plays in his favor during a few of the combat scenes between humans, but can also be made out in the monster fights. Of course, Kitamura again oversteps the line to over-stylized action, but all in all he is just the right person when it comes to action. His attempt to return to the roots and while doing so also give the movie series a new wrapping didn't resonate that well with viewers since the movie wasn't that successful. Maybe it's just time for Godzilla to walk towards the dawn of a new day for a last time and never return. Wait, isn't there an American remake coming out soon which actually looks quite promising?! Well, this monster just won't stay down...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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