Godzilla-thon: GODZILLA FINAL WARS (2004)
After 50 years, TOHO needed a movie that not only celebrated those 50 years of Godzilla, but it also needed to feel like a perfect ending to the series. Director Ryuhei Kitamura accepted the offer to direct Godzilla Final Wars stating that the previous 80's, 90's, and 2000's films weren't satisfying and that he loved the Godzilla movies in the 70's. He also compared Godzilla Final Wars as like a musician's "Best Of" album by picking the best elements from the past.
Ever since Godzilla 2000, Godzilla suit actor Tsutomo Kitagawa wore suits that weighed 200 pounds. Kitagawa described wearing the suits as like dragging a tire and giving a fat man a piggy back ride while walking. Kitamura needed a more flexible Godzilla suit and so the new Godzilla suit was slimmed down and weighed 66 pounds.
Godzilla Final Wars has the biggest roster of monsters since Destroy All Monsters. With 12 monsters added, Tri-Star's GODZILLA, renamed as Zilla, would be added as the unlucky 13th monster in the movie. The main purpose was to treat the die hard fans by giving Zilla the shortest fight with the king of the monsters and being killed off just as quickly as he appeared. Former producer and head of TOHO, Shogo Tomiyama, explained the reason for taking the "GOD" part out of the American Godzilla was because of the 98 movie's portrayal of the monster.
On November 29, 2004, Godzilla received a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame and Godzilla Final Wars made its premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater. This is the first time that a Godzilla film made a premiere outside of Japan.
In the midst of an alien invasion, Godzilla is resurrected from his icy prison to fight the mind controlled monsters in the final push to save Earth.
To be quite honest, I'm not sure if this should be one of the worst or the best Godzilla film. The story is definitely a homage to the 60's and 70's Godzilla movies, but with a modern twist. It goes absolutely off the wall that it gets ridiculous. You have monsters fighting humans, humans fighting aliens, monsters fighting monsters, etc. It's just completely nuts. Someone is always fighting something. The introduction of the movie starts off with a montage of Godzilla's previous films, which is a nice touch as a way of looking back at the 50 years of Godzilla movies. Then from there, I felt as though I am watching a completely different movie that it felt like a ripoff from The Matrix with the horrible choreography of the mutants, humans, and aliens fighting each other and this goes on until Godzilla shows up half-way through the movie. Most of the characters are so awkward that it makes me want to cringe. The only character that stands out is Captain Gordon, who is played by Don Frye. He is the most badass character in the movie and watching him fight looks more natural than most of the choreographed fights in this film. The mothership really looks like the Epcot ball at Disney Land. Too bad space mountain wasn't inside it. Perhaps that is what these aliens really needed instead of invading Earth.
Godzilla really takes no prisoners in this and doesn't play around. His first fight is with Gigan and Gigan's head just explodes into pieces. Then, he goes to Sydney, Australia where he fights Zilla and he gets barbecued by Godzilla's atomic breath very quickly. Then, he fights Kumonga, Kamacuras, Anguirus, King Caesar, Rodan, Hedorah, and Ebirah all the way to the mothership and all of them are slaughtered without wasting any time. It's frustrating to see that this movie has so many monsters and are killed off so quickly. Of course, Anguirus, King Caesar, and Rodan have a bit longer screen time yet it's because Godzilla is fighting the monsters that were once his allies. I would have liked to see Zilla put up a little more of a fight before getting killed off. It just feels like a mix of being underwhelmed and overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed that there are so many monsters and underwhelmed that most of them don't stay very long. I would have liked to see Godzilla teaming up with not just Mothra, but all of his allies one last time before the movie was over.
Suddenly, he fights a new monster called, Monster X and another Gigan with upgrades. Mothra comes to rescue Godzilla and fights Gigan. Like usual Mothra dies and not without taking Gigan out with her. Once Monster X and Godzilla are at their limit, Monster X decides to pull a trump card and transforms into Kaiser Ghidorah. I will say that this is disappointing that it wasn't King Ghidorah as the final monster since they are sworn enemies. Kaiser Ghidorah is just King Ghidorah with four legs instead of two. Why put in so much effort in designing a more bulkier King Ghidorah when they could have just made it simple?!
Godzilla Final Wars is one of those films where you'll either love it or you hate it. It helps a little bit by turning your brain off and not question anything at all, but even then you would find yourself confused as to what the hell is going on. The movie is so compact with monsters and they're killed off very quickly due to time restraint. It makes me wish that some of them had a little more time before it ended.