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Godzilla: Final Wars (Mark's Take)

01/02/2006. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Godzilla: Final Wars in the USA - or Buy Godzilla: Final Wars in the UK

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Familiar monsters are attacking major international cities. Toho again bids farewell to their Godzilla series. This final film offers a lot of sound and fury and weaves fourteen copyright Toho monsters into one plot, but the film offers nothing that is both new and of interest. The plot is a re-tread of that of Destroy All Monsters, muses Mark. There is a lot of action and some nostalgia, but it is one of the worst Godzilla plots in years.

Rating: low 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

Toho could have called this film SAYONARA KAIJU as they make what is claimed to be their last Godzilla film and probably their last kaiju (or giant monster) film. They clearly wanted to go out on a spectacular note, even if not a very intelligent one. Well, this is a spectacle as Toho's monster films go. It offers martial arts fighting, motorcycle chases, a new alien race threatening Earth, fourteen monsters from previous films, the Tri-Star version of Godzilla, the submarine from ATRAGON (though here it has been re-dubbed Gotengo), and some MATRIX-style imagery. It would be offering a lot if the plot were interesting. It is instead a weak re-tread of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.

The countries of the world are tired of being prey to kaiju and have built an Earth Defence Force (isn't that the translation of the original Japanese title for THE MYSTERIANS?). They are a team of special martial artists. (I guess you never know when you will get a chance to use kung fu on 200-foot lizard.) They also carry huge guns the size of tree logs like the ones from MEN IN BLACK. Oh, I should mention that they are all mutants.

Their DNA has in addition to the five bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T), they also have a fifth base called the M-factor. The M-base is never specified. Technically you can't have five bases in DNA because they pair up. A and T pair up; C and G pair up. The M-base is left sitting the dance out (unless maybe it pairs with itself?). But nobody at Toho seems to have thought out the science. They are too busy setting up motorcycle chases.

The strange genetic base has something to do with an alien race called the Xilians, (pronounced "Zillions" by the Japanese and "Zailians" by the American submarine commander). Gigan also shares the base. He is the aliens' primary cats-paw, though they do seem to control almost all of the monsters in the Toho catalog. (Sorry, no MechaGodzilla and no Kong, but the Toho Godzilla does get a chance to lambaste the Tri-Star Godzilla.) Most get a short time on screen with the big G before getting trounced.

They could have left out the monsters that are not very interesting like Gigan and King Caesar (or Seesar) who looks like a giant version of a Flash Gordon Lion Man. The monsters do behave in ways I have not seen before. The Anguilus, for example, can roll up into a flying ball of spikes, looking not unlike an airborne sea urchin. (Or rather what a sea urchin would look like if it was somehow airborne.) Rodan flies at super-speeds thanks to the partial compromise from man-in-suit monsters to CGI renderings.

The style is way too hyper-kinetic. For the fans at least there is use of some of the classic monster calls. Anguilus has his original call from GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN. Rodan has his monstrous version of a birdcall. Disappointingly, I don't think we get the original Godzilla voice until the end of the end credits. The film has an unpleasant rock and roll score, and the best music is reused from previous films. There is some self- indulgent scene composition, like posing Godzilla dramatically in front of Mount Fuji. And there are numerous product placements.

For a final film I think that Toho was too anxious to please and threw in everything any of the kids in the audience might want. That includes a lot more bullets and violence than I remember from previous chapters. The result is decent only if you want to see a lot of the old monsters one last time. Otherwise it is a mess and rates only a low 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2006 Mark R. Leeper

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