Godzilla: Final Wars [Gojira: Fainaru uôzu] (2004)

This was the final Godzilla movie.

The third final Godzilla film, to be precise.  And, ironically, the big green guy’s Fiftieth anniversary bash.

The original series had ended on a decidedly low note when it just ran out of gas with The Terror of Mechagodzilla.  The first revival, the so-called “Heisei era” ended with Godzilla’s death in Godzilla vs. Destroyah.  And the rule-breaking “Millennium series”, with its unlinked films went out in a blaze of glory with a film in which the entire Heisei and Millennium eras never happened and virtually every monster that ever appeared in a Toho monster film puts in an appearance (yes, even the diamond-eating Dogoro gets a stock footage reprise in the opening credits)

This is not your father’s Godzilla movie.  Not with Ryûhei Kitamura (who made the non-stop Yakuza action film Versus) directing.

We’ve got lots of high-flying, Matrix-style wire-work fight scenes, complete with the obligatory, “look at those bullets standing still” scene – only with laser beams. We’ve got an absolutely insane bike chase scene, where the riders use their bikes to deliver “kicks” and “punches”.  We’ve got Ultimate Fighting Champ Don Frye in his first movie role as the meanest, toughest, bigger-than-life, samurai sword wielding, “the one man who…” ever seen in a giant monster movie.   We’ve got mind control, mutants, super powers, uber-cool evil aliens, a deadly planet about to destroy the earth, and who knows what else.

In fact, one wonders where they had the time to fit all the giant monsters in.

But they’re there, lots of them, many of them reinvented:  who would have imagined the lumbering Anguillus rolling up into a spiny ball and crashing through cities like a monster bowling ball; or the silly rag doll “god” King Caesar from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla as a buff alien bad guy?  They even make the American Godzilla (“Zilla”) an official member of the fraternity, although it comes as no surprise that Godzilla crushes that giant mutant iguana pretender like a grape in one of the most lopsided battles in the entire series.

Oh, well.  Just go with it.  It’s insane, intense, non-stop and definitely not child friendly.  It isn’t the best Godzilla movie, or even my favorite (the Heisei era Godzilla Versus King Ghidora.  Hands down.  No contest), but it is lots of silly fun, perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon.  For those of us of a certain age, it’ll bring back memories of countless other misspent Saturdays.

And you can’t ask for more than that.

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