Today I watched Ryuhei Kitamura’s Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Last Daikaiju week I talked about the original Godzilla film so this week I talk about the last, well last Japanese one that is… until the next one. It also serves as the franchise’s 50th anniversary, and as such is something of a best of for the king of monsters. The film opens by setting up it’s continuity in which Godzilla was imprisoned in antarctic ice back in the sixties as humanity formed a global anti-giant monster task force. Forming the elite core of this group are a new race of human mutants who display remarkable super strength and agility. When a sudden wave of giant monster attacks rocks the world it seems almost too good to be true when a giant alien egg appears, the occupants claiming to be friendly and here to help. Meanwhile scientists discover the mummified corpse of the monster Gigan, who is not only from space, but serves as the source of the mutant genes. It’s not long before the aliens are outed as invaders and they loose their horde of monsters upon the world, waking Gigan in the process, so now the humans are going to need their own monster, the king of monsters, Godzilla, to help save the world.
While I call this a best of for the Godzilla films, Kitamura seems very interested in the weird and absurd elements of the series more so than one might expect. This film serves as a giant monster mash and while it does have appearances from such famous Kaiju as Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, more screen time is taken up by some real B-tier monsters like King Caesar and the aforementioned Gigan. Much like Advent of Legion from yesterday, this film also finds a lot for it’s human characters to do, though in this case it does so by giving them superpowers and having them in ridiculous, over the top fight scenes. Along with all of that Kitamura deliver his own brand of anime inspired visuals and action and an extremely fast paced plot, blending everything together in a whirlwind of pulp chaos.
This movie is utterly bizarre and absurd, as I said it looks to the weird and absurd corners of the Godzilla library and subsequently delivers total preposterousness with an incredibly fast pace. I think this absurdist approach really helps the film though, it is unlike anything else. Final Wars is knowingly silly in the extreme and refuses to compromise for anything, it even has appearances from Minilla (A human sized baby Godzilla) and the Roland Emmerich Godzilla. For me this all ends up working and the film is incredible, but I can see how someone would hate it, it is extremely, constatly dumb. Watching this movie is like watching a five year old play with action figures, endless action, chaos, and nonsense. While some people may not find that appealing, I have a place in my heart for it for sure. 4/5