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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Godzilla: Final Wars Review

For my 16th birthday, I wanted to do something interesting. Instead of throwing some kind of party, I decided to revisit one of my favorite films: Godzilla: Final Wars. I've seen this film four times, (now five) and decided that for a special age, a special movie to revisit. So, let's start.

Final Wars has an interesting reputation. It's the 50th anniversary film. Truly a feat, fifty years of Godzilla. This film was meant to be the goodbye, the one where it ends on a high note. The one where you look back and say, "What a great end to a great franchise." Does it succeed? Read on.

The plot takes place in the near future. Monsters are the norm, and there exists "Mutants," the core of the Earth Defense Force. It's been several years since Godzilla was frozen in the South pole. Out of nowhere, Rodan attacks NYC, and before you know it, monsters galore! As the Earth Defense Force attempt to combat these beasts, a mysterious ship from outer space comes into earth's orbit. It "eliminates" the monsters and the beings inside, called "Xilians" say there here in peace. They explain that a planet called "Gorath" is en route to earth, and it will destroy the planet. However, things are not what they seem.....

Sound familiar? Veteran fans should instantly recall this plot. This film is basically a modern Destroy All Monsters combined with Monster Zero. Yes, so scratch all realism from the past Millennium films, this film is crazy like Showa. And that's a good thing. The past two Millennium films were deadly serious, Final Wars was a welcome change of pace and throwback to the 60's and 70's. I loved every second of it.

This film is a lot different than the ones you're used to watching. Not just Godzilla films, all films in general. Whereas other films gives you a breather, get to develop the characters, take time to explain things, Final Wars lets you have it with no stop of the action. Seriously, even the dialogue scenes, thanks to the music, doesn't feel like a "breather." It is nonstop. And I think that's the way to do it.

Everything about this film is different than the average Godzilla film. The characters have a certain cool "style." Think Matrix-type of fighting wouldn't mesh well with Godzilla? Think again. A lot of times in the previous films, the human screen time can get pretty dreadful. (I'm looking at you Destroy All Monsters.) Thanks to the fun characters and crazy fights, the human screen time I actually ENJOYED.

The main character, Ozaki, will remind you of Neo from the Matrix. A lot of the fights are reminiscent from it. Good or bad? I think it's great, a change of routine for the Godzilla films. Captain Gorden is such a fun guy to watch on screen. Sure, he may come off as corny sometimes, but it fits in with this crazy movie.

MONSTERS, MONSTERS, and MONSTERS! This is the selling point naturally. 50th anniversary? What better way to celebrate than with fifteen monsters?! Here we have the most monsters ever captured in a Godzilla film, or heck, all films. The monsters get some great screen time, and the effects are steps above anything TOHO has produced before.

Godzilla is looking his best, my personal favorite look after the 2000 one. He looks menacing, but at the same time, not evil like his look from GMK. Mothra is just about the same from the last film, Tokyo SOS. Thanks to the awesome effects, she hasn't looked more powerful. Gigan gets a big modern redesign, sporting a black and silver look rather than is classic green and yellow. He looks AMAZING. (Yes, he is my favorite monster) Showcasing his laser, something that was never showed in his early appearances. Rodan sports his Showa look, and flaps his wings with glory. Angurius sadly is the most disappointing. His look from Destroy All Monsters, a film over thirty years ago, looks better than this film. I am glad that they gave him a rolling ability, he actually doesn't look weak at all, boasting some impressive moves. King Caesar looks practically a copy of his look from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. A great modern update for Kamacurus, who now sports wings. Kumonga looks impressive, though his look from Son of Godzilla is equally great. (Amazing, considering that film came out over thirty years ago.) A great surprise was the inclusion of Zilla, a monster that looks strangely like the American Godzilla from the 98 film. The CGI is decent enough, and at least he actually looks impressive. (Remember the 98 film? Yeah, me neither.) Ebirah gets a nice modern look, but the film goes out of it way to show you how weak the monster is. (The only monster to go down by humanoid beings.) Manda gets a nice appearance, his first since Destroy All Monsters. His look is by far the most improvement, after that horrible look from Destroy All Monsters, this was welcome. Minya, well, it's pretty much impossible to make him look even a little feasible. Still, it's a lot less goofy looking than all of his previous appearances. New monster, Monster X, is a unique design. A new monster was welcomed, but who he transformed into was something else. I mean, how could we have a 50th anniversary without......

Even I was surprised when I saw this beast. Boasting an incredible menacing look, "Kaiser Ghidorah" made a satisfying final opponent for the King of Monsters. Not a fan of the four legged part, too similar to Mothra's Death Ghidorah. Still, Kaiser here was truly a great finisher for the film, standing even taller than Godzilla himself.

There are some really epic scenes no other film can surpass. You'll want to watch this with the speakers blasting. After a powerful opening featuring Godzilla, it only gets better. Rodan's attack on NYC is truly a standout moment I'll never forget. Gigan's rise was just cool, and just the monster scenes overall were a step above everything that has come before it. The monsters aren't slow moving at all, they are fast, and the fights are just top-notch. (Mothra's fight with Gigan being the best in the whole film.) Everything, from Manda attacking the Gotengo, to Monster X's transformation were some great scenes.

The soundtrack is (gets ready for a thrown tomato) I think, the best in all of the Godzilla films. It might be lacking the dramatic feel of the oldies, but the music here is just awesome, there's really no other word to describe it. Godzilla's new theme was excellent and greatly used. (They still use the classic one for the intro, which was nice.) The music is just energetic and keeps you entertained. (As it should, cause this film is pretty long, at two hours and five minutes.) We even get to hear a song from the band SUM 41, "We're All to Blame." That thing played during Godzilla's fight with his American counterpart. The fight only lasts about fifteen seconds, but that song makes it the most epic fifteen seconds of your life. (You'll want to really turn up the volume for this.)

The Xilians from Monster Zero get an updated look, even boasting the retro spandex and visors. The leader, (well, the one that takes charge later in the film) is an evil, emotionless villain, but at the same time, really funny. He makes the already great film even more enjoyable. "I knew that tuna-eating monster was useless!" Classic.

In closing, I can see why a lot of fans don't like this movie. It lacks the deepness of the ones before it, and some of the monsters lose too fast. Hedorah, who also makes a surprise appearance, gets finished very quickly. So I understand that. I on the other hand will always greatly enjoy this film. It's everything I've ever wanted in a Godzilla movie, lots of great monster destruction and fights, the humans are actually cool and fun to watch on screen, the music score is top-notch, no corny dubbing, it's just my film. Godzilla: Final Wars may not be the 50th anniversary "hurrah" everyone was looking for, but it's a darn fun film that will remind you why you got into the franchise in the first place.

I give this film a 9.5/10.

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