Godzilla: Final Wars

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Godzilla: Final Wars
GodzillaFinalWarsPoster.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Produced by Shogo Tomiyama
Screenplay by Isao Kiriyama
Wataru Mimura
Starring Masahiro Matsuoka
Rei Kikukawa
Don Frye
Kane Kosugi
Maki Mizuno
Kazuki Kitamura
Narrated by Kōichi Yamadera
Music by Keith Emerson
Nobuhiko Morino
Daisuke Yano
Cinematography Takumi Furuya
Fujio Okawa
Edited by Shūichi Kakesu
Kyle Cooper (title)
Production
company
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • November 29, 2004 (2004-11-29) (World Premiere)
  • December 4, 2004 (2004-12-04) (Japan)
Running time
125 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
English
Budget $19.5 million
Box office $12 million

Godzilla: Final Wars (ゴジラ ファイナルウォーズ Gojira: Fainaru Wōzu?) is a 2004 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and written by Wataru Mimura and Isao Kiriyama. It is the 29th film in the Godzilla franchise, the 28th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and the sixth and final film in the Millennium series. It is also the last Godzilla film to be produced by any studio until Godzilla (2014) and the last Godzilla film to be produced by Toho until Shin Godzilla (2016).

As the franchise's 50th anniversary film, a variety of actors and monsters from previous Godzilla films make appearances in the film. Godzilla: Final Wars held its premiere on November 29, 2004 in Los Angeles, California and was released in Japan on December 4, 2004. Before the world premiere, Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[1]

Plot[edit]

In Antarctica during the 1960s, Godzilla is entrapped in ice after a battle with the original Gotengo. Decades later, environmental disasters cause the appearance of giant monsters and super-humans, dubbed "mutants", who are then recruited into the Earth Defense Force (EDF) to battle the monsters. An upgraded Gotengo, commanded by Captain Gordon, battles and destroys Manda, but in the process, the ship is wrecked and Gordon is suspended from the EDF.

Mutant soldier Shinichi Ozaki is tasked with guarding a U.N. biologist, Dr. Miyuki Otonashi, who's sent to study a mummified monster. They are teleported to Infant Island where they encounter the Shobijin, fairies of Mothra, who reveal the mummified monster as Gigan, an alien robot sent to destroy the Earth who was ultimately defeated by Mothra. They warn that a battle between good and evil will happen soon and that Ozaki must choose a side. Giant monsters begin attacking several major cities. The EDF engage the creatures, who mysteriously vanish at the same moment when an alien mother ship appears over Tokyo. The aliens, named Xiliens, warn that an incoming planet called "Gorath" will soon impact the Earth. A peace pact is signed between Earth and the Xiliens. Meanwhile, Minilla, Godzilla's son, is found in the forest by a boy and his grandfather.

Distrusting the Xiliens, Ozaki, Miyuki, and her sister, Anna discovers that Gorath is actually a hologram, the Xiliens unleashed the monsters and also replaced several members of the EDF with android duplicates. After exposing them on television, the Xiliens Controller reveals their actual plans to use mankind as a food source. The Controller assumes control of all of the mutants except Ozaki. The others escape while The Controller awakens Gigan and unleashes it along with the other monsters once again. Gordon convinces the group that only Godzilla can defeat the monsters and the group departs to Antarctica. Gigan is sent to destroy them but is easily destroyed by Godzilla. The Gotengo then guides Godzilla into battle with the other monsters and returns to Tokyo to engage the Xiliens. After penetrating the mother ship, the group is captured and taken to the controller.

Godzilla destroys Gorath just before it crashes, unleashing Monster X. An upgraded Gigan aids Monster X but is intercepted by Mothra, who both perish in the end. The Controller reveals that both he and Ozaki are "Keizer's", super-beings with unimaginable power, and attempts to control Ozaki but is stopped by Miyuki. Ozaki defeats the Controller, who sets the ship to self-destruct. The humans escape in the Gotengo moments before the mother ship explodes. Godzilla and Monster X continue their battle but he transforms into his true form, Keizer Ghidorah. Keizer Ghidorah initially gets the upper-hand but Godzilla emerges victorious in the end. Minilla shows up at the scene and convinces Godzilla not to destroy the Gotengo. The survivors watch Godzilla and Minilla return to the ocean.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Godzilla's new design for Godzilla: Final Wars dubbed the FinalGoji.

Ryuhei Kitamura accepted the offer to direct the film due to being unsatisfied with the Godzilla films of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, stating, "I loved the Godzilla movies back in the ’70s, but not so much the ones released in the 1980s and ’90s. Godzilla movies back in the ’70s were never just monster movie, there were always messages and themes that reflected the time and world within which they were made, and they combined this so well with straight-out entertainment. They lost that touch in the ’80s".[2]

Director Ryuhei Kitamura has compared Godzilla: Final Wars to that of a musician's "Best of" album,[3] stating "We picked lots and lots of the best elements from the past and combined it in a new way. It's what I love about Godzilla and what I don't love about recent Godzilla movies".[4]

Like previous Godzilla films, Godzilla: Final Wars makes extensive use of practical effects rather than CGI. The special effects were directed and supervised by Eiichi Asada, who also directed the special effects for Godzilla: Tokyo SOS. Commenting on the special effects, Kitamura stated at the film's world premiere in Hollywood, "We stick to the special effects. That’s what we've been doing for 50 years. And that’s why Hollywood don’t do it. So on the first meeting, I told everybody that we stick to the special effects, and the live action instead of CGI. So it’s a CGI-monster-Hollywood Godzilla versus our man-made live-action monsters."[5]

Music[edit]

The film's soundtrack was composed by Keith Emerson, Nobuhiko Morino, and Daisuke Yano. It features the song "We're All to Blame" by Sum 41 during the battle between Godzilla and Zilla. The band was billed in the opening credits.

Critical reception[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave a 40% rating based on ten reviews with a total score of 5.8/10.[6]

Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique called the film "utterly fantastic" and "a rush of explosive excitement."[7] Jim Agnew of Film Threat gave the film four and a half stars out of five, saying "the good news for kaiju fans is that Godzilla: Final Wars is a kick-ass giant monster flick."[8] Drew McWeeny of Ain't It Cool News remarked, "Godzilla: Final Wars earns a special place in my heart. It's fun. Pure lunatic fun, every frame."[9] Sean Axmaker of Static Multimedia said, "Directed by a true fan of the old school, it's lusciously, knowingly, lovingly cheesy."[10] Craig Blamer of the Chico News & Review called the film "a giddy and fast-paced celebration of the big guy."[11]

Conversely, David Nusair of Reel Film gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying that "the battles are admittedly quite entertaining" but felt that director Ryuhei Kitamura "is absolutely the wrong choice for the material."[12] David Cornelius of eFilmCritic gave the film two stars out of five, calling it "the dullest, weakest Godzilla movie I've seen in a long, long time."[13] Ty Burr of the Boston Globe gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying it focused too much on action and not enough on story, and calling it "35 minutes longer than is necessary."[14]

Among kaiju-related websites, J.L. Carrozza of Toho Kingdom "absolutely love[d]" Final Wars, saying "[it's] no masterpiece, but it is such insane fun that quite frankly it's hard not to adore it."[15] Mike Bogue of American Kaiju said "the film is flawed, but nonetheless entertaining," saying there are "too many [Matrix-style] battles" but that the film "makes excellent use of its monsters" and "Kitamura keeps things moving at a brisk pace."[16] Japan Hero criticized the "[lack of] character development" but concluded that Final Wars is "a very entertaining movie," saying that "Kitamura did a wonderful job making it an interesting and great looking film worthy of being the final [Godzilla] movie."[17]

Stomp Tokyo said "the monster scenes are generally well done" but criticized the film's "incoherence," saying: "It's a shame that Kitamaura couldn't choose a tone for the film, instead shifting the movie's mood wildly from scene to scene."[18] Lenny Taguchi of Monster Zero criticized Keith Emerson's soundtrack but gave Final Wars an overall favorable review, calling it a "fun and good" movie that "tries many things, and generally succeeds at almost all of them."[19]

Director Kitamura commented at the film's world premiere that the reason why he agreed to direct the film was because he wanted to update Godzilla and recapture the same spirit seen in the later Godzilla films from the Showa era.[20] He wanted to incorporate the same speed and power seen in films like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which he believed was lost somewhere within the series, stating, "The Godzilla series had lost that kind of taste. I think that back in the '70s Godzilla movies had more power and speed. He was very fast and he was very strong. So in my Godzilla, you know, less dialogue and more action. That’s more fun than watching people discuss and what we should do about Godzilla. As a Godzilla fan I want to see Godzilla punching and kicking, beating up all the other monsters instead of somebody talking again, you know, discussing the operation. That's what I wanted to do is to revive that, but not in the same way, I have to update. This is the updated version of '70s, crazy, monster movies."[5]

Box office[edit]

At roughly $19,500,000, Godzilla: Final Wars was the most expensive Toho-produced Godzilla film of all time.

Any hopes Toho had of Godzilla: Final Wars ending the series with a box office bang were stifled when the film opened in Japan on December 4, 2004. In its opening weekend, it came in third at the box office with $1,874,559. At the holiday season box office, it was beaten by Howl's Moving Castle and The Incredibles, both which also pursued the family market. It eventually grossed roughly $12,000,000 at the Japanese box office, with 1,000,000 admissions. Not only was it the least-attended film in the Millennium series, it was also the least attended film in 29 years since Terror of Mechagodzilla.[21]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2005 Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival Best Feature Film Godzilla: Final Wars Nominated
2006 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Most Disturbing Import (Scariest Foreign Film) Godzilla: Final Wars

Home media releases[edit]

Sony – Blu-ray (Toho Godzilla Collection) [22]

  • Released: May 6, 2014
  • Picture: 2.40:1 (MPEG-4 AVC) [1080P]
  • Sound: Japanese and English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, and French
  • Extras:
  • Godzilla: B-Roll to Film (SD, Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 17:54)
  • Theatrical Trailer (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 2:11, HD)
  • Teaser 1 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:41, HD)
  • Teaser 2 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:41, HD)
  • Teaser 3 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:42, HD)
  • Notes: This is a 2-Disc double feature with Godzilla: Tokyo SOS.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Released: December 13, 2005
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.40:1) Anamorphic
  • Sound: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English and French
  • Supplements: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (comparison of B-roll footage to finished film)(17:53 min); Trailers for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Steamboy, Dust to Glory, MirrorMask, and Madison
  • Region 1
  • MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence.

References[edit]

  • Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (Second Edition). McFarland. ISBN 9780786447497. 
  1. ^ Dovarganes, Damian (November 30, 2004). "Godzilla gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star". USA Today. 
  2. ^ Benjoid (March 24, 2010). "RYUHEI KITAMURA INTERVIEW". Madman. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Godzilla Final Wars: Das Interview mit Ryuhei Kitamura". Outnow.ch. June 29, 2005. 
  4. ^ Wheeler, John (March 26, 2010). "The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". Asia Pacific Arts. 
  5. ^ a b http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=18725
  6. ^ Godzilla: Final Wars, Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Review by Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique
  8. ^ Jim Agnew, Film Threat
  9. ^ staff (30 November 2004). "MAN IN SUIT! MAN IN SUIT! MAN IN SUIT! Moriarty Attends The World Premiere Of GODZILLA FINAL WARS...". Aint It Cool News. 
  10. ^ Review by Sean Axmaker, Static Multimedia
  11. ^ "Chico News & Review - Godzilla: Final Wars - In The Mix - DVD/Video - Film - December 15, 2005". Chico News & Review.  horizontal tab character in |title= at position 24 (help)
  12. ^ Review by David Nusair, Reel Film
  13. ^ Review by David Cornelius, eFilmCritic
  14. ^ Review by Ty Burr, Boston Globe
  15. ^ Review J.L. Carrozza, Toho Kingdom
  16. ^ Review Mike Bogue, American Kaiju
  17. ^ Review Japan Hero
  18. ^ Review Stomp Tokyo
  19. ^ Review Lenny Taguchi, Monster Zero
  20. ^ "Asia Pacific Arts: The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". usc.edu. 
  21. ^ "Godzilla: Final Wars - Box Office Report". tohokingdom.com. 
  22. ^ Martin Liebman. "Godzilla: Final Wars Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. 

External links[edit]