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
Tsutomu Kitagawa
Narrated by Kōichi Yamadera
Music by Keith Emerson
Nobuhiko Morino
Daisuke Yano
Themes:
Akira Ifukube
Cinematography Takumi Furuya
Fujio Okawa
Edited by Shūichi Kakesu
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, written by Wataru Mimura and Isao Kiriyama and produced by Shogo Tomiyama. It is the 29th film in the Godzilla franchise (28th by Toho) and the sixth and final film in the Millennium series. The film stars Masahiro Matsuoka, Don Frye, Rei Kikukawa, Kane Kosugi, Maki Mizuno, Kazuki Kitamura and Tsutomu Kitagawa as Godzilla.

The film is set in a future where mutant soldiers are in the ranks of the Earth Defense Organization. An invasion by the alien Xiliens unleashes a legion of giant monsters across the world, leaving behind only a few surviving humans. The survivors travel to the South Pole to free Godzilla from his frozen prison before attempting to infiltrate the alien Mothership and take out the Xiliens.

As a 50th anniversary film, a number of actors from previous Godzilla films appeared as main characters or in cameo roles. In addition, various kaiju (monsters) made reappearances, as most were last seen more than 30 years earlier. Godzilla: Final Wars premiered on November 29, 2004 in Los Angeles, California and was released on December 4, 2004 in Japan. Before the world premiere, Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[1]

Director Ryuhei Kitamura has compared Godzilla: Final Wars to that of a musician's "Best of" album,[2] 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".[3]

Plot[edit]

In 1954, endless warfare and environmental pollution resulted in the creation of monsters. During that time, the frequent occurrence of monsters became commonplace, and thus, the Earth Defense Force was established by the Japanese government. Also during this time, mutant humans with superhuman strength and extraordinary physical capabilities were discovered. The EDF realized the potential and effectiveness of the mutants as super soldiers, and established a subdivision known as the M-Organization. Godzilla, first sighted in 1954, is the EDF's only unstoppable opponent but they corner Godzilla at the South Pole and bury him under the ice, freezing Godzilla alive.

Forty years later, a mysterious mummified creature is discovered off the coast of Hokkaido and calculated as being a 12,000 year-old cyborg. The mutant Shinning Ozaki and the U.N. biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi are sent to study it. Shortly thereafter, after they are teleported to Infant Island the two encounter the Shobijin, fairies of Mothra, who reveal that the monster is Gigan, an alien cyborg sent to wipe out all life on Earth 12,000 years earlier but was subdued by Mothra. They also warn that a battle between good and evil will happen soon and that Ozaki, because of his mutant capabilities, must choose between the two and give Ozaki a small sword, saying that he has an important destiny coming up and he must choose his own fate.

Suddenly, giant monsters attack several major cities. The EDF engage the creatures, who mysteriously vanish at the same moment when an alien mothership is seen over Tokyo. The aliens, known as Xiliens, warn the world that an incoming planet called "Gorath" will soon impact with Earth after assigning a peaceful union between Earth and Planet X. The Secretary General claims that the United Nations should become the Space Nations.

Ozaki, Miyuki, her sister Anna, and several others distrust the Xiliens as it begins to fume. Using research and experiments, they discover that the Xiliens are actually the ones who unleashed the monsters and also replaced several members of the EDF with android duplicates, including political leaders. To make matters worse, the image of Gorath was fake and it was nothing more than a hologram. Ozaki tells that there is only one person whom they could trust, Captain Douglas Gordon, who fired the missiles that sealed Godzilla in Antarctica. After having their true intentions exposed on national television, the Xiliens explain the reason behind their invasion which was to use mankind as a food source - they needed the mitochondria in human cells to survive. Using his species' control over M-Base, the Controller assumes of all of the mutants except Shinichi. The others escape from as former M-unit Muasaka holds off the mutants. However, their escape plan is partially hindered by a controlled Kazama, whom Ozaki is able to subdue. After the Regulator awakens Gigan from mummification, the Xiliens unleash the monsters once more to destroy the rest of civilization.

Captain Gordon proposes freeing Godzilla to defeat the other monsters, but the only risk is that Godzilla also might be controlled by the Xiliens to which Miyuki rejects, saying that Godzilla's DNA does not contain M-Base. The surviving EDF members set out on one last trip to Area G, the South Pole, to save the remaining members of the human race. The Xiliens unleash Gigan to follow and destroy the Gotengo.

Using the Gotengo, the surviving EDF members travel to Antarctica and awaken Godzilla, who then battles Gigan and uses his atomic breath to decapitate the cyborg.The Gotengo leads Godzilla across the Pacific to battle the other monsters on its voyage to Tokyo. Godzilla first encounters Zilla but quickly uses his atomic breath to finish Zilla off, much to the Controller's dismay. Godzilla then battles the rest of the monsters unleashed by the Xiliens, including Kumonga, Kamacuras, Rodan, Anguirus, King Caesar, Ebirah, and Hedorah. The Gotengo then returns to Tokyo to engage the Xiliens and infiltrate the Mothership.

The Gotengo attempts to destroy the mothership but its shield is too strong and is protected by fighter ships. Kazama takes a fighter right through, destroying the generator and sacrificing himself, allowing the Gotengo to drill through to the core. At that moment the Xiliens beam on-board and kill most of the crew-members, sparing only four - Ozaki, Miyuki, Gordon and pilot Akiko Namikawa. Inside the mothership, the humans confront the Regulator. Ozaki is revealed to be a "Keizer," a telepathic being capable of controlling Earth's organisms. Deciding to stay loyal to the humans, Ozaki fights the Xilien Regulator, also a Keizer. But he attempts to turn Ozaki to his Xilien nature only for the process to be stopped by Miyuki, using the Shobijiin's sword to free him. Ozaki defeats the Controller, who sets the Xilien Mothership to self-destruct before dying. After this battle, the humans are victorious and flee the mother ship's destruction.

Godzilla destroys Gorath just before it crashes, unleashing Monster X. Gigan, revived and upgraded, aids Monster X, but Mothra arrives to counter it in battle. Gigan perishes as Mothra turns its own powers against itself, just as the remaining crew are victorious. Godzilla is still fighting Monster X on his own, who soon transforms into its true form, Keizer Ghidorah, and starts to drain the life force of Godzilla. Ozaki transfers his "Kaiser energy" to Godzilla, restoring his strength and turning Godzilla into a Keizer also. Godzilla destroys two of Ghidorah's heads before slamming Ghidorah. Finally, Godzilla hurls Keizer Ghidorah into the air and uses his red atomic breath to destroy it once and for all. Godzilla then turns to finish off the Gotengo, but Minilla arrives, along with the hunter and his grandson, and stops Godzilla from harming the humans, causing Godzilla to realize that he must forgive mankind. The survivors watch Godzilla and Minilla return to the ocean.

Cast[edit]

Nearly every monster in the Toho Kaiju stable appears in this movie at some point, even those such as Hedorah who were otherwise barred from use by Toho. In addition to being a nod to fans, this was to make the Xilien forces appear as numerous and threatening as possible while keeping the budget under control by using costumes already on hand. Several computer animated monsters were created for use in the film. They consist of Manda, Mothra, Kamacuras, and Zilla. Stock footage from previous films were used for other monsters, such as Varan, Gaira, Baragon, Gezora, Titanosaurus, Mechagodzilla, and Megaguirus. The costumes for Rodan, Anguirus and King Caesar were used for fan events after the plans to destroy them were removed.

Production[edit]

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

Like previous Godzilla films, Godzilla: Final Wars makes extensive use of practical effects rather than computer graphics (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."[4]

Music[edit]

The music in Godzilla: Final Wars was composed by Keith Emerson, Daisuke Yano and Nobuhiko Morino, while the band Sum 41 contributed the song "We're All To Blame" to the soundtrack (and received high billing in the film's opening credits sequence). Some critics expressed concern with the music of Final Wars, arguing that Emerson's score would be better suited for a campy made-for-television movie or video games, while others pointed out that it made a refreshing change from the music of previous Godzilla films.

Akira Ifukube's themes were mostly absent from the movie, though Godzilla's original theme can be heard at the beginning of the film. However, Keith Emerson did cover the Godzilla theme which is available on the film's official soundtrack. The cover is entitled "Godzilla (Main Theme)".

The bands Sum 41 and Zebrahead contributed the tracks "We're All To Blame" and "Godzilla vs. Tokyo" respectively, to the film,[5] however neither song was on the film's soundtrack.[6]

Filming locations[edit]

Godzilla: Final Wars began filming in July 2003. The locations of filming included Sydney, Egypt, New York City, Paris, Shanghai, Arizona and Tokyo.

Critical reception[edit]

Godzilla: Final Wars has received extremely mixed reviews from film critics and fans alike. As of May 2011, review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 44% of critics gave positive reviews for the film based on nine reviews.[7]

Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique called the film "utterly fantastic" and "a rush of explosive excitement."[8] 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."[9] 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."[10] Sean Axmaker of Static Multimedia said, "Directed by a true fan of the old school, it's lusciously, knowingly, lovingly cheesy."[11] Craig Blamer of the Chico News & Review called the film "a giddy and fast-paced celebration of the big guy."[12]

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."[13] 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."[14] 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."[15]

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."[16] 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."[17] 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."[18]

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."[19] 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."[20]

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.[21] 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."[4]

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.[22]

Home media releases[edit]

Sony - Blu-ray (Toho Godzilla Collection) [23]

  • 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]

  1. ^ Dovarganes, Damian (November 30, 2004). "Godzilla gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star". USA Today. 
  2. ^ "Godzilla Final Wars: Das Interview mit Ryuhei Kitamura". Outnow.ch. June 29, 2005. 
  3. ^ Wheeler, John (March 26, 2010). "The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". Asia Pacific Arts. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=18725
  5. ^ "Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004) - Trivia - IMDb". IMDb. 
  6. ^ "CD: Godzilla: Final Wars - Soundtrack". tohokingdom.com. 
  7. ^ Godzilla: Final Wars, Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ Review by Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique
  9. ^ Jim Agnew, Film Threat
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Review by Sean Axmaker, Static Multimedia
  12. ^ "Chico News & Review - Godzilla: Final Wars - In The Mix - DVD/Video - Film - December 15, 2005". Chico News & Review. 
  13. ^ Review by David Nusair, Reel Film
  14. ^ Review by David Cornelius, eFilmCritic
  15. ^ Review by Ty Burr, Boston Globe
  16. ^ Review J.L. Carrozza, Toho Kingdom
  17. ^ Review Mike Bogue, American Kaiju
  18. ^ Review Japan Hero
  19. ^ Review Stomp Tokyo
  20. ^ Review Lenny Taguchi, Monster Zero
  21. ^ "Asia Pacific Arts: The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". usc.edu. 
  22. ^ "Godzilla: Final Wars - Box Office Report". tohokingdom.com. 
  23. ^ Martin Liebman. "Godzilla: Final Wars Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. 

External links[edit]

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