Godzilla: Final Wars
|Godzilla: Final Wars|
Japanese film poster
|Directed by||Ryuhei Kitamura|
|Produced by||Shogo Tomiyama|
|Screenplay by||Isao Kiriyama
|Narrated by||Kōichi Yamadera|
|Music by||Keith Emerson
|Edited by||Shūichi Kakesu|
|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 produced 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.
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.
Director Ryuhei Kitamura has compared Godzilla: Final Wars to that of a musician's "Best of" album, 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".
Endless warfare and environmental pollution have resulted in the frequent appearance of monsters. The Earth Defense Force (EDF) is established. Mutant humans with extraordinary physical capabilities are discovered and are organized into an EDF troop called the M-Organization. Their main opponent is Godzilla, first sighted in 1954. After repeated battles, Godzilla is captured in a crevasse at the South Pole and buried under an avalanche of ice. The EDF ship Gotengo, commanded by Captain Gordon, battles and destroys Manda but in the process, the ship is wrecked and Gordon is dismissed from the EDF. At M headquarters, mutants Ozaki and Kazama spar before their next mission.
A huge mummified creature is discovered off the coast of Hokkaido and calculated as being 12,000 years-old. Ozaki and U.N. biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi are sent to study it. They are teleported to Infant Island where they encounter the Shobijin, fairies of Mothra, who reveal that the monster is Gigan, an alien cyborg sent to wipe out all life on Earth who was subdued by Mothra. They warn that a battle between good and evil will happen soon and that Ozaki, because of his mutant capabilities, must choose between the two. They give Ozaki a magical sword.
Suddenly, giant monsters attack 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 Xiliens warn the world that an incoming planet called "Gorath" will soon impact the Earth. A peace pact is signed between Earth and the Xiliens.
Ozaki, Miyuki, her sister Anna, and several others distrust the Xiliens. They discover that the Xiliens unleashed the monsters and also replaced several members of the EDF and political leaders with android duplicates. The image of Gorath was fake; nothing more than a hologram. Ozaki tells them there is only one person whom they can trust, Captain Gordon. 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. Using his species' control over M-Base, the Controller assumes control of all of the mutants except Ozaki. The others escape while M-Organization's leader Muasaka fights the mutants. However, their escape plan is partially hindered by a controlled Kazama, whom Ozaki is able to subdue. After the Controller awakens Gigan from mummification, the Xiliens unleash the monsters once more to destroy human civilization.
Gordon convinces the group that only Godzilla can defeat the monsters and the group leaves in the repaired Gotengo to release Godzilla. Gigan is sent to follow and destroy them. The team awakens Godzilla, who battles and defeats Gigan. The Gotengo then guides Godzilla into battle with the other monsters on the way back to Tokyo. Godzilla first encounters Zilla and quickly defeats Zilla using its atomic breath, much to the Controller's dismay. Godzilla then battles the rest of the monsters, including Kumonga, Kamacuras, Rodan, Anguirus, King Caesar, Ebirah, and Hedorah.
The Gotengo returns to Tokyo to engage the Xiliens and destroy the mother ship but its shields are impenetrable. Kazama takes a fighter right through, destroying the shield generator and sacrificing himself, allowing the Gotengo to drill inside. The Xiliens beam on-board and kill most of the crew-members, sparing only four - Ozaki, Miyuki, Gordon and pilot Akiko Namikawa, who they take to the Controller. 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 Controller, also a Keizer. The Controller attempts to put Ozaki under his control but is stopped by Miyuki, using the Shobijiin's sword to free him. Ozaki defeats the Controller, who sets the mother ship to self-destruct before dying. The human group 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 its own. Monster X 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 its strength and turning Godzilla into a Keizer also. Godzilla uses a red atomic breath to destroy Keizer Ghidorah. 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 it must forgive mankind. The survivors watch Godzilla and Minilla return to the ocean.
- Masahiro Matsuoka as Shinichi Ozaki (尾崎 真一 Ozaki Shin'ichi?)
- Rei Kikukawa as Miyuki Otonashi (音無 美雪 Otonashi Miyuki?)
- Don Frye as Captain Douglas Gordon (ダグラス・ゴードン大佐 Dagurasu Gōdon Taisa?)
- Kane Kosugi as Katsunori Kazama (風間 勝範 Kazama Katsunori?)
- Maki Mizuno as Anna Otonashi (音無 杏奈 Otonashi Anna?)
- Kazuki Kitamura as the Xilian Regulator (X星人参謀 Ekkusu-seijin Sanbō?)
- Kumi Mizuno as Akiko Namikawa (波川 玲子 Namikawa Akiko?)
- Kenji Sahara as Hachiro Jinguji (神宮寺 八郎 Jingūji Hachirō?)
- Masami Nagasawa as the Shobijin (小美人?)
- Chihiro Otsuka as the Shobijin (小美人?)
- Shigeru Izumiya as Samon Taguchi (田口 左門 Taguchi Samon?)
- Kenta Suga as Kenta Taguchi (田口 健太 Taguchi Kenta?)
- Masakatsu Funaki as Commander Kumasaka (熊坂教官 Kumasaka Kyōkan?)
- Masatoh Eve as the Xilien General (X星人司令官 Ekkusu seijin Shirei?)
- Jun Kunimura as Major Kumoro (小室少佐 Kumuro Shōsa?)
- Akira Takarada as Naotaro Daigo (醍醐 直太郎 Daigo Naotarō?)
- Tsutomu Kitagawa as Godzilla
- Naoko Kamio as Minilla and Rodan
- Kazuhiro Yoshida as Gigan and Hedorah.
- Toshihiro Ogura as Keizer Ghidorah, Anguirus, and Ebirah
- Motokuni Nakagawa as Monster X and King Caesar
- Shirō Sano as Assassin
- Kô Takasugi as Earth Defense Force Captain
- Shelley Sweeney as Commanding Officer of French Aerial Battleship Eclair
- Hideo Sakaki as Crew Member on Eclair
- Takeshi Obayashi as Naotaro Daigo Assistant
- Ray Sefo as Glenn
- Gary Goodridge as Nick
- Mick Preston as New York Cop
- Darren Dupree Washington as New York Gangster Pimp
- Michael-Anthony Taylor as New York Gangster Pimp
- Michael Croaker as Ritchie
- Brad McMurray as Johnny
- Joe Fenech as Yobbarai/Fat Man
- Jordan Fleming as Canadian Children
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.
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".
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."
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)".
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.
Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique called the film "utterly fantastic" and "a rush of explosive excitement." 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." 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." Sean Axmaker of Static Multimedia said, "Directed by a true fan of the old school, it's lusciously, knowingly, lovingly cheesy." Craig Blamer of the Chico News & Review called the film "a giddy and fast-paced celebration of the big guy."
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." 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." 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."
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." 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." 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."
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." 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."
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. 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."
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.
Home media releases
Sony - Blu-ray (Toho Godzilla Collection) 
- 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
- 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.
- Dovarganes, Damian (November 30, 2004). "Godzilla gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star". USA Today.
- "Godzilla Final Wars: Das Interview mit Ryuhei Kitamura". Outnow.ch. June 29, 2005.
- Wheeler, John (March 26, 2010). "The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". Asia Pacific Arts.
- Benjoid (March 24, 2010). "RYUHEI KITAMURA INTERVIEW". Madman. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004) - Trivia - IMDb". IMDb.
- "CD: Godzilla: Final Wars - Soundtrack". tohokingdom.com.
- Godzilla: Final Wars, Rotten Tomatoes
- Review by Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique
- Jim Agnew, Film Threat
- 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.
- Review by Sean Axmaker, Static Multimedia
- "Chico News & Review - Godzilla: Final Wars - In The Mix - DVD/Video - Film - December 15, 2005". Chico News & Review.
- Review by David Nusair, Reel Film
- Review by David Cornelius, eFilmCritic
- Review by Ty Burr, Boston Globe
- Review J.L. Carrozza, Toho Kingdom
- Review Mike Bogue, American Kaiju
- Review Japan Hero
- Review Stomp Tokyo
- Review Lenny Taguchi, Monster Zero
- "Asia Pacific Arts: The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". usc.edu.
- "Godzilla: Final Wars - Box Office Report". tohokingdom.com.
- Martin Liebman. "Godzilla: Final Wars Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com.
- Godzilla: Final Wars at the Internet Movie Database
- Godzilla: Final Wars at AllMovie
- Godzilla: Final Wars at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official Site in Japanese
- Godzilla: Final Wars at Toho Kingdom including several reviews
- ゴジラ ＦＩＮＡＬ ＷＡＲＳ (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-21.