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 (Versus), written by Wataru Mimura and Isao Kiriyama and produced by Shogo Tomiyama. It is the 28th installment in the Godzilla film series, and the sixth in terms of the series’ Millennium era. The film stars Masahiro Matsuoka, Don Frye, Rei Kikukawa, Kane Kosugi, Maki Mizuno and Kazuki Kitamura.
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”.
The music in Godzilla: Final Wars was composed by Keith Emerson (Inferno; Murder Rock; The Church) 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.
In 2004, endless warfare and environmental pollution has resulted in dangerous kaiju and the Earth Defense Force (EDF) is created to protect the planet. The organization is equipped with the best technology, weapons and soldiers, as well as mutants with special abilities. Godzilla is the EDF’s only unstoppable opponent. The EDF’s best combat vehicle, the Gotengo, corners Godzilla at the South Pole and buries him under the Antarctic ice, freezing him alive.
Forty years later, the EDF discovers a mummified space monster. The mutant soldier Shinichi Ozaki and the United Nations biologist Doctor Miyuki Otonashi are sent to research it. Shortly thereafter, the two encounter the Shobijin, fairies of the guardian monster Mothra, who reveal that the monster is Gigan, an alien cyborg sent to destroy Earth 12,000 years earlier. 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.
Suddenly, kaiju appear in major cities. The EDF attempts to drive them away. The monsters include Anguirus in Shanghai, Rodan in New York City, King Caesar in Okinawa, Kamacuras in Paris, Kumonga in Arizona, Zilla in Sydney and Ebirah near Tokyo. Despite defeating Ebirah, the EDF is unsuccessful in destroying the monsters. After destroying most of the cities, the monsters vanish and an enormous alien mothership appears over Tokyo. The aliens, known as Xiliens, say that they are friendly and have eliminated the monsters…
” … brief missteps are not enough to undermine the film, which is a pulse-pulverizing bit of special effects and martial arts mayhem that truly is good enough to deserve a stateside release. Certainly, the film is over-the-top and utterly fantastic.” Cinefantastique
“The Matrix influence extends to slow-motion bullets, 360-degree freeze-pans, and Ozaki’s understanding of his divine purpose — but, really, all this tosh accomplishes is to pad Godzilla: Final Wars for a good 35 minutes longer than is necessary. Godzilla himself doesn’t even show up for the first hour and a half, since he’s kept on ice under the South Pole specifically for occasions like this. After a while the shoot-outs, fistfights, and bellowing latex bleed into one unending blur, and you find yourself actively pining for the earth to be destroyed so the end credits can come up.” Boston Globe
“.. a blithely campy, altogether good-natured love letter to the classic Godzilla films of the 1960s and 1970s directed by… Japan’s adolescent action stylist.” Static
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