Godzilla: Final Wars Review

Godzilla struggled his way through the low-budget 70s, the occasionally generic 90s, and an awful 1998 American version. He even survived a nuclear blast to become king of the monsters. All of that to end up in Godzilla: Final Wars, Toho's supposed last gasp for the series before putting it on hiatus due to dwindling ticket sales and a celebration of the 50th anniversary. Not even the Big G himself can fight his way out of this disaster.

This is simply an impossibly bad movie, one without any point, cohesiveness, or enjoyment. It starts bad, it gets worse, and then completely falls apart into nothingness before it's all over. It's devoid of any heart or care, produced simply to see how quickly scenes can be spliced together to take advantage of a special occasion.

There's as much in common with Godzilla here as there was in the American bastardization. In other words, there's not much beyond a name. Even though it features classic Toho staples like Hedorah, Ebirah, Mothra, and Manda, there's hardly enough time to feature them when they get less than a few minutes screen time (if that). Godzilla simply walks through them as an invading alien force continually drops down a new foe for him to destroy. If they had a brain in their head (the same goes for the script writers), they would drop their entire monster inventory on top of him all at once.

That would at least mean the action would be engaging enough to follow. Director Ryhuei Kitamura simply copies everything that's been done before him. Putting in Matrix-like camera movements isn't fresh, original, or necessary. It's patent infringement. It's occasionally hard to tell due to the overuse of strobe lighting, slow motion, and rapid-fire cuts that make some of these scenes impossible to watch.

The monster action is even more degrading. The brief four way scuffle between Godzilla, Angilas, King Seesar, and Rodan is an embarrassment to every Godzilla fan alive and dead. Not that the premise of giant monsters is logical in the first place, but to have Angilas become a soccer ball and make Godzilla attempt a diving save is ludicrous and stupid. The other fights usually involve Godzilla firing off his breath and blowing something up.

There's a good chance Kitamura has set a world record for explosions in a single film. Unfortunately, they only exist to bridge the gap between one absurd action sequence to the next. Most of this cannot be followed since hardly any solo scene actually blends with the one to follow.

All of this seems like a desperate attempt to draw in an audience by doing something different. That's where the movie struggles the most. In an effort to make it seem like an original Godzilla film, all it really does is alienate those fans that have been loyal ticket buyers for decades. The entire film is like having a seizure. It's uncontrolled and it goes on longer than you ever hoped it would.

It hardly ever stops to catch up, seemingly content to throw as much into a two-hour film as possible without actually stopping to think if any of it's entertaining. It's hard to even fathom that what's appearing on screen is actually real. It's like a terrible dream of what someone with no prior experience in filmmaking or with Godzilla would produce on a big budget.

The human characters are introduced and dispatched just as quickly multiple times. You'll forget about a certain actor due to the obnoxious, overbearing, and uncaring soundtrack by Keith Emerson, and suddenly they're back. The scriptwriters failed to have the common sense to give meaning to any of the battles (human or monster) which all revolve around the typical alien invasion plot. How they ever managed to sign fan favorites Akira Takarada and Kumi Mizuno onto this disaster is unknown, but it's not a positive career move. Starring alongside is a stiff, unconvincing UFC fighter Don Frye.

The simple idea that this could be the final memory of Godzilla is disgusting. This isn't a movie; it's a series of pictures seemingly taped together by an 8-year old. It fails on every conceivable level, managing to disinterest both long time and younger fans. It's not worthy of the name Godzilla, it's not appropriate for his 50th birthday, and it's going to be improbable to ever swallow this as part of a sometimes serious, sometimes campy series. It's almost like a kick to the head after being knocked down to every Godzilla fan on the planet.

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