2005 Melbourne International Film Festival : Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

30th July 2005

Director: Ryhei Kitamara

Tagline: The Sydney Opera house blows up good!

Although regarded as stupid by most serious movie fans, I have always been a big fan of the Godzilla movies as it is great to see someone inside a rubber monster suit smashing a bunch of model buildings. Seeing the monsters fight each other is even more fun as there is such wide scale destruction. I didn't really enjoy the American remake of Godzilla as watching a computer generated monster smash a computer generated building will never be as fun.

While the plot has not really been that important Godzilla movies, apart from the original Gojira (1954), this movie starts with the giant flying submarine Gotengo (which reminded me of Atragon (1963)), imprisoning Godzilla in the Antarctic icecap.

Cut to several years later and the monsters are attacking cities all over the world including New York, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney. The destruction of the last city in particular was greeted with huge cheers and applause in the Melbourne screening I saw it at. The biggest applause came from the Centrepoint Tower falling down and the destruction of the Sydney Opera House.

Trying to stop all this is the Earth Defence Force and their mutant soldiers who for some reason look like they have just come off their BMXes. After one monster destruction mission, the Captain of the Gotengo (who looks like M.Bison from the Street fighter video games) is imprisoned after punching out an official on court.

Just as the EDF is about to destroy the monsters, they are all removed by the Xiliens who claim to come in peace, but you know that they have got something sneaky up their sleeves.

After their plot is revealed, the Xiliens release the monsters and also their ancient monster Gigan to destroy civilisation so they can take charge. The surviving members of the EDF, the Captain and a beautiful biologist take off in the Gotengo to Antarctica so they can release Godzilla and fight the monsters.

While all this is going on little Kenny and his grandfather Dersu Uzula find Baby Godzilla in the forest who squeaks and wants them to follow Godzilla around. These scenes are really only for comic relief, such as showing Baby Godzilla wearing his seatbelt in the van.

Cue Godzilla fighting the monsters, and fight they he does in great style. The best one is where he has a soccer match using Anguirus as the ball and he ends up kicking it into the other monsters. The best comment is made by the Xiliens when he defeats the monster attacking Sydney "I knew that tuna-eating monster would be no-good!" (an obvious dig at the American remake of Godzilla.)

The scenes with the humans fighting the Xiliens are not as good however, but there are enough corny lines and stupid stunts to make up for it. All the Xilien spaceships flying around reminded me of Guitar Wolf: Wild Zero and there is a great scene of the Gotengo fighting them.

While the rock soundtrack featuring Sum41 (who would have been over the moon to play on it), is good, I prefer the more classical score by Akira Ifukube that featured in many of the other older Godzilla movies. There is a remix of the traditional Godzilla score, but I didn't like it as much.

I would recommend this movie if you want to have a fun movie to watch with group of friends that you can yell at things on the screen and use it for a drinking game.

While it was a really fun movie, I still like Destroy All Monsters (1969) more as it has all the monsters fighting with each other instead of Godzilla going one on one with all of them. Supposedly this is meant to be the "final" movie in the series, but I would believe John Farhnam's "last time" tour was really truth in advertising before I would believe that.

Monster Roll Call:
Baby Godzilla
Zilla (from the 1998 USA Godzilla remake)
King Seesar
Gigan v.2
Monster X
Kaiser (King) Ghidorah

Rating: 8/10