To this day Godzilla has starred in thirty films, four tv shows, and twenty five video games. When Toho created the monster in 1954 they had no way to know that it would take the world by storm. Many critics and fans of the series cried out for a spiritual successor to Godzilla Destroy All Monsters. Destroy All Monsters had been revolutionary when it came out for allowing so many fan favorites to appear in one film. A lot of monsters had been created since the films release and the fans had waited patiently to see another monster royal rumble. Fans would have to wait until the 50th anniversary of the original film to see their desire fulfilled.
In 2004 Toho released Godzilla: Final Wars. The film is a radical shift from everything that had came before it and was the last film released in the series until this year. The best way to describe Final Wars is as a cross between a kung fu film and a giant monster movie. Toho recognizing that people watch their films for the monster action decided to utilize their time differently in this one. Instead of using two thirds of the film to explain a plot that some people would just skip anyways they split their movie into thirds. One third of the film would feature mutant cops whose dna had been modified. One third would describe a tale of humanities first encounter with a new species of aliens. The final third of the film is dedicated to the best giant monster fighting that I have ever seen. Toho utilizes their time perfectly in this film mixing in action with a serious storyline that could go toe to toe with some major summer blockbusters in the U.S. While the last review did contain spoilers it wouldn’t feel right to spoil any part of this movie.
I mentioned Godzilla Destroy All Monsters earlier in this review. The film contained 11 monsters and Toho definitely chose their crème de la crème from back then for it. Times had changed though since that films release and a lot of the monsters hadn’t been featured in a film in over ten years. What was Toho to do? If you guessed bring in monsters like Destroyah you would be sorely mistaken. Instead they chose Eborah and some of the other more obscure monsters that had been featured as throw away monsters. With a cast of fifteen monsters in Final Wars you can be sure that at least some of your favorites will make an appearance. Monsters such as Rodan and Gigan make their triumphant return as does the 1998 Godzilla now named simply Zilla. Toho actually found that movie so insulting to their character that they removed the word God from it’s name. If you hated the 1998 movie as much as I did then you have to see what happens to Zilla in this one.
With beautiful use of practical effects and CG this film truly is a masterpiece. While some of the acting is very cheesy most of the actors succeed in giving a convincing performance. This movie may be the rare exception to the giant monster film rule. It has phenomenal writing, good special effects, and some of the best acting to be featured in the genre. Toho definitely went above and beyond the call of duty to celebrate Godzilla’s 50th birthday. It is my sincere hopes that the franchise makes it to a hundred years.