Godzilla Final Wars
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The legendary Godzilla battles humans and just about every other monster known to man in this 50th Anniversary flick. From Rodan to Mothra, Gigan to Manda, itís an all out brawl that spans the globe.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Even though Iím a big fan of both camp and quirk, Godzilla has never been a favorite of mine. Those cheesy puppet and almost clay-like animation monsters always seemed ridiculous. But I have a friend named Kyle who swears by these flicks, so I watched GODZILLA FINAL WARS with a completely open mind. The film itself is two very distinctive and different films rolled into one. The first deals (of course) with Godzilla fighting every gigantic and robust looking creature that these films have ever created. Hell, as a gag, he even fights his US counterpart (from the horrible 1998 bomb directed by Roland Emmerich), which they name Zilla for short. Some could say that the budgets on these films are small, hence the reason why the creature effects are so medieval looking. But director Rob Bowman used some great less-is-more techniques for his superb film REIGN OF FIRE, and it had just the right amount of dragon footage to keep viewers hooked. Face it, this Godzilla, the original, itís exactly what you would expect, puppet vs. puppet and itís so fake, itís funny. I wasnít laughing, but many legions of fans do and for them, this one is definitely for you.
The second is a story of humans who encounter an alien race called Xiliens, who arenít what they appear to be. Itís a story that weíve seen before, but this one is chocked full of a lot of style, (some really great, some not so great) and left me fully entertained. It was almost a cross between THE MATRIX and EQUILIBRIUM, with a little of THE HIDDEN thrown in for good measure. It was engaging, but seemed out of place with the Godzilla footage. (Like mixing scenes from BLADE RUNNER with PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE!) I definitely preferred the human story, led by B-actors Mashahiro Matsuoka (kind of a jerky Asian Bruce Abbott of RE-ANIMATOR fame) and the stoic Don Frye, who plays the gruff, Robert Shaw like Captain Gordon. This is a flick that doesnít take itself very seriously and neither should the viewer. Itís meant to be taken with a grain of salt and in that vein, this one satisfies. In the world of Godzilla, the monsters in this film are the big draw, but here, in my universe, the human element wins the final war.
While the only featurette here deals nicely with the screaming guy, I (as a fan) missed the info behind the human story. There could have been a talk with the actors or at the very least a directorís commentary. (For the record, I think director Kitamura could do great things with the right project Ė and no Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicles, okay?!)
Godzilla B-Roll (17:53): An interesting behind the scenes look at the making of this film. There is nobody talking or addressing the camera and for fans of Godzilla, itís a good thing. You get a look at how they created sequences right on the set and then their finished product. Simple and sweet.
Also Previews for the films STEAMBOY, FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN, GODZILLA COMPILATION, DUST TO GLORY, MADISON, and MIRRORMASK.
For fans of all things Godzilla, this one has lots of bang for your buck. The box boasts character circles of fifteen different foes that go head to head with Godzilla and for all others, the rest of the film isnít bad either. But cult movies like this are an acquired taste and most should know what they are getting into. Thankfully, Godzilla is pretty much to the point; with the big green guy what you see is what you get.