Awfully Good: Godzilla: Final Wars
I made a vow to myself in 1998 to never watch Roland Emmerich's GODZILLA. I intend to keep that promise, so please enjoy this much more entertaining entry in the man-in-suit franchise…
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Director: Ryűhei Kitamura
Stars: Masahiro Matsuoka, Rei Kikukawa, Don Frye
When aliens attack earth using giant kaiju as weapons (oh c'mon, that's not fair!), the only thing that can save the world—another big ass monster.
The best way to describe GODZILLA: FINAL WARS is a classic Toho movie crossed with an insane Japanese anime adaptation. Released as part of the kaiju king's 50th anniversary in 2004, this truly feels like a greatest hits compilation. There are cameos from former series stars, tons of franchise favorites (from Baby Godzilla to tiny twin Mothra fangirls Shobijin ), and of course the return of some of Godzilla's biggest foes. All this is shoehorned in to some crazed story featuring mutants, aliens and physics-defying action. The results are both completely bonkers and highly entertaining, avoiding any dull moments despite crossing the two-hour mark.
Well, at least three out of four people like the new Batman suit.
In 2044, decades after Godzilla has been frozen in Antarctic ice, giant monsters return and begin methodically destroying Earth's biggest cities once again. These include cranky armadillo Anguirus, winged serpent Rodan, puppy dog monster King Caesar, big ass spider Kumonga, rock lobster Ebirah and Roland Emmerich's 1998 CGI nightmare (renamed "Zilla" here). Luckily, we now employ an army of human and mutant super soldiers called Earth Defense Force. (The entire mutant subplot, which eventually devolves in to them being inbred aliens, makes little to no sense, FYI.) The movie then becomes "indestructible mutants with giant guns fighting skyscraper-sized monsters" for 30 minutes. And there was much rejoicing.
Who knew the "M" in M. Bison stood for Mario?
Eventually, the kaiju are destroyed and the world is saved by a random alien race called Xiliens, who are welcomed by Earth's leaders with open arms at the promise of intergalactic peace. However, the EDF knows something smells fishier than Godzilla's atomic breath, and after finding a mummified mutant monster that’s part cyborg and part human (?!), they realize the politicians have been body snatched, ET-style. Now the only person they can trust to lead them is… Super Mario. No, really. This guy looks more like the Nintendo character than Bob Hoskins on his best day. (In fact, all other characters are completely unmemorable and interchangeable. And I don't mean that in an 'all Asians look alike' way either.) So Mario does the natural thing—walks in to a live TV broadcast of the United Nations and throws a dead alien carcass at the Secretary General's feet. Somehow this exposes the aliens' plan to use humans as cattle for food and they declare all out-war on the entire planet. Now the film turns in to "humans and mutant super soldiers vs. technologically advanced aliens who control kaiju." And there's only one way to succeed: awaken Godzilla!
The enduring legacy of The Jamie Kennedy Experiment knows no cultural boundaries.
The rest of the movie thus features the title chracter fighting his way through all the monsters in his little black book in a series of WWE-style matches full of electrocutions, decapitations, and lizards dropping bows. There may also be a giant robot that shoots razors out of his nipples. The best part of the movie has to be when real Godzilla comes face-to-face with Emmerich's Godzilla In Name Only. It's absolutely hilarious how quickly and easily the G-man destroys his failed American counterpart. (The fact that a horrible SUM 41 song plays in the background makes it even more special.) Even the bad guy who unleashed GINO calls him a Tuna Head.
"I know kung fu!"
On the non-monster side, the hero mutant guy pretty much turns in to Neo from THE MATRIX at the end, realizing his One-ness and growing all-powerful. Hell, he even looks like Keanu Reeves. (The bad guy guy looks like Japanese Billy Zane for some reason.) Super Mario, meanwhile, puts down his intergalactic katana and decides to fistfight an alien to prove he's a real man. He then gleefully slaps a woman and calls her sweetheart. All this in time for Godzilla to save the day by creating the world's largest fireball, which takes up an entire quarter of the Earth when seen from space.
"I enjoy our time together!"
Needless to say, if you were bothered by the amount of collateral damage in MAN OF STEEL, avert your eyes because I'm pretty sure the aliens and monsters wipe out 97% of the planet's population. Obviously, the tone is less realistic, or at least more schizophrenic. With quick cuts and spinning cameras, big chunks of FINAL WARS feel like Michael Bay directing a Man In Suit movie while aping the success of THE MATRIX. There's plenty of random, unnecessary superhuman fighting, as well as bullet time, giant aerial battles and kung fu motorcycle duels—all of which has zero to do with the Godzilla franchise. The wacky subplot between Baby Godzilla, a young boy and his crotchety old grandfather almost seems like a relief from all the ADD action.
"Stay away from us Matthew Broderick!"
I will give credit to the script for how completely unapologetic it is. There are so many hilarious human lines in response to the action like "Damn that armadillo!" or "We're gonna fry that lobster!" Or my favorite: a guy climbs atop the giant crustacean and is about to blow its head off, which he justifies by saying "Sorry, I'm a vegetarian." Then there are the multiple philosophical speeches about the downfall of humanity and why Godzilla will never be able to forgive society for their wrongs. (This culminates in the end when Baby Godzilla and the little boy throw themselves between the warring monster and the human resistance, teaching both sides a 30-second lesson about peace.)
And a special Awfully Good Award for Overacting goes to the guy who plays the villainous Xilian Regulator, who gives one of the hammiest performances I've ever seen. His random temper tantrums, one-liners and sound effects are all amazing. At one point, he actually sums up the entire film for the audience: "Well now, let's enjoy the main event. The last chapter in the Godzilla saga!"
"J/K GUYS! I was feeding the dog dinner!"
Some truly unbelievable one-liners, reactions and moments of over-acting.
Godzilla destroys all monsters (including Emmerich's) and the humans engage in completely ridiculous fights and action sequences.
None of the monsters wear pants. Party Time!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- A monster is defeated
- The villain screams or laughs like a madman
- The camera spins for no reason
- There's an unnecessary sound effect
- Baby Godzilla is hilarious
- Someone's mouth actually matches with the dubbed dialogue
- Roland Emmerich's Godzilla gets his ass kicked
Thanks to wonderful Australian Bede for suggesting this week's movie!