Godzilla: Final Wars
Godzilla: Final Wars (ゴジラ ファイナルウォーズ Gojira: Fainaru Wōzu) is a 2004 kaiju film featuring Godzilla. The film is a joint Japanese-Australian-American-Chinese venture produced by Toho Pictures, Inc., CP International, Zazou Productions and Napalm Films. It is the 29th film in the Godzilla franchise, the 28th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and the sixth and final film in the Millennium series. The film is directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, written by Wataru Mimura and Isao Kiriyama, and stars Masahiro Matsuoka, Rei Kikukawa, Don Frye, Maki Mizuno, Kazuki Kitamura, Kane Kosugi, Masakatsu Funaki, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Masami Nagasawa, Chihiro Otsuka, Shigeru Izumiya, Masato Ibu, Jun Kunimura and Akira Takarada. It is also the last Godzilla film to be produced by any studio until Godzilla (2014) and the last Godzilla film to be produced by Toho until Shin Godzilla (2016).
|Godzilla: Final Wars|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ryuhei Kitamura|
|Produced by||Shogo Tomiyama|
|Screenplay by||Isao Kiriyama|
|Edited by||Shūichi Kakesu|
Toho Pictures, Inc.
|Box office||$12 million|
As the franchise's 50th anniversary film, a variety of actors and monsters from previous Godzilla films make appearances in the film. Godzilla: Final Wars held its premiere on November 29, 2004 in Los Angeles, California and was released in Japan on December 4, 2004. Before the world premiere, Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Years after an initial attack of Tokyo in 1954, Godzilla is entrapped under ice in Antarctica after a battle with the original Gotengo. In later years, environmental disasters cause the appearance of giant monsters and superhumans, dubbed "mutants", who are then recruited into the Earth Defense Force (EDF) to battle the monsters. An upgraded Gotengo, commanded by Captain Douglas Gordon, battles and destroys Manda, but the ship is wrecked in the process and its captain is suspended from the EDF.
Mutant soldier Shinichi Ozaki is tasked with guarding a U.N. biologist, Dr. Miyuki Otonashi, who is sent to study a mummified monster. They are teleported to Infant Island where they encounter the Shobijin, fairies of Mothra, who reveal the mummified monster as Gigan, an alien cyborg sent to destroy the Earth who was ultimately defeated by Mothra. They warn that a battle between good and evil will happen soon and that Ozaki must choose a side. Giant monsters begin attacking several major cities. Rodan attacks New York City, Anguirus attacks Shanghai, Zilla attacks Sydney, King Caesar attacks Okinawa, Kamacuras attacks Paris, Kumonga attacks Phoenix, Ebirah attacks Tokai, and Hedorah attacks an unknown location. The EDF engage the creatures, who mysteriously vanish at the same moment when an alien mothership appears over Tokyo. The aliens, named Xiliens, warn that an incoming planet called "Gorath" will soon impact the Earth. A peace pact is signed between Earth and the Xiliens. Meanwhile, Minilla, Godzilla's son, is found in the forest by a boy and his grandfather.
Distrusting the Xiliens, Ozaki, Miyuki, and her sister, Anna discover that Gorath they saw is actually a hologram and that the aliens have replaced several members of the EDF with duplicates. After their kind is exposed, the Xiliens' Controller, who called himself X during an interview on a radio show, kills his superior to assume command, revealing the plan to use humans as a food source while taking control of all the mutants except for Ozaki. X also has the monsters placed under his control and awakens Gigan to have them to wipe out the EDF. The group escapes although Gigan pursues them. Gordon convinces them to travel to Antarctica to release Godzilla, who easily destroys Gigan. The Gotengo then guides Godzilla into battle with the other monsters and returns to Tokyo to engage the Xiliens. After penetrating the mothership, the group is captured and brought before X as he summons Gorath to Earth. Though Godzilla destroys Gorath just before it crashes, it unleashes Monster X, and the two monsters battle.
An upgraded Gigan aids Monster X but is intercepted by Mothra, who is gravely wounded while managing to destroy the cyborg. In the Xilien ship, X reveals that both he and Ozaki are superior beings known are "Keizers." A fight breaks out, and X is unable to take control of the human, due to the Shobijins' blessing. X is fatally wounded, but he triggers the ship's self-destruct as the group falls back to the Gotengo moments before the mothership explodes. Godzilla and Monster X continue their battle as the latter transforms into its true form, Keizer Ghidorah. Keizer Ghidorah initially gets the upper-hand but Godzilla emerges victorious in the end. Minilla shows up at the scene and convinces Godzilla not to destroy the Gotengo. The survivors watch Godzilla and Minilla return to the ocean.
- Masahiro Matsuoka as Shinichi Ozaki (尾崎 真一 Ozaki Shin'ichi)
- Rei Kikukawa as Miyuki Otonashi (音無 美雪 Otonashi Miyuki)
- Don Frye as Captain Douglas Gordon (ダグラス・ゴードン大佐 Dagurasu Gōdon Taisa)
- Maki Mizuno as Anna Otonashi (音無 杏奈 Otonashi Anna)
- Kazuki Kitamura as X (Ｘ Ekkusu)/Xillian Controller (X星人統制官 Ekkusu seijin Tōseikan)
- Kane Kosugi as Katsunori Kazama (風間 勝範 Kazama Katsunori)
- Masakatsu Funaki as Commander Kumasaka (熊坂教官 Kumasaka Kyōkan)
- Kumi Mizuno as Akiko Namikawa (波川 玲子 Namikawa Akiko)
- Kenji Sahara as Hachiro Jinguji (神宮寺 八郎 Jingūji Hachirō)
- Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka as the Shobijin (小美人)
- Shigeru Izumiya as Samon Taguchi (田口 左門 Taguchi Samon)
- Masatō Ibu as the Xilien General (X星人司令官 Ekkusu seijin Shirei)
- Jun Kunimura as Major Kumoro (小室少佐 Kumuro Shōsa)
- Akira Takarada as Naotaro Daigo (醍醐 直太郎 Daigo Naotarō)
- Kenta Suga as Kenta Taguchi (田口 健太 Taguchi Kenta)
- Tsutomu Kitagawa as Godzilla
- Naoko Kamio as Minilla and Rodan
- Kazuhiro Yoshida as Gigan and Hedorah.
- Toshihiro Ogura as Keizer Ghidorah, Anguirus, and Ebirah
- Motokuni Nakagawa as Monster X and King Caesar
Ryuhei Kitamura accepted the offer to direct the film due to being unsatisfied with the Godzilla films of the 80s, 90s and 2000s, stating, "I loved the Godzilla movies back in the ’70s, but not so much the ones released in the 1980s and ’90s. Godzilla movies back in the ’70s were never just monster movies, there were always messages and themes that reflected the time and world within which they were made, and they combined this so well with straight-out entertainment. They lost that touch in the ’80s".
Director Ryuhei Kitamura has compared Godzilla: Final Wars to that of a musician's "Best of" album, stating "We picked lots and lots of the best elements from the past and combined it in a new way. It's what I love about Godzilla and what I don't love about recent Godzilla movies".
Like previous Godzilla films, Godzilla: Final Wars makes extensive use of practical effects rather than CGI. The special effects were directed and supervised by Eiichi Asada, who also directed the special effects for Godzilla: Tokyo SOS. Commenting on the special effects, Kitamura stated at the film's world premiere in Hollywood, "We stick to the special effects. That’s what we've been doing for 50 years. And that’s why Hollywood doesn’t do it. So on the first meeting, I told everybody that we stick to the special effects, and the live action instead of CGI. So it’s a CGI-monster-Hollywood Godzilla versus our man-made live-action monsters."
Filming included on-location shooting in New York City and Sydney, Australia.
The film's soundtrack was composed by Keith Emerson, Nobuhiko Morino, and Daisuke Yano. It features the song We're All to Blame by Sum 41 during the battle between Godzilla and Zilla. The band was billed in the opening credits.
Godzilla: Final Wars was distributed theatrically by Toho in Japan on December 4, 2004. It was released theatrically in the United States on November 29, 2004 and then released to video on December 13, 2005.
Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique called the film "utterly fantastic" and "a rush of explosive excitement." Jim Agnew of Film Threat gave the film four and a half stars out of five, saying "the good news for kaiju fans is that Godzilla: Final Wars is a kick-ass giant monster flick." Drew McWeeny of Ain't It Cool News remarked, "Godzilla: Final Wars earns a special place in my heart. It's fun. Pure lunatic fun, every frame." Sean Axmaker of Static Multimedia said, "Directed by a true fan of the old school, it's lusciously, knowingly, lovingly cheesy." Craig Blamer of the Chico News & Review called the film "a giddy and fast-paced celebration of the big guy."
Conversely, David Nusair of Reel Film gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying that "the battles are admittedly quite entertaining" but felt that director Ryuhei Kitamura "is absolutely the wrong choice for the material." David Cornelius of eFilmCritic gave the film two stars out of five, calling it "the dullest, weakest Godzilla movie I've seen in a long, long time." Ty Burr of the Boston Globe gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying it focused too much on action and not enough on story, and calling it "35 minutes longer than is necessary."
Among kaiju-related websites, J.L. Carrozza of Toho Kingdom "absolutely love[d]" Final Wars, saying "[it's] no masterpiece, but it is such insane fun that quite frankly it's hard not to adore it." Mike Bogue of American Kaiju said "the film is flawed, but nonetheless entertaining," saying there are "too many [Matrix-style] battles" but that the film "makes excellent use of its monsters" and "Kitamura keeps things moving at a brisk pace." Japan Hero criticized the "[lack of] character development" but concluded that Final Wars is "a very entertaining movie," saying that "Kitamura did a wonderful job making it an interesting and great looking film worthy of being the final [Godzilla] movie."
Stomp Tokyo said "the monster scenes are generally well done" but criticized the film's "incoherence," saying: "It's a shame that Kitamaura couldn't choose a tone for the film, instead shifting the movie's mood wildly from scene to scene." Lenny Taguchi of Monster Zero criticized Keith Emerson's soundtrack but gave Final Wars an overall favorable review, calling it a "fun and good" movie that "tries many things, and generally succeeds at almost all of them."
Director Kitamura commented at the film's world premiere that the reason why he agreed to direct the film was because he wanted to update Godzilla and recapture the same spirit seen in the later Godzilla films from the Showa era. He wanted to incorporate the same speed and power seen in films like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which he believed was lost somewhere within the series, stating, "The Godzilla series had lost that kind of taste. I think that back in the '70s Godzilla movies had more power and speed. He was very fast and he was very strong. So in my Godzilla, you know, less dialogue and more action. That’s more fun than watching people discuss what we should do about Godzilla. As a Godzilla fan I want to see Godzilla punching and kicking, beating up all the other monsters instead of somebody talking again, you know, discussing the operation. That's what I wanted to do is to revive that, but not in the same way, I have to update. This is the updated version of '70s, crazy, monster movies."
WatchMojo ranked the film as #3 on their Top 10 Godzilla Movies list.
At roughly $19,500,000, Godzilla: Final Wars was the most expensive Toho-produced Godzilla film of all time.
Any hopes Toho had of Godzilla: Final Wars ending the series with a box office bang were stifled when the film opened in Japan on December 4, 2004. In its opening weekend, it came in third at the box office with $1,874,559. At the holiday season box office, it was beaten by Howl's Moving Castle and The Incredibles, both which also pursued the family market. It eventually grossed roughly $12,000,000 at the Japanese box office, with 1,000,000 admissions. Not only was it the least-attended film in the Millennium series, it was also the least attended film in 29 years since Terror of Mechagodzilla.
|2005||Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival||Best Feature Film||Godzilla: Final Wars||Nominated|
|2006||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Most Disturbing Import (Scariest Foreign Film)||Godzilla: Final Wars|
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Released: December 13, 2005
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.40:1) Anamorphic
- Sound: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1) English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Subtitles: English and French
- Supplements: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (comparison of B-roll footage to finished film)(17:53 min); Trailers for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Steamboy, Dust to Glory, MirrorMask, and Madison
- Region 1
- MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence.
Sony – Blu-ray (Toho Godzilla Collection) 
- Released: May 6, 2014
- Picture: 2.40:1 (MPEG-4 AVC) [1080P]
- Sound: Japanese and English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, and French
- Godzilla: B-Roll to Film (SD, Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 17:54)
- Theatrical Trailer (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 2:11, HD)
- Teaser 1 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:41, HD)
- Teaser 2 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:41, HD)
- Teaser 3 (Japanese DD 2.0, English subtitles, 0:42, HD)
- Notes: This is a 2-Disc double feature with Godzilla: Tokyo SOS.
- Galbraith IV 2008, p. 435.
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- Review by Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique
- Jim Agnew, Film Threat
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- Review by David Nusair, Reel Film
- Review by David Cornelius, eFilmCritic
- Review by Ty Burr, Boston Globe
- Review J.L. Carrozza, Toho Kingdom
- Review Mike Bogue, American Kaiju
- Review Archived 2005-10-29 at the Wayback Machine Japan Hero
- Review Stomp Tokyo
- Review Archived 2008-12-20 at the Wayback Machine Lenny Taguchi, Monster Zero
- "Asia Pacific Arts: The Art of Collaboration: interview with Ryuhei Kitamura". usc.edu.
- "Godzilla: Final Wars - Box Office Report". tohokingdom.com.
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