|Godzilla: Final Wars|
Japanese film poster
|Directed by||Ryuhei Kitamura|
|Produced by||Shogo Tomiyama|
|Screenplay by||Isao Kiriyama
|Narrated by||Kōichi Yamadera|
|Music by||Keith Emerson
|Editing by||Shūichi Kakesu|
|Running time||125 minutes|
|Box office||$12 million|
Godzilla: Final Wars (ゴジラ ファイナルウォーズ Gojira: Fainaru Wōzu ) is a 2004 Japanese Science fiction Kaiju film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, written by Wataru Mimura and Isao Kiriyama and produced by Shogo Tomiyama. It is the 28th installment in the Godzilla film series, and the sixth in terms of the series' Millennium era. The film stars Masahiro Matsuoka, Don Frye, Rei Kikukawa, Kane Kosugi, Maki Mizuno and Kazuki Kitamura.
The film is set in the future where mutant soldiers are in the ranks of the Earth Defense Organization. An alien invasion by the Xiliens unleash a legion of giant monsters across the world, leaving behind only a few surviving humans. The survivors travel to the South Pole to free Godzilla from his frozen prison while another group attempts to infiltrate the alien Mothership and take out the Xiliens.
As a 50th anniversary film, a number of actors from previous Godzilla films appeared as main characters or in cameo roles. Kaiju (monsters) as well made reappearances, as most were last seen more than thirty years earlier. Godzilla: Final Wars premiered on November 29, 2004 in Los Angeles, California and was released on December 4, 2004 in Japan. Before the world premiere, Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The film pays homage to the Godzilla films from the 60's and 70's (to commemorate Godzilla's 50th anniversary) while at the same time revitalizing the same tone and spirit such films had like Destroy All Monsters, Invasion of Astro-Monster, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. 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". Kitamura went on to say that Godzilla: Final Wars is an update to the crazy monster movies from the 70's.
Endless warfare and environmental pollution has resulted in dangerous kaiju and the Earth Defense Force (EDF) is created to protect the planet. The organization is equipped with the best technology, weapons and soldiers, as well as mutants with special abilities. Godzilla is the EDF's only unstoppable opponent. The EDF's best combat vehicle, the Gotengo, corners Godzilla at the South Pole and buries him under the Antarctic ice, freezing him alive.
Forty years later, the EDF discovers a mummified space monster. Mutant soldier Shinichi Ozaki and United Nations biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi are sent to research it. Shortly thereafter, the two encounter the Shobijin, fairies of the guardian monster Mothra, who reveal that the monster is Gigan, an alien cyborg sent to destroy Earth 12,000 years earlier. They also warn that a battle between good and evil will happen soon.
Monsters appear in major cities on Earth and the EDF attempts to drive them away. The monsters include Anguirus in Shanghai, Rodan in New York City, King Caesar in Okinawa, Kamacuras in Paris, Kumonga in Arizona, Zilla in Sydney and Ebirah near Tokyo. Despite defeating Ebirah, the EDF is unsuccessful in destroying the monsters. After destroying most of the cities, the monsters vanish and an enormous alien mothership appears over Tokyo. The aliens, known as Xilians, say that they are friendly and have eliminated the monsters. They also warn the Earth about an impending asteroid called Gorath that will impact soon. Because of their seemingly-friendly nature, the UN is disbanded and the Space Nations, an alliance to unite the universe, is organized.
Ozaki, Miyuki, the Gotengo's captain Douglas Gordon and several others distrust the aliens. Using research and undercover work, they discover that the Xilians are actually the ones who unleashed the monsters, and they replaced several members of the EDF with android duplicates. They plan on subjugating humanity to harvest their mitochondria for food. The Xilians are exposed on television. Opposed to the Xilian commander's decision to subtly take over Earth, the alien's subordinate, the Regulator named X, kills the commander and assumes control of Earth's mutants, except for Ozaki. The monsters are again released in Earth's major cities. Ozaki, Miyuki, Gordon, and others flee to their secret facility.
Gordon proposes freeing Godzilla to allow the dinosaur to defeat the other monsters. Using the Gotengo, the EDF goes to Antarctica while being chased by Gigan. After Godzilla is released from his hibernation, he kills Gigan, and follows the Gotengo. The Gotengo returns for Tokyo, hoping Godzilla will unwittingly defeat the Xilians. The Xilians send the controlled monsters after Godzilla, but he defeats them in short battles. The Gotengo and Godzilla arrive at Tokyo, whereupon the Gotengo enters the mothership.
During the battle, Ozaki's friend Kazama destroys the Mothership's shield generator at the cost of his own life. Meanwhile, the asteroid Gorath strikes Godzilla. Monster X materializes and starts to battle Godzilla. Gigan, who has now been upgraded, aids Monster X, but Mothra arrives to engage him into battle. Inside the Xilian mothership, the humans confront the Xilian Regulator. Ozaki is revealed to be a "Keizer", an all-powerful being capable of controlling Earth. Deciding to stay with the humans, Ozaki fights the Xilian Regulator, who is also a Keizer. After an extended battle, the humans are victorious and flee the Mothership's destruction.
With Gigan and Mothra dead, Godzilla continues his battle with Monster X, who mutates into Keizer Ghidorah. Keizer Ghidorah initially has an advantage over Godzilla using lightning to overpower him, and it drains Godzilla's power through its teeth. Ozaki aids Godzilla by transferring some of his Keizer powers over to the monster and Godzilla prevails over Ghidorah. He then turns to attack the Gotengo, but a much larger Minilla arrives and calms his father. Godzilla and Minilla head back out to the ocean, as Godzilla turns and lets out one final roar.
- Masahiro Matsuoka as Shinichi Ozaki (尾崎 真一 Ozaki Shin'ichi ), a soldier in the Earth Defense Force's M-Unit team.
- Rei Kikukawa as Miyuki Otonashi (音無 美雪 Otonashi Miyuki ), a molecular biologist recruited by the United Nations.
- Don Frye as Colonel Douglas Gordon (ダグラス・ゴードン大佐 Dagurasu Gōdon Taisa ), the captain of the Gotengo.
- Kane Kosugi as Katsunori Kazama (風間 勝範 Kazama Katsunori ), a soldier in the Earth Defense Force's M-Unit and close friend of Ozaki.
- Maki Mizuno as Anna Otonashi (音無 杏奈 Otonashi Anna ), Miyuki's older sister and a news reporter for Nitto Television.
- Kazuki Kitamura as the Xilian Regulator (X星人参謀 Ekkusu-seijin Sanbō ), the villainous leader of the Xilian race.
- Kumi Mizuno as Akiko Namikawa (波川 玲子 Namikawa Akiko ), the Earth Defense Force Commander.
- Kenji Sahara as Hachiro Jinguji (神宮寺 八郎 Jingūji Hachirō ), a paleontologist and friend of Miyuki who discovers Gigan in Hokkaido.
- Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka as the Shobijin (小美人), the fairy guardians of Mothra.
- Shigeru Izumiya as Samon Taguchi (田口 左門 Taguchi Samon ), an elderly hunter based in Mt. Fuji.
- Kenta Suga as Kenta Taguchi (田口 健太 Taguchi Kenta ), Samon's grandson.
- Masakatsu Funaki as Commander Kumasaka (熊坂教官 Kumasaka Kyōkan ), the leader of the M-Unit and Ozaki's direct superior.
- Masatoh Eve as the Xilian General (X星人司令官 Ekkusu seijin Shirei ), the initial leader of the Xilians until he is killed.
- Jun Kunimura as Major Kumoro (小室少佐 Kumuro Shōsa ), the assistant commander of the Gotengo.
- Akira Takarada as Naotaro Daigo (醍醐 直太郎 Daigo Naotarō ), the United Nations Secretary-General.
- Tsutomu Kitagawa as Godzilla, the King of Monsters and main protagonist who was locked in an icey-prison in Antarctica for 40 years but was later released by the Gontengo and follows the ship all over the Planet to defeat monster under the control of the Xiliens. According to Kitamura, he wanted his Godzilla to be stronger in this film by adding more speed and power to the character, believing that Godzilla seemed weaker in previous films. 
- Naoko Kamio as Minilla, the Son of Godzilla and Rodan, a giant pteranodon who loses a fight with Godzilla, along with Anguirus and King Caesar at Mt. Fuji.
- Mothra, a giant, devine, butterfly/moth-like deity who aids Godzilla in the final battle with Monster X and Gigan.
- Kazuhiro Yoshida as Gigan, a primary villain of the film and Hedorah, a giant tadpole-like creature.
- Toshihiro Ogura as Keizer Ghidorah, the three-headed villain of the movie, Anguirus, a giant ankylosaur who lost fighting Godzilla along with Rodan and King Caesar, and Ebirah, a giant lobster.
- Motokuni Nakagawa as Monster X the primary kaiju antagonist and King Caesar, a lion-like creature who Godzilla beats at Mt. Fuji while at the same time battling Anguirus and Rodan.
- Zilla, a mutated iguana that was misidentified as "Godzilla" in the "1998 film".
- Manda, a sea serpent who was seen battling the Gotengo, but was ultimately defeated.
- Kumonga, a giant spider.
- Kamacuras, a mutated praying mantis.
Several computer animated monsters were created for use in the film. They consist of Manda, Mothra, Kamacuras, and Zilla. Stock footage from previous films were used for other monsters, such as Varan, Gaira, Baragon, Gezora, Titanosaurus, Mechagodzilla, and Megaguirus. The costumes for Rodan, Anguirus and King Caesar were used for fan events after the plans to destroy them were removed.
Just like regular Godzilla films, Godzilla: Final Wars makes extensive use of practical effects rather than CG. 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 don’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 manmade live-action monsters."
The music in Godzilla: Final Wars was composed by Keith Emerson, Daisuke Yano and Nobuhiko Morino, while the band Sum 41 contributed the song "We're All To Blame" to the soundtrack (and received high billing in the film's opening credits sequence). Some critics expressed concern with the music of Final Wars, arguing that Emerson's score would be better suited for a campy made-for-television movie or video games, while others pointed out that it made a refreshing change from the music of previous Godzilla films.
Akira Ifukube's themes were mostly absent from the movie, though Godzilla's original theme can be heard at the beginning of the film. However, Keith Emerson did cover the Godzilla theme which is available on the film's official soundtrack. The cover is entitled "Godzilla (Main Theme)".
Godzilla: Final Wars has received mixed reviews from film critics and fans alike. As of May 2011, review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 44% of critics gave positive reviews for the film based on nine reviews.
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.
"...the Godzilla series had lost that kind of taste. That was only during the period of middle of '70s? I think that back in the '70s Godzilla movies have more power, as you say, more power and speed. He was very fast and he was very strong. Not too much logic, or people just discussing what should we do about Godzilla. Instead of making that kind of scene, Godzilla’s fighting all the time. That’s what I liked to watch. So in my Godzilla, you know, less dialogue and more action. That’s what I believed. That’s more fun than watching people discuss and 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. So back in the '70s, I think that Godzilla had more power and speed. That's what I wanted to do is to revive that, but not in the same ways, I have to update. This is the updated version of '70s, crazy, monster movies." - Ryuhei Kitamura, interview with Asia Pacific Arts at the world premiere.
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 crushed 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 clobbered 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.
- Released: December 13, 2005
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.40:1) anamorphic
- Sound: Japanese (5.1), English (5.1)
- Supplements: Behind-the-Scenes featurette (comparison of B-roll footage to finished film); 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.
- Dovarganes, Damian. "Godzilla Gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star." USA Today. 30 November 2004. Accessed 28 November 2012. 
- Godzilla: Final Wars, Rotten Tomatoes
- Review by Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique
- Jim Agnew, Film Threat
- MAN IN SUIT! MAN IN SUIT! MAN IN SUIT! Moriarty Attends The World Premiere Of GODZILLA FINAL WARS In Hollywood!! -- Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.
- Review by Sean Axmaker, Static Multimedia
- Review by Craig Blamer, Chico News & Review
- 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 Japan Hero
- Review Stomp Tokyo
- Review Lenny Taguchi, Monster Zero
- Godzilla: Final Wars at the Internet Movie Database
- Godzilla: Final Wars at AllRovi
- Godzilla: Final Wars at Rotten Tomatoes
- Official Site in Japanese
- Godzilla: Final Wars at Toho Kingdom including several reviews
- "ゴジラ ＦＩＮＡＬ ＷＡＲＳ" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-21.