Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

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More a feature-length fan film than a studio-financed blockbuster, Godzilla: Final Wars amalgamates all the iterations of Gojira into a free-for-all brawl. It’s a colossally metastasizing, caffeinated jamboree that not only enmeshes every incarnation of the atomic menace but it also showcases acrobatic Shaw Brothers wire-fu choreography with the Earth Defense Force characters.

Ryuhei Kitamura doesn’t bother to disentangle the convoluted plot as the numinous special effects and jaw-dropping wish-fulfillment are the attractions here. Of the humans and Xilien extraterrestrials, Captain Gordon (who was clearly derived from Sergeant Slaughter) is the most intriguingly pugnacious. An arena battle simulation is definitely nimble and but it doesn’t adhere to one’s definition of a kaiju monster movie. It feels like outtakes from a live-action Dragon Ball Z demo reel.

Intermittently, the film threatens to alienate its Godzilla roots. For people with truncated attention spans, the film will be irresistible catnip. Despite a nearly two hour runtime, it unravels at a breakneck pace. For fans of the series, it’ll be a extra incentive that Gigan has been reintegrated since he is one of Godzilla’s most adversarial opponents yet he has been dormant for decades.

Not quenched to be Japan-centric, Kitamura globe-trots to New York for a patently fatuous scene in which Rodan incinerates a Superfly-esque gangster and a police officer with Saturday morning cartoon foley of their hats soaring off. The F/X during this vignette are awfully synthetic but that qualm is relatively minor next to the scale-model destruction of Tokai by the Brobdingnagian crab, Ebirah.

Then he compiles some of the franchise’s less aggrandized creations such as Roland Emmerich’s Anglicized Zilla from 1998 and Godzilla’s diminutive son, Minilla, into a rather amusingly mottled souffle with a few setbacks (the score from Keith Emerson, Nobuhiko Morino and Daisuke Yano is uncannily reminiscent of the countdown music in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? game show).

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