Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes and his allies plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes and his allies plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes and his allies plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.
The second issue is about the 'Matrix style'. Since even the creators of those films admit that their style harvests greatly from manga, anime, and HK action movies, it would be fair to say that Final War's director, Ryuhei Kitamura is more influenced by his own culture than three blockbuster popcorn flicks. Stopping bullets with telepathy, psychic battles, gravity defying fights, and slow motion have been enjoyed in Japan and mainland Asia for a VERY long time. Unfortunately, many aspects of their fiction have been somewhat hijacked by Hollywood.
The director shows many influences in this film, and it would foolish to deny that the Matrix did not play a part in shaping his approach. However, many film goers are simply unaware of the depth of The Matrix's own influences, and shouldn't attribute too much to them. Anyway, on to the review.
Well, if you are seriously wanting to get anything out of this film, you should probably become a fan of Godzilla and Kaiju genre. Anyone else would probably mistake this film's style, steeped in Kaiju tradition, for faults. It is true that the special effects are mostly 'analogue', and that the monsters are NOT CGI (usually). Yes, they are men in suits wrestling in model cities, but is it a flaw? Heck no! This film is great entertainment, and even a little touching!
The story is simple: a new force threatens the earth and sends monsters to destroy cities and crush humanity. What else? Luckily, the defenders of earth, a collection of mutants themselves, strive to combat the threat and restore peace. Godzilla herself may just be the only weapon left to mankind that could save the human race.
And so stylistically this film is very SF. The human forces wear futuristic body armour and sport hightech weapons. There are flying battleships and alien spacecraft. This may be an angle that some fans don't agree with but atleasy the monsters are all here. I forget how many, but quite a few from the Godzilla bestiary return to wreak havoc, and there are some fantastic clashes between them.
However, Final Wars is as much a human story as it is one of mass destruction at the hands of giants. Yes, that was a little difficult to say. But there is quite a lot of focus placed on the human protagonists this time. They are fighting a new and mysterious new foe. Many of the action sequences, and in fact often the longest ones, involve humans in hand-to-hand.
Even if this raises the hackles of a few Kaiju fans, I can understand: bring on the rubber-suited titans and all that. Yet I think that this dual focus adds an engaging dramatic quotient to the film. The action sequences may also draw a few comparisons to a certain fizzled out sci-fi trilogy, and all I can I say to that, is written above. And the words "get", "over" and "it".
The acting skill of the players varies between that of a seasoned performer to that of a pro-wrestler grapling with his lines. Oh wait, I think he is a pro-wrestler. I feel though, that if viewers are looking at acting skill in a film like this, they missing out on the bigger picture. Rest assured however, that this is definitely not like Devilman, where store-front manikins could have acted better.
Reportably, Final Wars is an anniversary film, and it is, though doubtfully, the last in the Godzilla series. For that reason, regardless if it remains that way, I was very happy to see the film stay true to the heritage it is a part of. It provides a fitting farewell. There is something refreshing, watching rubber-suited actors trample miniature sets - actors pretending to be monsters, waving their claws about. Sure the such things are cheesy and yes the rest is overly stylised, but the film makes no excuses for that, and it shouldn't.
Bring it on!
- Oct 6, 2005