In Antarctica, Godzilla battles the Gohten-go (an earth-drilling/submarine/flying ship familiar from Ataragon), and winds up buried after an earthquake. Flash-forward to the near future after a superb credit sequence by Kyle (Se7en) Cooper, and monsters are suddenly attacking cities all over the world. Humanity is apparently saved by the extraterrestrial Xilians, who zap the monsters away. Of course, it turns out the Xilians are up to no good, and were controlling the monsters …ll along. When their plan is exposed, and their leadership assumed by a violent hothead, the Xilians unleash the monsters again, and wipe out human civilization. The only hope for the humanity as a species is for the crew of the Gohten-go to awaken Godzilla and hope he defeats all the other monsters.
This was Godzilla’s fiftieth anniversary film, and the official word from Toho is that this will be the giant lizard’s last adventure for the foreseeable future. If that is the case, he’s taking he is bowing out in style. While the film has bitterly divided the fan community, this reviewer was enchanted. On screen is a fusion of every era of Godzilla film, from the serious to the silly, combined into an explosively entertaining cocktail. The plot very closely resembles that of 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, which was itself an anniversary film (Toho’s twentieth monster movie). Monsters unseen since the 1970s return here, and with them some rather un-monster-like martial arts and soccer moves, which somehow come across as more exhilarating than stupid. A loving, over-the-top tribute to the entire genre (not to mention also a rather shameless appropriation of elements from Independence Day and The Matrix), Final Wars is certainly open to criticism on the grounds that it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and Godzilla’s screen time is rather limited. But this is balanced by the fact that, for once, the human action scenes are exciting in their own right, and the monster scenes, though brief, are spectacular. Rodan’s destruction of New York is jaw-dropping, and there is enormous satisfaction when Godzilla encounters the monster from the 1998 American Godzilla. Here named Zilla, that imposter is emphatically trounced in a scene that is worth the price of purchase in and of itself.
All the sound and fury one could possibly hope for is here. The movie thunders, and so do the speakers. The rumble of the explosions is very satisfying, and the placement of the surround effects is excellent – the audience is plunged deep into the chaos and destruction. For all the mayhem, the voices never distort, nor are they submerged. While an English dubbed version is present, the original Japanese is, of course, the preferable option, and this time, it seems, the subtitles are not the dreaded “dubtitles.”
This is pretty righteous stuff, too. While there are some scenes that have some extremely grainy elements, this is due less to the transfer than to the fact that the special effects budget, while high by Godzilla standards, is still far less than the Hollywood norm. So, setting this issue aside, the picture looks great: sharp as a tack, with excellent colours and contrasts. The night scenes are never murky, there are no edge enhancement problems, and the aspect ratio is the original, glorious Tohoscope of 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen.
This is the one disappoint area. Other than some trailers, the only extra is a “B-roll” of behind-the-scenes footage. The menu is basic.
The last time Godzilla went on hiatus, the film he ended on was the melancholy Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. This time, he leaves us with a triumphant roar.
Special Features List