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Sunday, April 27, 2014


Still going though the BIG LIST.  We're entering the final decade.

Today's movie is the last of a franchise ... until May, that is.  Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

My son will go first:
Well, this one is one of my favorites. I liked it because a lot of the monsters like Gigan and Keizer Ghidorah. But Gigan was a little dumb because he cut his own head off. I hated it because the humans actually did something other than running or screaming. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 4.7 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!
My turn:
Toho's fiftieth anniversary effort didn't blow up the box office, but it blows plenty up on screen.  (Yes, I mean that both ways.) 
There are homages and easter eggs all over the place.  The flying, drill-tipped ship is named Gotengo (as it was in the film Atragon); the fictitious planet about to strike the Earth is named Gorath (after the film of that name); the music being listened to by people at an Antarctic station is from the score of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla; the aliens, the Xiliens, wear New Wave-like sunglasses, quite like their namesakes in Invasion of Astro-Monster; actors and actresses from the preceding five decades have roles of great importance ... The history is thick. 
Mankind stopped fighting each other years ago in order to fight monsters and now aliens have arrived, claiming to aid mankind against that planet which will hit our own.  It's a lie and the aliens are using the monsters to weaken mankind so they can use us like cattle. 
That's all fine and dandy.  Even though it's familiar, it's simple.  But they manage to screw it up.  They add mutants to the mix, and in so doing, tip the balance of the action away from the monsters and toward the humans. 
This is the movie's biggest failing.  I like the thought of these mutants having some sort of millennia-old connection to the aliens that can be flipped on like a switch, but that part is over so quickly and, somehow, has no further bearing on the rest of the film.  As for the rest of it, someone saw The Matrix and decided to jack up the martial arts and fight sequences, including wire-executed "bullet time" shots, and Neo-style mid-air laser beam stopping.  It's done well enough, but it's all over the top and it gets old.  Fast. 
In the first hour-and-change of the movie, there's about five-to-ten minutes of monster action and then about fifteen minutes of plot.  The rest is stupid Matrix-style action biz.   
Despite what many action movie fans will tell you, wall-to-wall action doesn't make for good movies.  It desensitizes the audience and can actually tire the viewer.  After all of the fighting in the first hour or so, by the time the real monster action gets going, you feel worn out and somehow bored by it.  
Well, at least I've felt sleepy by the time the monster fights really start up in the second hour.  But maybe that's just me. 
What else isn't so great?  The music.  I don't mind the pulse-pounding beats during the action scenes, but there's some sort of music all of the time, including schmaltzy synthesizer tunes during quiet moments.  It's more annoying than anything else.  The acting?  Over-the-top, in large measure because it goes with everything else.  But c'mon. 
Alright, alright.  I'm sure you're thinking I utterly hate this movie.  But I don't.  It's largely fun.  Big, dumb fun.  If I'm able to tune out during most of the Matrix crap in the first half, I can get comfy and enjoy the big battles in the last half. 
Zilla gets his quickly enough. 
I like Anguirus' speedball attack: 
Gigan is now utterly badass: 
Rodan gets some nice moments after a painfully stereotyped scene in New York between a pimp and a cop and a homeless guy: 
The three-on-one fight between Anguirus, Rodan, King Caesar and Godzilla is fun: 
Mothra isn't in the film too long, but her death is spectacular: 
Yes, most of the monster stuff is great.  The action is well done and the special effects are top notch. 
What's not good about the monsters?  Simply put, not enough time is spent on them.  The battles are painfully brief and the opponents seem to be no match for Godzilla (especially Hedorah, despite his apparent power in its first appearance).  Oh, and then there's Minya (Milla): 
The parts with him, the grandfather and the boy feel shoehorned in, and his appearance at the end of the movie is just odd.  It feels like it's from a different film. 
Godzilla: Final Wars ... if you can get past the people, there's a good hour's worth of monster fun.  3.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

Next, a brief rewind to 1977: The Last Dinosaur.

(GIFs from televandalist, gameraboy, astoundingbeyondbeliefkholendx78 and tokumonster)

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