Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
When looking for a movie to watch for today’s column, my trusty husband said “I know! You should rewatch Godzilla: Final Wars. I’ll even watch it with you.” Cut to Thursday night; when the time came to put the movie on, he said “The run time is just over two hours.” I should’ve taken that as a harbinger of things to come because he fell asleep 30 minutes in and I had to suffer in silence for the rest of those 90 ever-so-long minutes. Yes, my friends… I hated this movie.
Look, you know I adore Godzilla, I really do. I have seen every single film starring that lovable guy. I guess, I’m just one of those people who loves the early Godzilla films (Shōwa period 1954–1975). Those have a charm about them that the later period films just don’t. Surely, I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Sure, some of them are silly and, maybe, it’s just a nostalgia thing since the Shōwa period films are the ones I grew up with. Whatever it is, I’m finding the later movies (Shin Godzilla not included, more about that one in a later column) to not be my cup of tea.
In Final Wars, like most Godzilla films, our hero is trapped somewhere on the planet. This time, it’s the South Pole. While he’s stuck in ice, a shit ton of monsters start appearing all over the world (sound familiar?). We get a glimpse of all the monsters ever to appear in Godzilla movies; everyone from Rodan to King Caesar show up to beat up on some cities. Even “Zilla” from the 1998 movie is there. It’s all too brief a look, however, because for the next 90 minutes it’s a monster-free zone. Yeah, Godzilla shows up again at the end because, of course, he’s needed to get rid of said monsters, but it takes too long to get there and the final battles aren’t even that great.
Those long, and I mean loooong, 90 minutes to get to those final battles are filled with all sorts of Matrix looking nonsense involving mutants, the Earth Defense Force (EDF), and aliens. I don’t even want to go into all of it here because, quite frankly, I just don’t feel like it. Let’s just say, for me, it was all really tedious and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Look, I get these movies need a secondary thread, they can’t be all monster fights all the time (although, really, I wish they could) but the ones in this movies seem unnecessarily complicated. Also, if you’re going to give me a two-hour Godzilla film with every monster, the ratio should be more monsters, less other shit.
I’m sure there are plenty of you out there thinking “What the hell is she talking about, I LOVE this movie?!” Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way about Godzilla: Final Wars. Honestly, when we were going through all the Godzilla films in chronological order several years ago, I do not remember hating this one as much as I did this time around. Am I judging it too harshly? Perhaps, I am. I just know I was bored to the point of actually thinking about turning it off and finding another Kaiju film to watch for this week’s column. I didn’t let it beat me. I stuck it out, although I then contemplated not even writing about it since my view was so negative. In the end, this is a movie that was not for me but, that’s okay, because there are many Godzilla movies that are absolutely for me, and that’s all the really matters.