Movie Name: Godzilla: Final Wars



This is apparently the last Godzilla movie that Toho (or anybody else, for that matter) is going to be making for awhile, and boy did they decide to end the series with a bang! This film may not appeal to everybody, and if they try to market it to audiences who prefer mainstream Hollywood movies it's sure to bomb, but it's as loving a tribute aimed at long-time fans of Godzilla (and Toho monsters in general) as could possibly be expected, and if this is truly going to be Godzilla's last film they certainly sent him off in style.

The film is essentially a remake of Destroy All Monsters, with some important differences. As with that previous film, this movie is set in a world filled to the brim with giant monsters who tend to occasionally pop-up and wreak havoc across the globe. Instead of having all the monsters cooped up on Monster island, though, the world relies on the Earth Defense Force to repel monster attacks whenever and wherever they occur. The Earth Defense Force is largely made up of mutants -- human beings with extraordinary strength and speed who all carry the mysterious "M Base" in their genetic code. One member of the Earth Defense Force who is apparently not a mutant, however, is Colonel Gordon, the commander of the atomic flying submarine Gotengo (otherwise known as "Atragon" to those who saw the original 1963 film). Colonel Gordon was just a crew member years ago when Gotengo successfully trapped Godzilla inside an iceberg, and now he leads the ship on missions such as repelling undersea invasions by Manda.

Anyway, for reasons nobody understands, the rate of monster attacks world-wide suddenly increases dramatically. Rodan attacks New York! Anguilas attacks Shanghai! King Seesar attacks Okinawa! Kamikiras attacks Paris! And a strange, unnamed creature (who bears a striking resemblance to the American Godzilla) attacks Sydney! And this is just the beginning! The Earth Defense Force is horribly out-manned and out-gunned, but they make a valiant effort nonetheless. Just when things look hopeless, though, a mysterious beam strikes the various monsters and causes them to disappear....

Yes, boys and girls, it's aliens. Somehow, just in the nick of time, they managed to appear and save the world! Yay, aliens! And they did it, of course, purely out of the goodness of their hearts. You see, it appears that they have discovered that a huge asteroid is headed toward Earth and they came here to warn and help us. And while they were here, they figured they would help us out with our pesky monster problem.

Well, to make a long story slightly shorter, it turns out the aliens are actually evil (surprise, surprise). Not only are they responsible for all the monsters attacking simultaneously, it turns out that they are somehow responsible for the monsters being created in the first place. The monsters, it seems, all have the same "M Base" that the aliens have, and this is the same "M Base" that the mutants have, meaning that the aliens are somehow responsible for (and can control) both. The aliens have also replaced key government figures with alien replicants, and when this fact is discovered the aliens decide to launch an all-out war against mankind (only after the alien leader is killed by his second-in-command, a deliciously over-the-top villian of the sort prone to BWAH-HA-HA-HA-ing at the drop of a hat).

So, once again, the earth is facing certain doom and there's nothing that the Earth Defense Force can do about it (especially since most of their members are now under the control of the aliens). Except, wait, what's that switch???

[Oh wait, wrong movie....]

There is, it turns out, one remote chance for survival, but it involves taking a huge risk that could ultimately backfire and kill everybody anyway. And what's this one chance? You have to ask? It's Godzilla! Yes, Godzilla, mighty King of the Monsters, who has saved the earth countless times in the past (even if not in this particular continuity). You see, Godzilla is apparently the one monster that is actually native to Earth and is therefore not subject to the aliens' control. In fact, the aliens don't even know about his existence (which is kind of surprising seeing as how they speak fluent Japanese and seem to know all about Earth culture and history, but I digress). And so, Colonel Gordon and his Band of Plucky HeroesTM set off to free Godzilla from his icy prison and let him loose on the rest of the monsters who are currently overrunning the planet. And, fortunately for everybody except the aliens, Godzilla obliges.

What follows is one great fight scene after another, as Godzilla takes on and defeats each monster in turn, thereby proving beyond doubt that he is absolutely the King of the Monsters. If you're one of the 3 or 4 fans of the American Godzilla movie, I'm sad to say that the "tuna eating lizard" (as he's referred to in this film) doesn't fare too well against the real deal. One monster after another falls before Godzilla's might, many of whom appear in brief, yet hillarious, cameos, including Hedorah (a.k.a. The Smog Monster) who shows up just long enough to be turned into toast. Oh, and Minya (the original version, not the one from the 90's) even makes a small, yet crucial (and totally loopy) appearance.

Oh, yeah -- the aliens get defeated as well by the Plucky Band of Heroes. Which is good, although it's somewhat tempered by the fact that the entire world has pretty much been destroyed by the time they finish the job. Ooops. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Anyway, the movie is a complete and total hoot from beginning to end. And it's also completely and totally over-the-top with bizarre characters, even more bizarre acting, cheesy dialog, great special effects, and more monster action than you could wave a whole treefull of sticks at. It's as if the people at Toho took every Godzilla movie made over the last 50 years, stuck them in a blender, hit "puree" and then threw the entire mess on the screen. Which might be considered a bad thing by some people, but not by me!

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