Review: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Directed by:

Distributed in Australia by:

Many scale models of many cities died to make this film.

This grand finale of the long-running Godzilla series is directed by Kitamura (Azumi, Aragami, Versus). So you know not to expect a stuffy, self-important film like the recent Hollywood remake, which took itself far too seriously. No, Kitamura is a man with a robust sense of humour, and he’s made a movie that pokes fun at every cliche of every science fiction and monster movie in the entire history of cinema.

Kitamura knows what monster fans want, and he gives it to them in great big gobs. He knows that a monster movie needs lots of rubber-suited monsters, alternately grappling with each other and laying waste to the cityscape, and Kitamura does not disappoint. The Melbourne audience at the premiere (MIFF 2005) were particularly thrilled as the Sydney Opera House was crushed underfoot, but that’s Melbourne for you. It must be said that they were almost as thrilled with the arrival, and subsequent dispatch, of each new (actually, old) monster. Hell, some of these scaly guys are older than we are. They look it, too.

One of the most frustrating things about reviewing this film is that I can’t tell you all the great moments, and there are plenty. Anyone who’s ever complained (like me) about the flaws of various sci-fi efforts will be, like me, hooting with glee at the way Kitamura acknowledges these flaws. There’s a definite cocking of snooks at films that take themselves too seriously (cough Matrix cough). Kitamura is an eagle-eyed observer of all things cult, and has managed to weave a humorous awareness of all the faults within the classic storyline without disrupting the monstrous flow. The audience spends part of the time laughing at the cliches, and the rest of the time cheering them, or at least that was the case at the premiere I attended at MIFF.

But despite all the fun being poked, you get the feeling that Kitamura has a real soft spot for the genre. A film that merely pointed out the inconsistencies and faults of monster movies, or science fiction movies in general, would have a sneering feel to it, and this doesn’t. Kitamura works within the genre, plays with it, and makes the quintessential monster flick that knows its faults and doesn’t care. It could be considered a tribute: not a stuffy, reverential worship of something long dead, but a warm, appreciative salute with eyes wide open. And snooks cocked.

8.5 what else? Giant rubber suits out of 10.
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