Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Those of you who know me know that I don't drink. That is, until Pam made me watch Godzilla: Final Wars this week. Now I cannot possibly drink enough booze to dull the aching mental pain of this movie. I know, I've been trying for six hours now to no affect, I can still see the screen and that's a bad thing. I suppose not everyone will feel the need to pickle their brain with rum after seeing this movie, if you are a 14-year old boy who loves exploding robots and boobs, then this might just be the greatest thing you have ever seen, a pre-Michael Bay extravaganza of needless fireballs and tank-crushing monsters. But if you are over the age of 40 (guilty) and have a lifelong affection for Godzilla and his many adventures (double guilty) then you cannot help but agree with me that this movie is fucking terrible in every way, an affront to Godzilla's good name and a soul-sodomizing destruction of all your childhood memories. And so the drinking begins...
Intern Kelby is willing to share his stash.
It's just that this is the Last Hurrah of the franchise, the very last Godzilla movie ever made before Toho Studios pulled the plug for "creative reasons". After 50 years and 30 movies, it's true that Godzilla had been getting a bit stale, but Godzilla the Brand is more than just the last couple of overblown CGI fests from the 2000s, which were admittedly pretty awful. Godzilla is and always will be a generation-spanning cultural institution because of his seminal work in the 1960s and 70s, back when it was still fresh and new, when people drooled over the chance to see Big G tussle with Mothra or Megalon or the dreaded Monster X and when every aspiring movie star in Japan would have killed for a role in a Godzilla movie. And as the storied franchise came to an end in 2004, you'd expect Toho to send it off with a final film that was at the same time reverent and respectful of Godzilla's past as well as celebrating the present and future history of this iconic beast. But no, this movie fails to do any of that right, instead seeking a pandering middle ground that offends and insults nearly every demographic, and that's a crying shame.
This will always be Godzilla to me.
First off, go immediately and watch the original Gojira from 1954. Go, do it, download a torrent somewhere, I don't care how you do it. Then watch Godzilla: Final Wars right afterwards and try to make it two hours without drinking yourself into a stupor and beating yourself in the face with a hammer. Everything that made the origins of the Godzilla franchise so groundbreaking, the dark adult tone, the oft-frantic pace, the fantastic character development, everything, all that is missing entirely in Godzilla: Final Wars. Instead it's "style over substance" in every sense of the term, with so much flash and splash that at times you think you're watching a video game walkthrough while listening to j-pop tunes. I suggest Polish vodka. Lots of it.
Plus, Godzilla sank the Titanic...
Anyway, I'm here to review the first quarter of this one (thanks, Pam...) so let's get it over with. In our pre-credits sequence, we see that Godzilla the huge radioactive mutant dinosaur has been cornered down at the South Pole by the world's military, who seem to have finally gotten tired of him rampaging around stomping on stuff that taxpayers have to continuously pay to rebuild. The menacing, feral Godzilla looks pretty awesome for a guy in a rubber suit, surely the best of the series, and lightyears away from the goofy, wiggly Kentucky goat farmer look of the mid 1960s Godzilla suits. Too bad we won't actually see Godzilla (you know, the guy in the title) for another 45 minutes after this opening scene.
Once the tanks and maser cannons prove useless against Godzilla, the Earth's last hope is the supermegacool flying submarine/battleship Gotengo, which comes racing in to blast a bunch of snow down from a mountain to encase Godzilla in ice. The Gotengo will prove to be a major player in the rest of the movie so some description is warranted here. It's basically an updated version of the Atragon from 1963's Atragon, retrofitted with 3,472% more flashing lights and talking computers but still sporting that ridiculous drill nose that makes it look like something a five-year old designed. Predictably, the Gotengo appears to be crewed entirely by inordinately attractive twentysomething Asians with trendy emo haircuts and big anime eyes. Except for the Captain, of course, who is a grizzled old Caucasian guy in a bulky trench coat and frumpy sailor hat. This character type is a throwback to the Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato days when the Yamato's Captain was a similarly gruff white guy with a bushy porn star mustache. As to why it's always a Westerner in command of an all-Asian crew, I'm not sure, but I'm sure someone out there with an East Asian Studies degree knows why (and when they get off from their shift at Taco Bell and get back to their parents' house I'm hoping they will email me with the answer).
In 1/350th scale, oh yes, must have.
The actual opening credits are pretty cool, I guess, whatever. I'm just not going to give this movie an ounce of goodwill no matter what it does right. Godzilla: Final Wars could rush into a burning building and save a dozen nuns and orphans and I will still tell it to its face that it's a worthless piece of crap and I hate it. Perhaps by the final act I'll have a different opinion, but I doubt it, I suspect (hope) that I will be roaring drunk by then.
Credit design by Sauron.
Now we jump-cut immediately into the English Channel, where Gotengo is once again fighting kaiju, this time the giant mutant snake/seaworm Manda (best known from Atragon). Since we don't have any idea what is happening we have to assume that the Gotengo is out hunting monsters again, but perhaps it's something else. Perhaps it's a lovers quarrel, maybe Gotengo and Manda were dating and one day Manda was looking on Gotengo's facebook page and she saw that Gotengo's old girlfriend Yukio had "liked" one of his updates and he had "liked her back" and when she confronted Gotengo on this he denied it and they had a big fight and she stormed out and went to her mom's cave in the North Atlantic for a few days. When she finally came back tell Gotengo she was sorry he was with that skank Yukio and Manda just went crazy and started trying to choke Gotengo because she was so upset. Gotengo, who had had enough of Manda's moodswings and constant yelling decided it was over between them and started firing off his VLS missiles and directed energy beams at her. But she held on tight, sure they could recapture those heady days of love when they used to vacation in Tokyo and dream of having kids. Gotengo had to fly into a undersea volcano to get her to let go finally, and then froze her with his Atomic Zero Cannon and shattered her into a million tiny pieces with his nose drill because men can be so mean sometimes. Afterwards, Gotengo felt terrible and he started drinking a lot.
Lots and lots of blinking lights here.
Poor Manda, she just wanted to be loved.
So back in Japan we learn that the umbrella organization that is protecting us from giant monsters employs people with "special mutant superpowers". I know, yawn, so played-out by now, and so totally not Godzilla-related (which is who I paid to see). The mutants are all hyper-confidant douchebags who wear SS storm trooper tunics and X-Men style body suits with dorky plastic shoulder pads and dark glasses because nothing says "mutant" like matching outfits. They all have names and defining characteristics and stuff, but I couldn't tell you what they are. I know this sounds bad but I can't tell Asian men apart for nothing so until one of them does something more impressive and plot-related, I'm not going to learn their names. And what do these mutants do with their superhuman speed and strength when they're not out chasing kaiju? Mostly just stage lame karate sparring fights in slow-mo and sneer at each other a lot, pissing contests to see who can be the biggest ass-pirate of the bunch. I seriously, seriously want to start drinking moonshine and playing with loaded shotguns now.
They are close-talkers, that's creepy.
One of the I'm-so-cool boy mutants (the one with the Elvis pompadour and the raging anger problem) is told he has to escort a bug scientist who is going somewhere to check out a mummified giant monster that someone dug up somewhere (specifics not necessary as they have nothing to do with the plot). The scientist is, of course, a blazing hot chick built like a bikini model with a fiercely independent streak. Considering her and the mutant boy spend all their time bickering and taking shots at each other, what are the odds that they will end up in love by the third act? And what are the odds that exactly no one cares if they fall in love by the third act because the third acts should be reserved for Godzilla Beat-Downs, because no one pays to see a Godzilla movie (especially the last in the series) so they can watch an entitled arrogant ragemonster fall in love with a blandly superficial babe in a lab coat when there are giant radioactive monsters afoot.
Elvis mutant (is he wearing pasties?).
Hot Bug Scientist Chick, obviously.
The mummified monster turns out to be a huge, skyscraper-tall biped with long arms still covered in mud and sludge. Good thing they had this giant building sitting around empty that it could fit into, though how they squeezed it in through the loading dock door is beyond me. The creature is obviously Gigan from the 1970s, but an "upgraded" version for the younger generation to relate to (certainly has iPod USB ports and a twitter "share" button). Gigan, of course, was killed by Zone Fighter in 1973 after being knocked around pretty badly in his first two appearances on Earth. But nobody in this movie's revisionist timeline has ever seen/heard of Gigan before, all they know is that it's 12,000 years old and "sleeping".
Gigan, perpetually in shadows to hide the chintzy CGI.
The hot bug scientist chick and the Elvis-haired mutant guy, while standing around the lab discussing words written on the script, are "transported" through time and space to Infant Island, where they meet the Mothra Twins, the itsybitsy guardians of the planet's greatest winged defender. The girls tell them that the dug-up beast is called Gigan (yeah, we knew that...) and that many millennia ago their God-King Mothra the humongous moth defeated the monster and saved the world. As if this weren't enough for the humans' fragile minds to take, the Mothra Twins then tell them that, and I'm paraphrasing because I just don't care about anything but my bottle of Jack Daniels at this point, all the mutant guys have "Gigan DNA" in their systems and they can either chose to be good or evil. After being zapped back to the present/current, they see that the Twins have left them with this weirdly Catholic cross thingie, which I'm just sure will be totally super important by the movie's end (I'm really hoping I'll be unconscious by then).
Why don't they make themselves regular sized?
Stay tuned for plot relevance.
To pad out the running time a bit, they then go to all the trouble of introducing some graying Japanese Mitt Romney-lookalike who is apparently just been elected head of the United Nations or something. They also introduce his dog, which I don't care about, and have some cute reporter chick giggle about how special he is (the guy, not the dog, though I do love puppies). After all this set-up it surprised me that they then immediately kill him off when his plane explodes over the ocean due to flying monster turbulence (read further). This whole truncated subplot just seems like an excuse to show off the reporter girl's mile-long legs and get a few bit part studio contract actors some screen time to appease the union. Once again, in my GODZILLA movie, not so much Godzilla...
"May the odds be ever in your favor."
Great legs, way to peg your audience demographic.
Off now to Ne...wait, wait, was the UN guy who just got killed Akira Takarada, the hero of the first Godzilla? Did he just show up and film a few scenes, sign a few autographs off the set and then go back to enjoying his retirement? Is this going to be one of those franchising-ending capper movies where every notable/semi-notable actor has to make a blink/miss cameo appearance to appease the fan base? Did they learn nothing from the Star Wars prequels? I hate this movie so much more now.
"Is that my once respectable career chewing on the wing?"
Anyway, as I was saying, off we go now to New York City, which seems to exist in a parallel reality where all New Yorkers either look/act like Snoop Dog and dress like pimps from 1977, or are drunken winos straight out of some low-rent blaxploitation thrilla, or are gun-waving crazy-eyed tow truck drivers with Jersey accents. I can't imagine that anyone actually involved with the making of this film had ever been to New York City and the oft-repeated rumor that this scene was actually filmed in the city is most certainly just that. Just then a monster flies in!
Pimpmobile gets the tow.
The flying beastie (which blew up the plane earlier) zips around the city exploding windows and wrecking after-hours dinner parties before alighting on top of the Chrysler Building in downtown Manhattan and artfully striking a pose against the full moon. It's Rodan, the angry mutant Pterodactyl, bane of civilization and occasional ally of Godzilla, here realized by an uncomfortable mix of old school suitmation practical effects and horrid CGI done on a broken Commodore 64 by your half-senile grandma. He's a Heisei Era fan favorite, having had a major role in 1993's Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II, but I'll always remember him from his younger, less-flappy days when he was content to chew on hapless mineworkers and Saber pilots.
That's a money shot.
Oh goodie, here come more monsters, because we haven't had enough already. Yes, it's really nothing more than a shoehorned parade of kaiju monsters no one has seen in 35 years, coming back one last time for a cameo appearance before Toho puts a bullet in the Godzilla franchise. Rollypolly Anguirus with his oldschool nails-on-chalkboard screech attacks the crowded streets of stock footage Shanghai, though one wonders where the heck he's been since 1968. Sleepy Okinawa is menaced by the big furry lap dog King Caesar, nice to see him back, haven't had to lint roll my jacket because of him since Big G saved his rump back in Nixon's second term. Trendy seacoast Sydney is ravaged by a crappy 8-bit rendering of the Unholy Sony-Tristar Not-Godzilla, who seems to love the taste of Aussie hipster pedestrians as much as he did smarmy New Yorkers back in 1998. Paris is visited a big flying bug which squats on buildings and buzzes, if that's supposed to be a Kamacuras from Son of Godzilla, it doesn't look like one at all. And finally, Monument Valley is attacked by the giant furry tarantula Kumonga, who we've thankfully not seen since Cool Hand Luke was in theaters (really, Monument Valley, is this what Japanese people think of when you say "Arizona"?).
Anguirus' just looking for a ramen bar.
I hear his actual Toho name is "Zilla".
Keep in mind that Godzilla: Final Wars exists in the official canonical "Millennium series", which started in 1999's Godzilla 2000, which reset the continuity entirely by ignoring everything that happened between 1954 and 1999. Therefore some of these monsters stomping around in our movie are technically appearing for the "first time" for the people "in the movie universe", even though audiences would be well aware of them from the last five decades of shared pop culture knowledge. I'm making it more complicated than it sounds, but that's probably (hopefully) just all the rotgut grain alcohol I've been hammering down in a desperate attempt to forget that I just saw a giant spider from the tropical South Seas stomping an Airstream in the deserts of Arizona.
Wow...that's...actually kinda scary.
All these monsters seem to be intent on causing as much random property damage as possible in their respective target cities. A perky TV reporter pops up to advise people "not to go outside and listen to the radio". No, no, woman, are you trying to get everyone killed? Stay inside your easily-crushed apartment building while a 5,000 ton monster is rampaging willy-nilly through the streets? Yeah, or not. My advice is to run like hell any way you can, steal a car, hijack a train, borrow your neighbor kid's ten speed, whatever it takes to get as far away from the house-munching beast as possible. This is no time to protect your porcelain unicorn figurine collection.
Look over your shoulder, yes right there. That's why you should run like hell.
So the "Earth Defense Force" (no real relation to the original except the cribbed name) dispatches the atomic-powered flying supersub Gotengo again to take on this sudden monster infestation. While nominally an "international" organization the EDF is heavily Japanese-centric in both manpower and equipment and seems to be headquartered in Tokyo (though you'd think that with Tokyo being Ground Zero for every monster attack since 1954 they'd be better off in a bunker in Arkansas). You'd also think that America would have their own version of the EDF and even bigger and badder flying battleship thingies, because we're America, dammit. For that matter it seems odd that there's only one Gotengo in existence, despite its critical mission to defend the entire planet from various and sundry threats both terrestrial and off-world. It would make more sense to construct a fleet of Gotengo-class warships and station them all over the globe in strategic locations to better improve your chances of maintaining a viable force structure in any attritional conflict with fire-spitting giant dinosaurs or leather-wearing aliens. Think of the jobs that would be created!
The EDF only employs pretty girls and handsome men, of course.
So the Gotengo, now under the command of some guy who I probably should recognize from the last couple of scenes (pre-monster rampages) but I can't be bothered to care, roars to the rescue. It attacks Anguirus with a barrage of missiles and lasers and Anguirus hops away like a bunny wabbit and rolls like an armadillo through the center of Shanghai. Gotengo, while admirably trying to kill the beast, lays waste to rest of the city, probably causing more actual death and destruction than if they had just let Anguirus get bored and wander away on his own. Having scared off Anguirus, Gotengo then chases Rodan around the sky for a few seconds (literally, who edited this mess?).
The Gotengo rearranges some houses in Shanghai.
Smashcut to some woods where a comic old buckskin trapper has the drop on something with his coon rifle. Oh my sweet Raptor Jesus, is that Minya? Pam, is that thing Minya, Godzilla's son? Please tell me that's not Minya. Where's my whiskey? Where's my whiskey?!?
Kill it! Kill it with fire!
I'm sorry, Nate, but it is indeed that Kenny of the kaiju world, Minya himself. And as though Minya alone wasn't bad enough, the next thing we see is a human Kenny, a boy who throws himself in front of Minya and orders the trapper not to shoot him. Since the trapper appears to be the boy's grandfather, Minya unfortunately survives. Hey, isn't it irresponsible of Godzilla to let his child wander around unsupervised? This is the perfect example of the sort of danger a young monster can get into on his own. Somebody call Kaiju Protective Services!
Kenny, what are you doing? Kill it! Kill it!
But while we sit and pray for Minya's demise, the monsters continue to rampage. The big flying bug that looks like a grasshopper (Kamacuras?) attacks an EDF warship, while Ebirah attacks the Tokai Petrochemical Complex. I don't know why Ebirah is attracted to a refinery in particular, since he's not known to eat fire, but maybe a refinery is something all kaijus like. In any case, it gives the audience a chance to see lots of buildings being smashed, fireballs created, and cars thrown into the air. We also get to see three very obviously plastic model tanks being destroyed. I mention this because no matter what other problems you may have with this movie, and if you're old enough to be able to read this I'm sure you have a lot, at least the special effects are good. So what was the deal with the plastic tanks? Was somebody's kid acting up, so his father confiscated his toy tanks and broke them to punish him?
At least they didn't melt it with a just-off-screen blowtorch like they did in the '60s.
Ha! That's Toho model work at its finest.
However, Japan isn't taking this attack lying down. The guys and gals of the defense force are at the refinery, armed to the teeth with some science-fictiony-looking rifles. Sadly, although their courage is that of lions, their firepower is more like that of squirrels (if, of course, squirrels carried guns). They form a line and fire away, but Ebirah merely shrugs off their blasts (of what, I'm not sure, but whatever it is makes lots of pretty lights when it hits him). Then he flails away at the refinery structures even harder, which sends our heroes and heroines flying through the air. But remember, they're all mutants, so they somersault in the air and land on their feet. Is it possible their DNA has been merged with that of cats?
Perhaps they should seek protected firing positions?
Undaunted, they continue to shoot at Ebirah, all still more or less in a line facing him, although it should be clear by now that whatever their guns are firing, it just isn't doing the job. And maybe they should think about attacking Ebirah from another angle? In fact, instead of stopping him, the gunfire seems to be making him madder, causing him to destroy even more of the refinery. Their mutant powers allow them to jump like kangaroos and swing from cables with one hand while firing their rifles with the other, but besides looking really cool, their fire doesn't do much, until without warning, Ebirah collapses. Maybe one of the hundreds of shots of whatever finally hit someplace vital. One of the mutants, a guy with bushy hair, can't resist jumping onto the fallen Ebirah and uttering a quippy one-liner, although the humor of his remark, "Sorry. I'm a vegetarian," escapes me. He looks pretty proud of himself, but as we all know, pride goes before a fall, which is what he does when Ebirah abruptly vanishes out from under him. The mutants all look surprised, although not nearly as surprised as they ought to be. But then, come to think of it, they haven't been showing much emotion anyway, reinforcing my belief that there's some cat blood in there. That, or bad acting genes.
Oh, I hate you so much.
But Ebirah isn't the only monster who's vanished. Back at defense headquarters, we hear that a mysterious UFO has snatched Kamacuras and King Caesar, and we see Rodan and Anguirus abducted, too. Is this movie so bad that space aliens are trying to put a stop to it? The defenders will soon find out, because their instruments show that the UFO is now right above defense headquarters. Well, as you might expect, this causes some consternation among the brave defenders, and in the next scene everybody's run outside, and those who have them are pointing their guns at the UFO, a large golden ball that's floating lazily through the air. Incidentally, the commander of the defense force is played by none other than Kumi Mizuno. In a nod to her role in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, her name in this movie is Akiko Namikawa, which will prove to have some significance later on.
The Mothership, great design.
Namikawa and her staff look on in awe.
I doubt those dinky little guns will be of much use against the UFO, even if their shots can reach it, but I can't fault the defenders for doing what they can. Don't they have any air support other than Gotengo? It seems not, and even Gotengo is nowhere to be seen. As all eyes are fixed on the UFO, a beam of light appears, and out of it steps the Secretary General of the UN, not dead after all. (Nate's right, this is Akira Takarada, although he's changed quite a bit since he was in the original Godzilla movie. I suppose 50 years will do that to a person.) He reports happily that he was saved by the aliens. He doesn't say if it was the aliens who were responsible for destroying his airplane in the first place.
"They gave me ice cream!"
After the hellos are over, another beam of light snatches the Secretary General, Commander Namikawa, and the mutant commander into the UFO. They're in a large room, with one central pillar and niches along the sides, in which stand human, or humanoid, figures. The aliens have a thing for orange: the interior is bright orange throughout, broken only by some yellow lights. Not surprisingly, the aliens have chosen to wear sunglasses, like the Xiliens in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. In fact, these aliens are also called Xiliens. Like the defense commander's name, this seems to be an homage to old Godzilla movies, rather than the same aliens returning to Earth for another go. We never got to see the original Xiliens without their shades, but these Xiliens sometimes take theirs off. In fact, the Xilien commander proceeds to do so, revealing a bald Oriental guy. According to them, the Xiliens come in friendship. To show their goodwill, they've not only captured all the monsters that were menacing Earth, they're also informing us about a rogue planet (Gorath, a name which will be familiar to hardcore fans of Toho movies) which is due to hit Earth in the near future. But they're not just delivering bad news, they also offer help. They'll tell us exactly where on Gorath to concentrate all the Earth's firepower, thus deflecting Gorath from Earth. Mighty neighborly of them, isn't it? I suppose the Xiliens are doing this purely out of the kindness of their hearts?
Graphic of the potential ELE.
We cut to a scene of the Secretary General informing Earth that the coming of the Xiliens will open new horizons to Earth, allowing it to unite with the rest of the universe. (So the Xiliens aren't the only alien race out there? Where are the others?) He accompanies his speech with an ear-to-ear grin and gestures similar to those a tent-show medicine man would use to sell his worthlessproduct. This immediately makes me suspicious of him, but I'm not sure if the movie's audience was supposed recognize these as signs of insincerity. His audience in the movie certainly doesn't. We're treated to several minutes of cheering crowds and talk of how peachy-keen the Xiliens are. The Elvis-haired mutant and the hot bug scientist, however, are a little more skeptical. They're discussing whether there might be a connection between Gigan and the Xiliens, when who should walk in but the leggy girl reporter we saw earlier, who just so happens to be the hot bug chick's older sister. The leggy reporter has a floppy disk (Remember those? And this movie was made all of nine years ago.) which she says will settle the question. By the way, I love that red leather suit the reporter's wearing.
Everyone looks good in red leather.
The disk opens to show the Secretary General talking away, just as we saw before, but the hot bug chick notices that his eyelids don't move, which all three of them accept as proof positive that the Secretary General is in fact an alien (although the camera wasn't on his face long enough to prove for sure he didn't blink -- some people just don't blink as much as others.) The three of them boldly set off to confront him, all unarmed as far as I can tell. The reporter must have stopped to change her suit, because when the three of them meet the Secretary General she's wearing a dark blue suit. If she was trying to impress him, it didn't work, because he doesn't remember her and says he's too busy to talk. When she asks him how his dog is doing, he doesn't remember his dog, either, and as a dog owner myself I can confirm that that really is proof that something's wrong with him. At that point, the interview is somewhat derailed by a man in a black cape attempting to knife the Secretary General, but the man is promptly stopped and dragged away by the Secretary General's bodyguards. As the assassin's shouts of "Traitor! Alien lackey!" fade into the distance, the Secretary General brushes himself off and walks away, rudely pushing aside Bug Chick when she notices he's been cut on his hand and tries to help. However, he leaves his blood on her handkerchief, and a quick trip to the lab shows that the blood isn't human.
So very many lens filters in this movie.
Cute when puzzled.
Elvis goes to Commander Namikawa, but instead of telling her that the Secretary General isn't a human being, he requests permission to increase the Secretary General's bodyguards in view of the assassination attempt. There's a brief closeup of Commander Namikawa's eyes, but except for showing that Kumi Mizuno is in remarkably good shape for a woman in her sixties, it told me nothing. However, a few minutes later we'll learn that we were supposed to have noticed that her eyelids didn't move. Again, the camera wasn't on her face long enough to prove this.
Love the blocking of this scene.
We next go to the UFO, where the commander and his subordinate are disagreeing. In the course of their discussion, we learn that it was the Xiliens who released all the monsters on Earth. The commander says that he did this so the humans would be grateful and would allow the Xiliens to take over Earth peacefully. The subordinate thinks it would have been better to just charge right in and smash all the opposition. Is this disagreement going to inject a little interest and novelty into this movie, which so far has been pretty much a stock alien invasion science fiction movie? Let's hope.
Out with the old...
And in with the new...
Back in the lab, Elvis, Bug Chick, Reporter Girl, and the old scientist who earlier showed them Gigan are discussing the recent events. (The old scientist, by the way, is played by Kenji Sahara and is named Hachiro Jinguji after the commander of the original Gotengo.) The scientist shows them that all the photos of Gorath are in fact completely identical, suggesting that Gorath isn't a real planet but is a hologram projected by the Xiliens. In view of the fact that Commander Namikawa and the Secretary General are both aliens, Bug Chick is worried that anyone who's in a position to help might also be an alien. Elvis, though, has an idea, and we switch to a room where a burly man is busy punching a punching bag. He turns when Elvis comes in, and we see he's Captain Gordon, the bushy-mustached commander of the Gotengo. Elvis never explains how he can be so sure the Captain hasn't been replaced by an alien, but luckily he's right. When he brings the Captain back to the lab, he and Reporter Girl look at each other as though they already know each other. Or maybe it's Love At First Sight, we'll see.
Must not be running Vista, too many windows open at once.
"Does my hair look ok?"
A moment later, Reporter Girl is on the air, announcing that the Secretary General and the two top-ranking Xiliens will be broadcasting. Next there's a series of quick shots showing that the whole world is listening. Bug Chick is at defense headquarters, looking up something on a computer, when in walk Elvis' superior officer and Commander Namikawa. Neither one blinks as they say that Bug Chick must be eliminated. Fortunately for Bug Chick, Elvis, Captain Gordon, and the rest of Elvis' mutant crew show up just then. One would think that one man and an elderly woman are no match for a bunch of young people with superpowers, and one would be right. The two go down almost immediately, but keeping them down appears to be more difficult. The bodies twitch and squirm, and when the camera is focused on Captain Gordon we hear a loud squelching sound, but we'll have to wait to find out what that sound means.
The good guys have arrived.
Who has their workstation in the middle of an empty room like that.
For now we go back to Reporter Girl, who's opening a pet carrier and releasing an adorable little black French bulldog. After a blank moment, the Secretary General recognizes it as his dog, but he can't remember the dog's name. The Xilien commander looks at Reporter Girl, and with a hint of menace in his voice he asks her to prompt the Secretary General's memory. She says the dog's name is Clint (really?), but even when the Secretary General calls him by name, Clint doesn't seem too friendly. There's a reason: this is Reporter Girl's dog, not the Secretary General's dog, a fact which Reporter Girl points out in front of millions of viewers. The Xilien second-in-command, who is also young and busy being cool, just like the mutants, laughs and asks Reporter Girl contemptuously, "What's your point?" Reporter Girl's beginning to realize this might not have been such a good idea, since Clint's too small to be much protection, but just then in march Elvis, Captain Gordon, Bug Chick, and the rest of the mutant crew.
The SecGen and his bendy glasses are not amused.
The Captain's got a limp silvery creature draped over his right shoulder, and knowing a dramatic moment when he sees it, he flings the body down in front of the three "men," announcing that this is what the Xiliens are really like. More excitement is in store for the viewing audience, when the Secretary General makes a move toward the Captain, is shot, and splits apart to reveal another silver creature. The Xilien commander starts to say, "We had to..." but before he can continue his second-in-command whips out a pistol and shoots his superior officer. (However, the Xilien commander does not split open. Maybe there's something special about the Earth guns.) By this time the studio audience has stampeded out the door, so the Xilien second-in-command, who is now probably the commander, doesn't have much of an audience when he announces that resistance is futile, you will be conquered, and by the way, you're now our main food source.
Creepy alien corpse.
Xilien Commander Douchebag is in charge now.
Four of the new commander's crew have beamed down (and they're still wearing human suits -- why?), but he's still heavily outnumbered by the Earthlings from the defense force. However, Cmdr. Xilien has yet another weapon, something that makes a high-pitched whining noise. The Earthlings moan and clutch their ears, with the exception of Captain Gordon, Elvis, Bug Chick, Reporter Girl, and one other guy who was giving Elvis orders earlier. No explanation is given as to why these five are immune. Soon, though, the other Earthlings stop whimpering and stand still, staring at the five humans. The Xilien commander orders the transformed Earthlings to attack their five erstwhile comrades, then he and his crew beam up and leave them to it. The Earthlings stare blankly at the five and slowly close in on them, and this is actually a very effective moment. The guy who was giving Elvis orders earlier tells the other four he'll stand the others off while they escape, and frozen-faced Elvis is so moved by the noble sacrifice that he grimaces a little as he runs away. I'm glad to see that Reporter Girl carries Clint with her as she escapes. The transformed humans appear to have all the brains of the cattle the Xiliens consider them, because all of them attack the one man, completely ignoring the other four who are running away. We don't get to see the end of the other man, but it probably isn't pretty.
Mind-controlled mutants advance to attack.
I'm going to stop for a moment and point out that the Xilien just killed his commanding officer, in front of plenty of witnesses to boot. Do the Xiliens not care about murder? Is assassination an acceptable means of rising in rank among the Xiliens? Did the late Xilien commander have enemies who made it clear that they'd turn a blind eye if he wound up dead? Is this view into Xilien society going to have one iota of relevance to the subsequent movie action? Probably not.
Only the douchiest will rule.
Back at the action, I'm wondering right now how far those four are going to get on foot before an alien in disguise spots them, but they manage to make it through the (completely deserted) building, then outside the door there just happens to be a van and a driver. Oh, well, I suppose Elvis and Captain Gordon could have left it there when they came to confront the three Xiliens, but there were an awful lot of other humans accompanying them, too many to fit in that one van, and there's no sign of any other vehicle. However, our four heroes speed off in the van, and here is where I'm going to stop and let Nate take over. I've watched enough of this retarded movie for now, and the next part of the escape is really a guy thing, anyway.
"Can you stop at the Conoco station over there, I have to pee."
Thanks, Pam, I'll see what I can do with this muddle. I was hoping to get through this next part without my best friend tequila but it looks like it's not to be. Our kaiju movie now switches stylistic gears and becomes a John Woo/Wachkovi Brothers over-the-top action film with a pointless motorcycle chase/fight between Elvis mutant and his (now temporarily Xilien mind-controlled) mutant sidekick guy. Guys dodge bullets, guys cast smoldering looks over their shoulders, guys defy the laws of physics, guys growl and snarl, guys leap through air to do flying karate kicks, and guys do gun-kata on motorbikes, but none of it really gets you excited. The editing cuts are too quick, the colors are too saturated, the music too loud, and the actors too bland to make even punching someone with a motorcycle tire look interesting. As well, while I'm not opposed to action set pieces in principle, I think that in a movie like this, one where you are wrapping up a 50 year-long multi-movie franchise with instantly recognizable cultural icons, you'd be better off doing these action scenes with established characters. Why can't it be Jet Jaguar and a Mothra Larva dueling on this suspiciously empty highway in downtown Tokyo instead of some Japanese Zac Efron wannabes trying to sell us Honda bikes?
In dealerships now!
Elvis mutant has serious eyes.
So the leather-clad hipster Xiliens now go to "reawake" the long dormant Gigan from his mud-encrusted slumber. At some trigger word screamed in classic Japanese mouth-wide-open style, we see the famous Gigan red Cyclops eye explode to life. Gigan immediately starts doing some incredibly lame kung-fu hand waving to a driving techno beat. There's a split second moment in that scene where the stuntman in the Gigan suit obviously, if accidentally, smacks himself in the face with one clawed hand, and for some inexplicable reason they left it in the final cut. With so much riding on this movie, it having a comparatively huge budget for a Toho film and being the crescendo of the franchise and all, I can't believe that someone connected with the filming/editing process didn't call for a reshoot or at least a cut-and-paste. It's rather insulting to the audience when you let an obvious flub make it in the can when you could easily fix it with a couple of mouse clicks.
The Cylons would approve of that eye.
Gigan wanders towards the center of Tokyo and starts breaking shit real good. Meanwhile, the now-in-charge-and-enraged Xilien Commander Douchebag orders all the monsters released upon the helpless human race in a show of humbling power. Further, the Xilien Mothership starts spitting out super-fast slivery fighters like watermelon seeds to add their laser beams to the carnage. In Shanghai (or maybe some Japanese city, not sure exactly) we see Anguirus again smashing and bashing through the streets (if it is Shanghai this is a different part of the city than he smushed before, either that or the Chinese rebuilt it all in a couple of weeks). We see Anguirus is accompanied by a wave of Xilien fighters, all shooting at buildings and hapless civilians. Xilien Commander Douchebag laughs heartily. And, yes, this is Independence Day on steroids, plus monsters, and I can't really say that it's any more visually impressive than that 1995 movie.
Gigan has an urban renewal plan.
The Mothership launches her swarm.
But not all the humans are giving up so easy. Over the burning city a lone Earth Defense Force frigate is being overwhelmed by the Xilian fighters but is still holding the line (this ship is puny compared to the Gotengo but of the same basic design). It's finally destroyed by Anguirus who rolls up in a spiky ball and hurls himself up in the sky to smash the EDF warship, flying in the face of gravity in every way. Much like the earlier scene where Pam noted the shoddy toy tanks, the Anguirus-hitting-ship scene is not CGI but a poorly-done practical effect with an out-of-scale hanging-on-strings plastic model frigate being blown up by a stick of dynamite duct taped to the side. That sort of production decision makes absolutely no sense to me.
The plastic model doesn't even match up to the digital model.
Poor Lady Liberty always gets it in these movies.
And...back to Minya, Godzilla's ignored and neglected son who looks nothing like him and is probably just his retarded second cousin or something. And back to my drinking. In a movie filled to the brim with violence, death, destruction, cussing, hot chicks, and more destruction, attempting to wedge in the comically juvenile Minya character just doesn't work on any level. Minya was always intended solely as lightweight comic relief for the goofy late 1960s and nothing more, this is simply not the movie that calls for that sort of drastic change in tone. But he's here, so let's try and make the best of it. The Kenny actually gives the hellspawn the "Minya" here, because he's technically making his first appearance in the Millennium series, but, once again, we already know who he is so we care even less. Minya and his dimwitted human handlers flitter around in the background for the next 20-25 minutes or so, never really doing much more than angering me and offering sage words of wisdom about monsters and such. Did you ever watch the TV series Dinosaurs from the 1990s? Minya looks just like the baby dino puppet ("Gotta love me!").
At least he's properly restrained.
Anyway, enough of Minya, he makes my colon hurt. Back to the Gotengo's Captain (the gravel-voiced Stalin-mustachioed white guy) and his entourage (hot bug chick, hot reporter girl, her puppy Clint, Elvis-haired mutant guy, the old scientist, and who-are-you-again second banana mutant guy) who are now in an underground bunker somewhere addressing the shattered remains of Earth's defenders. The Captain's "pep talk" is pretty weak, not exactly inspiring a lot of confidence in the future, but they say the Gotengo is almost ready to roll (it's been down here undergoing repairs).
No visual aids?
The other dudes want to frontal-attack the Xiliens with the Gotengo but the Captain has a better idea. You see, he's been reading ahead in his copy of the script and watching the dailies over the director's shoulder and its occurred to him that we're 65 minutes in and still no (more) Godzilla, whose name, and it pains me to have to say this again, is in the fucking title of the movie!!! He's been looking around at all these forgettable background human characters, all the interchangeable mutants and scientists and aliens-wearing-skin and he's beginning to realize that if the movie keeps going like this then no one is going to watch it, Toho is going to capsize from the weight of its un-recouped budget, and his own career is going to be ruined and all he's every going to be able to do after this is act in toothpaste commercials and gay porn. So the Captain decides that what they need is Godzilla, specifically to fly in the Gotengo to the South Pole and release Godzilla from the ice pack where we last saw him. Remember that? No, you don't, because like half the paying theater audience you were still out in the lobby buying popcorn and Fuji soda, and when you finally made it to your seat, the pre-credits sequence was over and all you had left were idiot reporters and angry mutant karate guys.
And that is a mustache for gay porn.
On the plus side, Hot Bug Scientist Chick is looking fine.
The Xiliens don't seem to know where Gotengo's underground bunker is, though you'd think that they'd know where everything was due to having Spooky Jedi Mind Control over so many people. And it's right in downtown Tokyo, how can you hide something as big as an underground hanger for a spaceship? In so many ways I wish that these moronic (if all-powerful) Xiliens were the actual Xiliens from 1965's Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, not just "in name only" generic movie villains. Those swinging '60s Devo Xiliens with their matching skin-tight leotards and their Geordi LaForge visors had a class and style that these forgettable Millennium dudes just can't match, no matter how high the collars are on their trendy Matrix-style leather jackets (Whip it good!).
"You, yes, you over there, stop making fun of my hair."
Down at the South Pole Godzilla Containment Unit we have some more cringing comedy moments (oiy!) where two American technicians in flowered Hawaiian shirts and wife beaters are hanging out at the end of the world, sure they are the last remnants of humanity. One of them is named Glenn, which just might be an homage to Astronaut Glenn from that one movie, but I'm not positive on that. At the end of the scene one of them says something funny and the other gives us an actual, honest to God spit-take like he's in an episode of Silver Spoons from 1986 (the last time in recorded history that a spit-take was even kinda sorta funny). Having watched enough Japanese movies over the years, I think I can safely say that their "brand of humor" is continuously a generation behind the rest of the world.
Only black person in this entire movie, btw.
There's a huge amount of infrastructure here and I was wondering at first how they built it so quickly. But then we hear from the Captain that the pre-credits sequence where Godzilla was frozen supposedly happened 25 years ago or so (the Captain was just a young lad back then and was at the battle so I'm guessing a bit). That wasn't explained well (or at all) at the time, though maybe it was explained in the Manga... They are also essentially saying that the level of technology hasn't changed one bit in the last 25 years, all the vehicles, ships, weapons, etc look exactly like they did in that first scene, which seems wrong. My guess is the entire subplot with the Captain being at that battle when he was younger was written into the script halfway through the shoot and no one had the gumption to think it through and make corrections. Anyway, in the end it doesn't matter a lick to the plot, so I'm not sure why I even care. Johnny Walker will make me forget I even saw that.
Toho loves domed mega-structures.
The Captain in younger, thinner days.
So over Antarctica the Gotengo is intercepted by Gigan (he can fly) and a wicked dogfight ensues. The Earth ship is woefully overmatched, what with Gigan having laser beam eyes and a buzz saw in his chest, and after a few hits everything on the Gotengo's bridge starts shooting out sparks and the crew does the "Enterprise shuffle" as the camera shakes and tilts like crazy. The Gotengo crash lands on the ice and it's all it can do to shoot off a last volley of missiles to blow up the plug containing Godzilla in his icy coffin. A blue bolt of Atomic Fire Breath shoots up to lance Gigan and a familiar roar rends the air! Godzilla is here! Finally! After exactly 69 minutes and 36 seconds of total crap! Now I can stop drinking (as much)!
Color-coded explosions, neat.
Elvis brings it in safely.
Godzilla is super pissed and he takes it out on Gigan 2.0, who, despite his grappling hooks and chest saw, doesn't stand a chance. Godzilla ends up exploding Gigan's head with a point-blank Fire Breath shot and the battle is over before it really begins to warm up. Lost in all this is Godzilla's silent pain. He's been entombed, clearly alive and cognizant, under a zillion tons of ice for at least the last 25 years, a hellish fate-worse-than-death for any sentient creature, especially one that seemingly can never die and can never escape. One can only guess at the emotional trauma Godzilla suffered under the ice for so many decades, his subsequent rage and explosive thrashing of anything in his path seems warranted in a way.
Gigan, sans head.
So the Captain calls Xilien Commander Douchebag on the phone to talk some smack, but he has to hang up quick when Godzilla starts marching on the Gotengo. The ship is repaired in the nick of time and all that Godzilla can do is chase after it. I said it before, but I'll say it again, the Godzilla suit is fantastic, the most life-like, flexible, realistic-looking kaiju suit I've ever seen, really top shelf work by the design team on that one. But despite my wonder at Godzilla's awesome look, I keep forgetting about the other, equally impressive monster in this scene. No, no, not Gigan, guess again. Yes, I'm talking about the Captain's mustache, a huge, pulsating, twitching furry mass that lives beneath his nose. This kaiju, cleverly disguised as a food-filtering lady-tickling monstrosity of hair and dandruff, has been around for hundreds of years, living on the faces of many men, from Mark Twain, to President Taft, to Tom Selleck, to Ned Flanders, sucking what vital nourishment it requires from its hosts and impressing internet message boards with it's natural heft and volume. As to what its motivation is, who knows? Kaiju need not have motivation that we mortals can understand. Since Godzilla has anti-kaiju sensory powers, I declare that he's not chasing the Gotengo, but chasing the Captain's Face Monster.
It glows purple when horny.
The Captain wants to lure Godzilla back to Japan to deal with the Xilien Mothership in a way that only Godzilla can (violent and loud). So Godzilla: Final Wars now turns into a road tip movie where we follow Godzilla on his walking-on-water-like-a-boss journey north from the South Pole to Tokyo. Along the way the Xiliens will transport various kaiju into his path in an attempt to slow/stop his trek. His first waypoint is the smoldering ruins of Sydney where Godzilla takes on the Unholy Sony-Tristar Not-Godzilla in a battle of old-vs.-new as a driving synth-pop tune pounds the sense out of our brains. As (original) Godzilla is a guy in a suit and the (American) Not-Godzilla is 100% CGI, it's a very awkwardly staged fight and we are all happy that it ends rather quickly so we don't have to see Big G flailing around in front of a green screen any longer than we have to. Watching from the Mothership, Xilien Commander Douchebag stomps and fumes like a petulant child. His overacting is not helping my drinking problem today.
He's quite the hipster scumbag.
Nice to see that Godzilla's spines heat up as he's breathing fire, nice old school touch.
The next stop is the lush verdant jungles of New Guinea where the giant spider Kumonga gives it a go. This one-on-one's setting is extremely reminiscent of the classic mid 1960s Showa era Godzilla movie South Seas locales (such as), being little more than a open flat soundstage with a line of matte-painted mountains in the background and a few scrubby palm trees in the foreground. I do appreciate this minimalist homage, I wish this movie had more touches like this. As Kumonga really only has its web-shooter for a weapon, it's really just an annoyance to the Atomic-powered Megakiller Godzilla and the fight, if can call that a fight, is over in seconds. Warm-up Fight Number Three takes place in Southern Japan (I think, maybe Okinawa) where Kamacuras the oversized mosquito lasts about ten seconds before being impaled on an electrical tower (would have been more fitting if G had bug-zapped him with his Fire Breath).
Kumonga looks great here, even for a puppet.
A Xilien ship beams in another opponent.
Once they've succeeded in bringing Godzilla to Japan, the Gotengo races ahead to engage the Mothership for some reason. The "plan" was to have Godzilla do the heavy lifting so I'm not sure why the Captain has now decided to sacrifice his ship/crew in what is surely a suicide mission. The Mothership sends out hundreds more of those laser-armed wedge-shaped fighters that swarm the Gotengo in a cloud of multi-colored energy beams and exploding things. The Gotengo is armed with batteries of point-defense lasers, but it's clear that they aren't going to last long in this unequal fight.
Absolutely the best visual of the movie so far.
The Gotengo fights her last battle.
So the other non-Elvis-haired mutant guy flies out in a lone attack fighter to make a Kamikaze run on the Mothership. The design of the little Earth fighter is pretty cool but the scenes of it racing through a random interior tunnel through the Mothership and then into the engine room to crash into the shield generator are straight out of some early 1990s first-generation Nintendo game, with clunky pixilated polygon animation and identical cut-and-paste explosion effects for everything. Money was not well spent on this sequence, which should have been a thrilling doomed race-against-time to stop the aliens from destroying the Gotengo. Also, to my mind, it should have really been Elvis mutant doing this Kamikaze run, that would lend some much-needed drama to this predictable movie and would help thin out the cast a bit before the final act. It would also give Hot Bug Chick something to fret about and provide some revenge motivation for the rest of them. But no, not to be, instead some random secondary guy without a recognizable character arc to begin with and whose name I can't even remember gets to play the Hero of the Moment.
I'm thinking maybe Descent, same look.
While the guy's interior attack seems to have been ineffectual, it does allow the Gotengo a chance to jam its drill nose into the side of the Mothership. Before they can do anything impressive, though, a bunch of armed Xiliens beam onto the command bridge like Borgs and the game is up. Xilien Commander Douchebag orders everyone who doesn't get top billing in the opening credits to be shot and the rest of them are brought before him so he can laugh and point and monologue some more about how awesome he is. The Gotengo, meanwhile, apparently just sits there waiting for something more to happen (you'd think they'd take the opportunity to destroy it). So the Captain, Elvis Hair Mutant, the Hot Bug Scientist Chick, and the Old Scientist stand in a line and listen as Xilien Commander Douchebag tells them that they are here in their solar system to harvest the mitachondria from human cells to feed on and now what's left of the human race will be little more than cattle. Oddly, he says that it's for our own good, as the human race is too violent and destructive to continue running the planet. He's probably right, but his methods are a bit extreme and Klaatu already told us that.
Resistance is futile.
Random Xilien chick gives the Captain the stink eye.
The dialogue in this last scene seems like it was especially ad libbed, and, really, several of the other talky scenes like this seem to have been one-take rush jobs where the actors were just told to "Wing it, boys! Action!". This movie's 2004 production date is vitally important, because that was the 50th anniversary of the very first movie in the series (Gojira) and a once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity. To release it on the 51st or 52nd anniversary would have been a catastrophe of the highest degree and there was way too much money at stake for that to happen. The pressure to get this movie done and into theaters to mark the anniversary must have been enormous, the studio heads surely were pushing their creative/directorial team hard and it couldn't have been a happy set. And when you try and rush an extremely complicated and technical endeavor (like a CGI-heavy action movie with multiple suitmation monsters) to meet an artificially hyped management deadline at all costs, mistakes are made, corners are cut, important little things are ignored, you can't help but produce an inferior quality product under those circumstances, no matter how good your intentions are. Just ask the surely-executed-by-now rocket scientists of North Korea what the results are of rushing to meet a deadline...
"I brought this coat from home, wardrobe was over-budget already..."
Anyway, back to the movie. All during the time that the humans/Xiliens have been tussling in the laser-filled sky over the ruins of Tokyo, Godzilla has been quite busy. Near scenic Mount Fuji, as classic a kaiju battle location as they come, Godzilla is cornered by a trio of monters, flying dino Rodan, porcupineasaurus Anguirus, and purse dog King Ceasar. After an inordinate amount of screeching and stupidass ninja posing, even for a Godzilla movie, the battle royale is on. And...then it's over. That was quick. Sure, there were a few good moments in that three-minute long four-way battle, such as them using a rolled-up Anguirus as a soccer ball and Godzilla skidding along like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, but for the most part nothing new to see here. The few intentional comedy moments were nice, I even laughed out loud when King Ceasar ran by the screen, never looking more like a stuntman in a spandex bodysuit with his junk-bulge quite horribly visible. The unintentional comedy bits were far more numerous, sadly.
Rare (unheard of) top-down shot of a kaiju rumble.
Godzilla strikes a victory pose.
To the roiling waters of Tokyo Bay now, where bipedal sludge monster Hedora from that one movie with the hippy disco potheads and (maybe?) claw-snapping crab Ebriah again make one last stand against Godzilla before he reaches his objective. This fight is equally as fast as the last couple, and ends just the same, with Godzilla stomping past their smoking carcasses without barely breaking a sweat. He's got places to go and aliens to roast, there's no downtime in his schedule for reflective moments over fallen opponents. For the audience, as well, there just isn't any time to stop and breath in this movie now, we're hit with blazing non-stop action in every frame without let-up, such a (welcome) turnaround from the relatively sleepy first half. Hey, Pam, here comes a flaming meteor, the established mode of intergalactic transportation for all space-borne kaiju! Who could be inside?
Incoming mystery monster!
As it happens, nothing's inside, Nate. It's Gorath after all. I'm saddened to see that Kenji Sahara's character was wrong, and Gorath is indeed a real object and heading straight toward Earth. But fortunately Godzilla is there to help. His Atomic Fire Breath is mighty indeed, and must be of great range, for he destroys Gorath before it gets close to Earth. Whew, lucky for us Godzilla hates UFOs, and that the UFO was heading straight for where Godzilla happened to be. But Godzilla has no time to feel pleased with himself, because just then another monster appears. They square off amid the smoking ruins of Tokyo and have at each other. Godzilla must be made of iron to be able to fight this way nonstop. Well, now that I think of it, maybe he is, that would explain a lot. Oh, wait, could this actually be MechaGodzilla?
Tokyo is going to lose some property tax revenue now.
However, for now we leave the monsters and to back to the Xilien ship. You'd think that having the Gotengo stuck inside the Xilien ship would affect its ability to hover in position. And how lucky the Xiliens were that having a spaceship ram them apparently didn't cause any more damage than a hole in its side. And why, why are the Xiliens still wearing their human suits? But Xilien Douchebag isn't worried about any of this, he breaks the news to Elvis that they're related. In fact, the mutants on Earth are the Xiliens' interbred ancestors! Could this have been mistranslated when the dubbing was done? This must mean that either the Xiliens visited Earth a long time before, or humans somehow visited the Xilien planet. Never mind, it's not really relevant to the plot, although Douchebag claims it's how he managed to put the other mutants under mind control. Ah, but you're saying that Elvis' mind wasn't controlled by the Xiliens. True, but Douchebag has an explanation: Elvis is a "Kaiser," at least that's what it sounds like he's saying. No, it doesn't mean that Elvis is a long-lost Hohenzollern and ought to be wearing a helmet with a spike on top, it means that somehow his DNA combined with the Xilien DNA to give him special powers. Clear on that? Good.
Everyone on your marks, eyes front, don't miss your cues.
As it happens, Douchebag is also a "Kaiser." His powers may be just a little more special than Elvis', because he can shoot bolts of energy out of his hand, as Elvis finds out the hard way. Elvis may have been too quick to assume that Douchebag couldn't control his mind, because once the energy stops, Douchebag tells him to attack his erstwhile comrades, which he promptly does. Elvis is about to strangle Captain Gordon when Bug Chick has an idea. Remember the cross the Mothra twins gave her? For some reason she thinks of it now, and we know it's a powerful talisman because it's glowing with white light. She swats Elvis with it, and down he goes. When he gets back up, it's obvious that Douchebag's control is gone.
Christ, when will you shut up?
In the meantime, Douchebag has released Gigan, and Godzilla is caught between him and the new monster, which I think is King Ghidorah, based on the fact that he has three heads, although he looks more like a biped than the flying creature we're used to. Fortunately, the Mothra twins have sensed Tokyo's peril and have dispatched Mothra to help out. She shows up in the nick of time and knocks down both Gigan and King Ghidorah by flapping her wings (some wings!). Gigan retaliates by setting her on fire with a blast of energy from his eyes, but in a suicidal gesture the flaming Mothra flies into him, destroying him. As Nate mentioned, the fighting just doesn't stop. During all of Godzilla's fights in all the various locations, we see no signs at all of humans.
Nothing says classy like double-hand chainsaws.
Mothra should probably have had a bigger role.
Back on the spaceship, Douchebag's buddies have been standing around doing nothing during the confrontation between him and Elvis, but now they decide to jump in, and they fire their energy pistols at the humans (who have also just been standing around). Elvis' special powers enable him to put up a shield between the energy beams and the humans. Once Douchebag gives up, the Xiliens each choose a human and stand between their human and the two "Kaisers," while the Kaisers proceed to rumble. They kick, they jump, they throw each other around, but back on terra firma, Godzilla has beaten all his enemies and no doubt with adrenaline still raging through his system, decides to take it out on the nearest target, which happens to be the Xilien spaceship. He fires an Atomic Fire Breath at it and hits it. Hey, what sort of range does his fire breath have, and just how high is the spaceship from the ground? Oh, well, forget it, Godzilla's blast is enough to jar the spaceship, distracting the Xiliens just long enough for the humans to attack them. (Don't ask me why the Xiliens didn't go ahead and kill the humans when they had the drop on them.)
The Mothership takes a hit!
Poor Bug Chick isn't much use, being unable to do more than flail her arms weakly, and she's almost immediately immobilized by the one female Xilien, who has a sword but for some reason doesn't cut Bug Girl with it. There's no sign of her Mothra talisman, maybe it was one-use-only. Captain Gordon manages to grab two energy pistols and is attacked by the female Xilien, who now has two swords. The energy produced by the Xilien pistols is remarkable stuff, enabling the Captain to shoot the swords out of the Xilien woman's hand, sending them arcing through the air but leaving them otherwise undamaged. The Captain grabs one of them, but since he's lost the energy pistols, I'd say he was worse off than before. It appears to be something of a standoff, but help for the humans plus Elvis shows up in the nick of time in the form of the Secretary General, Commander Namikawa, and the mutant commander, all three with guns in hand. Since the last time the humans saw them, they were human husks controlled by Xiliens, it seems only reasonable that the humans would shoot them on sight, but fortunately they don't. The three explain that they were the originals, who were held captive while the Xiliens made shells that looked like them, but they managed to escape. The humans accept this without question, which seems dumb to me, but I suppose if I were in their shoes and being menaced by aliens with superweapons, I might not be thinking too clearly, either.
Takarada seems to be enjoying himself a bit too much.
Douchebag and Elvis continue to fight, Elvis managing several gravity-defying leaps through the air, but he does have special powers (and presumably special leg muscles), after all. While this is going on, the Captain starts back to Gotengo with the humans but decides midway to stay on the Xilien ship, no reason given. He signals his intention to fight by lifting his sword and resting the bare blade on the back of his neck. Me, I'd have dumped the sword and got some more energy pistols, but to each his own. And isn't it dangerous to have that blade against your neck? What if your hand slipped? And what are advanced beings like the Xiliens doing with swords, anyway? The Xiliens didn't have them the first time they came to Earth. And why did those Xiliens wear eyeshades all the time, when these don't?
This movie is all about poses.
But enough futile questions, Douchebag and Elvis are still fighting, the humans have been attacked by the mind-controlled mutants, and now the Captain is under attack by two Xiliens, one the female. Life is hard. Oh, I do not believe this. The Captain wedges the point of his sword in a wall and puts up his fists, and the two Xiliens, not to be outdone, throw away their energy pistols. How dumb can you get? Not only this, but the Xiliens politely attack the Captain one at a time. The Captain knocks out the male Xilien handily, then does the same to the female, although not before she asks, "You wouldn't hit a woman, would you?" A woman? She's a scaly silver creature! Who knows if the Xiliens even have two sexes?
The Captain's Pimp Hand is strong.
Meanwhile, the humans are still under fire from the mutants, and Elvis appears to be getting the worst of his fight. He's down and bleeding from the mouth, but Douchebag just can't resist taunting him with his status as food source. This not only gets Elvis up, it also stops the bleeding and removes all traces of blood. And restores his hair-do, even. More usefully it gives him new strength, and although he appeared too weak to move only seconds before, he puts Douchebag down for the count.
Elvis glows with glorious fire.
Up until now, the Xiliens' ship was hovering serenely in the sky above Tokyo, unaffected by that large hole and the spaceship stuck in its side, but once Douchebag is down, it starts shaking and making ominous noises. Is this based on Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, where the Xiliens claimed their spaceship moved by mind power? If so, there's been no mention of it. The mind-controlled mutants abruptly collapse, which is a good thing for the humans, although since they all survived being shot at by a much larger force and had little cover, they've already proved to be exceptionally lucky. They do, however, decide that it might be a good idea to get out of there, and they all head for Gotengo, including the Captain, who may have had enough of tackling the Xiliens solo. By the way, except for Douchebag and his four henchmen, we haven't seen a sign of any more Xiliens, and we don't see any as the humans make their way back to Gotengo. Did all but five of them leave the ship in their aircraft? If so, why didn't Douchebag summon some of them back? And don't any of them bother to keep in touch with their ship?
Some nicely lit scenes in this movie, I'll give them that.
They all make it back to Gotengo okay, including Elvis, even though they're running through explosions and eruptions of fire. It appears that the Xiliens really did kill all the crewmembers of Gotengo, leaving Captain Gordon, Elvis, Bug Chick, the Secretary General, Commander Namikawa, and the two mutant officers to fly Gotengo. Or the officers may be part of the Gotengo's crew, I can't stand the thought of going back and checking. Watching this movie once is more than enough. Uh, oh, one of the officers is down, something's wrong with his right arm, so he tells Bug Chick to take his place at the controls. Although she gasps and looks overwhelmed at the responsibility, her job consists entirely of pulling back a control yoke, a task which she finally manages to perform. Sort of a menial job for an officer, but maybe he was just filling in for one of the dead crewmembers. Come to think of it, if seven people can fly Gotengo, what did it need with such a large crew in the first place? But helped by Bug Chick, Gotengo backs out of the Xilien spaceship as Douchebag raises his arms and screams, not unlike Cody Jarrett at the chemical plant. (Go watch White Heat, it's a great movie, in complete contrast to this one.) The Xilien spaceship explodes, and in defiance of all odds, none of the debris hits Gotengo.
"But I live in Tokyo, I don't even own a car!"
Back on Earth, Godzilla is still slugging it out with King Ghidorah, who seems to be able to change shape at will, now looking more like the old-time winged King Ghidorah. I won't even bother to point out how impossible the shape-changing is, since 99.9% of this movie is impossible anyway. Godzilla shoots out blue flame, while King Ghidorah counters with yellow flame. They go at it some more, and Godzilla's not doing too well. Boy, is Tokyo a mess, not much left except rubble. Aboard Gotengo, they see what's going on and realize they have to give Godzilla more energy. How, you might ask? How can puny humans help the mighty Godzilla? Well, as you may recall, Elvis isn't quite your normal human, or even normal mutant. By grabbing the controls and frowning really hard, he produces a white light around Gotengo, which he aims and fires at Godzilla. In contrast to King Ghidorah's beams, this energy strengthens Godzilla, who very shortly dispatches King Ghidorah to wherever it is that monsters go when they die. Unfortunately, Godzilla then ungratefully directs his Atomic Fire Breath at Gotengo, which crashes to Earth and skids along what's left of Tokyo until it comes to a stop. One of the officers announces that all power has shut down, and the indomitable Captain Gordon shoulders his sword and leaves the ship. I can't imagine what good a sword will do against a creature who can stand up to heavy artillery, but maybe the Captain is reasoning that down through the years Godzilla's been attacked with everything but a sword, so it's worth a try.
King Ghidorah renovates some apartment blocks.
Sure, why not?
The humans, all six of them, plus Elvis, have lined up outside Gotengo, and it looks as though shortly they'll be nothing but goo under Godzilla's feet. However, we now have a deus ex machina in the form of Minya, who all this time must have been instructing Kenny and his grandfather on how to get him to Papa. (Minya "grew" himself considerably before leaving the site where he encountered the two humans. Can all monsters change shape if they want to?) Godzilla takes a step toward the humans, the humans raise their guns, or in the case of Captain Gordon his sword, and it's looking very bad indeed. However, Kenny throws himself between the humans and Godzilla, and Minya throws himself between Godzilla and the humans, and after the camera pauses for a few seconds on Kenny and Minya so we can get our full dose of schmaltz, Godzilla turns and stomps off. You can tell he's not happy, though. And he's leaving Minya standing there, what a bad parent! Minya pauses to show that now he, too, can emit fire, then he trots off after his parent. Awww. Now Minya can incinerate entire cities, just like Daddy -- or Mommy, I don't think anybody's ever determined Godzilla's sex, although if Godzilla's a female I really don't want to see what the males are like.
Kenny, really? Do you know any other motions?
Minya must be destroyed for the good of us all.
As if this wasn't enough sugariness for one movie, the filmmakers feel the need to give us a little more. Captain Gordon now looks around to see Reporter Girl standing in the rubble, with Clint by her side. They (the Captain and Reporter Girl, not the Captain and Clint, although Clint is a cute little guy) smile and exchange a meaningful glance, but clearly this is one of your less demonstrative romances. And I must say she's managed to pick the most unattractive man in the entire movie, not excepting Douchebag, but at least he doesn't talk much. Then as Godzilla and Minya disappear into the distance, all the humans smile, but at least Elvis realizes it's too soon to rejoice. There have to be more Xiliens zipping around in their small aircraft, plus it looks as though all the major cities of Earth are in ruins. Kenny, Grandpa, and what's left of Gotengo's crew have a lot of work ahead of them. Good thing Elvis has learned to generate energy at will. Maybe the Mothra twins will help, too.
They won't last, he has too many anger issues.
These two, however, will make very pretty babies.
There's one good thing about this movie, and that's that it makes all the other Godzilla movies, even the unspeakable Godzilla's Revenge, look (kind of) good by comparison. As Nate pointed out, there are signs that the production of this movie was rushed. A lot of the plot seems poorly thought out; the business about Gorath springs to mind, not to mention the unexplained way Elvis, Bug Girl, and Old Scientist were transported to the Mothra twins. Many of the battle scenes are filmed so it's hard to figure out what's going on, or often even who Godzilla is fighting. The whole movie doesn't have a plot so much as it appears to have been deliberately pasted together out of elements that will appeal to the audience, who apparently were expected to be preteens and young teenagers and mostly male. For example, we have the fights between the Xiliens and the humans with their gravity-defying leaps made popular by martial arts movies, the sort of smart remarks teenagers find funny, and the fact that the principal characters all seem to be about 20 years old. The Captain at first seems to be an exception, but he acts like a 20-year-old, even though Don Frye is of course a lot older. (I'd never heard of him before, but it seems he was a popular wrestler in Japan at the time this movie was made. It was his first movie, and I imagine his character's taciturnity was a matter of necessity.) And the swords -- what's up with those? But what I want to know most of all is, where was Jet Jaguar?
Godzilla Sergio Leone's himself off into the sunset.
Any concluding words, Nate? I think I need to go and find a bottle of something myself.
Well, Pam, it was kinda sorta okish in the end, despite the first half that dragged like an anchor and all the monster cameos and such. I think they would have been better off focusing more on Godzilla himself, maybe only having a few prime monster opponents, but I can see why they felt the need to shoehorn every kaiju into this one to appease the fan base. When I sober up I hope I don't remember any of this.
Written in May 2012 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...