Godzilla: Final Wars

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Extras: B-Roll Footage

Originally, this review should have been a big special feature about 50 years of Godzilla, covering its entire history, some of the greatest films in the series, giving the Kaiju genre some well deserved exposure and celebration. Sadly Sony Pictures was unwilling to support our endeavor and provide us with some basic materials, and as a result you will simply find a straight-forward review of "Godzilla: Final Wars" here, the latest and last film in the Godzilla legacy.

It is interesting to see how little the formula of Kaiju has changed over the past 50 years and although the special effects have been updated and some new elements have flown in to the genre, watching a Godzilla movie today is much like watching a Godzilla film 50 years ago. That is not a bad thing and only proves how timeless the themes really were and how some good city-smashing, monster-bashing movie can still be fun to watch in this day and age.

"Godzilla: Final Wars" is reportedly the last Godzilla film that will be made. Let's talk about that again 10 or 20 years from now… For now it brings to a conclusion the saga of Godzilla and all the monsters it encountered over the years. The film is a wonderful free-for-all monster mash, really, in which you will get to see many of the most memorable creatures that Toho Studios created over the years. There is Rhodan, Minilla, Gigan, Ebirah, Hedorah, Manda, Mothra, and many others, and, of course, Godzilla himself. For its 125-minute running length the film consists mostly of these creatures colliding and fighting it out, laying waste to countless acres of real estate until in the end what remains is a bleak, shattered landscape of ruins, battered people and a final farewell to Godzilla and his son Minilla. And this time the destruction is not limited to Tokyo only, it spans the entire globe as the monsters walk right over the Sydney Opera, Paris Eiffeltower and other famous landmarks.

The story itself is spiced up by aliens unleashing the creatures to destroy mankind and man's fight against them. A surprisingly big martial arts battle is also part of the film as the aliens fight it out with the humans. Overall, this is battle galore!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is presenting the movie in a crystal clear superwide 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is free of any blemishes or defects and holds an impressive level of detail. Every subtle texture in the monster suits and models is evident and with its gorgeous cinematography, the filmmakers really pulled all the punches to make this film a truly memorable farewell party. Blacks are solid and deep, giving the image good visual depth. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts are visible, further adding to the great look of the DVD.

Audio tracks in Japanese and English are provided on the release, both presented in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital. Even the English dub works surprisingly well and overall the tracks are dynamic and rich, making good and constant use of the surround channels to heighten the experience of destruction and power emanating form the monsters on screen. Dialogues are well integrated. Keith Emerson – of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame – provided the soundtrack for the film that is a throwback to the 70s from its synthesized first chord. Sounding almost like a Dario Argento movie, "Godzilla: Final Wars" is a surprising experience on many levels and Emerson's score certainly adds to it.

As extras, the release also contains a "B-Roll" segment that allows you to take a look behind the scenes and see how some of the film's shots were created on set. You will see many alternate takes as they lead up to the final versions shown in the movie.

No less than 15 monsters make their appearance in this movie, each of them updated, fierce and better-looking than ever. The final battle between Godzilla and the mutating Monster X is a true highlight and epitomizes all that has been so great about the Godzilla franchise.

It is hard to imagine that this may indeed be the last time we get to see Godzilla and this great final movie makes the farewell bitter-sweet. It is no holds barred celebration and as such should be taken to heart by every fan who ever had a feeling for this giant lumbering monster and its foes. I enjoyed every minute of it and so will you. Show your respects and say "Good-Bye" to the King of Monsters by purchasing this DVD. It will be one you will cherish for years to come.