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Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) Review

I have and probably always will feel some sort of respect and love for the Godzilla films. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d mentioned this strange adoration for the series in just about every review I’ve penned for the collection of films that showcase this big lizard and his destructive friends, but it needs to be said. They’re all back in horrifying, futuristic action in Godzilla: Final Wars and they’re as mediocre as ever.

The plot grinds to a painful halt whenever human characters appear on screen. In a similar fashion to my issues with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the protagonists and characters that aren’t giant fighting lizards or massive armadillo’s with spikes on their back are painfully underdeveloped and very cliché. A united front against the Kaiju created to prevent any more Godzilla sized disasters from occurring lead the charge in containing these dangerous creatures. Full of horrendous quips in the face of danger and some bearable performances for the most part, those that look to take on the fight of so many monsters prove extremely boring at the best of times.

We spend a great deal of time running through a vaguely engaging plot about world leaders struggling to work together and fighting for power. The over the top characters definitely fit the atmosphere of the film, but do absolutely nothing from a credible acting standpoint. When these characters feel farfetched and over the top in a film where Godzilla looks to have received botched liposuction, it’s certainly a sign that the film isn’t going to have the energy to craft something wholly memorable. That’s certainly the main issue that brings the film to a grinding halt at times, too much time is spent away from the monsters and terrors. Far too much of the film is watching a bunch of barely recognisable faces yelling at one another.

From a technical standpoint, the movie violently swerves between general incompetence and solid creations of some fantastic monsters. The budget certainly comes into question at times, with the dated CGI swooshing around the screen with all the grace of a bird flying into a brick wall. It’s a shame too, since when the CGI is pushed to one side for the actual models of the Kaiju, the film is able to garner some steam. Call backs and reminiscent scenes of the 60s era, where men in massive costumes would faintly kick one another and overact their hearts out. The brief glimmers of monster on monster action is more than enough at times to bring a resoundingly engaging time out of the film.

It’s an incredibly fun time, boldly bringing back a superbly large amount of characters and even including some laughable gems and nods to other areas of the series. An incredibly bold project that, thanks in-part due to the waves of progress computer graphics have made but also because of the strain on the budget, falls a bit flat. Godzilla: Final Wars will be a light bit of entertainment for those well-trodden fans of the Godzilla series, but it may prove rather underwhelming for those that don’t feel at least a glimmer of love for the characters within. Aimless at times, but there’s fun to be had if you can knuckle down through the plodding, uncontrollably strange story.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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