In an effort to continue to upgrade and diversify my viewing, I got together with my friend Rod the other evening and watched Godzilla: Final Wars.
When we first talked about watching this (and some other films that are on our list) part of the idea was that I would blog about them afterward. This is what happened, for example, when he and I watched Sharknado or Yamato! But I’m not sure what to say about this supposedly “final” Godzilla movie. Let’s try to sum it up this way: it’s sort of like an fan’s ultimate mash-up fantasy of the long-running Japanese monster’s franchise, made presumably for it’s 50th anniversary in 2004 (the first Godzilla movie came out in 1954) but looking like it was produced as a cheap television movie in the early 1990’s. Plus, it features the film debut of mixed martial artist Don Frye (whose mustache, Rod says, is more man than me or you) as “the guy who speaks English all the time”.
The story manages to throw in a whole host of Godzilla-related monsters that I’m sure I’d have been very excited to see if I was a particular fan, as well as aliens, as well as mutant superheroes. That’s right, the film sort of features the X-Men. Except that in a world where giant monsters periodically rise out of the ocean and lay waste to large cities (not just Tokyo this time around, but also Paris, Sydney, New York, Phoenix and others), mutants are not hunted and feared, but are instead part of the elite Earth Defense Force who have the best weapons, the best ships, the best soldiers, and Don Frye to stop these monsters.
But suddenly they are put to the test when a host of fan-favorite monsters appear out of nowhere and start attacking cities everywhere. The earth is overrun but is saved at the last minute by the sudden appearance of the alien Xiliens. Of course, the Xiliens are actually up to no good, and were behind the monster attack in the first place. The young hothead alien kills the old stodgy leader alien and embarks on a massive offensive, and so our heroes decide that earth’s only hope is to free the one monster that the aliens cannot control: Godzilla, who has been frozen these last 40 years in Antarctica. They do so, and fortunately the aliens focus all their monster power on Godzilla, who one at a time defeats them, albeit with the help of Mothra at one point. Meanwhile, a group of surviving humans infiltrate the aliens to defeat them once and for all. And so we find that humanity’s last hopes are in the hands of a mutant soldier, his beautiful and brilliant scientist girlfriend, Don Frye, and Don Frye’s mustache. Luckily for humanity, they turn out to be up to the task and the earth is saved (or what little of it is still around in any case). This is in no small part thanks to the fact that the mutant soldier turns out to basically be Neo from The Matrix. Godzilla, for his part, finds his anger against humanity is appeased by the unexpected appearance of Godzooky–er, rather, that’s Minilla, as he’s known–Godzilla’s friendly son. Together father and son monster mosey on out to sea at the end of the movie.
There is of course no way to really talk about the quality of a movie like Godzilla: Final Wars. Obviously, it’s stupid. I mean, you knew that, right? How could it be anything but stupid? Maybe they made it stupid on purpose, I don’t know. In the end it doesn’t really matter. A stupid movie isn’t any less stupid because it was done so on purpose.
But if all those years of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 has taught us anything, it’s that stupid doesn’t have to mean unenjoyable. Godzilla: Final Wars was a fun to watch, even though I am not at all conversant in 50 years of Godzilla-related silliness (unlike, say, 50 years of Doctor Who related-silliness, or 50 years of Star Trek silliness – coming soon!). It featured quite a few moments that made me laugh out loud, including the debut of the “of course she’s going to be beautiful” scientist that our mutant hero is assigned to protect, or the first time Don Frye and his gigantic mustache were thrust out of the screen upon the viewer. But it didn’t, I have to say, turn me into a Godzilla fan, and so I guess the summary of the 50 year franchise that I got through this film is probably enough for me.