U.S. release date: December 14, 2005 by Tri-Star Video.
Japanese audience attendance: Unknown, but only marginally better than the last G-film.
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Screenplay: Isao Kiryama, Wataru Mimura, Shogo Tomiyama, and Ryuhei Kitamura
Sfx: Eiichi Asada
Musical score: Keith Emerson
U.S. version available on home video from Tri-Star Video.
The film opens in the year 1964, where a U.N. military unit has engaged Godzilla in the South Pole, to no avail. Soon, the sophisticated combat vessel called the Gotengo (a.k.a., Atragon) arrives to join the battle. Though Godzilla blasts the Gotengo out of the sky with his atomic breath, the reverberations cause the fragile ice beneath the kaiju's feet to break, thus causing the Atomic Titan to lose his balance and fall into a small fissure. Taking advantage of this, the captain of the Gotengo orders missiles fired at the mountains of snow and ice surrounding the monster. This is done with unbridled enthusiasm by a young American tactical crewmember named Douglas Gordon, and the result is that Godzilla is defeated after being buried underneath thousands of tons of ice and snow, all of which causes him to enter a state of hibernation. This Antarctic spot is designated 'Area G' by the U.N., and a small permanent base is established there to monitor Godzilla's state of hibernation.
After this prologue sequence, the history of the particular timeline where the above event occurred is related.
In this timeline, due to the multitude of wars fought between the various nations during the 20th century, particularly involving the testing of atomic weapons, numerous dai kaiju (giant monsters) were inadvertently created to ravage the world, beginning with Godzilla's initial attack on Tokyo in 1954 (in this timeline, he obviously wasn't killed by the Oxygen Destroyer, but continued his attacks on human cities periodically over the next ten years until his ill-fated encounter with the Gotengo in the South Pole circa 1964). This resulted in the nations of the world uniting together militarily to form the Earth Defense Force, run by the United Nations, to develop advanced weaponry to battle these monsters (shown in quick stock footage vignettes were Varan, Gezora, Baragon, Gaila, Titanosaurus, and Megaguirus [the only post-Showa kaiju depicted in this film!], all of which were obviously since dispatched in some manner by the EDF). Also emerging across the world were a race of posthuman mutants, who looked human but had considerably greater physical capabilities, including strength, speed, and agility. These mutants were ultimately recruited and trained in combat by the EDF to form Organization-M (the 'M Organization' in the American version), an elite unit of soldiers who combined advanced military weaponry with their posthuman physical abilities to defend the Earth cities from the kaiju incursions. Maser weaponry with both destructive and freezing capabilities were developed by the U.N. science and military forces to use against the monsters, and various large flying combat vessels utilizing such weaponry (along with other powerful but conventional weaponry) were devised. Organization-M soldiers often carried hand-held maser pistols, as well as maser bazookas.
This situation continued into the year 2004, when Douglas Gordon had since made the rank of captain and now commanded the Gotengo, which was now upgraded with maser weaponry. At this point, the Gotengo was at the ocean floor off the coast of Normandy to counter the sea serpent-like kaiju Manda. After an intense battle, Gordon orders the crew of the battle ship to execute a reckless but highly effective maneuver in which the vessel, now being damaged by both its extremely low depths under the sea and Manda's powerful constricting hold, to use missiles to cause a huge undersea volcano to erupt, and then fly the vessel through it. After traveling through the volcano's extremely hot lava floes, which further damaged the Gotengo, the intense heat set the snake-like monster aflame and forced him to release his constricting hold on the ship. Though Manda ignored the flames around his body and viciously pursued the Gotengo to the surface, the vessel stopped the kaiju with its powerful zero cannon (i.e., its 'freezing maser'), and then plunged its frontal power drill through the creature's insensate body, shattering it to bits and successfully destroying the monster.
Despite the successful resolution of the battle, U.N. Commander Akiko Namikawa severely reprimands Gordon for his aforementioned reckless maneuver, which further damaged the ship and endangered the lives of all of the crew. Gordon was indignant to his superior officer, and was thus ordered confined to a cell until the consequences for his behavior could be determined, and the Gotengo was called in for repairs.
Meanwhile, the mutant soldiers Shinichi Ozaki and Katsunori Kazama were having a violent sparring match somewhere in U.N. headquarters, which ended in Ozaki's defeat due to his refusal to fight the much more fiery tempered Kazama with all his might. The fight is interrupted by M-Unit Commanding Officer Kumasaka, who reprimands Kazama for his over zealousness in battle, reminding him that the purpose of the sparring match was for him to hone his skills and become better than the previous day, not to defeat his partner. Kazama, however, insisted that Ozaki's refusal to fight full-out during sparring sessions implied he would fatally hesitate on the battlefield, while Ozaki reminded his errant partner that they could not truly protect people effectively without a conscience. Kazama simply retorted that as mutants, they were born to fight, not to protect.
Off the coast of Hokkaido, the enormous mummified remains of an unknown dai kaiju were discovered, and these were brought to the Defense Force Museum for exhibition and study. Ozaki was ordered to act as a body guard to a molecular biologist who was coming to assist in the study of this mystery monster, a job he considered to be beneath the talents of a mutant soldier, but which Kazama sarcastically opined to be appropriate for his better natured fellow soldier. Upon meeting the scientist he was protecting, however, Ozaki was surprised to learn that the old man he was expecting was, in actuality, an attractive young woman named Miyuki Otanashi, who turned out to be a serious-minded professional that disliked Ozaki's obvious attraction to her.
In charge of the team analyzing the bizarre and impressive discovery was paleontologist Hachiro Junguji, who determined that the monster wasn't entirely organic, but was a fusion of living flesh and machinery, a cyborg. But since the mummy was determined to be over 12,000 years old, it puzzled the scientist as to how such uber-advanced technology was on Earth so many millennia past. This caused Dr. Junguji to hypothesize that the monster may have originated on another planet and been sent to Earth for some unknown purpose. Upon doing her own analyzing, Otanashi made another startling discovery about the insensate cyborg…its organic tissue included 'M-Base' in its cellular structure. As she explained, normal humans are composed of four different types of nuclei acids (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and chemin), whereas posthuman mutants have a fifth mystery nuclei acid nicknamed 'M-Base,' which is believed to somehow account for their superior physical attributes. Otaki was astounded to learn that he and his fellow mutants may have some type of unknown relationship to this mummified monster.
Soon afterwards, Naotarou Daigo, who has just become the first Japanese citizen to be elected Secretary General of the U.N., grants an interview to newscaster Anna Otanashi (sister of Miyuki) where he mentions that he will soon be traveling to New York City, and his biggest personal regret since his new responsibilities began was not being able to spend as much time with his dog, Clint.
In the meantime, Miyuki and Dr. Junguji were studying a book about Infant Island, which contained information on the tiny psychic twins, the Shobijin, and the guardian kaiju of the Earth itself, Mothra. Suddenly, Miyuki, Junguji, and Ozaki have their psyches telepathically transported into the presence of the current incarnation of the Shobijin in their temple on Infant Island, where the origin of the strange mummified cyborg monster was explained to them. The cyborg is a monster called Gigan, who appeared on the Earth 12,000 years ago, wreaking havoc on the nascent human civilization of Infant Island. There, the mighty cyborg monster was challenged by Mothra, a battle that ended in Gigan's defeat, the monster finding himself deactivated and lying beneath the ocean. The faerie-like twins then remind Ozaki that he shares aspects of Gigan's "blood," but that he has the inherent ability to control his powers and remain on the side of the Earth rather than becoming "evil." As long as he stays on the side of the Earth, he is told, Mothra will be his ally. The three then have their psyches transplanted back into their bodies at the Defense Force Museum.
Upon returning, Ozaki discovers that he has an ancient cross-shaped talisman in his hands, a gift from the Shobijin whose supernatural qualities, infused with the energies of the Earth itself, will help him in his time of greatest need.
Shortly after this, while Daigo's plane was en route to New York, it was suddenly hit and destroyed by a flying creature also headed for the Big Apple. Moments later, a gangster pimp was having a confrontation with a police officer who was having his illegally parked car towed away. Just as the two had guns pointed at each other, their petty conflict was interrupted by the destructive arrival of the flying kaiju Rodan. The winged monster began flying through the great city, tearing it to pieces as he did so. But Rodan's attack on New York City wasn't the only monster incursion to endanger the world.
Much to the dismay of the EDF, they discovered that the monster 'Zilla' (a kaiju mistaken for the real Godzilla in the past) was tearing a destructive path through Sydney, Anguirus was attacking Shanghai, King Seesar was crashing through Okinawa, and Kamakiras was assaulting Paris (in a scene edited out of the film's final cut, but which could be seen among the stock footage scenes played over the closing credits, Hedorah the smog monster also invaded an unidentified city, spewing his toxic sludge about). The EDF dispatched several aerial combat ships to engage the monsters, but more kept showing up, including the giant spider-like kaiju Spiega (or Kumonga, if you prefer the Japanese name for this monster), who attacked and destroyed a group of trailer park homes in Arizona. Nevertheless, the EDF aerial craft and other military vehicles battled furiously to protect the cities from these monsters, who nevertheless all managed to fight the human military forces to a standstill.
Following these incidents, a young boy named Kenta Taguchi, while hunting with his grandfather, Samon Taguchi, in the woods surrounding Mt. Fuji, encountered and befriended a cute and unassuming 5-foot pudgy monster whom Kenta named "Minya."
Meanwhile, the monster attacks continued as the giant lobster Ebirah arrived in Tokai, and began advancing on a large petrochemical complex located there. The kaiju was met by an M-Unit, which included Ozaki and Kazama. Though Ebirah managed to destroy much of the petroleum plant, in the tremendous battle that ensued between the kaiju and the mutant soldiers the latter managed to defeat and severely injure the massive lobster. But before Kazama could finish the monster off, it was somehow teleported away by an unknown force.
In fact, as the battles between the EDF military units and the other monsters raged across the world, all of the kaiju were similarly teleported away in the same manner as Ebirah.
The cause of the monsters vanishing soon revealed itself, in the form of an enormous spherical UFO, with numerous smaller craft connecting to the huge Mother Ship. When the EDF forces gathered beneath the UFO, they were met by none other than Secretary General Daigo, who was teleported before the entourage to greet them, announce that he was saved from Rodan's attack by the UFO occupants, and to declare that these same occupants were peaceful visitors from another world. Commander Namikawa and Major Kita were teleported aboard the ship as representatives of the U.N. to meet with the leader of the occupants, all of whom appeared human (save for the fact that they never seem to blink their eyes). The older leader told them that his homeworld was unpronounceable in any Earth language, so it was best if they simply referred to his people as the "Xilians" (or 'Xians,' if one prefers). The Xian leader also stated that they come from another solar system, and that they used their teleportation technology to remove the monsters as a threat to the Earth. He further told them that the Earth was still imperiled by another threat, however; a runaway planet-sized stellar object they called Gorath was heading towards Earth on a collision course, and would destroy it at some point shortly into the future unless they gathered together all of the U.N. weaponry together under a single point, under the guidance of the Xians, to annihilate Gorath before it could strike the Earth.
While the U.N. prepared to deal with the oncoming threat of Gorath, Daigo held a press conference where he announced how beneficial an alliance between Earth and the Xians would be for the former, with the latter sharing their incredible advances in science, including technology and medicine. He even went so far as to capstone this alliance by having the United Nations re-christianed the 'Space Nations.' The Earthlings and Xians greeted this news with a joint standing ovation.
In the meantime, the Xians became a media and cultural sensation around the world, as news conferences debated the wisdom of uniting with them in this manner, and even questioning whether they were truly extraterrestrial in nature. In fact, so much of a sensation did the Xians cause that the Japanese actor and idol Kenji Kohashi began dressing like the Xians (in black full-body garments) and calling himself "X."
However, Anna Otanashi met up with her sister Miyuki and her body guard, Ozaki, with a tape recording of Daigo's speech, and noted that the Secretary General never once blinked his eyes…a trait which identified him as a possible Xian imposter. When the three meet Daigo outside of the U.N. building, he seemed very uninterested in speaking to any of them, and he was suddenly attacked and stabbed in the arm by a xenophobic zealot who considered the Secretary General a "traitor to the Earth" for aligning himself with the aliens. Ozaki quickly subdues the zealot, and the injured Daigo vehemently refuses to allow Miyuki to dress his wound. But she does manage to get a large sample of his blood on her handkerchief to take back to her lab for analysis.
After analyzing "Daigo's" blood, it was confirmed that he wasn't human, but an Xian in disguise. Continuing to investigate their suspicions, Ozaki discovers that his superior officer, Commander Namikawa, was also an Xian imposter, and it was safe to assume that Major Kita was, as well.
While on the Mother Ship, a rebellious young commanding officer of the Xian forces tells the Controller that since they now have the monsters in their control, they should release them and launch an attack upon the Earth to totally subjugate it. But the older Controller refuses, saying that force is not always the correct way to gain one's objectives, and that those who always rely on force are destined to suffer defeat from a greater force. The young upstart officer appears unconvinced.
Things continued to look bad for the Xians' purported altruistic intentions when Dr. Jinguchi studies several pictures of the approaching Gorath taken from the same location…and discovers that the giant celestial object is actually a hologram. With the U.N. commanding forces replaced by Xian imposters, the three then realize that the only person they can still trust is none other than Captain Gordon, who is released from his holding quarters and informed of the situation.
While conducting an investigation of Secretary General Daigo, Miyuki is accosted by the other two Xian imposters, who proclaim that she knows too much, and therefore must be killed. Before they can do the deed, however, Gordon and the M-Unit arrive and shoot the faux Namikawa and Kita to death. Upon dying, their bogus human husks break open to reveal the non-human looking beings beneath.
Soon afterwards, Anna is hosting a show interviewing the bogus Secretary General Daigo, and she exposes him when she asks him what his dog's name is, yet he seemingly cannot remember that he even has a dog, let alone that the animal's name was Clint. Anna then produces her own dog and convinces the faux Daigo that the animal was Clint, thus producing further evidence that this man wasn't the genuine article. Finally, Gordon and his allies crashed the scene and tossed the corpse of one of the Xian imposters in its true form to the ground, revealing them as non-human in appearance.
Gordon then shoots the faux Daigo in the chest, thereby providing proof on international TV that he was really a non-human looking alien in disguise.
When the Xian Controller tries to explain the imposture, his rebellious young commanding officer shoots him in the back of the head with his laser pistol, forcibly taking the position of the new Controller. The new Controller then reveals his true intentions to the people of Earth, telling them that they are now going to become an enslaved food source for the aliens.
The new Controller then reminds the challenging Gordon that with the Xians' superior technology coupled with the fact that they now control all of the captured monsters means that the people of Earth do not stand a chance, and that the best thing they can do is to surrender.
Gordon, however, noting that he likes to "play the odds," remains defiant, and calls in the full M-Unit to stand at his side against the Xian command force. However, the Controller simply laughs and points his hand, triggering a high-pitched sound that fells all of the mutant soldiers save for Ozaki (who is strangely immune), and then reveals that his people were responsible for seeding the planet with the M-Base nuclei acid that produced the posthuman mutants, and that he can thus control anyone with the M-Base in their cellular structure. The Controller and his command force teleports away, leaving Gordon and his other human allies, along with Ozaki, to be dispatched by the mutant soldiers. Kumasaka tells Gordon and the rest of his allies to flee while he sacrifices himself to hold off his former students in battle.
When Gordon, Ozaki, Miyuki, and Anna commandeer a van to escape from the building, they are assaulted by a gun-wielding Kazama, also under the control of the Xians, and who managed to stray clear of the death battle with Kumasaka. Attacking on a high-speed motorcycle, Kazama causes the vehicle to crash. Ozaki then emerges on a motorcycle that was in the back of the van, and he and Kazama clash in a deadly martial arts duel while simultaneously riding their vehicles. After a prolonged battle, Ozaki manages to defeat and seriously injure Kazama.
Upon returning to the Mother Ship, the Controller reactivates Gigan, who breaks free from his mummified shell and smashes out of the Defense Force Museum, launching an attack on the city in the process.
The Controller then releases thousands of laser-wielding assault vessels from the Mother Ship to decimate the cities of the Earth, as well as teleporting all of the monsters, now firmly under the control of the Xians, back to Earth, where they are likewise commanded to attack human civilization. The combined might of the Xian warships and the kaiju quickly prove too much for the EDF aerial battle ships and the rest of the U.N. military forces, and all seems lost.
Captain Gordon and his small intrepid group of allies, however, manage to sneak into the hidden underground docking bay of the now repaired Gotengo, the only EDF ship that now remains to fight. Meanwhile, Kazama regains consciousness to discover that his injuries somehow caused him to become free of the Xians' control. As Ozaki dresses Kazama's wounds, he tells him that he saved him rather than finishing him off because, when it came down to it, they were friends.
Gordon told his allies, along with the small number of Gotengo crewman who were servicing the ship in the underground docking bay (which was unknown to the aliens), that since the war was already lost, all that was now left to them was pride, and a determination to go down fighting. For this, Gordon suggested a very radical plan…to take the Gotengo to Area G in the South Pole and revive Godzilla, who was by far the most powerful of all of Earth's kaiju, and the most destructive weapon that the Earth possessed. Miyuki noted that since Godzilla wasn't captured by the Xians, he wasn't genetically re-engineered to possess an M-Base in his cellular structure, as were the other monsters. As such, the Xians wouldn't be able to control the King of the Monsters. The plan was for the Gotengo to lure the revived Godzilla across the planet, where he would destroy the rest of the monsters, while the Gotengo attacked the Xian Mother Ship. This plan was designated 'Operation: Final War' by Gordon.
Ozaki, however, found himself wondering why the Xians couldn't control him, since he did indeed have the M-Base in his cellular structure. In the meantime, as the Gotengo crashed out of the docking bay in pursuit of its mad plan, a dying Kurasaka emerged from the rubble and filled his last breath with laughter as he realized he succeeded in allowing the war ship to escape.
As the Gotengo departed for Area G, it was spotted by the Controller, who dispatched Gigan to the South Pole to prevent the war ship from awakening Godzilla. Although the cyborg monster managed to blast the Gotengo out of the sky with his laser beam, the war ship still managed to release a salvo of missiles that successfully freed Godzilla from his icy prison. The Atomic Titan then immediately attacked Gigan. After a relatively short battle, Godzilla managed to sever the cyborg's head unit with his atomic breath. Then, spotting the Gotengo and thinking that he was still fighting the same battle he was engaged in 40 years earlier, Godzilla attacked the flying war ship. The Gotengo managed to evade the Kaiju King's atomic breath, however, and proceeded with the plan to lure Godzilla into combat with the other monsters.
Upon arriving in the now decimated Sydney, the Controller teleported Zilla to attack the real Godzilla, who predictably made short work of his one time impersonator. Continuing his global trek, Godzilla entered New Guinea, where the Controller teleported Spiega to attack him, a plan that resulted in nothing but the giant arachnid's quick defeat. The King of the Monsters then reached Manazuru, Japan, where he was attacked by Kamikiras at the behest of the Controller. This battle was as brief as all of the others, with the mammoth mantid finding itself lying dead on an electrical power line.
The Controller was now suitably impressed, and realized that he would have to change tactics somewhat in order to defeat this renegade monster.
The Controller decided to attempt to overwhelm Godzilla by force of numbers. Hence, when the Atomic Titan arrived at Mt. Fuji, the Xian leader teleported three monsters, Rodan, Anguirus, and King Seesar to attack Godzilla simultaneously. Though this battle was, of course, longer than the last engagements, the end result was all three Xian-controlled beasts lying on top of each other in a defeated heap (in a scene that was excised from the final cut of the film, Godzilla obliterated these three defeated monsters with a blast of his atomic breath).
Godzilla's arrival in Japan was witnessed by Kenta, his grandfather, and Minya, who had rushed to the area in their SUV. Kenta's grandfather explained to him that Godzilla was hostile to the human race as a result of being driven by a rage fueled by his genesis as a creation of atomic weapons. The King of the Monsters was determined, as the old man explained it, to "punish" humankind for its reckless use of such weapons, almost as if taking vengeance on behalf of Nature itself. Finally, Kenta and his grandfather noticed that Minya seemed to have an extreme reaction to Godzilla's presence, projecting a radioactive "smoke ring" in his presence, and suddenly beginning to grow much larger in size.
As evening commenced, the Gotengo directly engaged the Xian Mother Ship, which responded by unleashing hundreds of its tiny war ships. The ultra-tough hull of the Gotengo managed to resist the laser weaponry of the Xian war ships as the Earth vessel fired its frontal hyper-maser directly at the Mother Ship…only to discover that the craft was protected by a force field. However, just when it seemed all was lost, Kazama suddenly appeared in a fighter jet, and telling Ozaki that he owed him a debt, managed to slip into one of the Mother Ship's launch bays for its war ships, which wasn't shielded. Once inside the ship, Kazama successfully evaded the pursuing war ships so as to sacrifice himself by flying his jet into the huge shield generator…effectively taking out the Mother Ship's force field. Though Ozaki was saddened at the loss of his friend, he and his allies nevertheless made sure that his heroic sacrifice wasn't in vain by attacking the now shieldless Mother Ship and pummeling directly inside the craft via the Gotengo's frontal drill.
However, before the Gotengo can open fire on the ship's interior with its hyper-maser, a group of armed Xians teleported onto the Earth ship, while the Controller appeared on its view screen. At the Controller's orders, most of the Gotengo's crew were shot to death, while Gordon, Miyuki, Ozaki, and Major Komuro were taken captive.
Meanwhile, at the apparent zenith of Earth's crisis, over on Infant Island the Shobijin summoned forth the (adult) Mothra from the life force of the planet. The Kaiju of Peace quickly departed her home of Infant Island, heading towards the Xian Mother Ship.
As Godzilla finally reached Tokyo Bay, the Controller teleported the two remaining Earth monsters under his control, Hedorah and Ebirah, into what was left of the city. However, perhaps due to a miscalculation on the transporter procedure, both materialized in mid-air. Hedorah's semi-solid body came crashing down into a building, and when Ebirah materialized in the air several seconds later, the giant lobster crashed into Hedorah, one of his pincers imbedding itself into the smog monster's eye.
As Godzilla entered Tokyo through the bay area, he quickly annihilated both Hedorah and Ebirah with a single blast of his atomic breath.
While on the Mother Ship, the Controller explained to his captives everything they wanted to know. He exclaimed that his race depended on the mitochondria in the human cell structure as a food source [thus implying that the Xians may be a race that originated long ago on Earth, since a truly alien race wouldn't logically be dependant upon an organic component of another alien species as a food source], and that he planned to control and breed the human race as the equivalent of cattle. He then stated that this new order would ultimately be good for the human race, because under their own volition, they never did anything but damage the planet with their industrial processes and destroy each other in a constant slew of wars. Hence, he attempted to rationalize Xian control of the human race as actually being good for the planet.
The Controller also mentioned that his people introduced the M-Base into the genetic structure of many human beings, so that they were ultimately responsible for the race of posthuman mutants. This substantiated Miyuki's earlier theory that the Xians and the mutants were related in some manner. Moreover, the Controller finally explained why he was unable to control Ozaki as he could the rest of the Earth mutants: Ozaki's M-Base possessed a one in a billion special mutation that caused him to evolve into a 'Kaiser'…a half-Xian, half-mutant being with the potential to exercise far greater powers than any normal mutant or Xian. As the Controller further revealed, he and Ozaki had one major thing in common…they both shared this incredibly rare genetic mutation. Hence, they were both Kaisers.
Meanwhile, the Controller initiated his final plan to stop Godzilla. This came to Earth in the form of a ferrous asteroid, which Godzilla seemingly destroyed with his atomic breath. However, as it turned out, the asteroid was simply a shell that contained the Xians' ultimate kaiju soldier, the incredibly powerful 'Monster X.' The King of the Monsters engaged Monster X in battle, with the latter proving much more formidable than any of the Earth monsters, with Monster X's six eyes (four of which were situated near his chest area, two on each side) able to project whips of energy that were strong enough to counter Godzilla's mighty atomic breath.
Back on the Mother Ship, the Controller demonstrated his full power as a Kaiser, including his ability to manipulate energy, by projecting a beam of energy at Ozaki, effectively overriding his unique M-Base and taking control over him. Now having taken control of Ozaki, the Controller ordered his fellow Kaiser to attack his former allies. But just as the controlled Ozaki was about to slay Gordon by choking him to death with one hand, Miyuki responded with their ace in the hole…she brandished the mystic talisman given to them by the Shobijin, and touched the object to Ozaki. This sent a surge of Earth energy into his body, overriding the Controller's brainwashing effect, and allowing Ozaki to once again act on his own volition, in defense of the Earth.
When Mothra finally arrived in Tokyo to aid Godzilla, she discovered that the Controller had plans to prevent her from doing so. It turned out that the defeated 'corpse' of the cyborg Gigan was teleported back onto the Xian Mother Ship after his earlier defeat by Godzilla…and both repaired and upgraded. The alien cyborg monster now possessed two large chainsaw-like weapons in place of his original hand scythes to compliment his gigantic chest buzzsaw, as well as the ability to launch boomerang-like whirling blades from his chest region. Teleporting the upgraded Gigan into the sky near Mothra, the two old adversaries engaged in battle, with Gigan taking an apparent victory when he sliced off a portion of one of the giant moth's wings.
With Mothra apparently taken out of the battle, Gigan then turned to assisting Monster X against Godzilla. Though the battle was now much more difficult for the Atomic Titan, and he took some injuries, he still managed to hold his own by tricking his two alien adversaries into injuring each other during the melee.
Unexpectedly, however, Mothra recovered from her injuries and rejoined the battle, now resulting in a four-way combat with the two Earth monsters facing off against the two kaiju lackeys of the Xians. Mothra maneuvered Gigan into once again severing his own head with the latter's careless use of his boomerang blades, and though the cyborg monster set the Kaiju of Peace afire with his laser beam, she nobly sacrificed herself by insuring that her now burning body struck Gigan at full force, this time destroying him beyond repair. Godzilla and Monster X then resumed a mano-o-mano battle with each other.
Back on the Mother Ship, the Controller ordered his soldiers to kill Ozaki and the rest of his allies…only to discover that Ozaki, now aware of his status as a Kaiser, began manifesting aspects of his full power, including his latent ability to manipulate energy, and he stopped each of the laser bullets from the Xians' guns from hitting his friends. The Controller then resolved to destroy Ozaki personally, Kaiser-to-Kaiser, and the two began engaging in a brutal one-on-one battle, each utilizing his individual martial arts training and superhuman strength and agility.
Gordon and the rest of his allies were held at bay by the armed Xian crewmen, forced to simply watch the fight, until suddenly they received salvation from an unexpected quarter…when the Mother Ship was struck and damaged by one of Godzilla's atomic blasts, the real Secretary General Daigo, Commander Namikawa, and Major Kita appeared, having managed to escape from captivity and acquire some Xian laser pistols, and began firing on the Xian crewmen, freeing Gordon and his allies.
Gordon ordered Major Komuro to take the Earth crew and escape to the Gotengo, while he held off the pursuing Xians. This plan didn't work, however, as Komuro and his fellow Earthlings found themselves caught in a firefight with more armed Xians when they turned a corner on the vessel.
Initially, Ozaki was no match for the more experienced Controller, and found himself severely beaten. However, in his extreme determination to save the human race, Ozaki managed to pool his willpower into manifesting his full power as a Kaiser…which proved greater than the full capabilities of the Controller. Resuming the battle, Ozaki severely beat and mortally wounded the Controller.
At the same time, Godzilla began gaining an edge over Monster X, taking him down and pummeling him furiously.
As the Controller lay on the ground in a bloody heap, he told the departing Ozaki that he wouldn't die alone, and he telepathically triggered the Mother Ship into initiating its self-destruct mode. Ozaki now realized that he and his allies had to hurry to the Gotengo with all due haste.
As the self-destruct sequence went into effect, its early mini-explosions happened to kill all of the Xian crewmen firing at Komuro and his allies. Meanwhile, Gordon managed to defeat his own Xian adversaries in combat, including a sword-wielding female Xian warrior. They all met up at the Gotengo, with Ozaki arriving just before the Earth ship departed the quickly immolating Xian Mother Ship. Moments after the Gotengo left the Mother Ship, the great Xian vessel's self-destruct sequence took full effect, and the giant spherical craft exploded, killing any Xian crewmen who may have still been aboard.
On the ground, Godzilla was still gaining an advantage in his battle with Monster X. This caused the alien beast to resort to his coup-de-grace…he 'activated' his genetic potential to morph into a much larger, three-headed dragon-like monster known as Kaiser Ghidorah (the four eyes on each side of Monster X's chest area became two of the eyes each on two of the new monster's heads, with the kaiju's two facial eyes becoming the two eyes on the monster's middle head; it remains a mystery why the Xians' ultimate monster didn't simply appear in its Kaiser Ghidorah mode from the get-go, however).
Kaiser Ghidorah proved much more powerful than Monster X, and proceeded to thrash Godzilla about. In fact, the King of the Monsters appeared no match whatsoever for the new dragon-like beast; Kaiser Ghidorah's energy beams had much more power than the similar beams utilized by Monster X, and it was able to quickly overpower Godzilla's oral atomic beam. After taking Godzilla down, Kaiser Ghidorah grabbed and lifted the Atomic Titan with his three heads, and began draining Godzilla's atomic energy.
Witnessing the seeming defeat of Godzilla, the crew of the Gotengo resolved to aid the Kaiju King in defeating this final Xian weapon. Ozaki took up the challenge, and sitting in the control chair at the front of the vessel, the mutant soldier once again focused his willpower into tapping into his full potential power as a Kaiser…he projected his own energy-manipulating power into the maser-firing systems of the Gotengo. As a result, he managed to project an ultra-powerful maser beam from the front of the Gotengo into Godzilla's body, effectively mega-charging his energy reserves and transforming him into his temporary 'Super Godzilla' mode.
Now more than fully recharged, and much more powerful than before, Godzilla used his enhanced atomic breath to blast off one of Kaiser Ghidorah's heads. He then grasped the space monster by his two tails and began mercilessly thrashing him about, severing one of his other heads with another burst of his atomic breath. Finally, the now super-charged Godzilla expended the final remnants of his greater energy by hurling Kaiser Ghidorah high into the air, and using his super-charged red 'finishing' beam to completely annihilate his deadly alien opponent.
Now having defeated all of his kaiju adversaries, Godzilla then turned his fury back to the human race, and he once again knocked the Gotengo out of the air with a blast of his atomic breath, shorting all of the vessel's systems out. Gordon, Ozaki, and the rest of the ship's crew left the vessel and confronted Godzilla on the ground, having no other choice but to do so.
Before Godzilla could destroy the Gotengo crew, however, a now gigantic Minya suddenly appeared and stayed Godzilla's hand with what appeared to be psychic communication. Kenta and his grandfather also appeared, and the young boy told the Gotengo crew not to fire their hand-held weapons at Godzilla, and to allow Minya to convince the King of the Monsters to quell his vengeance-driven fury, and to leave the human race alone. Godzilla, apparently convinced to "forgive" the human race by Minya, turned and headed into the waters of Tokyo Bay, leaving the human race to its own devices, with Minya close behind.
As Godzilla and Minya departed the human world, seemingly for good, Miyuki noted that it was finally over, but Ozaki remarked that this turn of events actually represents a new beginning for the human race.
Godzilla: Final Wars, often shortened to GFW, is significant in that it's the Big G's 50th anniversary film. It was the hope of Toho that this final G-film of the Millennium Series would garner some good box office, not only because it would be the last G-film produced for a long period of time, but also because it was planned as an offbeat, grand epic with a higher budget than any of the previous G-films in this particular film series. The film was also made to appeal to the Hollywood crowd, and it was hoped that it would prove palatable for a big screen release internationally.
But all of these grandiose plans were not to be. For one thing, despite the movie's bigger than normal budget (and it showed), it nevertheless had the same rushed production schedule as any of the previous G-films in the Millennium Series. It sought to incorporate both suitmation and CGI techniques in regards to depicting the monsters onscreen, as well as a healthy dose of CGI for the space ships and EDF aerial crafts.
Perhaps the most radical thing about this film was handing the full creative reins over to maverick Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, the producer of such early 2000s fare as Versus (2000) and Azumi (2002). As it turned out, Kitamura's penchant for exaggerated human action sequences and derivative use of ideas culled from other popular films superceded his devotion to dai kaiju sequences, and this was glaringly obvious in the finished product for this movie.
For starters, Kitamura decided to dispense with the consistent continuity established with the previous two Kiryu films in the Millennium Series, and once again introduce an entirely new timeline for which to work with, the only familiar event being Godzilla's 1954 attack on Tokyo. With this entry into the saga, he conceived of a timeline quite similar to the Showa timeline, but sans the several alien invasions (beginning with the Mysterians of the eponymous film in 1957, and continuing with the Natalians from Battle in Outer Space , the Xians from Godzilla vs. Monster Zero , the Nebulans from Godzilla vs. Gigan , the Simeons from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla  and Terror of Mechagodzilla , the Venerians from The War in Space , and the Kilaaks from Destroy All Monsters ) and hidden civilizations left over from ancient Mu (the new kingdom of Mu from Atragon  and the Seatopians from Godzilla vs. Megalon ). This time, it was the year 2004 until an alien race (the Xians, in this case) would appear to significantly alter the political and cutlural landscape of the Earth. As a result, the Earth in the GFW timeline had no advanced burgeoning space program as we saw in the Showa timeline, though it did have the greater political cooperation of Earth nations and a much more influential U.N. (with the U.S. and Japan both being big movers and shakers within) that was indeed familiar to the Showa timeline, and this time it also had posthuman mutants thrown into the mix (which were nowhere to be seen in the Showa timeline). There was a version of the Earth Defense Force in this reality, as well as a version of the versatile war ship Gotengo (also known as 'Atragon'), but in this timeline they were designed exclusively to battle the kaiju incursions, not alien races or hidden civilizations that threatened the nations of Earth.
Kitamura also seemed to feel that Godzilla, as depicted in most previous films, wasn't powerful enough. As a result, he not only made the decision to restore Godzilla's height to the 100 meter stature he had in the Heisei Series (and to similarly scale up the size of the other monsters), but also to give the Big G a level of power in comparison to most of the other monsters that would actually surpass the overwhelming level of power that the Atomic Titan possessed in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). As a result of this, all of the other monsters, with the exception of the Xian super-kaiju Monster X and (especially) his ultimate alter ego Kaiser Ghidorah, would be no match whatsoever for the King of the Monsters, even when three of them were teamed up against him at once. This was one of the biggest disappointments of the otherwise dynamic action sequences contained in this flick: that most of the battles would be fleetingly brief, lasting no more than several seconds of screen time (if that!).
Another big quibble that many G-fans had with Kitamura's direction, hinted at above, was what they perceived as a high level of self-indulgence on the director's part, including many highly protracted and exaggerated human martial arts battle sequences (particularly those between Ozaki and Kazama, and those between Ozaki and the second Xian Controller, but with many other examples throughout the movie) that took much of the movie's 125 minutes of screen time away from the dai kaiju, a serious problem when the kaiju cast included 14 monsters, greater than that of any other previous kaiju-film produced by Toho, finally surpassing the 11 monster cast of Destroy All Monsters 36 years earlier. This resulted in several of the monsters getting an appallingly small amount of screen time, with King Seesar, Spiega, and Kamikiras receiving a particularly short end of the stick, and with Hedorah's screen time so brief that it should be considered a criminal offense against this cult fave kaiju. This situation was especially onerous when you consider that Kitamura wanted to imbue this 'last' G-film with a heavy dose of nostalgia by bringing back several Toho kaiju from the Showa Era in updated form, many of which G-fans thought they might never see again. It was a disappointment to many that fan faves like Varan, Gaila, and Titanosaurus were overlooked (getting nothing but tantalizingly brief stock footage vignettes early in the film just to make their presence on that timeline known), but at least other fan faves like Anguirus, perhaps the most in-demand Showa revival, was back.
As an example of Kitamura's highly derivative style, he obviously borrowed heavily from many American sci-fi films for his inspiration, particularly the Matrix franchise, as the mutants' superhuman physical capabilities closely mirrored the CGI-assisted battles of the denizens of the Matrix in their computerized forms, including a lot of martial arts action enhanced by running up and around walls or taking tremendous leaps through the air, and even the scene where Ozaki used his mutant power over energy to stop the laser bullets of the Xian crewmen from hitting his allies! The plot of this movie (what there was of it) was also clearly borrowing and re-hashing elements from previous Toho kaiju-films, particularly the plots of Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters, with elements from Atragon thrown in. The sequence of Kazama entering the Xian Mother Ship, evading the pursuing war ships, and sacrificing his life to knock out the force field generator was taken directly from Roland and Emmerich's Independence Day, and also clearly inspired from the Death Star battle sequence at the climax of Star Wars, Episode 4: A New Hope. And the idea of posthuman mutants was clearly culled from the X-Men films.
The result of the above was a series of sometimes exciting, but sometimes tedious and disjointed martial arts battle sequences between the humanoid characters in the film that went on for lengthy periods of time. To make matters worse for kaiju-fans, it appeared that when Kitamura had to make a choice between a humanoid battle scene or a kaiju scene ending up on the cutting room floor, he invariably chose the latter. This is why Hedorah's brief appearance in the movie was so surprising to many G-fans, because his introductory scene establishing his presence in that timeline was snipped out (but part of it could be seen in the montage of film sequences shown over the closing credits). This was especially disappointing, when you consider that the smog monster, one of the most unique monsters in the kaiju cast, was given so little screen time to begin with, and I hardly think that trimming several seconds out of some of the humanoid battle sequences would have been too great a sacrifice if we could have had Hedorah's introductory scene intact.
Another problem was the script, produced by four different hands, including producer Shogo Tomiyama and director Kitamura. Though it had a couple of memorable lines (including Ozaki's lecture about the need for protectors to have a conscience), much of the script was stilted and not well done at all. This problem was exacerbated by the dub job done for the American and international versions, and one can hardly see conventional audiences taking this script seriously. Some segments of this film were spoken in English to begin with, and unfortunately, they didn't come off much better than the dubbed Japanese actors.
To start with, the professional ultimate fighter Don "The Predator" Frye was cast as the inimitable, stubborn, strong-willed captain of the Gotengo, Douglas Gordon, and though he spiced up the film with a lot of energy and a commanding screen presence, his lack of acting skills were sorely evident, and a lot of his line delivery was off-kilter. Nevertheless, his sense of screen presence still made up for this in many cases.
Not so redeemable was the embarrassing scene, all shot in English, of the confrontation between the gangster pimp and the police officer in the New York City sequence just before Rodan's arrival. Initially, the scene utilized some serious profanity (including everyone's favorite "f" word), to give this scene a greater sense of realism. However, the Toho studio execs frowned on this, because they didn't want this sequence to cost the film a PG-13 rating (the film already had its share of relatively minor profanity, and more bloody action violence than the average G-film). Hence, the scenes of the pimp and the cop using heavy-duty expletives was dubbed over with less offensive words (such as "crap" and "friggin'"), which had the positive effect of keeping the film in the PG-13 territory, but had the negative effect of making the dialogue appear more stilted, unintentionally silly, and much less realistic. Furthermore, the silliness of a dressed-up pimp pulling a gun on a cop simply for having his car towed looked forced and eye-rolling enough as it was. The drunk who also appeared in the scene certainly didn't help matters any, even though he realistically resembled a weathered old alcoholic derelict that one would expect to find laying in a New York City gutter. When one views this scene, and if you can contain your eye-rolling long enough, you will see the lip movements of the characters in this sequence clearly spell out the original words they used before the awful dub job superimposed less offensive substitutes. As noted in the Stomp Tokyo review, one was relieved when Rodan interrupted this silly scene, but it wasn't helped by the fact that someone made the dubious decision of inserting a Three Stooges style sound effect when the windshear from Rodan's flight sent the hats flying off the pimp and cop's heads. This simply added even more to the silliness of this scene.
And if you think this sequence was bad, the one including the interview with Japanese screen idol Kenji Kohahsi, wearing those Xian quasi-goth garments and some heavy duty eye shadow (!), was even more embarrassing to behold. The less said about it, the better.
The actors chosen were a mishmash of Toho classics and newbies from other entertainment genres. Such veteran stalwarts as Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, and Kenji Sahara did a fine job with the often poor script before them. As noted above, Don Frye is not truly an actor, even though he is used to presenting a compelling presence and sarcastic "bad ass" attitude that often offset his wooden performance. As for the film's main hero, Ozaki, we got Mashiro Matsuoka, the drummer of the Japanese band TOKIO, who did a good job despite his lack of experience, but still had difficulty overcoming the poor dialogue he was often saddled with. The Japanese supermodel and idol Rei Kikukawa played biologist Miyuki Otanashi, and her performance, like Matsuoka's, was a good job despite the often poor script and a paucity of acting experience. This movie role for Kikukawa was also interesting in that it didn't require her to look and act sexy at all; in fact, she played a character that eschewed any overt sense of feminine beauty, and disliked males drooling over her.
This film did have a "Kenny," who was played by Kenta Suga, and he appeared in the intermittent sub-plot with Minya, which seemed semi-comical and mostly out of place in the film, as it didn't coalesce with the main plot until the very end of the movie. As a result, he wasn't onscreen enough to annoy anyone, and when he was onscreen, he did a good job. The fact that his character was quite pivotal in resolving humankind's conflict with Godzilla caused the character to earn the respect of many of the viewers.
Another familiar face was martial arts master and actor Kane Kosugi, son of the martial arts action hero Sho Kosugi, who was famous in the 1980s not only for his roles in Japanese cinema and TV, but also for the series of ninja movies he made on American shores during the ninja craze of the '80s. Significantly, when Kane was just a small child, he was already adept in the martial arts, and he made memorable, respectful appearances alongside his father (playing his son in the movies) in such fondly remembered ninja films as Revenge of the Ninja and Pray for Death. Kane also played the role of Ultra Man in the short-lived American version of the character in the series Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, produced in the late '90s. He has since evolved into a popular Japanese action film star in his own right, deftly following his father's legacy, and his appearance in the film as the grim but ultimately heroic Kazama was quite welcome.
One of the real acting stand-outs of this film was undeniably the performance by Kazuki Kitamura as the young Xian Controller. Though his acting was hardly stellar, his over-the-top performance, histrionic fits, and angry shout-outs, as well as his general maniacal screen presence, was highly memorable, and he deserves to enter the ranks of classic Godzilla non-kaiju villains.
The rest of the major actors in the film pulled in a fair performance, and many of the minor characters, including those in the news panel discussion about the Xians soon after their arrival, did an embarrassingly bad job.
As also noted above, the awful English dub job for the American and international versions of the film only made these performances even less watchable.
As for the special effects of this movie, Eiichi Asada did a good, if sometimes uneven, job. Though he benefited from having a bigger budget than usual, and this thereby allowed him to use much more CGI than all previous G-films to good effect, the final product showed that Japanese filmmakers are still less adept at using this relatively new art than their American counterparts. The good and bad of the CGI was particularly evident in the scenes involving Manda, Zilla, and the morphing of Monster X into Kaiser Ghidorah. Nevertheless, he was hamstrung at times by the obviously rushed production schedule and Kitamura's insistence that most of the monster battle sequences reflect his desire for extremely fast-paced and oftentimes exaggerated movements, similar to that of the human cast. As such, the monster battles were not only far briefer than G-fans were used to, they were also much faster and more erratic, incorporating many moves that appeared more at home with a humanoid martial artist than gigantic animals fighting tooth and nail. I will assess this portion of the film by discussing how each of the kaiju cast was handled, one at a time, then move on to the other aspects of the sfx in the movie.
Godzilla--- This mega-powerful version of the Big G had an appropriately evil looking suit, but it proved less popular than any of the other G-suits of the Millennium Series, and certainly not as effective as any of the suits from the Heisei Series. The suit still looked overly plastic, IMO, a problem that many of the G-suits had from the Heisei Series onwards. Still, he was primarily depicted with the suitmation technique, as was traditional. Since Godzilla was the kaiju star of the film, he got a good degree of screen time, but mostly relegated to the second half of the movie, when he began his quest for vengeance across the globe, save for the brief prologue sequence where he faced off against the Gotengo in Antarctica. His height was amped to his Heisei stature of 100 meters to give him a greater a sense of presence, despite standing near his traditional height of 50 meters in the other Millennium G-films. Of course, this time around he was so powerful that it took the Xians' ultimate monster to give him any sense of true competition.
Manda--- The giant sea serpent was rendered entirely by CGI in this film, dispensing with the rather awkward marionette used to realize the god of Mu in his previous two major film appearances (in Atragon and Destroy All Monsters). The CGI-rendered Manda was slick looking, truly resembling an Oriental dragon of the water, and the computer generated kaiju moved extremely swiftly, without his movements being limited by the use of a physical marionette. However, his CGI rendition wasn't flawless, and his movements often seemed overly frenzied and erratic, though the sequence where he was burning in the lava floes was quite cool to behold. The battle Manda had with the Gotengo early in the film was mostly an updated version of the similar battle between the Showa Manda and Gotengo in Atragon, and Millennium Manda was even defeated in essentially the same manner (with the Gotengo's zero cannon, only this time the Gotengo was sure to permanently finish him off). The battle sequence between Manda and the Gotengo lasted for several minutes of screen time, so the giant aquatic snake was hardly given short shrift, but because he was the only monster to actually be killed by the EDF military, he was unfortunately unable to appear as an opponent to Godzilla later in the film (not that he would have lasted more than a few seconds, anyway; however, it would have been neat to finally see Manda engage in battle with another monster onscreen, something the CGI version would be able to do more convincingly than the old marionette).
Rodan--- The Millennium version of Rodan was, in many ways, a deviation from the popular Heisei version and a restoration to his Showa roots. For one thing, his size was scaled to match that of the 100 meter Godzilla, rather than conceived at a smaller size of 70 meters, as was the Heisei version. Secondly, the GFW Rodan never evolved into the 'Fire Rodan' incarnation, as did his Heisei counterpart. Nevertheless, he came across as pretty cool onscreen, and he was treated more or less respectfully with a decent chunk of screen time, especially his terrific assault on New York City. He was realized onscreen by a combination of suitmation and CGI techniques, the latter mostly done to depict his flying scenes, as when he soared through the Big Apple with the sonic booms and gale force winds he generated tearing the proud city to shreds. Of course, this version of Rodan was no match for the highly powered up version of Godzilla.
Anguirus--- This was a revival that was long-awaited by G-fans! And it was, fortunately, a quite respectful revival, far more respectful than the suggested (and thankfully scrapped) revival he was to be afforded in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). This time, however, he was larger with a bulkier look, but every bit as agile as ever before. In fact, in this film he was performing his way cool thunderball attack, which he first used in the 2002 Atari video game 'Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee.' He used the thunderball movement to great effect in this film, and he was given quite a decent amount of screen time, predictably stealing the show from the rest of the film's kaiju stars.
King Seesar--- Okay, IMO, though the Millennium revival of this Showa cult fave was quite welcome, he was given perhaps the least respectful treatment of all the Showa Toho kaiju to be updated for this film (with the possible exception of Hedorah). For starters, the suit they came up with was obviously the most affected by the hectic shooting schedule. I know that many G-fans criticized the look of the Showa King Seesar, but I thought the original version looked rather fearsome and cool. Not so this time around; here he resembled a giant muppet, with a fairly goofy looking face and those big floppy ears, rendered entirely via suitmation. He was never seen to use his interesting (if limited) power to absorb his foes' energy beams in one eye, and to project it back at them with the other eye. Though he was still a fierce fighter, that was rather superfluous for this film, since he was up against such an overwhelmingly powerful version of Godzilla. And that brings me to my third major quibble with King Seesar's depiction in this film. In his original Showa appearance in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), he was a heroic monster of supernatural origins, the legendary god-like protector of Okinawa, and an ally of Godzilla. This time, however, he was portrayed as a typical "evil" destructive monster, an enemy of Godzilla, and he was even shown in his old stomping grounds of Okinawa, only now he was tearing his ancient homeland apart rather than defending it. Moreover, unlike the GFW Mothra, the King Seesar of this timeline appeared to have a non-mystical origin, and to have been an atomic mutation of some sort, just like most of the rest of the monsters (save for Mothra). And to add a final insult to this slew of injuries, King Seesar was given a relative dearth of screen time in this film, seen only briefly attacking Okinawa early in the movie, never shown battling the EDF war craft, and appearing prominently only in the four-way battle when he teamed up with Rodan and Anguirus against Godzilla. A very disappointing treatment of an old friend, even if I was glad to see him again.
Zilla (a.k.a., GINO)--- The appearance of the faux 'Godzilla' from the eponymous and infamous 1998 Tri-Star film was a surprise to many G-fans, but considering his purpose for appearing in this movie, it was a welcome one for fans of the real Godzilla. He was inserted into the film simply to allow him to be obliterated in a brief conflict with the Real McCoy, which he was during their short encounter in Sydney. In this film, he was simply nicknamed 'Zilla' (in the script, though not in the film itself; this nickname was reputedly given to him by the late producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to make fun of the American Godzilla's toys). In fact, his love of eating tuna was humorously mocked by the Xian Controller. To make GINO as much like he was in the 1998 Tri-Star film, the sfx team decided to render him entirely via CGI, with no suitmation at all. In this movie, he looked nearly exactly as he did in Godzilla (1998), though this time he wasn't given Godzilla's distinctive roar, but simply a rather generic cry. Despite his sacrificial purpose in this movie, he was given surprisingly respectful treatment throughout the early portions of the film, as he was afforded a decent amount of screen time during his rampage in Sydney, and he was depicted as quite a dangerous and destructive monster (though no match for the real deal, of course; it wouldn't have taken this ultra-powerful version of the authentic Godzilla to defeat him, however, and it's unfortunate that he couldn't be annihilated so decisively by a more traditionally powerful version of the real Big G). Though the scenes with GINO were rather well done in this movie, it was quite obvious that the Toho sfx crew have yet to become as adept with handling CGI as their counterparts at Centropolis, and this was evident in the finished project. It should be noted that GINO was the only post-Showa revival who appeared in the main body of the film.
Ebirah--- I'm sure many G-fans were surprised to see the giant lobster brought out of moth balls for a Millennium revival, as he was hardly a formidable foe for the Big G in his original appearance back in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966). This updated version, however, was quite an improvement over the Showa version, I must say. Here, Ebirah was not limited to mayhem in the sea, as was the Showa version; now, he could ravage on land, and did so for his extended jaunt through Tokai. In fact, Ebirah's frenetic battle with the M-Unit at the petrochemical plant was one of the true highlights of this movie, and he was the only monster other than Manda to be defeated directly by the EDF forces (though he was teleported away by the Xians before he could actually be killed by the triumphant mutant soldier Kazama). In fact, this sequence deftly defined the fighting efficacy of the mutants in combat against kaiju, and the injuries that Ebirah took matched the impressiveness of the destruction that he wreaked before him. The design of Ebirah for this film was well done, with the prop depicting him well-detailed and suitably eerie and menacing in appearance. The second quickie appearance of Ebirah in Tokyo, where he had an inadvertent collision with Hedorah, was far less respectful, though I don't think he was ever expected to be a match for any version of Godzilla.
Spiega/Kumonga--- I was thrilled to see Spiega again (neither the kaiju's American or Japanese name was used in the film, though he appears to have been called 'Kumonga' in all of this movie's publicity material), as he was one of my personal favorites of the Showa Era. Unfortunately, he wasn't given much screen time, his attack on the trailer parks in Arizona during the early part of the film was quite fleeting, and he was never seen to engage any of the EDF. His battle with Godzilla was also very brief, and the nearly ridiculous ease for which he was defeated was rather insulting when you consider what a formidable opponent he was to the Big G in Son of Godzilla (1967). The physical prop used to realize Spiega onscreen was fairly accurate looking, but a bit plastic when you looked at it for long enough, and rather immobile when compared to the creepy crawly version of the kaiju we saw in his original Showa film appearance. This time, however, he didn't simply lumber along at slow speed, as the Showa version did, but he leapt about from side-to-side in the manner of a real spider. Nevertheless, Spiega was probably one of the kaiju who would have been better off rendered much of the time in CGI, as it would allow him to crawl about at great speed, as did the giant arachnids in Eight-Legged Freaks, something the prop used in this movie was clearly not designed to do. And worse, I hesitate to mention how fake-looking and silly Spiega's web-spinning powers were rendered in this film, not to mention the even more fake-looking nets that his webbing created. It would have been better if his web-spinning power was depicted as realistically, not to mention as formidably, as it was in the Showa version, being identical to the silk spray used by the larval Mothra. Those big yellow nets the Millennium Spiega spewed forth from his mandibles (why not his posterior, which would have been more accurate?) were hardly sufficient to do anything more than annoy this version of the Big G. And then we come to the specific manner in which Spiega was defeated? Please don't make me dwell on it.
Kamakiras--- There were undoubtedly some improvements made over the Showa version of the giant mantid-like kaiju in GFW. Unlike the Showa version, the Millennium version wasn't limited to flying slowly for short distances and at low altitudes; this time, he could fly at great speed, and was much more similar to his possible American inspiration, the Deadly Mantis, from the eponymous American sci-fi film of the 1950s. Also, this time we got only one giant mantid, not a trio, and he moved much quicker in general than the rather clunky marionette we saw in Son of Godzilla (1967). I was a bit disappointed that only the second, rarely heard part of the kaiju's distinctive cry was used, and we didn't get the eerie, reverberating "sssssshhhhh-ttthhh" of the Showa version. The Millennium version of Kamakiras also didn't have his range limited to Solgell Island, and he was free to wander into human civilization and attack major cities like Paris, along with EDF aerial vehicles, though it's a bit unfortunate that the scenes of him doing so were so brief. In fact, Kamakiras didn't get much screen time at all compared to some of the other monsters. His battle with Godzilla was appallingly brief, but then again, the Showa version was also defeated rather easily by the Big G, and only lasted longer than this one, perhaps, because then there were three giant mantids for the Atomic Titan to contend with. For this film, Kamakiras was depicted by a combination of a physical prop and some CGI (ostensibly for his flying scenes, his wings animated in a similar manner to Megaguirus), and the prop was colored a bit more like a real mantid than was the bright reddish hue of the original version. Still, I believe that the Showa version of this giant mantid still looked a bit more realistic and less 'plastic' than the Millennium version.
Hedorah--- This cult classic Showa revival was given the least amount of screen time of any of the classic Toho kaiju featured within, and thanks to an ill-advised production decision that cut his initial appearance early in the movie (part of this sequence can be seen over the film's closing credits), he was ultimately relegated to nothing more than a cameo in this movie. That brief appearance was pretty ignominious, too; he was teleported in mid-air by the Xian Mother Ship, he fell into a building, and he barely had time to get his bearings before Ebirah was similarly teleported mid-air, fell and crashed into the smog monster with the former's pincer puncturing his eye…and then both were swiftly dispatched by a single blast of Godzilla's atomic breath. Keep in mind that this was the toxic-spawned kaiju that was such a formidable foe to Godzilla in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971), and who almost ended the King of the Monsters' career in their protracted mano-a-mano Showa Era battle. This time, he was little more than a pest to be swatted aside. Still, I was pleased to see Hedorah finally revived, even if in such a fleeting fashion. This time Hedorah only appeared in his 'ultimate' bipedal form, and never appeared in his early lizard-like aquatic form, nor in his pancake-shaped flying form (in contrast, he appeared only in his flying form in the Atari video game 'Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee'). As evidenced by the snippets of the deleted scene we saw over the closing credits, the smog monster was capable of spewing a stream of toxic sludge from his maw, but didn't seem to have the array of other powers the Showa version possessed, including the power to spit chunks of acid sludge from his face, nor the thin beam of ruby-colored energy he fired from one of his eyes, let alone the ability to morph into his flying form at will; that could have been impressively realized by CGI. Surprisingly, however, Hedorah's brief appearances in this film seemed to have been done entirely by suitmation, even though this monster appears to be the perfect subject for an at least partial CGI treatment.
Gigan--- This upgraded Showa revival could have been said to have gotten a respectful update, if not for his crass stupidity that resulted in his being rather quickly beheaded in battle, not once, but twice! As for the good aspects: the Millennium Gigan looked very cool in his design, he was finally allowed to use his laser beam in battle (including the "shot gun burst" that he used in the Atari video games 'Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee'  and 'Godzilla: Save the Earth' ), he was now able to use his dreaded buzzsaw while in flight, and he now had an array of abilities more emblematic of his nature as a cyborg, including the anchor weapons he could fire to trap an opponent. In fact, in this film, we saw not one but two upgraded versions of Gigan. G-FAN editor J.D. Lees complained (in G-FAN #74) that the second version of Gigan's weapons upgrade represented "overkill," and he may have been right, since those chainsaws that replaced his hand scythes (which were formidable enough weapons) appeared rather overly large and unwieldy. His whirling boomerang blades were a formidable addition to his repertoire of weaponry, though they proved his undoing in the end. The return of Gigan was still a welcome sight, even if he wasn't handled properly, and he did get to battle both Godzilla and Mothra, though both of these conflicts were fairly brief.
Mothra--- It was indicative of the Kaiju of Peace's great popularity that she was inserted into this film, even if her insertion into the plot appeared somewhat forced. Thankfully, though, her original origin and nature as a mystical protector of the Earth was left intact, a sign of respect that was denied to King Seesar. Only the adult version of Mothra appeared in this film (we didn't get the brief cameo of her larval form that we did in GMK), and though she got only a fair amount of screen time, and only towards the end of the film, she still comported herself with a large degree of heroic dignity, nobly sacrificing herself to stop Gigan once and for all, and taking serious injuries in the process. Like the previous two Millennium versions of the Kaiju Queen, in this film Mothra was denied the formidable arsenal of energy-projecting weapons, including her bio-electric antenna beams, that the Heisei version had (Mothra possessed the combined powers of the Showa, Heisei, and Millennium versions in the Atari video game 'Godzilla: Save the Earth'). Hence, she was much less formidable here than the Heisei Era version, though still a redoubtable and courageous fighter. We can be thankful that Mothra wasn't turned evil for the purpose of this film, as was her fellow (former) mystical protector King Seesar. Mothra was rendered in this film much the same as she was in the previous year's Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., including the use of the same prop, and again with some CGI help during her flying scenes, though her size was scaled up for obvious reasons. It would have been interesting to see the adult Mothra square off against her fellow flying monster, Rodan, so it's unfortunate that yet another opportunity to depict them onscreen together was passed up. It's also unfortunate that Mothra wasn't seen battling more of the monsters in the film. If we were presented with Godzilla at his traditional but still impressive power level, then we could have had a plot in which he was aided against Earth's alien-controlled kaiju army by Mothra and King Seesar, two kaiju guardian monsters, but that plot was not chosen for this movie.
Minya/Minilla--- Our final Showa revival was perhaps considered unwelcome by many G-fans, but not all…for example, my friend and collaborator Crazy Ivan Schablotski left a message in my guest book making it clear that he was absolutely ecstatic that one of his childhood faves, the 'son' of Godzilla, was revived for this movie. Luckily for those Minya fans, the little kaiju's original character was left intact, and though his appearances in a sub-plot of this movie appeared rather pointless, he had a major…and respectful…purpose to play out at the climax of the movie, ultimately convincing his surrogate dad to peaceably leave the human race alone. As it turned out, a lot of Minya's depiction in this film appears to have been inspired by the much-maligned G-film Godzilla's Revenge (1969), though this time Minya wasn't part of a young boy's dream, though he was allied with a young boy in reality (this time it was Kenta Taguchi, rather than Ichiro). Though Minya mercifully didn't speak to the boy this time, he did seem to have a subtle psychic rapport with him of some sort, and as in Godzilla's Revenge, he started out the size of a human child, and then later grew to his original Showa height of 20 meters (the only Showa revival in this film who didn't have his size 'scaled up' in any way). Unfortunately for Minya fans, the suit used to depict the monster was horribly plastic looking, and he was the only Showa revival in this film who (inexplicably) didn't retain his original cry; we didn't even get one of Minya's patented "Wag-Waa's" this time! However, we did get many nods to the traditional version with the fact that he at one point projected one of his famous luminescent smoke rings, as well as once projecting a full fledged beam of atomic energy.
Monster X--- This new monster, who somewhat resembled a dinosaur with an exoskeleton and six eyes, was a match for the over-powered Godzilla, but hardly one of Toho's most effective creations, and his appearance was lost on G-fans. At least his battle with Godzilla wasn't brief, of course, but the battle was constantly interrupted by scenes of the human cast fighting each other, and this greatly detracted from the effectiveness of the aforementioned kaiju battle.
Kaiser Ghidorah--- This alter ego of Monster X was a new variation on a familiar theme, the latest incarnation of the classic King Ghidorah (another such variation was Death Ghidorah/Desi-Ghidorah from Rebirth of Mothra ). Though this monster was impressively powerful, much more so than even the hyped up version of Godzilla in this film, the consensus among G-fans seems to be that he was quite a disappointment as a member of the Ghidorah family. His energy beams weren't as visually impressive as King Ghidorah's electro-beams, he had (to directly quote J.D. Lees from G-FAN #74) a "wimpy voice," and though he had wings he apparently wasn't able to use them to fly! Though he was shown as an overpowering force for Godzilla at first, once the latter was charged into his 'Super Godzilla' mode by Ozaki (which first appeared in the 1992 Super Nintendo video game 'Super Godzilla'), the further hyped up King of the Monsters quickly made short work out of Toho's latest three-headed monster. IMO, Toho should have stuck to the classic version of King Ghidorah, as another Millennium revival of the tri-headed dragon would have been better served than to give us an unsatisfying new variation.
To Kitamura's credit, all of the Showa kaiju revivals (save for Minya) retained their original roars and enough of their original looks to make them readily recognizable.
Now onto the other, non-kaiju Showa revivals.
The Xians/Xilians--- This new version of the aliens borrowed much from the originals, including the general look, only this time they eschewed the unhip looking headgear of the classic version for distinctive hair styles, but retaining their thin, black visors. Their war ships were radically altered, no longer looking look the classic flying saucers of ufological folklore, and the Mother Ship was huge and spherical, in some ways borrowing from the general look of the alien Mother Ship from Independence Day. All of the space craft were done via rather impressive looking CGI. Now, however, the humanoid Xians stole yet another detail from other Showa aliens…they had a true appearance that was inhuman, perhaps cybernetic, and this they hid under human husks in a manner similar to the Nebulans, Simeons, and Kilaaks (though not the Showa version of the Xians). The Xians are perhaps the most recognizable of all of Godzilla's alien foes, as the film in which they originally appeared, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, was the best G-film to feature the alien invasion motif (before this theme became tired and over-used in the Showa Series), and the Showa version of the Xians provided the look of the Vortaak from the two Godzilla video games produced by Atari/Pipeworks (the Vortaak were clearly an alternate version of the Showa Xians), and the Showa Xians also featured prominently into the plot of Nintendo's 1988 video game 'Godzilla, Monster of Monsters!' This Millennium update left many unanswered questions regarding their true nature, e.g., whether they have an origin connected to that of Earth, whether they were telling the whole truth about their relationship with Earth's posthuman mutants, etc. This version of the Xians didn't have a number-fixated language, however, and they seemed suspiciously comfortable in using colloquialisms and phrases common to Earth languages (particularly English), and they showed no evidence of eschewing emotions for cold logic, as did their Showa predecessors. They also differed from the Showa versions in that their disguised human forms didn't blink, and their females apparently weren't all created via cloning. They also had a more advanced diversity of technology, including teleportation and the use of holograms. This time, they also weren't defeated as easily as the Showa version was once the latter's weakness to certain frequencies of ultra-sound were discovered…the Millennium version had to be taken down by a combination of sheer, direct force and stealth initiated by a small crew of intrepid humans (and two mutants). Hence, it can be said that the Xians were upgraded for modern preferences, which have changed quite a bit since the 1960s, and as such, the Millennium version of the Xians (they are the only Godzilla aliens to be revived in the post-Showa eras) had a combination of high's and low's.
The Gotengo/Atragon--- The new version of the Gotengo, which first appeared in the classic Toho adventure film Atragon (1963), was given a very welcome return. It has always been a great shame that the venerable war machine, adept at traveling in the air, on the ground, undersea, and underground, never appeared in any other Toho adventure films following Atragon, as it was one of the few military weapons proven to be capable of defeating a kaiju in a one-on-one battle. A highly updated version of the Gotengo called the Gohten was featured in the 1978 Toho sci-fi flick The War in Space, though it was good to see the original version at long last revived in updated form. Another plus was the fact that the Gotengo was treated quite respectfully in this film. It had an updated version of its Showa battle with Manda, and though there was no way it could defeat Godzilla with the level of power the Big G was given in this film, it still proved quite impressive against the Xian forces under the command of Captain Gordon.
Masers--- Toho's traditional advanced Earth weapon of choice against both aliens and dai kaiju was one of the main weapons used by not only the Gotengo, but also the EDF monster-fighting aerial planes, and new smaller scale versions in pistol and bazooka form were part of the main arsenal of the mutant M-Units. On this timeline, we saw both conventional masers (the initial prototype of masers first appeared in The Mysterians , where they were used against the invading Mysterians, and first used in their most familiar form against dai kaiju in War of the Gargantuas ), and the 'freezing masers' that were first used by the Super X-3 in the Heisei Era film Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995). A freezing mist was used by the original Gotengo in Atragon, but this time it clearly used a freezing beam of energy, similar to that used by the Super X-3 and the Japanese Self Defense Force against Godzilla and Destroyah in the final Heisei film. This was the only element introduced in a Heisei film to be utilized in a Millennium Era movie.
Gorath--- The runaway celestial object on a collision course with Earth that was the main focus of the classic Toho sci-fi disaster flick Gorath (1963) got something of a Millennium update treatment here. This particular revival turned out to be a non-event, however; though the 'mystery planet' may have had some degree of 'reality' in the GFW Universe, in this film it was only a holographic ruse used by the Xians to trick the human race (in the eponymous Showa Era film, Gorath had no apparent connection to any alien race). In this film, the brief appearances of the faux renegade celestial object was rendered entirely by CGI, and looked rather cool.
Onto the subject of the film's musical score, we received several interesting songs, including one, "We're All To Blame," performed by the American rock group Sum 41. The instrumental performed over the closing credits had a highly emotional resonance to it, though it didn't add up to anything we received during the Showa or Heisei Era in terms of soundtrack. A few traditional bits of music found its way into this film from Toho's library, including the theme for Mechagodzilla from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and a classic track from Akira Ifukube playing over the opening credits; hence, Toho reversed its policy of no longer including Ifukube tracks in G-films.
Overall, GFW is an interesting G-film, and definitely worth a place in all G-fans' video libraries, and of great interest to all kaiju-fans in general due to the fact that the movie contains more monsters than any other G-film. The sheer novelty of its uniqueness makes it worth a viewing. However, director Kitamura's insistence upon making it into something akin to a sci-fi martial arts extravaganza that simply included many dai kaiju as one of many of its elements rather than as the main element will make this movie disappointing on many levels to kaiju-fans, particularly the brevity of most of the monster battles and the small amount of screen time that several of the kaiju are given to make room for the many fight and chase scenes involving the human cast. The numerous derivative elements pulled from other popular sci-fi films will also be glaringly obvious to fans of fantastic cinematic fiction, and this attempt to make the movie appeal to this fan base by lifting so many of these familiar elements will likely come off as more of a bunch of rip-off's rather than a homage series, especially when you consider the surfeit of such borrowed elements. It's obvious that Kitamura had a field day playing with Toho's roster of alien and kaiju characters in this film, but they all simply served the purpose of allowing him to incorporate them into an off-the-wall combat film with a thin plot holding all of the action sequences together that was typical of his product. As such, GFW is hardly one of the great G-films ever produced, falling markedly behind GMK in quality and innovativeness in regards to the Millennium Series. Nevertheless, some G-fans have described this movie as "like a Showa film on acid," and it does bring back many Showa classics whom many of us thought were permanently relegated to Toho's dust bin. For this reason alone, while this film is hardly the best we could hope for to commemorate the Big G's 50th anniversary and to directly proceed his latest lengthy hiatus, it can nevertheless be considered an outré' G-film that blends many disparate forms of action together into one movie. For those who are not too quick to judge, one may find this movie a fun ride to sit through.
Despite the high hopes Toho held out for the last of the Millennium G-films, this movie turned out to be a box office failure in Japan, and its highly controversial, derivative style was a turn-off to many G-fans on both sides of the Pacific. It never made it into the international markets, as hoped, and though its international premiere was given in grand style at the Chinese Grauman Theater in Los Angeles on Dec. 4, 2004, Tri-Star had no interest in releasing this movie to the big screen in America. Instead, it was quietly released to home video a full year after its big screen debut in Japan. Though the official DVD release featured a fun "making of" featurette, we didn't get the hoped for director's cut which would include all of the excised footage. This movie was widely reported in the American press as the last G-film that Toho would ever make, when in actuality Toho simply said they would cease production of the expensive G-films for at least the next ten years. The previous G-films of the Millennium Series hadn't made any huge profits for Toho, and they ranged from modest successes (Godzilla 2000) to dismal failures (Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.) for a variety of business-oriented reasons. In my previous review, I discussed the many reasons in some detail, and though Toho proved willing to experiment wildly (as they did with both GMK and GFW), as well as bank itself on more traditional efforts (Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.) neither approach appeared to be bearing any fruit (again, largely for the reasons I described in my review for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.).
Instead of bringing on the Big G's latest retirement in grand style, this G-film instead provided the final nail in his coffin.
What the future holds for Godzilla now that the Millennium Series has officially ended is a big mystery at this writing. Evidently, with Daiei beginning the Millennium Gamera Series in the spring of 2006, we still have some decent Japanese kaiju-films to look forward to, but apparently no plans for a long-awaited Godzilla vs. Gamera flick. With the success of Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong (2005), I was hoping that this might encourage Toho to negotiate a new King Kong vs. Godzilla flick, but there are no plans for this to date either.
We G-fans simply have to sit and wait, however long it takes, for Toho to finally bank on another series of G-films, and when that time comes, we can only hope that the then-reigning powers-that-be at Toho will actively choose to examine the mistakes of the past that sunk the Millennium Series, and to make a determined effort never to repeat them.
In the fall of 2005, Video Daikaiju released a beautiful, highly affordable Special Edition DVD set for GFW, which included four DVD's, including the Japanese version of the film with English sub-titles, two discs filled with extensive "making of" footage, and a fourth disc containing the soundtrack. This is the best deal for anyone who wants this film as part of their G-library, IMHO. Tri-Star's official American release is decent, in that you can watch the film in both Japanese with English sub-titles or in dubbed English, though the "making of" featurette it provides does not match that of the much more extensive version provided by Video Daikaiju, and the English dubbing of the American version is terribly atrocious, taking the quality of the film down several notches. Nevertheless, the American version simply uses the English dubbed international print of the film, without editing anything out or altering any of the footage. The Japanese version is better only because it does without that awful English dubbing.
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