Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Monsters. Mutants. And mayhem from the skies above! It’s all here in Godzilla: Final Wars, the one movie designed to end the kaiju reign of terror once and for all.

Or at least that was Toho’s plan . . . but - and, really, humans should know this by now - you can’t keep Godzilla down. Not when there’s so much work to be done still! Kaiju Korner returns with a sharp look at 2004’s attempt to bring an end to Godzilla by Toho. But, and I think it’s fair to ask here, were they ever really serious about ending the franchise? I don’t think so.

With the Millenium Series bringing about a new sort of realism to the franchise and the American remake from 1998 largely (and thankfully) forgotten, the 50th anniversary of Godzilla was going to be one hell of an all-night rager for Toho. I’m sure they dreamt about the money they were destined to make from this film.

Leaner and meaner. That seems to be what we have here as the Millenium design for the monster is trimmed in the body and tucked here and there around the cheeks, producing a sharper looking Godzilla who is ready to battle former foes and friends and any of the annoying superhumans in the Earth Defense Force (EDF) who get in his way or attempt to harm Minilla, who is safe in a Japanese forest, far away from the destruction Big Papa is about to unleash upon the humans for continuing to damn the planet with their pollution and nuclear experiments.

"this celebratory G-flick cranks up the carnage"

Save us! Save us? Who is gonna save you, Godzilla?!

Yet, as Godzilla: Final Wars begins, that’s exactly what the dumb creatures (us) think they’ve done when the famed monster is trapped under the ice of Antarctica when the Gotango, a submarine, fires constant missiles and causes an avalanche, entrapping the monster under the weight of the ice. Humans are finally free at last! Salvation is here.

Everyone congratulates themselves on a job well done. But, as this is the 29th film in the series; the final film in the Millennium offshoot, and Toho's 28th Godzilla flick, we know there’s much more fun to come. And, trust me, F-U-N is the operative word here as we leap forward in time and watch as the new Gotango, now helmed by Captain Douglas Gordon (Don Frye), battles with Manda in the English Channel and discovers that something weird is definitely happening.

When other EDF scientists - Masahiro Matsuoka as Shinichi Ozaki and Rei Kikukawa as Miyuki Otonashi - get a mysterious warning from Shobijin, the Mothra twins, that something evil headed their way and it will resurrect Giden, as well the other kaiju who have long been dormant, their ears perk up.

The Xiliens are coming!

Suddenly - and stay with me here because the list is long - the earth becomes one big arena for all sorts of chaos to stomp out upon. We have a speeding Rodan attacking New York City, Anguirus rolling around and destroying Shanghai, Zilla, the American version of Godzilla, rattling windows in Sydney, King Caesar crowning himself with Okinawa leftovers, Kamacuras raging in Paris, Kumonga doing damage in Monument Valley, Ebirah leveling Tokai, and Hedorah tossing Los Angeles into the proverbial dumpster.

Just what the hell is going on here?! It seems that only the newly arrived Xiliens know for sure, sucking each kaiju into their ship as a goodwill gesture to Earth. But they want something from humanity in return: their lives . . .

. . . because these aliens need a food source.

And, just like that, the humans call out to Godzilla for help. They don’t want to face Monster X without him.Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Sure, there are components of the movie - with action scenes involving the humans which comes across as too John Woo-like for their own good and an overall Matrix-like vibe to some of the dumb characters - which are unfortunate side effects of the early 2000s, but, amping up the carnage and the fun, this celebratory G-flick cranks up the carnage and has Godzilla battling some his biggest foes for an all-star brawl across the oceans.

And, thankfully, Godzilla: Final Wars doesn’t stop the destruction for a needless breather. That’s how unimportant the human characters are once Godzilla resumes his rampage from continent to continent, plays soccer - using Anguirus as the ball - with King Caesar, and takes all of 4 seconds to silence Zilla (as Toho hated the American version) for good.

The battles and the special effects are damn good - using a combination of miniatures and digital effects to create the many, many scenes of destruction - and, with stuntman Tsutomu Kitagawa (from Toei Company's Super Sentai series) back in the Godzilla suit again, we have some fine creature performances in all (but the ones which are CGI) of the 19 monsters, including MinyaGigan, Gimantis, Baragon, Varan, Gaira, Gezora, Titanosaurus, Megaguirus, Spiga, Shisa, and a mighty fierce King Ghidorah. The suits are lighter and, as a result, the movements from the actor are tight, with blows that are quick and deadly.

With Ryuhei Kitamura directing and Eiichi Asada responsible for the special effects, we should have high expectations for both the story and the creatures. One of those does not disappoint as Godzilla - and the other monsters which appear in this 125 minute movie (the longest for Toho) - look freakishly cool . . . and all sorts of pissed off.

It’s the story which fizzles out all too soon. Combining far too much of Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), this alien invasion movie tosses its good intentions right out the window as we retrace some familiar terrain with fancier special effects. There’s your typical lunacy with some of the left of center aliens, too, but plenty of comedic moments - whether intentional or not - to brush it off with.

Because, when it’s all said and done, we’re here for kaiju cage matches. The rest is, well, unnecessary when it comes to Toho terrain. Thankfully, Godzilla: Final Words knows this and preaches it . . . even if we have to endure a silly drum-and-bass electronic score through much of the movie.

It was the early 2000s, you know. From blu-tinted cityscapes which are drained of all other colors to a stylized motorcycle chase scene which is as ridiculous as they come, you got what you got back then and you didn’t complain. You just kept munching the popcorn until the bucket was empty.

Godzilla: Final Wars is streaming on digital platforms and is available on blu-ray thanks to a twofer from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

4/5 stars


Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Sony Picture Home Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray
- May 6, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English; French
Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; two-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

In Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla's 50th Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes, plus a new, mysterious monster called 'Monster X'.


Godzilla: Final Wars is presented in 1080p High definition. The film does look better than its DVD counterpart and when it focuses on the actual characters, the picture quality is pretty good. When it tries to go into the visual effects, you will notice scenes with more artifacts more, especially with the scene shot inside a viewing room. Of course, the graphics were early CG, so the UFO is not the greatest in quality and is a bit outdated. But fortunately, the majority of the film does look much better than the original DVD, especially with its handling of the creatures and the fight sequences. Lots of great close-ups on Godzilla’s face, too.


The film is presented in Japanese and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.


Fans of the movie get a nice look at some of the behind the scenes moments involving stuntman Tsutomu Kitagawa as he performs in the suit. It’s quite fascinating.


  • None

Special Features:

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars

 Film Details

Godzilla: Final Wars

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
125 mins
: Ryûhei Kitamura
Isao Kiriyama
Masahiro Matsuoka; Rei Kikukawa; Don Frye
: Sci-fi | Horror

Memorable Movie Quote: "Listen kid, there are two things you didn't know about the Earth. One is me. And the other is... Godzilla."
Toho Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 29, 2004 (U.S.)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 6, 2014
Synopsis: Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes and his allies plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.


Godzilla: Final Wars