Not only is this a crummy Godzilla film, Sony’s master for their Toho Godzilla Collection may be their worst yet
Ryuhei Kitamura’s faulty injection of style crumbles around Godzilla Final Wars, an insufferable lashing out of sound and explosions without coherency. Designated the 50th Anniversary film, Final Wars stuffs itself with bloated homages spanning Toho’s monster mythos, all concocted from desperation.
Kitamura’s work is that of glass – you can see through the pale miniature sets and hokey antics, peering into something with vacant pizzazz. Substance, in the form of humanity’s failed Earth policies, is squished under feebly constructed kaiju clashes and hyper, overly busy fights between feisty mutants. While refreshed in its build from Godzilla’s of old, Kitamura and writing partner Isao Kiriyama’s fresh minds collapse into character tropes which bleed militarism, news reporting, and political strife. Gained perspective is extinguished.
Images turn acidic, both figuratively and literally with a visual stench of overwrought filtering bleaching or scorching shots in an attempt to harness style. Final Wars is either too dark to be of consequence or over lit to uncomfortable extremes. Slippery editing room tactics fail to issue a proper release valve, sticking to this tiring torrent of unstable action for almost two hours while Keith Emerson’s chintzy digital keyboard wails on, obliterating established scale.
Final Wars is shamelessly childish and even derogatory with a New York sequence of such vile ineptitude as to rinse this feature of credibility only a half hour in. Maybe this represents a concentrated dose of revenge for years of egregious dubbings (Final Wars’ is equally despicable though) and reshuffling “Americanizations” which rendered playful Toho items like King Kong vs Godzilla contemptible Stateside.
Toho appeared to be fighting an evolving tide which found their monster audience (and ticket sales) dwindling with successive entries. The studio saw their answer in higher background financial support, forever proving how monetary help is a number useful in marketing only. Splashing $20 million on screen means a bevy of slim glimpses at 15 monsters punching dried out miniature sets. Final Wars allows no space to appreciate the faltering artistry of model makers, and if anything, tries frantically to hide its existence from super heated studio lights.
As a franchise, Godzilla has succumbed to idiocy, stupidity, and barrenness. However, therein served an amicable quaintness and popular kitsch factor. Final Wars energizes into camp without a stabilized base of logic to pull from. A head shaking, impromptu kaiju soccer match exists in equalized embarrassment with Godzilla’s Meme-friendly flight from Godzilla vs the Smog Monster. Trying to dissect an inane and confused human saga – complete with a stiffened Don Frye and self-resurrecting Akira Takarada – is pointless. It’s stupid. So is this movie.
Sony apparently feels the same way about Final Wars with the last (chronologically anyway) film in their Toho Godzilla Collection Blu-ray set. Abysmal mastering strikes Final Wars with impenetrable noise, causing images splattered with noxious artifacts. Fidelity, which may occur as if by accident in close, is swallowed whole when Kitamurta’s design pulls back. That’s most of the movie.
This is arguably the darkest of all Godzilla flings, with stout black levels proving detrimental to shadow details. Finding an image of a monster suit or miniature not caked in darkness is almost impossible short of a monster shuffling brawl in-between some hills. Flipside images, with their contrast cranked to ‘blinding’ are absolutely corroded, if to no fault of the encode. Source filtering is unflinching with its power.
Every visible color spectrum is pulled out, from frosted blues to fire burned oranges. The entire frame takes to capsulizing color more than some animated films. Few scenes are afforded the luxury of pure color, sending flesh tones into an uncontrollable spiral which swings around in each scene.
Of final note is a lost sharpness level, putting this disc in near collusion with some early 2005 bootlegs which seeped out prior to the American DVD launch. Resolution is poor enough that Sony’s Blu-ray could be rightfully mistaken as part of the prior generation format. Final Wars is easily the imagery loser of these first Godzilla releases, and weirdly, it’s the latest film of the bunch.
With a DTS-HD mix and this brutal sound scape, Final Wars couldn’t lose. Design is striking with far too many scenes in consideration for one to stand out. This is a sonic blitzing of activity in all channels, from well positioned gunfire to explosions popping in individual surrounds. Final Wars opens with a rumble that sees Godzilla roaring at Toho’s classic ship, the Gotengo. The interior becomes swarmed with well plotted screeches as commander and crew stare on.
Impressive is how tightly sounds are placed, with no fear of letting something slip into a singular channel. Concentration of specific cues are smartly done and used frequently to spread the sense of destruction. Side-to-side motion carries an equal level of prioritization while also pushing through Keith Emerson’s score.
A bit of razzle dazzle in the LFE will pump up fire plumes or the enormity of other explosives, this coming in addition to monster steps which produce a thickened rumble. Events are consistently helped along with booming low-end support, tight and satisfying.
Sony clones a bonus from the DVD, B-roll to Film, which shares plentiful raw footage from the special effects set with the finished shots. A series of four trailers is offered as an additional bonus.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.