Saturday, July 16, 2005

Don't Hate the Playa, Hate The Enormous Green Lizard Destroying Tokyo.


Godzilla: Final Wars
2004, Japan
Ryuhei Kitamura
35mm

The study of Godzilla films is a solitary pursuit, practiced only by the odd head shop owner and comic book store clerk with a Japanese ex-pat girlfriend, but it is not without its rewards. Those rewards come mainly in the form of an extensive knowledge of alternate spellings of Kamakiras and a completely irony-free love of camp, but they are rewards nonetheless. For example, you never know when a Trivial Pursuit question may require you to define the term kaiju, or when you’ll have to sit through an entire afternoon’s worth of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons episodes without making any sarcastic asides. However, this year held quite the reward for true Godzilla fans, with the release of Godzilla: Final Wars, which features the titular monster fighting pretty much every guy in a bad monster suit he’s ever faced, with the notable exception of King Kong. This is every fan boys wet dream: the chance to see all their favourite monsters at once while simultaneously complaining about why Angillas was computer-animated. And not only does it have some of the most popular creatures from the Godzilla mythos, like Mothra, and King Ghidora, it features some of the more incredibly unpopular, like Minilla from Son of Godzilla, who’s kind of like a more plastic version of Trumpy from Pod People¸ and some of the more bizarre, like King Shisa, whom you may remember as the scary teddy bear from one of the numerous Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla movies. This film allegedly brings to a close the fourth, I believe, series of Godzilla films, which have stopped and restarted more times than the Friday the 13th franchise. There’s the first series, which went from 1954’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters until the second Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla in 1974, then the second run, which ignored everything after the first film and went from Godzilla 1985 until I got bored of keeping track around the mid-nineties. After a brief respite for the staff writers at Toho to crank out a script good enough to get Godzilla to sign on for another film, there were a few ‘alternate reality’ pictures, then it restarted again with the excellent third Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla picture in 2002. I realize that the preceding list was practically joke free, and must have been quite a chore to read, but it’s really difficult to make fun of Godzilla movies. No one in the audience takes them seriously, and clearly no one making the film is either, so making fun of it sort of feels like critiquing the art in Captain Planet colouring books, only less satisfying because you’re not making any children cry. The plot of the film is an equal mix of the previous monster fest Destroy All Monsters, with added touches from The Matrix thrown in to nicely tie the film into the trend of Asian movies focusing on the hidden destiny of the protagonist. There’s some nonsense about alien invasions, and a lot of bad dialogue, mainly courtesy of ex-UFC champion Don Frye. His presence in the film is somewhat confusing. Normally, I would assume that his inclusion would be intended to draw the meathead crowd away from their Pay-Per-View wrestling matches long enough to rent the video, provided the new Lorenzo Lamas picture isn’t already out, but they tend not to gravitate towards Godzilla films, either because of their lack of scantily clad ex-swimsuit models or a lingering resentment towards the Japanese rooted in white America’s inability to figure out their DVD players. Nevertheless, despite its numerous flaws, I’m glad I saw it. At least, if nothing else, I’ll have something to talk about at Librarie Astro tomorrow.

3 Comments:

Anonymous JSS said...

Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons! This blog is bookmarked! Keep the sarcasm coming.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

It's less about keeping the sarcasm coming than it is about holding it back, because there's a certain point at which my writing changes from humour to that rage the monkeys have in 28 Days Later, and then things get messy.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous FLUFFY PANSY WOOFTER said...

OH REALLY, WELL MR KARREAU, HOW ANGRY WOULD IT MAKE YOU IF I WERE TO TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE A CAD, A BOUNDER, AND A THOUGHOULY BAD EGG, AND, BY JOVE, A POPINJAY, YES SIR, YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY, A POPINJAY SIR, OF THE LOWEST ORDER. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT MR KARREAU.

4:31 PM  

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