Monday, August 18, 2014

The Litany of Godzilla: Millennium Series Part Five – Ending Awesomely

Godzilla: Final Wars

Short version:  Every actor, Kaiju, reference and situation Toho could get their hands on - thrown in a blender set for Crazy Awesome as a Fiftieth Anniversary Extravaganza.

Long Version: Read on…

We start with the old Tohoscope Logo and a few bars by Ifukube to set the retrospective tone.  Much of the other music in the film is by Keith Emerson, which lets you know the tone will be going some odd places.  

Pre-credits: a back story is given explaining how wars and pollution have caused a rash of stock footage featuring every Kaiju whose costume they couldn’t repair or rebuild, plus the rise of super powered mutants with a fifth or “M Base” in their DNA.

To stop the monster tide, the Earth Defense Force (E.D.F.) was formed; the mutants were brought in as elite super soldiers as part of the cleverly named “Organization M.”

Of course Godzilla was the worst of all of the menaces faced.  He’s a hundred meters tall again, because with all the money spent on having a giant party of Kaiju in the movie, the miniature budget had to take a hit.  It’s the past, and a silhouetted Godzilla (Junior?) is shown battling an odd looking craft in Antarctica.  The captain of the craft, played by the Prime Minster Heisei General to get the cameos rolling early, sees to it that the Big G is buried deep within an ice avalanche.  The opening credits then roll over scenes from pretty much every Godzilla film. In contrast to the rest of the Millennium series where we were to pretend none of the other films happened, it is a pretty strong indication that this time… EVERYTHING happened.  It’s the Grant Morrisonesque version of Toho history.

The time is then  brought up to 2004: coincidentally the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Big Guy.

The odd looking craft, a flying drill submarine, is identified as the Gotengo.  To complete the tribute to Atragon, it’s battling Manda under the sea and through some lava, for extra awesomeness. Manda falls to a “Maser” (a freeze ray in this conflict, but not always), plus the will and insubordination of the commanding officer: Captain Manly Mustache.  He’s played by American MMA fighter and Professional Wrestler: Don Frye, who was most likely cast because Nick Adams died tragically young, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura went into politics. 

They report back to the head of the E.D.F., Miss Namikawa.  This isn’t me being goofy with nicknames; Kumi Mizuno’s character is really called Namikawa again. You know there’s some alien action on the way.  Captain Manly Mustache is sent to the brig, while his gunner, Lonely Mutant trains.  His training consists of a Matrixy fight against Jerky Mutant.  Lonely Mutant loses the fight, and is called out by his opponent for having a conscience.  The bosses seem to agree, and assign him “babysitting” duty as a guard for Model Biologist.  She’s going to investigate the recently discovered twelve thousand year old mummified cyborg mutant. (It also makes Julianne Fries.) She knows it is a mutant because it has the same “M base” in its DNA strands as the gang from Organization M.  Perhaps she’s more Model than Biologist.

The first UN Secretary General from Japan is interviewed on TV, and talks about his dog.  This non sequiter will be important later, but for now we’ll leave it at, 
“Hey!  It’s Akira Takarada!”
The Thief with a Heart of Gold and Native Girl are together again…or Miss Namikawa and Astronaut Fuji more likely.

Back in the lab, Lonely Mutant stands by while Model Biologist is talking to her boss. (Also from Gojira, and many more: Kenji Sahara! Does Toho know how to throw an Anniversary party or what?) Their opening a book on Infant Island somehow triggers a mental trip there. Maybe it had a Magic Dust Jacket.  The Millennium Shobijin provide exposition in stereo.  The evil in the mummy is also in the mutants, and Lonely Mutant can only overcome it by making the right choice between friends or fighting.  Don’t worry; he gets to do a mess of fighting anyway.  They also give him a Mothra Amulet.  The Shobijin identify Gigan (see I told you he could make Julianne Fries) as the evil Kaiju, last seen and defeated twelve thousand years ago.

I suppose, culturally, the early seventies were about twelve thousand years ago.

The UN Secretary’s plane trip is cut short by something with extra speedy flight and a familiar squawk, plus the whole explosion in midair thing.  There’s a scene in New York that should offend anyone who’s ever lived there, visited there, or thought about there more than once.  The walking stereotypes are stunned and then killed by RODAN! 
He flies around Manhattan exploding stuff in his wake.  YAY!

Suddenly it’s a Kaijupalooza!  

Anguirus is in Shanghai (With a groovy new rolley ball attack)
Zilla’s in Sydney (And the official Toho cannon, score one for the Iguana!)
King Caesar is in Okinawa (With a couple notes of his theme song)
Kamakuras is in Paris (Breaking landmarks)
Kumonga is in Arizona (Filming 8 Legged Freaks, perhaps?)
Ebirah is in Tokai (On land for the first time)
Even Minilla shows up at Mount Fuji! (Roughly the same height as the Crazy Old Hunter grandfather of Kenta, the requisite annoying kid.  At least he has long pants on.)

Who cares?
Kaiju everywhere!

A couple Sub-Gotengo class ships don’t do too well against the monsters.

However, in Tokai, the Organization M Squad, led by Jerky Mutant and Lonely Mutant, kill Ebirah with bazookas and ray guns ON FOOT!  Taking out a Kaiju without armored or air support of any kind…
That, my friends, is how you have a “Human Moment” in a Godzilla film.

Since no one else is doing well against the monsters, they are all relieved when little thorn looking UFOs fly all over the world and teleport them away.  The thorns merge with a giant ball hovering over E.D.F. headquarters.  The saved UN Secretary beams down from the spacecraft, and brings another guy plus Miss Namikawa up to the ship to meet the aliens.  They have redesigned shiny suits, but still have the odd sunglasses and a general Devo vibe.  It’s the Xillians!  They really did escape to the future after Planet X’s plan failed in Great Monster War.

The Alien Controller warns that Plant Gorath (to name drop another Showa Toho production) is going to smack into the Earth, and they’ve come to provide “shoot here” directions to bases around the globe.  Rescuing everyone from the conveniently appearing the day they showed up Kaiju also makes them mighty popular.  X, the Controller’s second, a semi Goth, Boy Band-Bad Boy type leads the way in this area.

Model Biologist’s sister shows up. She’s the Plucky TV Reporter, who did the UN Secretary dog interview.  Good thing too, I was worried the lack of Plucky Reporters would tarnish the traditions respected for the anniversary. She’s got some disturbing news. When the Secretary told the United Nations we were becoming the “Space Nations” he didn’t blink, ever. Being a scientist, Model Biologist knows, “Everyone Blinks!”
Dun dun DUUUUUUN!!!!

The two sisters and Lonely Mutant go to see the blinkless wonder, and find that he not only doesn’t blink, but doesn’t remember Plucky TV Reporter, or his own dog.  He also refuses to go to the hospital when he’s conveniently, randomly attacked and bleeds all over Model Biologist. Analysis of his blood shows it is, of course, alien.

Now that their secret is revealed, X is shown arguing with the Controller.  He believes the Xillians should use power to take over Earth. The much older and wiser Controller explains how a peaceful settlement is always much easier.  The likelihood of that drops like a Tokyo high rise in one of these pictures when Model Biologist brings her findings to the head of the E.D.F..  Miss Namikawa doesn’t blink anymore either!  Maybe she never did?  It would explain her driving the disastrous Kiryu project two movies ago.

Model Biologist reports back, and also learns that Gorath looks the same form all over the globe, confirming the alien’s fakery.  Maybe it was that giant cardboard Jupiter Planet X used to hide behind.

The other not blinking guy catches Model Biologist snooping around and brings in Miss Namikawa.  Fortunately the good guys have released the only one they know can be trusted: Captain Manly Mustache.  He kills the Xillians revealing their true form, which is too horrifying to show, at least for the moment.

Plucky TV Reporter is interviewing X, the Controller and the UN Secretary live on the air. She fakes out the one “human” with the old, “I never said it was your dog…its mine,” trick.  X cracks up as the “peaceful settlement” idea continues to crumble.  Model Biologist, Lonely Mutant and Organization M enter with Captain Manly Mustache, who throws the - no longer too horrifying to show - dead Xillian on the floor.  It looks like a cross between the Guyver and a robotic fish.

X is done waiting, shoots the controller and rides the hysterical cliché train.  He calls humans cattle, references using them as a food source and actually says, “Resistance is futile!” There is much posturing in what looks to be the prelude to a big Mutant vs. Alien fight.

X wiggles his fingers in that peculiarly random Xillian way, and all mutants but Lonely suddenly writhe in pain before changing sides. Captain Manly Mustache’s officer sacrifices himself to allow his commander to get back to base and “Save the World.”  There’s a giant Matrixy motorcycle fight between Jerky Mutant, and the inexplicably unaffected Lonely Mutant en route.  Lonely Mutant wins but still doesn’t kill his former ally, who seems “much better now” after getting his butt kicked.  Captain Manly Mustache grabs his giant katana when everyone gets back to headquarters.

X throws the overacting into an even higher gear, releasing all the monsters and the little shooty flying thorn ships while screaming:
“GIGAN RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISE!!!!”  to demummify the cyclopean cyborg, who now has an explosion cloud eyeball ray.

We see Anguirus’s new rolley ball attack take out one of the not as good as Gotengo ships, and other Kaiju victories around the globe.  All the while X is cackling and gloating.  I’m not sure how their scheme to turn humans into a food source will work if he kills them all, but he doesn’t strike me as the type who plans ahead.

He also doesn’t seem to care about Minilla, as the little guy has no reaction to the M Base gene finger wiggling issues. He continues to hang out with Crazy Old Hunter and Kinta.

The Gotengo is the only weapon left, leading Captain Manly Mustache to decide to go release Godzilla.  He was the gunner in the pre credits battle with the Big G, and knows Godzilla won’t be able to be controlled by the aliens without an M Base.  The world’s already pretty much down the toilet, making the fact Godzilla also won’t be able to be controlled by the humans not a big concern anymore.

Everyone gets in the Gotengo, except Plucky TV Reporter, who is left behind with a camera in order to document the mess for future generations. There won’t be any of those if the Gotengo fails, but I guess they figure she’ll be OK based on how well reporters tend to fare in these films.

Down in Antarctica, two dorky, muscle-bound Americans are guarding the frozen Godzilla, and listening to catchy seventies music, not heard since the first Godzilla against Mechagodzilla.  Their tune works as a period accompaniment for Gigan’s arrival.  The even sharper than before cyborg uses his belly buzz saw to cut the Gotengo, and its power.  Before crashing, the flying drill submarine gets a few missiles off.  They miss Gigan, but he was not their target, instead they explosively insta-thaw Godzilla, who makes one of his trademark entrances. 

The Big G looks like a mix of the Millennium and Heisei versions.  Considering, in planning stages, he was supposed to be Junior, and Kiryu was supposed to show up, he could be from either. However, his fighting style, much like his Kaiju and alien opponents, is predominantly Showa.  Basically, he’s Everygodzilla.

The first thing the King of Monsters does after being freed to save the human race is blast the snot out of the guard station and the two dorky, muscle-bound Americans in it.
Another great plan in action.

Gigan attacks Godzilla with cables that were not present in the 1970’s version.  In other news of things not present in the 1970’s version, instead of being content with beating on Gigan until he flies back into space, Godzilla uses his breath to blow Gigan’s head up.

While X begins his longest and most entertaining rant of the film, the Gotengo gets up and running again. They key word here being running, because Godzilla has decided they are next on his list of things to blow up.  They plan to fly with the Big G chasing them, and lead him to the other Kaiju.  What actually happens is they lead Godzilla to a place, and then a Kaiju is beamed there, indicating some precognition may be involved.  Maybe Miki Saegusa is working downstairs in navigation or something. She really should have been here for this party.

The first stop on Godzilla’s Battle Tour is a total humiliation of Zilla in Sydney; done by a tail swat into the Opera House followed by a landmark blasting breath that takes a mere thirteen seconds from start to finish. At least they acknowledged Earl's existence.

Next it’s off to Arizona, and Kumonga. The giant spider nearly killed Godzilla and his son last time they met. The Big G seems to have gotten an upgrade for his anniversary, as he grabs the Electric Company Spider-man style web shot at him, and hammer throws Kumonga clean over the horizon.  Some insurance companies in New Mexico will be getting odd claims.

Kamakuras goes just as quick, unhelped by its new camouflage. It winds up impaled on a high tension wire pole. 

 Godzilla sets about destroying and burning the city, because he’s been frozen a while and still holds a grudge.  Crazy Old Hunter explains Godzilla is mad because humans made a giant fire, or were mean to the planet again, or something.  I’m not really sure; I’m still trying to figure out how Paris ended up in Japan.  Minilla runs to the pickup truck, because he’s going to need a lift.

In a break from the action, Lonely Mutant gives his Mothra talisman to Model Biologist.  Maybe that protected him? When asked why he is willing to part with something so special, his answer is simply, “I’m your body guard.”  They kiss passionately as a Whitney Huston song plays.

No, of course they don’t.  This is a Godzilla movie, where holding hands is the most passionate anyone has gotten in five decades.  Pay attention, people.

Over at Mount Fuji, the Showa Memorial Triple Tag Team goes into action. Former Godzilla buddies Rodan, Anguirus and King Caesar beam in for the festivities.  Godzilla and Anguirus run at each other, looking like a romantic reunion scene right up to the moment when Godzilla steps on his little head to springboard up and smack Rodan.  King Caesar follows up with a flying cross body off the mountainside that Godzilla catches before tossing him onto Anguirus’s spiky back.

The rumble continues with a series of events that not only didn’t I make up, but I’m not even sure I could.  Anguirus’s rolley ball misses and Godzilla bounces him into Rodan, flattening the giant pterosaur.  As Anguirus deflects back, King Caesar has a Bend it like Bekham moment and leaps to kick his four footed friend back at Godzilla. The Big G pulls a goal tender style jump but misses, adding Anguirus, and in short order King Caesar into the pile of old friends. 

Out of respect for all their years of fun together, these are the only Kaiju Godzilla leaves alive.  They’re in a big twitchy pile, but alive.

Minilla celebrates seeing his dad’s victory by cheering, blowing a smoke ring, and growing about forty feet for no adequately explainable reason.

To redeem his being mind controlled by evil alien overlords, Jerky Mutant steals a fighter to reenact the second Death Star battle by kamikaze-ing himself thought the Xillians’ mother ship hanger, and into her inner workings and shield generator.  The Gotengo follows, battling though the thorn swarm, and uses its drill and Maser to smash into the ship, because frankly we haven’t had enough man made explosions in this film yet. Why let the Kaiju have all the fun?

At the rate things are going, there’s no time for a musical break. The Shobijin pray a bit, and Super Speed Mothra rockets out of Infant Island leaving Magic Dust contrails in her wake. Back on the battlefront:  Hedorah, who also almost killed Godzilla, is unceremoniously tossed out of the ocean, shortly followed by the revived Ebirah.  The giant shellfish lands claw first into the Smog Monster’s squishy noggin. 

Godzilla surfaces and fires off a radioactive breath powerful enough to shove them, and the building they smashed into, clear across town. Then they blow up, as does much of the aforementioned town they got pushed across.  Maybe it would have been safer to go with the whole “cattle” thing.

When the Gotengo Command Crew enters, X is still freaking out. He’s screaming about farming humans for their mitochondria, and he’s also screaming about the meteor he’s called down for the Main Event…the End of Godzilla!

Godzilla, in the latest series of moves I couldn’t have made up, digs his feet and tail into the ground like a tripod to brace his breath blast at the meteor.  The building wasting explosion is nothing compared to the city killing blast when the space rock hits.  Godzilla stands to face the big mystery of the film MONSTER X!  Who could it be? Gamera? Kong? The Stay Puft Marshmallow man??? The mind boggles.  At the point of appearance, it looks like an economy sized robot Guyver fish, with goat horns and shoulder faces.  Surely, there would be a more historical reveal later on.

During the Showa style Kaiju martial arts match, Monster X fires some familiar looking lightning that batters Godzilla. Super Speed Mothra zooms in, but is met by Gigan 2.0, who now sports twin chainsaws on each hand.

You know when they’ve out-ridiculoused Godzilla vs. Megalon it’s a truly special occasion.

Mothra’s hurricane wings attack is too much for Gigan 2.0 at first, until he digs his chainsaws into the ground and rides forward on them to slice part of her mothy wing off. 

It’s like they have a never ending pot of crazy, isn’t it?

Back on the bridge, there’s some exposition between X’s ranting.  The M-Base is unsurprisingly from the Xillians. They put it in the monsters, and also in the Mutants by interbreeding with their ancestors. This raises a key question: Just how many kids did Nick Adams have?  Lonely Mutant wasn’t affected because he, like X and Monster X is a Kaiser.  Well, I’m glad that got explained. X shoots some lightning at Lonely Mutant while Monster X does the same to Godzilla. Gigan 2.0 shoots him too, because it’s not like he can play solitaire while he waits around with double chainsaw hands.

Things look pretty rough for our heroes.  Lonely Kaiser is attacking his friends, and the two evil alien Kaiju are playing hold ‘em and hit ‘em with Godzilla.  Mothra does some excellent day saving on both fronts.  Model Biologist whacks Lonely Kaiser with the Mothra talisman, curing him.

Meanwhile outside, Super Speed Mothra herself pulls a double bulldog on the bad Kaiju, knocking them face down onto the city bits. Gigan 2.0 retaliates by firing his chest mounted circular saws, because, really, why stop now?  She tries dodging them, but flies into his explodey cloud eye beam, which engulfs the intrepid goddess of Infant Island in flames that the saws shoot into. Fear not, Shobijin wannabes, the saws zoom out, and take off Gigan’s head…again.  

Then Super Speed ON FIRE Mothra jets out into him as well, causing both to vanish in yet another massively property damaging conflagration.

On the ship, a missed Godzilla breath hits the craft and breaks a deadlock allowing the groups to split apart.  Battles are everywhere. The real UN Secretary, Miss Namikawa and the other guy who didn’t blink before show up to help out too. Most of the gang is in a laser gun fight with the Xillians, Captain Manly Mustache is going hand to hand (or gun to freakishly large katana) with some mutants, and Lonely Kaiser and X are having an even more Matrixy fight than the previous ones, following Lonely Kaiser’s Neo moment of stopping laser bolts. 

Lonely Kaiser gets even more Neoish once he chooses the good side out loud and effortlessly beats the snot out of X. Godzilla’s outside doing the same thing to the young leader’s pet Kaiju.

X laughs hysterically, possibly because he’s been watching everything going on in this movie. More likely though, it’s because he’s started the self-destruct. A well timed random explosion takes out the remaining mutants, to let the intrepid crew get to the Gotengo quickly, letting us get back to watching Godzilla just as quickly.  The third captured guy was the Gotengo pilot, but he bumps his arm on the way in.  Therefore, per standard E.D.F. protocol, the untrained Model Biologist has to fly them out.

X has the most unrestrained tantrum of the entire film, which is saying a heck of a lot, and the ship explodes in the biggest BOOM yet.

Then Godzilla and Monster X shoot their breath weapons at each other, and they explode in the biggest BOOM yet.

Both Kaiju stagger to their feet in the crumbs left of the city, and Monster X transforms…It’s time for the big reveal!

Monster X expands and stretches to become “Kaiser Ghidorah”, a bigger, four legged, somewhat shinier version of King Ghidorah. This is an amazing surprise!
Y’know, unless you’ve actually seen a Godzilla movie before, but really, how many of those people would be interested in the fiftieth anniversary film?

Even Godzilla does a take toward the camera and looks to be trying to shape his mouth into, “What the….?”

Kaiser Ghidorah comes out blasting. All the Ghidorah subgroup’s lightning bolts have always been called “Gravity Beams.” This is kind of like Godzilla’s attack being officially called an “Atomic Ray.” I still call it a “breath weapon” because I’m an old Dungeons and Dragons geek.  I call King Ghidorah’s attack “explodey lightning,” because that’s what it is.  

However, Kaiser Ghidorah has true Gravity Beams, which pick up the Big G and buffet his scaly hide around town.  Once Godzilla is reeling, Kaiser Ghidorah gets serious, stomping on his head, and clamping down a triple, and energy draining, bite.

Lonely Kaiser saves the day by firing up the M-Base-glowy-mutant energized-Infinity Power Up-Maser…or something.  Whatever it is, the beam that comes flashing out of the Gotengo does the job.

The King of Monsters is back to full power, and pops off a couple of Kaiser Ghidorah’s heads like zits. 
After spending some time delivering a properly epic beating, Godzilla tosses his foe into the air.  Instead of chasing what’s left of Monster X back into space in the Showa tradition, the Big G goes Heisei on his twin tailed butt. 

Godzilla executes an artistic pirouette before firing off his crazy-explodey-super-energized-red-breath weapon-from another reality, leaving only charred Kaiser Ghidorah flakes to fall from the sky.

His next target, because everything else within several hundred miles has been leveled, is the Gotengo, which used all of its power in Lonely Kaiser’s brilliant idea.  Everyone gets out to stare at Godzilla who looks ready to mash them all, until Minilla runs in between!

Minilla’s too big to fit in the truck now; I have no idea where he came from.

Even Akira Takarada is confused by this, and that guy’s seen everything.

Crazy Old Hunter says it’s time to forgive.  But the E.D.F. guys aren’t buying it.  Kenta blocks their way, protecting Godzilla from, um, some guys with guns.  Well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Minilla adopts the same protective pose as Kenta facing his dad, and the Big G finally gets it.

Godzilla walks off, Minilla breaths a real radioactive blast in triumph and follows.

Captain Manly Mustache and Plucky TV Reporter smile at one another, as do Lonely Kaiser and Model Biologist.

Before it can look too romantic, they spoil the moment by saying the war is over, causing Lonely Kaiser to reply, “No it’s the beginning of a new war.”
(Against boring American Godzilla films perhaps?  Sorry I can’t help myself sometimes.)

Godzilla and Minilla swim away, but The King of Monsters turns for one final goodbye roar, before never being seen again, for the third time.

During the end credit recap scenes, Mothra flies home, somehow having survived blowing up in a flaming ball. I hope the Infant Island Bactine Springs are still flowing.

The credits end, the 1954 Godzilla roar plays, and the curtain is drawn on this fun and freewheeling tribute to the loopiest stuff to come out of Toho in five decades.

No comments: