Godzilla: Final Wars

Sony Pictures

The King is dead, long live the King. As Peter Jackson’s lavish remake of King Kong is about to unleashed in theaters worldwide, the demise of another King makes its way onto DVD. Godzilla: Final Wars is said by its creators to be the culmination, celebration and end of the long-running series featuring the skyscraping, radioactive-breathed lizard king. With its 1954 allegorical debut, Godzilla quickly established his own niche in cultural awareness, albeit one frequently derided by Western audiences with the series’ descent into children’s matinee fodder. The films continued to be churned out in the ’90s, with a more serious-minded approach. Helmed by Ryuhei Kitamura (of the seriously deranged zombie/gangster epic Versus), G: FW isn’t what you’d expect—there’s still a rubber-suited gargantuan, but more detail is expended on the designs and on the miniatures. This is sort of a Whitman’s Sampler of all the soap opera conflicts between The Big G and his foul-tempered brethren, set to a fast-tempoed narrative that includes references to other more contemporary sci-fi actioners. Although the titular character doesn’t really show up until the halfway mark, G: FW is still a giddy and fast-paced celebration of the big guy.