Review by Matti Keskiivari
Movie: Godzilla: Final Wars
Music by: Keith Emerson, Daisuke Yano, Nobuhiko Morino
Record label: Toho Music
Running time: 73:01/73:38
Discs: 2
Year of release: 2010

Review: ****/*****
The sixth and seventh discs in the final Godzilla soundtrack box are the first two dedicated to Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), the last Godzilla movie made in Japan (for now). Of course there’s no need to say, despite what some people might think about the movie or the soundtrack itself, this soundtrack gets the most anticipated re-release in the last box set.

First and foremost, the complete original score of GFW is finally released on CD. For those who have seen the movie and/or listened to the earlier soundtrack CD will definitely know that a lot of the score was left out. Fortunately, this has been fixed by Toho Music. Apart from the two stock Masaru Sato cues from Son of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and the Sum 41 song “We’re All to Blame”, every single cue that was used in the movie is included here. You can spot the improvements over the original soundtrack album right from the first two tracks on disc 1, which are the classic Ifukube Godzilla theme (a stock cue from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)) and the new theme for the king of the monsters composed by Daisuke Yano. On the original CD they were included simply as separate cues. However, on this CD the cues are bridged together with a “synth voice” transition, just like they’re heard in the movie. Some other notable cues that weren’t included on the first CD are “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces”, “Gigan Awakens”, “The Xiliens’ Intent”, “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” and “The Battle Is Over”. Also, all the cues that were presented in shorter edits on the original album can finally be heard in their complete unedited form, like “The Xiliens Arrive”, “Xilien Conspiracy (II)” and “The King of the Monsters Returns”. On the worse side, though, “Message from Infant Island” now starts rather abruptly unlike on the earlier CD.

As for the actual music, it is certainly different from the works of Akira Ifukube, Masaru Sato and others that we’re used to hear. It has its fans and haters. Some people feel that it’s great and refreshing because it has a more modern sound and fits the overall tone of the movie, whereas others just hate it for the aforementioned reason(s) and prefer the traditional orchestral sound. It feels as if the score can be separated to three parts: Keith Emerson dominates the beginning, the middle part is Nobuhiko Morino’s field, and the last part focuses on Daisuke Yano’s music. If you ask me, the soundtrack is a mixed bag, like the movie. It has got some quite bad tracks and some enjoyable ones, but none that are so outstanding that they could be worth a five-star rating. Furthermore, a lot of the tracks tend to work better as a stand-alone listening experience, like “Xilien Conspiracy II” and “The Xiliens’ Intent”. On the other hand, some of the tracks that are on the worse side of the score work better when they’re heard in the movie, like “Commander Namikawa’s Abnormality”. Many people have complained about the theme heard during in the end credits. Personally, I don’t hate it, as I think it sounds quite like Keith Emerson’s work from his days in ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer). However, I do think that it shouldn’t have been used during the end credits but instead something else, like more Ifukube-related material. The worst track would have to be “Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Ebirah”. The cue just doesn’t fit the scene at all. It would suit something like a comedy/agent movie a lot better than a kaiju movie.

Now, let’s talk about some of the highlights of the GFW soundtrack. The new Godzilla theme by Daisuke Yano is quite nice, as is the “Main Title” cue by Nobuhiko Morino, which is a clever “remix” of the “Main Title” from the original 1954 movie by Ifukube. For me, many of the tracks that steal the show are the unedited cues that I mentioned earlier. “Xilien Conspiracy II” especially has become one of my favorite tracks from this score. You can perfectly picture the scenes from the movie in your head as you’re listening to the ten-and-half-minute-long cue. “The King of the Monsters Returns” is another excellent track. “Keizer Ghidorah Appears” has a very dark and desperate sound to it, fitting the monster king’s final foe perfectly. “The Battle Is Over” is a more soothing track with a nice melody. My personal favorite theme, however, would have to be Keith Emerson’s theme for the Earth Defense Force, which is more commonly known as “Kazama’s Sacrifice” as it was called on the original album. While this score isn’t Emerson’s best movie work (the title of which arguably goes to the Italian horror film Inferno (1980) directed by Dario Argento), his Earth Defense Force theme is definitely one of the best tracks he has composed. Yes, I’m one of those people who absolutely adore it. It is a very memorable and catchy piece of music. I particularly like the guitar-heavy version heard in “Ebirah vs. the Mutant Forces”. It’s really enjoyable; as is the movie scene it’s used in.

Let’s move on to the bonus content. GFW has got a lot of extra tracks. So many, in fact, that there’s a third disc completely dedicated to bonus tracks. This disc serves as the second disc on the Godzilla: Tokyo SOS set of the box (which I’ll review soon). The entire disc 1 and the first half of disc 2 cover the actual score, so the remaining tracks on disc 2 are bonus material. First we have the unedited versions of certain cues like “Gigan Awakens”. Then we have three edited tracks that are presented in the way they’re heard in the movie. As the booklet tells us, these were taken from a 5.1 channel source, so they sound noticeably louder than the rest of the tracks, and fortunately better than the edited cues on the GMK soundtrack. One minor complaint: it would’ve been interesting to hear the final film version of “Xilien Conspiracy” since it was a mix of the two M14 cues found on disc 1. Next there are two Emerson tracks that were included on the original album. In the early version of the M2 cue Emerson uses an adaptation of Ifukube’s Godzilla theme. The last two tracks are alternate takes of the “Ending” cue. The first one is fairly interesting as it has its own twist to the theme, but the second one is pretty awful and too long. It seems like Emerson tries to “stretch” the cue as long he can until it reaches an abrupt end.

The booklet has a very cool picture of Godzilla’s face on the front cover and pictures of Rei Kikukawa and Kumi Mizuno on the back. Besides the usual track notes (which are surprisingly short compared to all the earlier soundtracks) there’s a profile of Keith Emerson (unfortunately there’s no photo of him) and an interview with Shogo Tomiyama, the producer.

All in all, the soundtrack of the 50th Anniversary Godzilla movie will always receive mixed opinions, but one can’t deny that Toho Music have done a fantastic job in finally releasing the (almost) entire score. If you’re interested in this soundtrack, you really shouldn’t hesitate in getting the sixth Godzilla soundtrack box. Like I’ve said before, it is worth the money.

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