Title: Godzilla 2000 (1999)
Director: Takao Okawara
So in preparation for Godzilla (2014) I decided to revisit some of the Godzilla movies in my collection and the one that jumped at me was Godzilla 2000, mainly because I had not reviewed it here, so I took the opportunity to revisit it. I have to say, it’s a pretty solid Godzilla flick filled with lots of fun moments. The thing with this particular Godzilla film is that it was made as a response to Roland Emmerich’s masterpiece (I kid, I kid) Godzilla (1998). Japanese audiences hated that American Godzilla so much that they had to immediately make a response film. Originally, Tri Star pictures had a trilogy of Godzilla flicks planned, but Japanese hatred for that film moved the guys at Toho Ltd. to make a proper Godzilla flick, as a result we get Godzilla 2000 a film made to remind us what a true Godzilla film is all about.
On this particular flick humans discover a huge chunk of rock beneath the ocean; the rock is emitting energy, so of course they decide to unearth it. They soon discover this ancient rock is actually a dormant alien spaceship that had crash landed on earth’s oceans years ago. At the same time, we follow a group of scientists who are trying to pin point Godzilla’s exact location on earth, which is kind of funny because how the hell do you lose track of something as huge as Godzilla right? So anyways, the main character is this scientist and his daughter who are the equivalent of storm chasers, but instead of storms, they chase Godzilla. Will Godzilla make it in time to save humanity from the evil alien ship that’s stealing all of humanities knowledge?
What I like about this one is that it was the first time we get a glimpse at a new Godzilla design, which to me is the best Godzilla has ever looked on any of the Japanese films. To me this era of Godzilla films (known as the Millenium Era) is the best era, because Godzilla looks pretty bad ass, not bulky or obviously a man in a suit. So right from the beginning we meet Godzilla face to face, and it’s not some computer generated image trying to get away from cheesiness, nope, this is Godzilla, the way he’s always been, kind of goofy, but 100% fun. There’s this scene where the protagonists are driving down a tunnel and what awaits them at the end is Godzilla’s giant face and his breath, the scene is beyond cool! A great way to remind us just how fun a Godzilla movie can be. The ideas have to be out there and crazy! The crazier the better! And so to me, this one delivers in that aspect.
Starting with the fact that we’re talking about a giant alien spaceship that sucks up knowledge from computers and morphs into a giant tentacled monster! The only downside in this movie for me is that the alien creature was achieved through computer effects, and since nothing else in the film is computer generated, well, the effect stands out like a sore thumb. It just doesn’t look good; it doesn’t help matters that the computer effects aren’t good at all. This is one of those Godzilla villains that never returned, it’s not a favorite and it’s easy to see why. The effects were terrible, good thing it doesn’t stay that way for long and eventually morphs into a man in a suit type of thing called Orga. Orga has a cool ability, it can steal your DNA through its bite and it can copy your abilities, so logically, it bites Godzilla and starts to clone Godzilla in a way, which was a cool ability in my book. The monster brawls are cool, destroying buildings and putting Tokyo in peril, but my favorite part of the film is how Godzilla decides to destroy the alien.
So anyhow, my final words on this one is that it was a good way to start the new era of Godzilla films. It was a fresh start in many ways, for example, it starts from scratch and ignores the continuity presented in all previous Godzilla films save for what happened in the original Gojira (1954). Godzilla 2000 was a huge box office success in Japan and so they also released it in the U.S. They cut a couple of minutes off to quicken the pace and added new music. By the way, this was the second Japanese Godzilla film to be released in American theaters since Godzilla 1985 (1984). The English dubbing is deliberately tongue in cheek and funny, so when you hear people saying things like “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” don’t be surprised. American producers decided to make the tone of the film funny, because in their heads, they think American audiences would never take the monster fight sequences seriously, so why not make the whole thing funnier with a funny line or two? But what do they know right? Godzilla films exist in their own unique universe and offer a very distinctive experience. You gotta take them for what they are, because with Godzilla films you either get them or you don’t. I’m one of the ones who has a blast watching these movies, this one was super fun, I recommend it!
Rating: 3 out of 5