Director: Takao Okawara
Hiroshi Kashiwabara & Wataru Mimura
|Stars: Takehiro Murata (Yuji Shinoda), Naomi Nishida (Yuki Ichinose), Mayu Suzuki (Io
Shinoda), Hiroshi Abe (Mitsuo Katagiri)
|Year of Release: 2000
Having already starred in two TV shows and close to 30 movies in which he defeated
Megalon, Gigan, Monster Zero, Mothra, the Smog Monster, the Sea Monster, and the
Cosmic Monster, not to mention having been reinvented in digital glory by Roland Emmerich
and Dean Devlin ("Independence Day"), one would think that Godzilla wouldn't have
much left to offer.
However, you can't keep a good lizard down, and the big guy emerges from the sea again to
wreak havoc on Japan in "Godzilla 2000," the first official Toho-produced Godzilla film
since 1995's "Godzilla vs. Destroyah." Unlike the 1998 Emmerich-Devlin American-made
opus, this is old-school Godzilla, meaning unconvincing special effects, a ridiculous plotline
involving a rival monster, and lots of Japanese actors with badly overdubbed dialogue
(sample: "Did you see that flying rock!?"). Despite large advances in special effects
technology, true Godzilla movies remain mired in the mid-1960s, when a large man in a
rubbery suit slogging through a wading pool with a hazy rear projection screen of Tokyo in
the background passed for big-screen excitement. Apparently, for some it still does.
Of course, there's a certain nostalgia there, and I suspect that the makers of "Godzilla
2000" have purposefully kept the special effects just this side of being completely cheesy
for a reason. Silly as it is, there's an irrepressible joy of seeing the clumsy, rubbery Godzilla
lumbering out of the ocean, with his motionless eyes that always seem to be looking out to
the sides rather than straight ahead and his monstrous legs that are so dumpy one wonders
how he can walk. "Godzilla" movies are hardly good filmmaking--sometimes, in fact, they
border on the inept--but they're rarely boring and almost always fun to watch.
The plot of "Godzilla 2000" is typically inane. Apparently, Godzilla has become such a
regular feature of Japanese life that a Godzilla Prediction Network has been set up to watch
for his arrival, which effectively reduces him to the importance of a weather system (30%
chance of Godzilla this evening with light showers...). Although most "Godzilla" films
force the audience to wait at least half an hour before the star makes his grand entrance, the
makers of "Godzilla 2000" decided to push the titular hero up front by having him appear
before the opening credits have even finished. His destruction of a coastal town is like an
appetizer to the main dish that is Tokyo at the end of the movie.
The plot then leaves Godzilla for a while and focuses on a giant rock that is being lifted off
the ocean floor for purposes of using it as an alternate energy source. However, it turns out
the rock is actually an alien spacecraft that crashed into the ocean 60 million years ago, and
it eventually morphs into a creature with which Godzilla can battle for the last 15
minutes of the movie. Their final battle is typically destructive, but it goes on for far too
long. The movie does end on a wonderfully ludicrous note, with someone asking why
Godzilla constantly protects them, to which another character answers, "Maybe because
there's a little Godzilla in all of us." The punchline is the movie's final image of Godzilla,
having vanquished his foe, shooting flames out of his mouth and destroying dozens of
buildings for absolutely no reason. Some protector.
Essentially, "Godzilla 2000" is exactly what you would expect from a tacky Godzilla
movie. No more, no less. Of course, there are a couple of choice bits of dialogue for those
who appreciate camp appeal, and listening to the inanity coming from the characters'
mouths always makes me wonder if the translations are direct, or if the translators have
some fun in the process. For instance, when a military man declares, "This missile will go
through Godzilla like crap through a goose," is that literally what the originally Japanese
soundtrack said? Somehow, I think not.
There is one particularly great campy line from a character that essentially sums up the
entire Godzilla series: "How ironic. It awoke after sixty million years only to have Godzilla
kill it the next day." That is probably the greatest irony of all the Godzilla films: Here are
monstrous creatures born of atomic radiation or descended from outer space, yet they don't
have anything better to do than smash buildings.
ďżOverall Rating: (2.5)