Godzilla 2000 (2000): ***
Directed by Takao Okawara
Let me give you some background in the recent Godzilla mythology so you can have more context for Godzilla 2000: A few years ago, the Toho company, which was Godzilla's home, had decided to stop making Godzilla movies so that they could be done in America. Thus, in their final Godzilla movie, Godzilla vs Destroyer, Godzilla died. He DIED. Not seemed to die. He was absolutely destroyed. This left Toho with a clear conscience to have Godzilla go overseas to be made by Americans.
But, as we all know, Roland Emmerich's American Godzilla (1998) was terrible. What to do? Toho couldn't leave Godzilla in American hands if that was what they were going to do with him. Fortunately, Toho had (knowingly?) left themselves an escape clause: In Godzilla vs Destroyer Godzilla is killed, but his child, Baby Godzilla, survived. . .
Thus, while it is never said in the movie, it can be assumed that the Godzilla of Godzilla 2000 is really Baby Godzilla all grown up and full of anger. Since he's practically indistinguishable from the original Godzilla, who would be the wiser?
That said, the plot of Godzilla 2000 involves Godzilla strategically targeting Japan's power stations, while the Crisis Control Institiure (CSI) discovers a strange meteorite underwater. . .
This is probably the most enjoyable Godzilla movie I have ever seen, even though it is not, by any means, actually a good movie. It is several times less boring than most, and I particularly enjoyed Godzilla's return to a more menacing mode. Instead of acting like some sort of superhero and defending Japan from evil monsters and aliens, this Godzilla chars his own path as well, which is particulalry effective in the opening sequence when he first comes ashore. This Godzilla (perhaps becuase its Baby Godzilla and he's still young yet) harkens back to the original monster of the fifties but still manages to portray a sense of affronted dignity and personality.
I also enjoyed the movie's portrayal of a Japan that has been forced to adapt to life under Godzilla threat for years now. Not only with the formation of the CSI, which is bent on destroying Godzilla as a threat, but especially with the Godzilla Prediction Network (GPN), a co-op of scientist nerds living throughout Japan that shares financial burden for their work, but also shares whatever money their discoveries bring in. Their self-imposed task is to learn as much about Godzilla as possible, for the good of all, and to use that knowledge to contain and predict his activites without killing this unique specimin.
There were a handful of lines thrown into the American script just for the american audience, two of which were very good. The first, a CSI scientist explains to an official that the metiorite is very likely a spaceship from another galaxy:
OFFICIAL: That's too impossible to be believed!
SCIENTIST: Yeah, like Godzilla makes any sense. . .
And also another one in which the editor of a newspaper imitates the famous editor of a very famous newspaper. . .
The most boring part is at the end of the second act and involves a plot by CSI to blow up the UFO/Meteorite, which has parked itself on the tallest building in Tokyo and is draining the city's computers for information. But it is not too long of a sequence, and at the end Godzilla re-appears. The climatcic battle, in which Godzilla must fight the UFO and the monster it has created using Godzilla's own regenerative cells (which the head scientist of the GPN names, dramatically, "Regeneration G-1") is very good, even though a little too short for my tastes. It does however, set up perhaps to most bizarre denoument of any Godzilla movie ever. Trust me, it just has to be seen and heard to be believed.
I personally also enjoyed very much the lower-budget special effects. Some are very complicated and intersting to watch, even if they don't always get the perspective or scaling to match on the combined footage shots.
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