Godzilla 2000 – 1999, Takao Okawara – Japan
The world of Godzilla 2000 is one where the debate over whether or not Godzilla exists is over. Here, he has become an accepted part of life. Researchers study Big Green the same way they might study earthquakes, tornadoes, or really any natural phenomena, and while there remains a strong urge to destroy him, there is at least some portion of the scientific community eager to contain Godzilla somehow, for scientific purposes. Neither side seems to get their way, however, as always, he remains unkillable, and uncontrollable.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, mankind has unwittingly awakened an ancient, extraterrestrial life form that had been snoozing at the bottom of the ocean for millennia, and when this advanced life-form gets hostile, we again find ourselves totally unable to fend off our would-be destroyer. We’re basically worthless, when you get down to it, so once again it falls on the rough, greenish shoulders of Godzilla to bail our asses out, even though we launched like, a thousand rockets at him just yesterday… And that’s the movie!
Up until about the halfway mark I was pretty convinced that I was watching the best Godzilla movie in a very long time. This one marks the beginning of the Millennium Era, the third recognized period in Godzilla film continuity, and It starts out very, very strong, with many of the regrettable traits brought into cannon during the Heisei absent completely. Which is awesome, I love Godzilla, and I want to like the Heisei era films, but they made it pretty difficult sometimes. This film, on the other hand, is much easier to get behind, it feels higher budget and more serious than what we saw out of Big G’s last several escapades, and I feel like the spirit of the Showa era is felt ever so briefly here and there, although that could have been the hysterical relief brought on by not having to deal with any more psychics or hard, shiny, plastic monsters.
G2000 opens with a pretty neat scene; we have some Godzilla tracking enthusiasts hoping to catch a sight of the big guy in their custom outfitted Kaiju jeep, and guess what; they totally do. The whole sequence is cool, and very well done, even if it does try to borrow a bit from Jurassic Park, and even Twister. It somehow feels so fresh and real, and the way this movie tries to sell you a world where there is an apparent attempt to adapt to and understand Godzilla is just so different from what we’ve seen before. This is one of G2000’s many positive qualities, however, it ain’t all waterslides and puppy dogs, this movie has some serious flaws that really begin to gang up on you over the course of the film. The single worst problem out of the whole batch is a debilitating lack of balance, which is probably the most common flaw in all of Kaiju Cinema; as is so often the case, we end up spending way too much time with characters that we just don’t care about, and even when we finally get to the good bits, it somehow feels boring because of how little we give a shit about this world to begin with. It’s just too little too late, and the giant alien monster that Godzilla has to fight is also decidedly lame. That doesn’t help.
Regardless, the strength of the first half of the movie is enough to make this one stand out in my mind, and overall, I like the film. It’s a good enough start to a new era, and Godzilla fans will likely have a pretty good time with it.