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~Ephesians 5:16

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Godzilla 2000 Review

On May 20th, 1998, TriStar Pictures released GODZILLA into American theaters. It was also the same year American audiences were alienated to Godzilla movies. So one year later, TOHO released a brand new Godzilla film: GODZILLA 2000 MILLENNIUM. Think about this for a second. TOHO retired the Godzilla franchise four years earlier in 1995, when the big G was killed off after battling Destoroyah. So after Sony blew it with their film, TOHO must have been pretty angry with how America treated the license. So they quickly rushed into production a new film to show us how to make a new, modern Godzilla film. Then the following year Godzilla: Millennium stomped into Japanese theaters. (It came to American theaters the following year, hence the title change to GODZILLA 2000.) This film holds a special place in a lot of fans' hearts. This was the first Godzilla film a lot of fans saw in the theater. (Ah, if I could bring myself to that time to watch it on the big screen.) Thirteen years later, it still stands above the rest of the Millennium series in quality, it's THE definitive Godzilla film.

Official description from Sony:

Get ready to crumble! The king of all monsters is back and bigger than ever! The action heats up when a UFO reveals itself as a massive alien monster with awesome destructive powers. The alien monster heads straight for the behemoth GODZILLA who's just crushed the entire city for the battle of the millennium. But GODZILLA's furious heat beam may not be enough to destroy the death-dealing alien, and the future of humankind is in jeopardy. Now, it's a bang-up, threeway, no-holds-barred brawl as GODZILLA, the alien monster and the courageous citizens of Japan fight an unprecedented battle for survival in this earth-shattering new sci-fi action adventure that will blow you away.

I remember many years ago on Christmas morning when I turned on the TV. I was flipping the channels until I hit what I believe was the Sci Fi (now known as SyFy) channel. I stopped there cause a very dramatic scene had caught my eye. This giant thing was attempting to swallow Godzilla whole. That was captivating, I had never seen anything like that before. It was dramatic seeing the big G being, well, about to be swallowed. I turned it off after he blew up the thing because I was eager to open these gifts. So anyways, that was the first time I was witness to GODZILLA 2000. I don't remember exactly when I first saw the whole movie through, but it must have not have been long after. I just can't help but enjoy this film every time I watch it. It's a simple, straightforward story without any complex side-lpots thrown in. (I'm looking at Godzilla vs. Biollante and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah specifically.) This film is easy and enjoyable to follow. It doesn't reference any past Godzilla films, it does what the 98 film attempted to do: make a perfect modern way to jump into the franchise.

There are a few a main characters this time around. There's Yugi Shinoda, his daughter Io, reporter Yuki Ichinose, and Mitsuo Katagiri. Shinoda proves to be a simple, yet compelling focus. His fixation on Godzilla is simple, yet makes sense. His relationship with his daughter is realistic. Probably the best relationship between parent and son/daughter in a G film. The child costar was pretty solid, which isn't something you see every day in a G film. (Godzilla vs. Hedorah, I'm looking at you.) Now, the reporter, Yuki, was by far the worst character in the whole thing. She definitely had a certain spunk, but the writing, (or in this case, the dubbing) was awful for her. Now, Katagiri. The first couple of times I saw the film, I didn't think much of him. Now, after watching it again, I can see the brilliance in his character. He isn't like previous commanders in the franchises, he seems to genuinely want to protect the public. And while other leaders usually sit at their desk watching things from a monitor, this guy is on the scene firsthand.

Ah, the monsters. First up, Godzilla. The look is just FANTASTIC, it's my personal favorite. The exaggerated spikes make the giant lizard look even more menacing. They also don't flap around as much as previous incarnations, making it even more realistic. And I really liked how in the American version they gave him different pitches of roars, really gave him emotion. Orga is the opponent this time around. He has a very interesting backstory that should have been explored more. Orga has a pretty interesting appearance, with his huge hands being his main thing. No complaints with the suit, it just needed more screen time to realize its true effectiveness.

The soundtrack is a bit different that ones from previous films. It's good stuff, it fits the atmosphere in the film. Maybe not as dynamic as some of the other soundtracks, but some great tunes stood out. (The Millennium's theme, transformation into Orga, and the final battle theme, we also get the classic Godzilla theme, that was a nice touch.) The thing that separates this film from the other G films is its 'realism.' The opening with the van and Godzilla was just fantastic and had a very interesting perspective. It felt reminiscent of  Cloverfield, such as the scene with Godzilla stomping on the tunnel while the van was attempting to escape. The effects are very good, aside from some bad CGI. Godzilla swimming in the ocean was fantastic, however, something like that had never been captured before in the G films. Now, the best part worth the price alone was the final fight. It was EXCELLENT, very climatic. There's no boring 'beam wars,' (sorry Heisei era) it's realistic giant monster brawling. The stakes are set high, and is just plain dramatic. The way the film rolls about gives it a dramatic feeling, when Godzilla falls down, we feel it. It just feels like a well put together film, something some previous films can't say they did.

Overall, GODZILLA 2000 is a simple and straightforward G film. And that's a good thing. It has a very different atmosphere when compared to previous entries, it just felt 'real.' It features a great Godzilla look, and the effects are top notch aside from some CGI shots of the Millennium UFO. Orga proves to be an interesting foe with a great, but unexplored backstory. The pacing is excellent, but that's mainly thanks to the solid cast. We actually care about these people, and the human 'antagonist' stands above other human characters in the G series. Aside from some strange comedic moments with cartoony music playing during them, it's hard to find fault with this film. It's the perfect jumping on point, you do not need any knowledge of the previous films to enjoy this one. If you've never watched a Godzilla film before, I urge you to head to the video store after reading this review to pick up GODZILLA 2000.


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