KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla 2000 (1999)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Godzilla 2000 was the first attempt to re-boot the beloved film series for a new audience since 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah. It abandons the storyline of all of its predecessors save for the original 1954 film. Shinoda (Takehiro Murata) and his daughter Io (Mayu Suzuki) run a “G” network of Scientists who feel it is necessary to learn all they can about Godzilla and his enormous regenerative abilities. A newspaper reporter named Yuki (Naomi Nishida) accompanies them although she is given very little to do in the story other than screaming and complaining.

Katagiri (played by a glowering Hiroshi Abe) works for the government and believes that Godzilla should be killed for the protection of humanity.

At the same time Shinoda’s group is gathering information on the big G, Katagiri’s group accidentally awakens an alien called Orga who has slumbered beneath the sea since first crash landing on earth during prehistoric times. Orga wakes up when it after being inadvertently exposed to sunlight during an exploratory undersea expedition meant to search for new energy resources for Japan.

 Once it has gained enough strength, Orga rises from the sea, first as a shiny UFO. After soaking up some power from the sun, it later emerges from its vessel taking on several interesting forms, one of which resembles a Manta Ray. Orga attempts to permanently adapt to earth’s atmosphere by sampling Godzilla’s “Regenerator G-1” healing cells called and attempting to clone him. This naturally upsets Godzilla and predictably, the flames fly.

It’s an enjoyable film on many levels. Visually, the film is uneven at best with many of the daylight shots exposing poor blue screen and ineffective CGI integration.

The night scenes in G2K are much more effective (mostly because they don’t use a lot of CGI) and the final showdown between the final form of the alien Orga and ‘Zilla utilizes both excellent miniatures and pyrotechnics. The finale is the best reason to watch the film.

The film’s kaiju designs are another of the film’s successes, with this manifestation of the big guy quickly becoming a fan favorite. He has a sleeker, more muscular torso, longer purple dorsal spines and pugnacious visage which more than adequately conveys his strength and personality. He is intelligent and tenacious. He is easily riled and loves to have the last roar, as evidenced by his gloating display following the defeat of Orga. For fans of the Big Guy, it is a very satisfying conclusion.

This was the first time a studio gave a Godzilla film wide U.S. theatrical release since Godzilla 1985 and it is probably the only case in history where the American version surpasses the Japanese version, benefiting from additional sound effects and Foley to fill in the dead air of the original’s soundtrack. It trims the sluggish plot and even handles the English language dubbing with more respect than its predecessors up to that time, despite the occasional addition of corny dialogue like, “Eeeh, Quit your bitching!” In this case, seeking out the American version is definitely the preferred choice.

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