Monday, September 8, 2014

Franchises: Godzilla. Godzilla 2000 (1999)

Godzilla2000jap.jpgTwo years after TriStar's own 100% American-made Godzilla angered G-fans across the country, we got to see the classic Godzilla in theaters for the first time since 1985 with this film. I think most people may have been quite surprised when this flick showed up in August of 2000 since it had only a small fraction of the advertising that Godzilla '98 had (and, remember, this was before the internet really took hold and allowed people to know what was coming months or even years in advance) but I, at the very least, knew that it existed before then. I was still quite surprised when TV spots for its theatrical release began playing because I wasn't expecting it to come over to American theaters, especially after the '98 movie, which most were still expecting a sequel to, but I still knew that it had been made. That was thanks to the internet, which I had finally gotten near the end of 1999 and, once I did, began looking around various websites, most significantly on anything about Godzilla since I was making something of scrapbook at that time (the latest of many such projects that I had done throughout the years, with various levels of success and completion). I don't know if this had anything to do with the actual film or if it was just some fan-made thing but, after looking around for a bit, I found a very eye-catching image of Godzilla, with him shrouded in darkness to the point where you could only truly see his eyes and dorsal plates, and the words MD20 underneath it. Mom and I (she was with me when I found it) had no idea what that meant and we began to wonder if that meant a new movie was coming. We knew something was up since the obscured image of Godzilla there was still clearly the classic design rather than the TriStar interpretation, which, again, we were still anticipating a sequel to. This fueled our excitement, especially Mom's since she really didn't like that particular movie, whereas I was just happy about the prospect of the Godzilla I grew up with coming back, even though, as I stated in the previous review, didn't at all hate the '98 movie. Our excitement was even further heightened when, after cruising through the internet some more, I found some images of what Godzilla looked like in this movie. My jaw dropped when I saw it. I thought he looked so cool and badass that way. I think I was actually more excited about it than my mom or step-cousin, although they did like it as well, and was looking forward to, at some point, seeing this movie, which I knew from that article was out in Japan at the time. Little did I know that I wouldn't have to wait long to do so.

Does it surprise you at all to know that I saw Godzilla 2000 in theaters? If it does, then shame on you, because you obviously haven't been paying attention when I talk about how passionate I am about the character. When my mom told me that it was playing at the theater closest to our home, which was Winchester, I jumped at the chance to go see it. Wild horses couldn't have kept me away from this movie, which Mom wanted to see as well. So, on a hot, late August or early September day, my 13-year old self got to see the classic Godzilla, my childhood hero, in the theater for the first time and, let me tell you, it was a blast. Yeah, this movie wasn't absolutely great, which I was aware of even at the time, but it didn't matter to me because of the sheer significance the whole thing held. Mom and I both left that theater smiling and completely satisfied. As for the film's home video release, I got that simply because I was milling around in a video store one day and just found it crammed amongst a bunch of other videos. Had I not seen it in the theater, I think I would have been more elated to find it on video but, since I had, although I was still happy to get it, it was mainly just a quick grab in order to have something else to watch in the coming weeks. As the years passed and I got older, I went through another period where Godzilla was sort of relegated to the side-lines while I explored many other different types of films and genres. And while I still enjoyed Godzilla 2000 as a film that functioned as a good time-waster, as I matured, I grew to realize, even more so than I did when I was thirteen, that this film was far from perfect. While it still kept my interest throughout, the plot as a whole was very run-of-the-mill, it was very talky, the special effects work, particularly for a film made at the turn of the century, was pretty bad, and Godzilla himself wasn't in a good 75% of it. It was also around this time when I was growing curious of the original Japanese versions of these films, which I had begun to fully comprehend were often much different from their English-dubbed counterparts, a curiosity that was satisfied thanks to Classic Media's 2006 DVD release of the original Japanese version of the first film. When I saw that, I became determined to see the Japanese versions of all the other movies, including this one. But, while I would get to see some of them, thanks mostly to Classic Media, as well as Sony's DVD releases of some of the other movies, I would have to resort to buying some DVD-Rs in order to see the others, including Godzilla 2000. By that point, I had listened to the audio commentary by the creators of the American dub on the DVD of that version and I had learned what some of the differences were and why they were changed, but I still wanted to see the Japanese version for myself. Now if you've been following these reviews (and God bless you, if you have), you'd know that sometimes I prefer the original Japanese version and other times I prefer the English versions. It all depends on the individual film and how each version of it is handled. As for Godzilla 2000, I can say that this is another instance where the Americans vastly improved on the original version and made it more watchable. The English version may be far from perfect but it manages to be entertaining for the most part, while the Japanese version is a candidate for the most boring Godzilla movie ever. That version is so poorly paced and badly put together that even the monster scenes aren't fun and it makes me wonder how it was even a moderate success in Japan. I'll go into more detail when we get to the American version but, let me say at the outset that it's best to stick with that one if you ever decide to see this movie.

The Godzilla Prediction Network is a small, independent organization whose members are dedicated to studying, monitoring, and, one day, hopefully finding a way to contain the King of the Monsters, who constantly threatens Japan. One night, the two main members of the network, founder Shinoda and his young daughter Io, as well as photojournalist Yuki Ichinose, are waiting for Godzilla to come ashore, which he does, causing massive amounts of property damage in an apparent attempt to destroy all of the energy resources he can find. His arrival also catches the attention of the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency, headed by Mitsuo Katagiri, who has always been at odds with Shinoda since he simply feels that Godzilla must be destroyed rather than be studied. While placing a sensor device in the Japan Trench to track him, CCI's head scientist Shiro Miyasaka, a former college friend of Shinoda's, comes upon a 60 million-year old meteorite, which they later decide to raise to the surface in order to learn its possible fuel benefits. But, while they do so, the object quickly makes it to the surface of its own volition and later on when they attempt to drill into it to examine its inner structure, they hit something metallic, which prompts Miyasaka to theorize that the rock is actually a spaceship. Meanwhile, Godzilla begins approaching Japan again, sending Shinoda, Io, and Yuki into action to track him again, while Katagiri meets with the military, who plan to use special metal-piercing missiles to kill the monster. When Godzilla does arrive, the missiles do appear to have a damaging effect on him but before the JSDF can finish him off, the encased spaceship, which travels by following the direction of the sun, arrives and engages him in battle, managing to defeat him and drive him back into the sea. Following the battle, as well as an unsuccessful attempt by CCI to contain it when it lands to replenish its solar power, the spaceship heads for Tokyo and lands atop the Opera City Tower in the Shinjuku District. Once there, it begins sucking up every last bit of data from any nearby computers, particularly going after any information about Godzilla. CCI attempts to destroy the ship by detonating explosive charges beneath it, which only results in angering it and causing it to completely level the building. Shinoda, who barely managed to escape getting blown up along with the building since he was in there to figure out what the alien intelligence within the ship is after, reveals to the officials that it plans to change Earth's atmosphere to make it more hospitable for it and that it also plans to use Godzilla's regenerative properties to create a new body for it. Godzilla then arrives in Tokyo Bay and begins heading straight for the UFO, apparently with revenge on his mind, and all that can be done is wait and see if Japan's greatest menace can save the world from an even bigger threat.

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah may have been the definitive conclusion to the Heisei series but Toho never intended for it to be the end of Godzilla altogether. The studio simply decided that the time was right to take a hiatus and maybe start up again around 2004 or 2005, a feeling that was strengthened when the TriStar movie got back on track a year after the release of Destoroyah. What changed everything, however, was that very film. Less than two months after its Japanese release in July of 1998, Shogo Tomiyama began planning Godzilla 2000 and he later admitted in an interview that it was due to the TriStar movie. Now, while both Toho and Dean Devlin, who was at the time planning the eventually mooted sequel to the 1998 film, insisted that there were no hard feelings between the Japanese studio and TriStar, with Devlin himself saying that it was always hope that the classic Godzilla would return, Tomiyama's words and the actual content of the film itself appear to say otherwise. As David Kalat wrote in his book, there is so much here that's very similar to that film it's hard not to take it as Toho saying, "See, our old-fashioned suit and model techniques can do anything your multi-million dollar, CGI approach can do better!" You have Godzilla holding something in his mouth during his first appearance, as happened during his arrival in Manhattan in the '98 film (instead of a truck, it's half of a boat here); a shot of Godzilla swimming towards the camera underwater, such as during the battle between him and the submarines in the river; a moment where a man is almost killed when a big structure is knocked towards him by Godzilla but it ends up only pinning him, like Nick and that statue; a sequence in a tunnel that involves people trying to escape Godzilla; a shot where Godzilla's approach towards the mainland is characterized by a big bulge in the water with his spines sticking out; a shot where the lead scientist stands in a footprint left behind by Godzilla; and a moment where someone takes a picture of Godzilla at close range, which has unexpected consequences. Not to mention that, in both versions of the film, an army official says that when Godzilla attacks, he always advances, a not to subtle reinforcement of a big character trait that the TriStar movie ignored and another hint that there may have indeed been some sour grapes between the studios or, at the very least, on the part of Tomiyama. But, while it's nice that Toho seemed emboldened about their traditional approach apparently being more well-liked and enjoyable to audiences than the Hollywood way, they revel in it so much here that they forget to do anything else, like maybe come up with something of an innovative story or at least try to make the special effects, especially the CGI that's used here, look good. That, coupled with how they seemingly plain forgot how to make a monster movie entertaining, really hurts the film.

Takao Okawara, the director of the three most successful entries in the Heisei series, was back in the director's chair for Godzilla 2000, which would turn out to be his last affiliation with the franchise. In fact, as soon as he went into the film, Okawara, who had only directed a 1997 action drama called Yukai in the four years since Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, announced that it would be his last Godzilla movie. To me, that statement says once and for all that he was tired of Godzilla, which had always been something that he'd never had much passion for and simply saw as work. While a big part of it may have been how quickly put together this film is, with a ten-week shooting schedule in the summer of 1999, along with Shogo Tomiyama's feeling that it needed to be a return to first principles, I think this lack of passion on Okawara's part is another reason why the film is so by-the-numbers in the way the story is told and how it's filmed, as well as why the original Japanese version is so dull and a chore to watch. Of the four he directed, this is by far Okawara's weakest Godzilla film, even more so for me than Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, which I also didn't particularly care for. I still feel that he was able to get excited about the scripts and concepts for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, which is why those two turned out so well, but when it came to Godzilla 2000, he saw how "been there, done that," the script was and decided, "Okay, if that's what they want, that's what I'll give them. I'm not even going to try to do anything more." Indeed, a big reason why the American version comes off so well is because the creators knew the type of movie they were involved with, loved it, and wanted it to be as good as it possibly could be (as you can tell by the rather fun audio commentary those guys did for it), whereas it's clear that the Japanese version is the result of a man who has an attitude of, "Let's just get this over with." In any case, not only was this Okawara's last Godzilla film but, so far, it has proved to be his last movie period. After it was completed, he left Toho and hasn't directed anything or been involved with the film business in any capacity since then.

The main cast of Godzilla 2000 (which isn't very big) is made up of the typical archetypes that we've come to expect in these films by this point. They all fit into their respective character types without having much else to them, making them one of the hints that doing something new or fresh with this film wasn't a priority to Toho. After having been a supporting character in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth and being in one scene in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Takehiro Murata finally gets to play the lead in a Godzilla film here as Shinoda, the founder of the Godzilla Prediction Network. He understands that Godzilla is a threat to Japan, as well as the world, and that they have to find a way to contain him but he feels that it's worth the effort because to him, the monster is a gold mine of knowledge and important discoveries. This puts him at odds, very bitterly, I might add, with Katagiri, whose only priority is to kill Godzilla and the two of them are constantly racing to accomplish their respective goals first. That said, though, Shinoda is so determined to find out what secrets lie within Godzilla that, when he finds a piece of Godzilla's flesh but doesn't have the equipment necessary to properly study it, he reluctantly goes to Katagiri so he can use CCI's more sophisticated technology. He admits that Katagiri was the last person he wanted to come to but he has no other choice. It pays off, though, because this is how he discovers the secret to Godzilla's regenerative capabilities, an aspect of his unique genetics that he names "Regenerator-G1" (Organizer-G1 in the Japanese version; I'm going to use the American name because I like that better). You also find out that Shinoda is an idealist like Dr. Kirishima was back in Godzilla vs. Biollante, that he quit his job as a professor at a university because he didn't like the direction that science was advancing in. He also brings up how dangerous mankind's desires are and how, if CCI hadn't discovered and unintentionally awakened the alien force within the spaceship, someone else would have. That really comes out of nowhere and seems inappropriate to spout off given the scene, which is when they discover that the spaceship is draining all of the data out of Tokyo, which could also have dire consequences for the world at large. The same also goes for his ending line, where he says that Godzilla is inside each one of us. It makes a little more sense in the context he mentions it in at the end of the Japanese version, which is in response to other people commenting on how humanity gave birth to the monster, as opposed to Yuki asking why Godzilla defends humanity even though they try to kill him (she says this as he creates a huge ring of fire in Tokyo, I might add), but it still feels very preachy and pretentious, especially for a movie that's not trying to be as profound as the Heisei films were. Ultimately, like everyone else in this film, Shinoda is a likable guy and worth rooting for, especially when he risks his life to find out the alien's plan about 3/4 into the film, but, like I said, he's an archetype and one that doesn't have much depth to him.

Shinoda's partner in his work is his young daughter Io (Mayu Suzuki), whom you might not think would be that effective an assistant but is actually very smart and technically efficient for her age. This kid is able to understand stuff that most adults don't get, not only being a valuable ally to her father in his research but also being the one who handles, of all things, the business side of the network! Her intelligence kind of puts her at odds with Yuki, the photojournalist who often tags along with them in order to get some pictures of Godzilla for her magazine. Io clearly sees her as not being very smart, either saying that she's slow in the Japanese version (as well as referring to her by the common Japanese expression of "old maid") or calling her an imbecile in the American version, which really infuriates Yuki to no end. She also really gives it to her when she forces Yuki to become a member of the network in order to let her go with them again to take more photos, shoving a rather pricy contract before bringing up some kind of discount they're having that month. Needless to say, she's a very shrewd little kid but, the trick to her is that she's not annoying or bratty. You can tell that she understands how important the network's research is to her father and is always on hand to help him, going so far as to give CCI a false disk of information when Katagiri forces Shinoda to give them their data on Godzilla before letting him use their equipment to examine the skin sample he found. Shinoda didn't ask her to do this but she tells him that she felt she had to in order to protect the network. And that's another thing: even though their relationship is mostly seen as professional (in the Japanese version, Shinoda tells Yuki that Io is his partner), it's obvious that there's a genuine loving relationship between the two of them. We're not told what happened to Io's mother but it's clear that Shinoda is all the family she has and so, she's genuinely concerned for her father when he ends up a building that's about to get blown up in order to destroy the spaceship and is absolutely ecstatic and relieved when he survives, embracing and crying happily (a genuinely touching scene in either version). And while her relationship with Yuki may have initially been antagonistic, they do grow closer as the film goes on, mostly during that section when they try to help Shinoda get out of the building. In fact, when Yuki was the one in the building, Io went as far as to claim that she was her mother in order to convince the guards there to let them in to get her out. All of this, plus the simple fact that they found an extremely talented and cute little girl who could play her without being annoying or obnoxious, helps to make Io quite possibly my absolute favorite child character in the entire franchise.

Another character who could have easily been annoying but, thank God, is not, is Yuki Ichinose (Naomi Nishida), the photojournalist who ends up along for the ride with Shinoda and Io whether she likes it or not. As someone who is admittedly only riding around with the two of them to get a picture of Godzilla in the hopes that it will lead to bigger and better career opportunities, Yuki could have been played as selfish and hateful but, instead, is likable, funny, and quite sympathetic. You kind of feel bad for her when she has to go on these potentially dangerous joyrides with Shinoda and Io, who aren't rude to her but aren't that accommodating either since they're so focused on their research. In turn, while Yuki isn't mean to them, she does find think of them as weirdoes and, at first, only tolerates their company because she hopes it will pay off in bigger career opportunities for her. But, she does grow closer to them as the movie goes on, particularly during that section where Shinoda is potentially going to be killed when the building he's in is detonated and she and Io try to save him. Speaking of which, even though it does lead to Shinoda putting himself in danger, Yuki is proactive enough to sneak into said building first and try to figure out what the alien life-form is after, which would greatly benefit their battle against it. However, I think my favorite thing about Yuki is the humor that comes out of the situations she gets in when she has to go with Shinoda and Io. After she almost get them killed when she enrages Godzilla by shooting the flash of the camera in his face, Yuki is feeling pretty low and has to be talked into actually taking pictures of the monster afterward when they're driving alongside him. When she does so, Shinoda asks her to change her film cartridge due to what happened earlier, prompting her to growl at him in frustration (in the American version, she goes, "Oh, bite me! Grr!") All that trouble is for nothing since Godzilla's radioactivity ruined her film, forcing her to reluctantly go on another ride with Shinoda and Io and actually become a member of the network. I like the way she smiles when Io is good enough to give her that discount membership and how those good feelings go away when she's forced to pay for them to get across a toll bridge, prompting her to tell at Io in the American cut that she's not paying for gas! Later on, when the spaceship lands atop the building she works in, Yuki is so desperate to get something of a story that she has to pulled out by force since she tried to be Lois Lane and attempted to head upstairs to get some pictures of the spaceship. And her last line, about it being ironic that Orga, the alien creature that Godzilla fought and defeated, woke up after 60 million years only to be killed the very next day, is a nice one. Very likable character Yuki and one of the best in the film by far.

Katagiri (Hiroshi Abe), the head of Crisis Control Intelligence, is the film's human antagonist but, that said, he's not really a villain in the traditional sense. He's pretty snide and belittling in how he treats Shinoda, feeling that his network is a joke and telling him as such, saying that it's history, what he's trying to do is not at all evil. Unlike past non-kaiju antagonists, he's not an evil industrialist or businessman, a mad scientist, a terrorist, or an evil space alien, but is part of Japan's homeland security agency and feels that it's his duty to save it from Godzilla's attacks. He may be a bit pompous in his position and is too blinded by his duty to see Shinoda's point that there's wealth of knowledge to be had by studying Godzilla, but his reasons for doing what he does are perfectly commendable, despite his sometimes assholish actions. When his agency first discovers the meteorite, he decides that they must find out if it has any fuel capabilities or other benefits for them but when the thing proves itself to be hostile, potential energy or, as one person puts it, able to match Godzilla and possibly defeat him or not, he then decides that it's too dangerous and that it must be destroyed. Any one-dimensional antagonist would have tried to protect the spaceship because of its perceived energy benefits but Katagiri is smart enough to know that it's not worth the risk. The only aspect of Katagiri I don't like is how, in both versions, he seems a little too inclined to kill Shinoda in his attempt to blow up the spaceship. His reaction to finding out that Shinoda is still inside the building as the time for detonation approaches is a bit too one-dimensionally evil in each version, especially in the American version when he says, "Looks like I'm going to have to send more flowers," which is a callback to what he said earlier about the possible destruction of Shinoda's network. They could have easily had him explain his actions in a non-evil way, like saying that he can't afford any delays or maybe tell Shinoda after he gets back upon making it out that it was nothing personal and that he was just doing his duty. It still might not have excused almost getting Shinoda killed but at least he wouldn't have looked as blatantly evil, which goes against the portrayal of him that they were going for. Regardless, the most memorable moment involving Katagiri is at the end when, right before Godzilla kills him, he apparently accepts his fate and yells, "Godzilla!" in a very over-the-top manner. In a silly way, it is like he realized that he messed up before and needed to be punished, which kind of redeems him for trying to blow up Shinoda... kind of. Overall, I do like that they at least tried to do something different with the character of Katagiri, but I really wish that moment where he seemingly tries to kill Shinoda was handled better.

Miyasaka is the guy on the left in the foreground.
The last of the main cast is Miyasaka (Shiro Sano), the head scientist at CCI and a former college buddy of Shinoda's. Of the two CCI representatives we get throughout this film, he's the more sympathetic one. He never questions Katagiri when he's given orders but, at the same time, he doesn't have the hatred for Godzilla that his boss does and is simply doing his job when he informs him of Godzilla's appearance or when he plants a sensor device in order to help track him. In fact, throughout most of the movie, he studies the meteorite and the spaceship within it rather than have an active involvement with his organization's attempts to kill Godzilla. As for his relationship with Shinoda, while they're now working on opposite sides of the big issue and their relationship, although it's not made concrete, might be a little strained, they still have that connection from their college days that comes out when they study Godzilla's cells and discover the key to his regenerative properties. But, that said, even though Shinoda's words about their work back at college advancing in the wrong direction do give him pause, Miyasaka is still willing to do what Katagiri asked and take all of the data that Shinoda's network has on Godzilla from him. It's only later when the spaceship begins sucking all of the data out of Tokyo's computers that he begins to realize that he may be on the wrong side of science, feeling that this is his fault since he was the one who awakened the alien life-form within the spaceship. His friendship with Shinoda has also been reformed enough to where he allows both him and Io access to the Opera City Tower in order for them to get Yuki out of there, as well as very loudly protests when Katagiri is about to blow up said tower with Shinoda still in it. (That moment, coupled with the glare that Katagiri gives him afterward, is something else that I think hurts the latter's characterization and makes him feel more like a typical bad guy.) He's about as relieved as Io was when Shinoda manages to survive the explosion and throws his arms around him in a nice friendly bear hug. Finally, Miyasaka is the first one who questions why Godzilla does what he does, saying that the recklessness of science created him, which leads into the rather confusing and not very thought out final lines of the film. Not one of the best characters in the film, Miyasaka, but, like everyone else, he's certainly not unlikable or annoying.

While the ancillary characters in this film don't do much important, some of them are memorable nonetheless. Koichi Ueda plays another military guy here, although I'm not certain exactly where he is. Some sources credit him as the official who, in the American version, spouts off George C. Scott lines, saying stuff like, "Well, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed," or that their new, all-metal missiles will, "Go through Godzilla like crap through a goose!" but I know that's not him. He is listed in the actual film's credits, so I know he is in the film, but I can't exactly pinpoint him. Anyway, there's also a guy who works in the same building when the Godzilla Prediction Network is stationed who's something of a slapstick comic relief. Like a moment out of a Three Stooges short, he unintentionally whacks this guy who's working with him in the head while giving Yuki directions to the network's headquarters in the building and, after he helps Shinoda put some gear in the back of his van, Shinoda tells him that he stinks, causing him to sniff his armpits. Shinoda then tells him that it's his breath (or his hands in the Japanese version), prompting to loudly breathe into his hand to sniff it. It's over-the-top and stupid but it does make me smile. And finally, there's Yuki's editor, who I think is most entertaining in the American version, where he tells her to, "Quit your bitching!" at one point and, when he sees the spaceship hovering outside of his building (in the reflection of a small mirror he's using to snip his nose-hairs, I might add), he yells, "Great Caesar's ghost!" Again, I know that's clich√©d and some people might not find it that funny (I know one guy who rolled his eyes when he heard it), but I can't help but smirk due to its cheesiness.

Before we go any further, I feel that I have to address what lies ahead of us in this third series of Godzilla films, which is known as the Millennium series, because some of the problems with this film also applies to several of the later ones as well. First off, each one of these movies exists in its own separate continuity, with no connection whatsoever to the two previous cycles of movies or to each other, for that matter. Except for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., none of the entries in this cycle act as sequels to each other or even acknowledge each other's existence, which means that you could also refer to this as the Godzilla Anthology series. Supposedly, the only thing each of these films do have in common is that the sole past film they refer back to is the original 1954 Godzilla, which they typically use as a jumping off point to get to their respective stories. That is true for the most part but there are some films that either follow that movie's events up to a point, as is the case with the next one, or don't mention it at all, like this flick. At no point during Godzilla 2000 is the first 1954 appearance of Godzilla or his subsequent death by the Oxygen Destroyer ever mentioned, which likely means that in this continuity, Godzilla's creation and first appearance happened very differently. On the surface, this constant rebooting of Godzilla's history might seem like a strange way to go but, after they were obsessed with maintaining a tight continuity with the Heisei series, and sometimes failing in that regard due to the timeline alteration in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, I guess Toho figured that this might be a freer, less headache-inducing way to go. But, the downside to this lack of continuity is that, with each film, they have to explain how we got to the story we're about to be told. We either have to be told how Godzilla pops back up in modern day after having been killed by the Oxygen Destroyer in 1954, how the events of that film played out differently in this continuity, etc., which gets boring after they do it two to three times in a row. Godzilla 2000 avoids that by establishing from the get-go that this is a world where Godzilla has been a constant threat to Japan for a long time but, many of the following films didn't learn that lesson, which leads to it feeling uncomfortably repetitive after a while.

While it's not quite the case in this particular film, as I'll get into when we talk about him, another problem with the Millennium series is how Godzilla himself is often the least interesting thing about these movies. The next film and the two that involve Mechagodzilla are very guilty of turning Godzilla into a generic, rampaging monster that has virtually no personality, or, for that matter, nothing special, to him whatsoever. Often in these movies, I don't give a crap when Godzilla shows back up because, unlike his progression from a truly menacing monster to an anti-hero in the Showa series or his simply being a force of nature that's neither good nor evil in the Heisei series, he's nothing more than a threat that must be stopped. In fact, since a lot of the characters in these movies are so by the numbers and generic, I also don't care about them or if they'll be able to defeat Godzilla. Now, that's just bad when the movie is so uninvolving that you have no one to root for, which, let me reiterate, is the case for half of the six films in this cycle. And finally, I think the worst thing about the Millennium series, and this applies to Godzilla 2000 as well, is that by this point, fatigue is starting to set in. So many of these films are so run-of-the-mill and generic, with few fresh takes on the material, that it makes it impossible to get excited about seeing another Godzilla film. This is certainly the case with this film, where it seems like Toho was so concerned with returning to first principles in the wake of the TriStar film that they didn't even bother to try to come up with a new type of story or shake the Godzilla formula up a little bit. This rut-like feeling would continue onward, with Toho going so far as to interfere when a director actually tried to do something fresh and unique with the concept, which is what happened during the production of the very good third film in this cycle. It's like Toho had become set in their ways and were too scared to mess with the established tradition of these films, even if said tradition had been run into the ground and gone stale by this point (you could also say that they were like that way back in the 70's, given what happened to Yoshimitsu Banno after Godzilla vs. Hedorah, but this is where it really starts to become a problem). I think that's ultimately what was so disappointing about the Millennium series as a whole. Since they weren't going to be shackled with continuity this time around, they had an opportunity to make each of these standalone films their own unique, wild, and perhaps even outrageous takes on Godzilla and the kaiju genre at large but, after the studio (most specifically, Shogo Tomiyama since he was the one behind these decisions) had become set in their ways and didn't want to buck with tradition, especially with the greeting that approach got when it was used in the TriStar film, we got a bunch of mostly generic, "been there, done that," movies that get tiring very quickly.

Aside from those I've already given, another reason why the Japanese version of Godzilla 2000 is a chore to sit through is because the action and monster scenes have no excitement or impact to them, as well as because there's too much dead-air. It's akin to an issue I had with The Return of Godzilla (which, regardless of what I'm about to say, is a film I think is infinitely better than the Japanese version of this one), where there were too many quiet moments and not enough sound effects or music to help make certain scenes more thrilling and exciting than they were. There is so much silence during the big scenes here, with what sound effects there are being so quiet and the music sometimes being inappropriate, that it's nigh impossible to get into them. There are moments when Godzilla is causing destruction where you don't hear his footsteps and can just barely hear the crumbling buildings and explosions. That's not how you do a monster attack scene. And the climactic battle he has with Orga comes across as nothing more than two guys in rubber suits smacking, grappling, and lightly tapping each other, rather than a big fight between two giant monsters in the middle of a city. Plus, that lack of passion I detect on Takao Okawara's part doesn't help either, leading to the filming and pacing of these scenes having no energy or excitement to them and, as a result, making for some of the most boring Godzilla moments ever. The badness of the special effects is another detriment but let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Again, this is why I'm amazed that this movie made any money at all in Japan (it wasn't a huge hit but it was still the highest-grossing domestic movie of the holiday season that year). It's yet another reason why for me, the American version is much more enjoyable since they put in a lot more impactful sound effects and music to make up for the "business as usual" ways in which the monster scenes are filmed.

While in many of the following films, Godzilla would indeed be portrayed as nothing more than a generic, rampaging monster akin to the myriad of monsters that appeared in all of those 50's sci-fi flicks, here there's a bit more to him. He's still a menace to Japan but it's in a way that's more akin to the neither good nor evil force of nature characterization that dominated the Heisei series, with the Godzilla Prediction Network even functioning like a group of storm-chasers that keep track of him. As in films like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, Godzilla becomes a hero and savior of mankind without changing his behavior at all. While he's engaged in battle with the military, he's attacked by the spaceship, which prompts him to seek revenge on both it and the creature known as Orga that emerges from it. Once that business is finished, Godzilla begins attacking Tokyo again, with the ending on a shot of him cutting a line of explosions through the city with his atomic blast. His saving of the Earth was simply an aftereffect of a desire for revenge against something that injured him earlier, as well as perhaps in defense of what he considers to be his territory, as was the case in many of the later Showa films. You could even see the line of fire he cuts into Tokyo at the end as his own way of marking his territory, which is why I don't like Yuki's question in the American version about why Godzilla protects them when that's obviously not what he does. Going back to his constant attacks on Japan, while he's still neither good nor evil, there does seem to be some method to his madness since, as Shinoda notes, he seems obsessed with destroying their energy sources, as if they anger him for some reason. (I used to think he did that because he could sense Orga's presence and didn't want him to feed off of the energy sources but I realized that couldn't be the case because that's ultimately not what Orga is after.) That brings us back to the notion that Godzilla simply doesn't like mankind at all, which is one of the reasons why he attacks so frequently. He possibly feels in his own way that civilization is going too far in what it's doing, which is why he tries to destroy every energy source that he comes across. Maybe he understands that mankind made him what he is and is trying to stop them from creating others like him. Who knows what goes on inside his big head but it's obvious that there is some above-average intelligence there in addition to his animal instinct, especially with how, after killing Orga, Godzilla goes straight for Katagiri and kills him, ignoring everyone else on that rooftop. He sensed that Katagiri was the one who wanted him dead and decided to take him out first. His motivations in this film may ultimately be vague and hard to pin down but I wish they had kept his characterization this way in the following movies because, at least, he would have remained interesting.

Godzilla's design in this film really caught my attention the first time I saw a picture of it. I remember thinking, "Whoa! That looks awesome!" As you can see, they went absolutely crazy with his design and definitely managed to differentiate it from the other suit designs that had come before. What immediately catches your eye are his spines, which are much longer and more jagged and sharp than they've ever been before; in fact, are so big that he sometimes seems a little hunched over from their weight, which actually was the case with the suit actor. I don't care for their purple-pink color (what made them decide that was a good color choice?) but otherwise, I think they look pretty cool and striking. His scales are much more pronounced here than in the past, his mouth has a crocodile-like shape to it, his face retains some of that cat-like quality from the Heisei design when seen from certain angles, and, most significantly, for the first time in an actual movie, Godzilla is green in color. I wonder if Toho got tired of people saying that he's green when he was always a gray color before and decided, "Let's just go ahead and make him green in the movies." Playing Godzilla this time is stuntman Tsutomu Kitagawa, who had played King Ghidorah in the third Rebirth of Mothra film and, except for Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, would go on to play the Big G in every entry in the Millennium series. Since he portrayed Godzilla in the films where he comes across as the most uninteresting and un-engaging, Kitagawa is one of my least favorite people to play the role. Like everyone else, I know he had a hard time playing the role in this first film, saying that being in that suit felt like he was carrying two people on his back, and like Kenpachiro Satsuma, he tried to develop his own unique way of playing it and come across in an animalistic way rather than an anthropomorphic way but, given what he had to work with, he wasn't able to do much to make Godzilla all that interesting in most of the films he was in (the interesting aspects of Godzilla's character here mainly come from the script and interpretation rather than anything Kitagawa does). I do, however, like that he doesn't make Godzilla come off like an idiot in this film and that he comes up with some intelligent ways to battle Orga during their climactic battle, especially in how he defeats him. As for his atomic blast, here it's a crimson color in both this and the next film and it seems to cause a little more damage than the Heisei Godzilla's blast. Plus, I like how Godzilla sometimes whips his head before firing the blast. And finally, his new roar, which would be his signature vocalization of the entire Millennium series, sounds like they took the classic screeching roar and really deepened it and made it more booming and bell-like. It's a very powerful and effective sound for him and it's accompanied by some barks, growls, and snarls that have the same texture to them, as well as some moments where he makes a sound similar to that classic roar. And while the creators of the American dub deny it, I know that they used some audio clips of the Godzilla '98 roar there. There's no mistaking that particular sound.

For me, Orga (Makoto Ito) is one of the most uninspired enemies Godzilla has ever faced. You could argue that Ebirah, Kamacuras, and Kumonga were lamer because they were just overgrown animals but, while that may be true, everything about Orga (who is never named in the actual movie) screams generic. His spaceship is typical, with nothing new or inspired to its design, (as some have noted, it kind of looks like a flying, silver bicycle seat); his origin, which is as an alien life-form that becomes more Godzilla-like in appearance when it absorbs his genetic material, could be interesting but they don't do much with it; his ultimate look doesn't feel at all fresh or new to me; and finally, he's a pussy of a fighter. Never once did I believe that Godzilla was in any danger of being beaten by this thing, even though they want to make you think this by how he attempts to swallow Godzilla whole in order to morph into him. (Orga should have stayed inside the ship because that was more of a threat to Godzilla.) We know from what he does throughout the movie that he's not stupid, what with how he attempts to find some kind of genetic material that will allow him to rebuild his body, which he had discarded a long time ago, and with how, in the Japanese version, he fills the computers throughout Tokyo with a message of how he intends to conquer the Earth and build a new empire for himself. But, once he becomes Orga, he's a complete wimp and is a bit slow and dumb, even though he has powers that could come in handy in battle. His initial form, which is the squid-like creature with a flying saucer-like head, is his original body, which he manages to reform using Godzilla's regenerative properties. But, once he absorbs it, he ultimately loses control of Regenerator-G1 and it turns him into the hunched over, hulking, knuckle-walking, Godzilla-like creature that's officially known as Orga. Having gone halfway in becoming a second Godzilla, Orga, in his battle with the Big G, ultimately decides to finish the job and absorb more of Godzilla's genetic material, be it by biting him and absorbing it or trying to swallow him whole. This is what ultimately gets him killed because Godzilla figures out what he's trying to do, sticks his head inside Orga's gaping, unhinged mouth, and blows him up from the inside out. Aside from his ability to steal other creatures' genetic material, Orga is also capable of instantly healing any damage to his body thanks to Regenerator-G1, firing an energy beam from his shoulder in a manner similar to his spaceship's own beam weapon, leaping around quite agilely for such a large creature, severely unhinging his jaw in order to send out a membrane that can swallow big things like Godzilla whole, and controlling his spaceship with telepathy. Speaking of which, it's implied that's how he was able to control his spaceship throughout the movie and how he can suck up information and data from all computers in the area, as well as manipulate underground cables to lasso Godzilla up in order to steal his genetic information. His spaceship is not only capable of flying at incredible speeds, with extreme precision and agility, and has a powerful beam cannon, but it can also send out energy shockwaves to blow up stuff around it and fire energy from its port to destroy stuff beneath it (Independence Day, anyone?) Finally, Orga has two different vocalizations for both versions of the film, with the Japanese version having a high-pitched screech while the American one has a low, droning growl and a pained screech that he lets out at one point, as well as a bizarre, whirring noise that membrane in his mouth makes.

Taking over from Koichi Kawakita as director of special effects is Kenji Suzuki, who had served as Kawakita's chief assistant director beforehand. Suzuki immediately established a different method of doing things from his predecessor, using a lot of CGI and digital compositing in addition to the old-fashioned monster suits and miniatures. A lot of scenes involving Godzilla were done with Tsutomu Kitagawa performing in front of a green screen that was used to later place him in footage of real city- and landscapes, and there were a number of digital elements thrown into the mix as well, including CGI military vehicles and aircrafts, Orga's spaceship, the monsters' beam weapons, and an even a completely computer-generated shot of Godzilla himself swimming underwater. I would love to say that this combination of modern computer effects with the classic techniques of suitmation and miniatures made this the more realistic-looking Godzilla movie ever but that couldn't be further from the truth. I appreciate Toho's effort to adapt with the times but the quality of the effects work in this film is rather poor. The computer-generated elements, save for the beam weapons, all look very fake, coming across as stuff you'd see in a latter Playstation game, and are obviously not actually in front of the camera. The digital compositing is also very bad and cringe-inducing in how archaic it looks. While it was nice that they tried to heighten the realism by compositing the monsters into actual environments, it looks very wonky, with the two elements being very different in terms of color and lighting, and is not at all believable. Also, there are some up-shots of Godzilla while he's walking where the picture quality becomes inexplicably hazy and shakes in a very distracting manner. And finally, while the monster suits and miniatures are well-designed, they're often not lit well enough to give the illusion that they're real. For instance, Godzilla looks pretty good and believable at night when there's not much light on him but, when he battles the military during the day and Orga in the middle of well-lit, downtown Tokyo, it's obvious that he's a man in a suit. And Orga always looks like a rubber suit, which isn't good. Now, I've said before that I understand that the Japanese are more interested in design and craft rather than believability and, to that end, I've often defended the special effects work in these films. But, the fact of the matter here is that this movie was made at the turn of the century. The effects should not look this bad. Maybe it was due to the film's rushed production, as well as because Toho had never used computer effects this much in a Godzilla movie before, but, after so much well-executed effects work in the 90's films, it's disconcerting to see the effects in this movie, and many of the following ones, for that matter, turn out so bad, especially in the case of believable monster suits, miniatures, and pyrotechnics, which those previous films excelled at.

I couldn't find an actual shot of this moment from the film, so
you'll have to settle for this.
The film begins with Shinoda, Io, and Yuki waiting for Godzilla to arrive, with the two members of the Godzilla Prediction Network setting up their necessary equipment. While that's a going on, someone working at a lighthouse on a seaside cliff hears that the maritime agency can't make contact with an overdue fishing vessel, with someone else suggesting that it may have gone to port somewhere else due to the fog. While the man listens to this, he suddenly hears a loud boom that slightly shakes the insides of the lighthouse. He looks out the window but doesn't see anything but ocean. He's then almost knocked off-balance by a huge rumble that hits the lighthouse and causes pieces of the ceiling to fall down. That's when he turns around to see what looks like the bow of the missing ship hovering through the air in front of the lighthouse's window. However, as it continues on past the window, with the lighthouse illuminating it more and more as it does so, we gradually see that the boat is actually sticking out of Godzilla's mouth! Once his face is revealed, the camera zooms in on his eye and we get the opening title (which is done much more impressively in the American version, with a flash of light and the title flying at the screen while Godzilla roars). Our main characters begin driving across the countryside while tracking Godzilla, the guy at the lighthouse manages to make it outside and looks up to see Godzilla completely snap the boat in half with his jaws, the guy having to jump in order to avoid getting crushed by one of the halves. The guy tries to run but Godzilla then knocks over a nearby electrical tower, which falls directly at him and threatens to kill him but, in the end, only manages to pin him down. Unscathed, the guy watches as Godzilla walks away. After that, two guys who are boozing it up a bar get a very harsh last call when the place begins shaking violently, forcing the two of them and the woman who runs the place to take cover. The place continues shaking until the doors fall off their hinges, revealing Godzilla's tail outside as he walks past. As he does so, his tail swings around and smacks against the building hard enough to smash the right side of the place completely apart, leaving those inside screaming in terror and having to take cover again when a sparking telephone pole falls right near them.

While continuing to track Godzilla as they drive down a seaside road, Shinoda, Io, and Yuki come across a tunnel whose entrance is partially blocked by a sudden, small landslide. Upon hearing Godzilla growl nearby, Shinoda decides to go for it and drives over the mound and into the tunnel. They drive on to the other side when Shinoda has to hit the brakes to avoid going over the side of a steep drop-off. Realizing that the road has been destroyed, as well as continuing to hear Godzilla growl, Shinoda turns the floodlights fitted to the top of the van slowly upward, revealing Godzilla's neck and head as he stands nearby. Seeing the lights have gotten his attention, Shinoda switches them off and also has to stop Yuki from taking a picture at such a close-range. Godzilla then lowers his head down towards the van to take a closer look, his radioactivity interfering with and shorting out their equipment in the back when he gets almost on top of them. He breathes on the windshield and then looks through it directly at them. That's when Yuki, either through panicking or deciding to take her chances, begins a series of pictures, with the sudden flashes causing Godzilla to rear back and roar in anger. It's so loud that the windshield shatters and Shinoda immediately puts the van in reverse when Godzilla attempts to smash the vehicle with his hand, taking out a piece of the road instead. Unable to turn around in the narrow tunnel, Shinoda is forced to drive through it backwards, with Godzilla's feet smashing through the roof in front of them as he gives chase. Bristling from the shaking of his stomping and pieces of concrete falling on top of them, they manage to make it out of the tunnel, going completely over the mound in front of it. Godzilla continues following them and looms over the top of the tunnel, causing Yuki to scream in terror and Shinoda to frantically put the van in gear and swerve it around to head back down the seaside road, barely managing to avoid getting crushed by Godzilla's foot.

After a scene at a party where we meet both Miyasaka and Katagiri, the former of whom informs the other that Godzilla has landed at Nemuro, we see Godzilla rampaging through a small town, forcing people to evacuate a station as he smashes everything in his path. People running down the street in the town manage to avoid getting stomped when his feet hit the pavement behind them, after which he plows through some power lines and plunges the town into darkness, with the only light sources being headlights from vehicles and from the fires he's created. People continue evacuating as the lights in the town continue to go out while Godzilla turns to the right and heads onward. At the same time, our main characters are keeping tabs on him, driving down a road across from him while Io leans out the window with a sensor that sends ultrasonic images of him to one of their onboard computers. Following a little moment where Shinoda talks a very irritated and despondent Yuki into taking some more pictures of Godzilla, they manage to get ahead of him and drive on through the town he's currently on the outskirts of. That's when he turns to his right and begins approaching a nearby substation, prompting everyone there to immediately evacuate. Even though they got ahead of him just a minute ago, the GPN van now come up behind Godzilla as he plows through the substation, deliberately smashing all of the towers and transformers with his tail and girth and managing to cause a blackout there too. As Shinoda comments on how Godzilla appears to hate the energy that humans create, the scene ends with a shot of Godzilla smashing more of the station, with the camera zooming in on him as he lets out a loud, mighty roar. The film cuts to Miyasaka and some technicians in a mini-sub down in the Japan Trench as they plant a G-sensor there. Heading further down through the trench, they come across what Miyasaka describes as a forest of chimneys (in other words, a grouping of small, smoking underwater volcanoes) before they come across the ancient meteorite and shin the submarine's lights inside the small opening at the front, which unknowingly leads to the awakening of the alien life-form within.

Things slow down considerably after this, with Yuki trying to bargain her way into going on another ride with the Godzilla Prediction Network while Shinoda hears from a member in Matsushima that the sea water off Kinkazan is unusually high. At the same time, at Crisis Control Intelligence, Miyasaka tells Katagiri that the highly magnetic properties of the meteorite's material might make for a safer replacement for uranium. Intrigued by the possibilities, the agency decides to raise the meteorite to the surface of the ocean by attaching some underwater balloons to the top of it in order to aid several ships in pulling it up. Once this operation is put into action, things at first go just as planned but, when it nears the surface, the meteorite suddenly begins rising of its own will at a very fast speed, causing the balloons to smack against it and burst from the impact. Eventually, the meteorite breaks through the surface in the middle of the ships. Later on, just as he and Io are about to have dinner, Shinoda gets a call from another member in Fukushima that he's been detecting some slight tremors lately and that their epicenter is moving south. Knowing that it has to be Godzilla, Shinoda and Io load up their van and call Yuki, knowing that she'd want to come along with them. Back with CCI, Miyasaka informs Katagiri that they tried to drill into the meteorite but they've hit something hard within the crusts of rock, the age of which goes up to 60 to 70 million years. Knowing that it shouldn't be able to float, in addition to its heading to the surface of its own free will earlier, Miyasaka deduces that it could be an alien life-form. At CCI Headquarters, Godzilla is detected and Katagiri is informed that he's heading south of the Ibaraki Coast. While the GPN heads toward Tokai Village upon realizing that's where Godzilla will eventually appear based on his current direction, Katagiri flies there via helicopter, contacts the local government, and orders them to shut down all of the reactors at the nearby nuclear plants, orders that are eventually obeyed and put into action. The GPN parks their van near one of the nuclear plants, in the same spot where Katagiri lands in his helicopter. After a tense exchange between him and Shinoda, with the latter's warning about all energy sources in the area needing to be shut down falling on deaf ears, Katagiri meets up with the military officials for a plan of attack. Back at the spot where the meteorite is, Miyasaka is sitting down after a long day's work when his boat suddenly begins shaking violently. Running outside on the deck, he and everyone else on the ship sees that the meteorite is slowly lifting itself up. As it does so, Miyasaka sees the nearby rising sun and notices that the rock appears to be rising with it. The meteorite continues lifting up, almost seeming like it's going to fall backwards on top of the ship behind it, until it finally stops when it's pointing straight upwards into the sky.

Back at Tokai Village, a tank battalion arrives at the nearby in order to wait for Godzilla to arrive, while an army official describes to Katagiri and a couple of men from the government how they plan to use Godzilla's aggressiveness when he's attacked to lure him into the Kuji River and attack with some full metal missiles that will pierce into his flesh. After they show them some test footage of said missiles plowing through some barriers, the film cuts to the GPN setting up their monitoring equipment when an offshore explosion sends a geyser of water up into the air. Three more explosions follow, which prompts the military official to reveal that they're from some mines the Marine Corps placed and that the cause has to be Godzilla. Sure enough, following several more explosions, an enormous swell appears in the water, followed by Godzilla's spines breaking through the surface and cruising towards the shore. Yuki and Io then head off to safety while Shinoda stays behind to observe Godzilla, who rises from the water and begins wading for shore, heading towards one of the nuclear plants. An enormous squadron of attack helicopters then appear over a forest on his right and head straight for him, blasting him with missiles in order to lure him away from the plant. After getting blasted a few times, Godzilla takes the bait and turns in the direction of the circling and firing helicopters, following them to shore. He arrives on one side of the Kuji River and, when he gets close enough, the tank battalion there begins firing on him, hitting him across the chest many times and causing him to groan in irritation rather than pain. After getting blasted more and more, Godzilla finally does what they hoped he would do and enters into the river, prompting the battalion to fall back. Moving into the center of the river, Godzilla steps on another underwater mine and loses his balance a little bit from the ensuing explosion. At the same time, the tanks continue falling back and make way for the full-metal missile launchers, which aim their weapons up towards him. Four of the missiles are then fired, with two of them hitting Godzilla in the chest as he approaches a bridge, sending chunks of flesh flying when they hit their mark. Many more are then fired, all hitting Godzilla in various parts of his torso and causing him to sway back and forth, clearly hurting him. A squadron of fighter jets takes off from a nearby base while the full-metal missiles are then fired beneath the bridge towards Godzilla's legs, hitting him in the thighs and hips and causing him more pain, while Katagiri watches in satisfaction nearby. The film then cuts back to the research ships, where Miyasaka discovers that the meteorite is indeed following the sun's path. Upon making this discovery, he realizes that, if it keeps doing so, it'll point backwards and fall on top of their ship. He and everyone run outside on the deck, where Miyasaka's internal structure is unknowingly scanned by the life-form within the meteorite. When it doesn't find what it's looking for, the meteorite begins leaning backwards, just as Miyasaka said it would, and threatens to crush the boat. But, just when it looks like they're doomed, the meteorite suddenly lifts up into the air, banks itself and breaks one of the ship's radar antennas, and suddenly moves off towards the horizon.

Godzilla is still getting blasted by the full-metal missiles along his torso, while Yuki and Io watch from afar. That's when that squadron of fighter jets that was shown taking off earlier zooms towards Godzilla, flying directly over Yuki and Io's location and almost causing Io to fall off the top of the van they're standing on from its force. After taking more hits, Godzilla's spines begin lighting up with a loud crackling sound while energy builds up his mouth, signifying that he's about to shoot his atomic blast. While this is going on, the fighter jets head towards him and hit him from all sides with their missiles before converging and flying upwards directly above. Apparently, this was enough to cancel out Godzilla's building atomic blast because he doesn't fire it (the moment where he builds it up was removed in the American cut). As the battle continues, Miyasaka then contacts Katagiri and tells him that the meteorite flew off. At precisely that moment, the meteorite is zooming through the air, skidding along the surface of the sea at one point, as it heads towards the site of the battle. It quickly catches everyone's attention, including Godzilla, as it comes around and flies straight in front of him, momentarily hovering above Katagiri before turning to face the monster. It then scans his internal structure and quickly finds what it's looking for, which is the part of his cellular structure later to be named Regenerator-G1. Upon finding this, it then floats towards Godzilla and hovers directly in front of him, with Godzilla growling curiously as he stares at it. He continues watching as it banks its pointed tip towards him and then, without warning, charges up and fires an energy beam from within the opening on its front. It scores a direct hit on Godzilla's front and blasts him backwards on the other side of the river, causing him to smash through a warehouse and his head to fall into the parking lot behind it. Shinoda uses the small motorcycle he's been riding throughout this sequence to get to a better vantage as the meteorite approaches Godzilla as he gets to his feet. It begins charging its beam weapon again, with Godzilla responding by churning up his atomic blast. With a whip of his head, Godzilla lets his atomic blast loose, which hits the front of the meteorite but doesn't stop it from blasting him with its beam, which pushes him backwards until he reaches the ocean. The force from his atomic blast manages to knock the meteorite off-balance enough to where it stops blasting him but Godzilla still falls backwards from the commotion and disappears beneath the surface.

Having sent Godzilla packing, the meteor, which is now very clearly a spaceship since Godzilla's atomic blast blew away much of the rock on its front to reveal the nose of the craft, flies a short distance up the river and almost topples over a train on a raised track when it flies directly over it before coming in for a rough landing in the water. Following a moment where Shinoda finds a piece of Godzilla's flesh in one of the footprints he left on the beach, it cuts to the partially exposed spaceship, which is standing upright in the river near Kitaura while helicopters circle around it, the military sets up a temporary command center on the shore near it, and divers explore its bottom portion beneath the water. Within the command center, Miyasaka gives his theory about how the spaceship is powered by light and that, when it landed 60 million years ago, it sank beneath the ocean where light couldn't reach it (we see a computerized dramatization of this event) and didn't awaken until the submarine shined its light onto it. As the officials try to figure out what to do, with Katagiri ordering an analysis scan on it, and Shinoda analyzes the piece of Godzilla's flesh back home, the military proceeds to tie the spaceship down using some electromagnetic, CD wires (just... go with it). Katagiri is then told that the air and naval forces are still trying to find Godzilla, while three helicopters carrying the sensors necessary for the analysis scan take off and surround the spaceship. When the scan is put into action, no life-readings are detected but it's clear that there is something within the craft. As they try to figure out what it is and how the ship can fly, Miyasaka gets a phone call from Shinoda to ask for permission to use CCI's advanced equipment to analyze the skin sample (in the Japanese version, he says he wants to use it to search for Godzilla, which doesn't make sense that's not what he does). There are many more character moments after this, with some important plot points, like Yuki discovering that her portable computer has been hacked and later figuring out that the stolen data was from the Godzilla file (the look they give to the nearby spaceship is the first hint that it might be the cause), Shinoda reluctantly agrees to give Katagiri all of his data on Godzilla, and Shinoda and Miyasaka use the equipment to discover and name Regenerator-G1, which they see at work through an electron microscope when they poke one of the cells within the skin sample; the damage is repaired almost instantly.

A brief moment back at the site where the spaceship currently is shows that the clouds are disappearing but Katagiri is confident that even if it does become aware again, it won't be able to escape the electromagnetic barrier around it. Following the moment where Miyasaka takes the disks containing all of Shinoda's Godzilla data from him, it cuts back to the spaceship, which is beginning to rumble awake from the rays of sunlight hitting it. Once the sun is completely exposed, the ship literally comes alive and begins to shake violently, shedding more of the rock covering it in the process as well as tearing loose one of the wires along with the section of the nearby bridge its other end was tied to. The other wires soon follow and, once free, the completely exposed spaceship shoots straight up into the sky before coming back down in a loop, banking, and flying off to the left at incredible speed, disappearing from sight within an instant. Back At CCI headquarters, Shinoda has discovered gave Miyasaka some false disks in order to protect the network and, knowing that it won't be long before it's exposed, the two of them attempt to sneak out. That's when Miyasaka comes out of the lab and yells at them... only to inform about what happened with the spaceship. At that moment, the spaceship is traveling steadily down a highway, flying not too far above it. Katagiri and the helicopters carrying the sensors keep up with it as it travels through Yotsukaido, while at headquarters, Miyasaka tells Shinoda that the spaceship probably drifted out in space for millions of years before reaching Earth, which could be why, as Shinoda says, it discarded its organic body. As the ship continues traveling, now having entered Makuhari, it proves that it's not to be trifled with when a scanning helicopter gets too close and it responds by sending a shockwave out from the dome on its top that destroys all three of the helicopters, sending one crashing near a building. The sheer sight of the ship causes several cars to run into each other on the highway, while thousands of onlookers in a field behind a hotel watch in awe as it passes over the building and casts a huge shadow over them. A news bulletin informs everyone of the destruction of the helicopters and warns those in the ship's path to be very cautious. That's when a disbelieving shop owner gets the shock of his life when he walks outside and sees the ship traveling above his section of town, prompting him to close up, as do many other shops along its path. While the news continues, talking about the government ordering the Defense Corps to destroy the ship, the thing enters the Shinjuku District and travels on a beeline for the Opera City Tower, where Yuki works. As it approaches, it about gives Yuki's boss a heart attack when he sees it appear in the window behind him, and everyone else begins rushes to the window to get a look at it upon hearing him exclaim. They watch its bottom as it passes over them and lands very roughly on the roof, causing a tremor that knocks everyone off their feet in the news office. Everyone begins panicking and running to get out, with Yuki having to be dragged out by her boss and a co-worker since she wants to go up on the roof in order to get a scoop. Katagiri orders the area around the tower to be evacuated, while the military arrives to help those who are still inside to get out (Yuki is still being dragged away amongst the complete pandemonium that's overtaken the building's lobby and the square outside). The officials then hold a meeting, with Katagiri saying that now they must destroy the ship since they know it's hostile and that, with the sun setting, they must take care of it that night because the next day's fair weather will ensure that it will resume its rampage. After a haunting shot of the ship sitting atop the tower in the red glow of the sunset, we see an underwater shot of Godzilla swimming somewhere nearby.

With night having fallen, a group of onlookers has gathered near the tower, anxiously waiting to see if the ship will begin moving again any time soon. A swarm of TV reporters have also gathered outside the military blockade around the tower and, as they describe the situation to their viewers, with one reporter very melodramatically saying that it's as if the ship is challenging mankind from atop the tower, Yuki, who is among the crowd, discovers that more of the data on her portable computer has been hacked. At the same time, all of the computers in the Shinjuku District begin to lose their data as well, a phenomena that slowly spreads throughout the city. The technicians at CCI detect this and report that the anti-hacking centers are unable to stop whatever this is. Miyasaka then orders a Polaroid lens to be placed on the image of the spaceship and tower on their big screen and when it is, it reveals tentacle-like appendages descending from the bottom of the ship into the tower beneath it. Miyasaka realizes that it's hacking the supercomputer within the tower and gathering every bit of information on human beings. Yuki, meanwhile, has somehow snuck past the military blockade and gotten into the tower, where she finds that the computer system is being drained of information. She's unable to stop it even when she unhooks the modem the monitors are attached to or severs the main power cable. Back at CCI headquarters, Miyasaka orders one of the technicians to use the linkage tracer to visualize the access route and upon doing so, they see that it's spreading to all of the computers in the surrounding buildings throughout Tokyo. He then warns Katagiri that the security of the entire world is in jeopardy and this thing could be terminal. That's when Shinoda gives off that rather inappropriate and heavy-handed statement about humans having dangerous desires and how someone would have eventually awakened the alien life-form if CCI hadn't (again, in both versions, this statement, however it's written, feels out of place and not something he should be concerning himself with at the moment). Following a rather effective pan-up of the saucer against the backdrop of the city it's sucking the life out of, a military unit heads in towards the tower, while Katagiri is informed that the oxygen content in the air around the ship is rapidly dropping. As he talks with the army official about how long it will take to install the bombs they plan to use to blow up the ship, as well as to get clear, Yuki calls Shinoda from inside the tower and tells him that in a few minutes, she should figure out what the alien is after. Shinoda warns her to get out but Yuki says she can't, that they have to know why the aliens are so interested in Godzilla. She then hangs up on him, enraging Shinoda and prompting him to go after her.

The military begin setting up in the garage of the tower, while Shinoda drives like a maniac down the road towards it with Io in order to reach it in time. The soldiers then begin planting and arming the blast bombs on the floor directly beneath the ship, while Shinoda and Io reach the military blockade, which stops them in their tracks. Although they're at first restrained by the soldiers, ignoring Io's pleas to let them in to save "Mom," the commanding officer tells them to go quickly and that Miyasaka has given them permission to be allowed inside. Running inside the building, Shinoda and Io find Yuki and tell her that she has to get out. He then opts to stay behind and get the data on what the alien wants himself, saying that they have to get a guard to tell Katagiri to delay the bombing. Shinoda then promises Io that he'll make it out and with that, he's left alone inside the computer lab to continue gathering the data. The soldiers begin pulling out and when Katagiri is informed of this at headquarters, he says that he'll detonate the bombs at 9:10. As he prepares the detonator, he's informed by a soldier that there are still two people inside the building and when he asks who gave them access, Miyasaka tells him that he did. Katagiri ignores this information and orders the guards to continue pulling back. Just missing the departing soldiers, Yuki and Io use Yuki's car to chase one the jeeps down. It's the jeep that just happens to be the one carrying the soldier that let them in to begin with and upon being told that Shinoda is still inside and that they have to delay the bombing, the guy glances at his watch and sees that there's less than ten minutes left to go. He quickly gets on the phone and asks for a delay, but Katagiri very coldly answers, "No delay. Just as scheduled." At headquarters, Miyasaka tells Katagiri that the man is Shinoda but Katagiri barely reacts to this, saying, "No change of schedule." He then proceeds to arm the detonator, while back in the tower, Shinoda, who's barely able to breathe due to the dropping oxygen content, finishes gathering the data and prepares to leave, but not before he sees the word, "Millennium," appear on the computer monitors. Shinoda then runs to the elevators but, when the thing takes too long to reach him, and with time running out, he takes the stairs instead. Outside, the soldier tells Yuki and Io that there's no time left and that they'll have to follow him to safety. The two of them get back in the car and proceed to follow them for a little bit but, once the military vehicles are out of sight, Yuki turns the car around and heads back to the tower, with Io smiling at her for her understanding, which Yuki returns.

Shinoda is booking it down the stairwell within the tower while the bombs up above are priming and ready to be detonated. Yuki and Io arrive at the tower just when it's almost 9:10, forcing Yuki to stop the hysterical kid from running inside to her father since the detonation is at hand. As Shinoda continues down the stairs and almost trips in his haste at one point, Katagiri is just about to press the button when Miyasaka yells at him not to do it. He gives Miyasaka a threatening glare before ultimately pushing the button as soon as the time hits exactly 9:10. The bombs are then detonated, destroying the floors directly beneath the ship, and knocking Shinoda off his feet and forcing him to take cover from falling chunks of concrete, while Yuki and Io bristle from the force of the blast outside. For a little bit, thick smoke completely obscures the top of the tower, while those at CCI wait to see if their plan work. They're soon disappointed when the smoke clears and the spaceship doesn't have a scratch on it. As if in response to the attempt to destroy it, the alien life-form within begins broadcasting its plans for conquest on computer screens across the city, with words such as "Destruction," "Suppression," "Erase," "Dominate," "Terror," "Prosperity," "Revolution," and "Kingdom," accompanied by shots of the Earth and images of war and human advancement. After its broadcast, the ship powers up its underside and sends a beam of energy down through the tower, causing it to collapse floor by floor. Inside the tower, Shinoda again tries to use the elevator but, when he sees debris falling down from up top outside of a window, he opens the elevator up by hand and slides down its cable, while the ship continues blowing up what's left of the tower. Yuki and Io have to take cover from the blast and flying pieces of concrete, while Shinoda reaches the top of another elevator at the bottom of the line and desperately kicks open a vent to use to protect himself, as pieces of concrete fall down on from above. The ship then finishes destroying the tower, reducing it to nothing more than a basement. Yuki and Io run through the mish-mash of pipes and scaffolding that makes up the tower's remains but all hope seems lost when they come across a dead end. However, Shinoda then rises up from beneath the walkway, which he ended up under due to the vent he ducked in, and he is reunited with Yuki and Io, the latter of whom embraces him while crying in relief. Upon returning to CCI, Shinoda tells Katagiri that he somehow managed to survive (his line in the American version is better: "Nice try, asshole,") while Miyasaka throws his arms around in a relief hug as well. In the next scene, Shinoda uses the data to explain that the alien wishes to change Earth's atmosphere to better suit it, with the keyword being "Millennium," referring to a kingdom it wants to build, and that it plans to use Regenerator-G1 to create a new body for itself. Just then, the ship turns itself in a different direction from where it was facing previously, while an official tells them that Godzilla has entered Tokyo Bay.

With Godzilla approaching the shore in Tokyo Bay, the ship reacts by apparently sapping all of the energy from the surrounding buildings and sending out waves of a light in apparent ploy to attract him to it. As Godzilla begins stomping through downtown Tokyo, Miyasaka suggests that if they stop the entire supply of electricity to Tokyo, he might go away, but Shinoda says it's no use, that there's only one thing on Godzilla's mind now: revenge. Godzilla groans as he plows through a building and stomps towards the Shinjuku District, which is in his sights, as is the saucer. Trampling across some train tracks, Godzilla proceeds onward and enters the district, heading straight down the street and knocking some cars out of the way with his feet as he goes. He finally enters the section where the ship is still hovering, waiting on him, and roars a loud, angry challenge at it. The ship responds by hovering straight up into the sky before coming back down and landing on top of another building across from him. Godzilla slowly approaches the ship, continuing to roar his challenge, when the alien shows off its telepathic powers by manipulating some underground lines into smashing up through the road and flying straight at him. One ties itself around his right wrist while another does so around his snout. As the humans watch, Godzilla, whose other hand has been lassoed as well, struggles to get free, when more lines burst up through the ground and tie up his left elbow and neck, ultimately pulling him down to the ground and causing him to crash onto an overpass. Godzilla slowly gets himself to his feet but then, another cable grabs one of his spines and pulls him backwards. He falls down again and gets dragged along the street, plowing through everything in his path like a bulldozer until he's smashed through a small building and buried beneath the rubble. Now thoroughly pissed, Godzilla gets to his feet and sends energy coursing through his spines in order to burn off the line tied there before churning his atomic blast up in his mouth to burn away the line that's lassoed his snout. The saucer sends more lines flying at him but before they can reach him, he shoots up the building it's sitting on with his blast, knocking the ship off the roof. The ship then appears to fly straight at him but when it goes past him instead, Godzilla swings around and whacks it with his tail, causing it to temporarily lose control and skid its left side along the ground before regaining its balance. The saucer comes back around to face Godzilla and proceeds to charge up and fire its energy beam at him, which he amazingly manages to brace himself against for a good long while. But, he eventually loses his balance and crashes through a building behind him, falling flat on the ground. The ship then flies over him and lands on top of some tall buildings behind him. Godzilla gets up, looks around for his opponent, and then makes an, "Oh, shit!" head movement before he turns around and sees the ship up above him. Before he can react, it sends energy blasts down through the buildings that he gets caught up in and while he manages to brace himself against it, the top half of one of the buildings crumples and falls right on top of him.

With Godzilla incapacitated, the ships banks itself in front of him as the alien prepares to use Regenerator-G1 to rebuild its body. Glowing particles appear beneath the saucer and begin to form into a ball, while Miyasaka uses his computer's scanning equipment to see that it's sending out those invisible tentacles towards the spot where Godzilla lies. The tentacles then suck up energy from Godzilla's body, which leads to the formation of a ball of organic matter in place of the particle one that was there earlier. This ball then sprouts six, squid-like tentacles which act as legs to support the big, saucer-shaped head that forms up above. The alien (which is officially known as a Millennia) breathes and growls lowly as it pulls its newly recreated arms up in front of its eyes and sees that it worked. But then, the thing yelps and screams as its body begins to morph again, becoming much lower to the ground while its skin goes from a color-less, somewhat transparent texture to a thicker, darker color before it finally collapses to the ground since it can't yet support the weight of its new body. Shinoda then explains that what happened was that Regenerator-G1 is too much for other creatures to handle. That's when Godzilla explodes out from beneath the rubble and snarls at the ship upon spotting it. He then fires his atomic blast at its underside, which proceeds to blow out its backside and, following the massive explosion, it drops down to the ground on its nose, its rear engulfed in flames. Godzilla roars in satisfaction at this, while a piece of flaming debris flies at the CCI balcony where the human cast is watching the action, forcing them to dive out of the way and extinguish the fire. Godzilla begins heading towards the downed saucer in order to finish it off and destroy it completely but that's when the newly-formed monster known as Orga makes his appearance, stepping out from behind the ship to face Godzilla. The two of them then exchange roars before Godzilla charges up to Orga, who at first seems more willing to escape rather than fight, and rams into him and smacks him along the side of the head. Orga swings at Godzilla but misses when he ducks and the two of them then start grappling and struggling with each other. Godzilla manages to shove Orga away from him and then runs up and bites him on the back of the neck. Orga responds to this by swinging his right arm up and bashing Godzilla in the face, sending him stumbling backwards. With his enemy dazed, Orga crouches down and fires a ball of energy at him from his shoulder energy weapon, which sends him zooming backwards towards a building. His spines lodge inside of it and stop him from crashing through it but now, he's stuck. Orga then lifts the saucer up through his telepathic powers and then aims it at Godzilla, who realizes what he's about to do and destroys that building as he struggles to pry himself free. Once he's free, Godzilla turns to Orga, who acts like he's going to blast him again but, instead, hops a great distance away and faces him. Godzilla turns to keep an eye on him but forgets about the saucer, which Orga then uses to ram the side of his head and knock him down. The ship then circles around the skyline as Godzilla gets up and angrily roars at Orga. He charges up his atomic blast as Orga telepathically manipulates the saucer to hover in front of him and shoots it at Godzilla like a missile when he fires, completely blowing it to pieces in mid-air and unintentionally slicing off some of Orga's flesh as well.

Godzilla smashes through an overpass as he heads towards Orga, who uses Regenerator-G1 to quickly heal the damage Godzilla inflicted upon him. That's when Godzilla charges at him, roaring angrily, and swings around and whacks him with his tail, knocking him to the ground. Godzilla then pummels his head with the tail a couple of times before swinging back around to face him, destroying a row of houses behind him with the tail, and biting him on his left wrist. Orga gets up, manages to knock Godzilla off, and delivers his own bite to his left shoulder, causing Godzilla to screech in pain. Godzilla struggles to get Orga off of him, causing his mouth to slip down to the inside of his elbow, while the alien begins to absorbs his genetic material in an attempt to completely become another Godzilla. You can see the genetics passing through Orga's head and up his back, his skin changing to match Godzilla's green color as he soaks it up. After some more struggling, Godzilla manages fling his arm out of Orga's mouth but the alien then grabs ahold of him with his enormous hands in order to hold him still so he can bite his right arm. But, before he can do so, Godzilla blasts him along the back and causes him to recoil away. Godzilla puts some distance between the two of them as Orga walks towards him, repairing the damage again as well as apparently losing the genetic material he absorbed since he goes back to his normal, dark gray color. Godzilla gives a couple of warning roars but Orga continues approaching, prompting Godzilla to blast him again, this time to the point where he engulfs him in a huge fireball, apparently killing him. But, Orga then stumbles out of the fire, very badly injured, with his head smoking, his skin scorched, and pieces of it hanging off. Godzilla gives a warning growl as Orga slowly approaches him, using Regenerator-G1 to fix the damage. Godzilla continues snarling when Orga finally reaches him and then, just when it seems like he's ready to submit, he unhinges his upper jaw and opens his mouth much wider than normal, which startles Godzilla and causes him to rear up in surprise. A bizarre, fleshy membrane then emerges from Orga's throat before opening up into a plant-like formation, all while Godzilla watches like, "What the hell?" Once the thing opens up completely, Godzilla seemingly attempts to commit suicide and runs at Orga, sticking his head inside the membrane. Orga then uses the small, claw-like graspers on the edges of the membrane to hold onto Godzilla and begin absorbing his genetic material again. This time, he sucks enough out of Godzilla to grow spines out of his back. It seems like Godzilla has had it when his own spines begin glowing and crackling ominously and as the energy and heat increases, you can see an expression come across Orga's face as he realizes that this wasn't a good idea. An enormous hole bursts out of his back and, before he can detach himself from Godzilla, his torso gets blown to pieces in an enormous blast that is big enough to engulf the entire block and strong enough to force those at CCI to shield themselves from it.

The explosion slowly dies down, revealing a huge, roaring fire at the spot where Godzilla and Orga were. The smoke then clears to reveal Godzilla standing nearby, his spines still crackling. He raises himself up to a standing position and, as it gets less smoky, is able to see that all that's left of Orga are his limbs and the bottom portion of his torso. Godzilla roars victoriously, with the force of it causing the headless corpse to fall backwards, prompting him to roar several more times. Once he's done roaring, Orga's corpse crumples into dust. As everyone stands there and laments the events of the battle, Io sees that Godzilla is coming straight at them, which prompts everyone to run inside... everyone, that is, except Katagiri, who just stands there and watches Godzilla. Katagiri backs up slightly as Godzilla approaches the balcony, growling all the way, and very calmly lights a cigarette, saying that he's never seen Godzilla this close before. He and Godzilla have something of a standoff for a few seconds before Godzilla jams his claws into the balcony, which absolutely astonishes Katagiri. Shinoda grabs Katagiri and desperately tries to get him to come with him but he refuses, eventually punching Shinoda away from him as the roof begins to crumble around their feet. Everyone pulls Shinoda to safety while Katagiri, after laughing, yells at the top of his lungs, "GODZILLA!!!" As if in response to this, Godzilla rips through that section of the roof, sending Katagiri plummeting to his death amongst the falling rubble. Shinoda leans over the edge of the now smaller balcony and screams for Katagiri but it's clear that it's too late. Godzilla then roars in satisfaction and turns and walks away, beginning to rampage through Tokyo, with Miyasaka lamenting, "Science progressing in the wrong way produced you, Godzilla. Why do you appear before us?" As Godzilla causes destruction, Yuki says that, "It was us human beings who made the monster," with Shinoda adding, "Godzilla is in ourselves, in everybody's mind." The film then ends as Godzilla creates a ring of fire and explosions across the Tokyo skyline, claiming his territory in his own way.

Takayuki Hattori, who did the score for Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, returns to provide the music here but, sadly, his score is yet another aspect of this movie that's rather lackluster. I don't really know how to describe it since it's just generic for the most part. For instance, he creates a completely new theme for Godzilla that he plays throughout the film (in the Japanese version, you only hear the familiar Godzilla March when he enters Tokyo Bay) that, while not awful, isn't as impactful or memorable as the classic one by Akira Ifukube or those that other composers created for him. It's this tune that goes, "Don, don-don-don, don, don-don-don," and follows that with a lighter sound before going into something of a symphony. This won't be the last time in the Millennium series where composers feel the need to create a new theme for Godzilla, although this particular one is only heard in this film. Orga and the spaceship have an interesting theme that's rather light and airy, as well as another one that consists of some people vocalizing to give a sense of power and wonder to them. The last bit of the film before the end credits also consists of vocalizing and, in fact, is all that you hear as Godzilla begins attacking Tokyo, trying to help get across the complex relationship the monster has with humanity that the characters talk about. Actually the best parts of the score are the more quieter, ethereal ones, like the soft bit that the film opens with, the rather tense, slowly building theme that leads up to Godzilla's first appearance at the lighthouse, and the suspenseful, eerie music you first hear when Shinoda, Yuki, and Io come face to face with Godzilla on the other side of that tunnel. The rest of the music is forgettable, like the ones that Hattori creates for the action scenes (that is, when he doesn't use his new theme for Godzilla) and the moment when the sub discovers the meteorite and later when it's being brought up. But the worst piece of music in the film has to be what he uses for the military. It's an absolutely ridiculous-sounding piece that is not at all appropriate for battalions moving in to battle Godzilla. Did Hattori take any lessons at all from the great military marches Ifukube wrote in his career? Yes, as you can plainly see, the music score for Godzilla 2000 is a very weak aspect of a movie that already doesn't have much going for it in terms of greatness or accomplishment.

I'm sure that everyone at first assumed that Godzilla 2000 would come to America as a direct to  video release, as had been the case with every film since Godzilla 1985. However, when Columbia executive Jeff Blake attended the Japanese premiere in December of 1999, he decided from the long, enthusiastic lines and the more than reasonable box-office take, as well as the movie itself, that this was worth taking a gamble on and releasing theatrically in the U.S., particularly since he felt that after the response the 1998 film received, the public would very much want to see the return of the classic Godzilla. In fact, I remember that one of the TV spots for the American release proclaimed, "The original Godzilla is back!" Of course, as had been the case in the past, Blake decided that the film needed some tweaking for American consumption and hired Mike Schlesinger, Sony's vice president of Repertory Sales and Acquisitions, to supervise the adaptation, including re-writing the dialogue and script. Toho had, as usual, created an international dub of the film but upon viewing that version and comparing it to the English-translated screenplay, Schlesinger discovered that there were a number of errors and missing pieces of narrative and character moments between the two, which made him decide to re-write and -record the dialogue completely. Taking a cue from the authenticity that Peter Fernandez had tried to bring the dubs he'd worked on in the past, Schlesinger hired Asian-American actors to loop the characters and, in the recording, decided to emphasize performance and entertainment value over technical precision: i.e. lip movement synchronization. Indeed, there are a number of moments in this film where what's being said doesn't match the mouths of the actors and while some may say that in this day and age, they should be better in getting that right, I think the approach they took was the right one and made the film more enjoyable. Many people groan at the dubbing in this film, with some of the voices and lines admittedly being very over-the-top, but I enjoy it. With all due respect to the Japanese, the performances in the original version were often very flat and un-engaging, so I'll take something that's at the very least entertaining and fun over that any day. Plus, I think the voices often match the characters they accompany, especially the ones for Shinoda, Yuki, and Io. Katagiri's dubbed voice is maybe a bit too deep and anime-like, and Miyasaka's probably shouldn't have been as much of a high-pitched tenor as it is, but I think they work fine as well, with the guy doing Katagiri really letting it all out when he yells, "GODZILLA!!!" at the end.

However, what I will be eternally grateful to Schlesinger and his team for is taking what was originally a fairly dull, overlong, and often lifeless movie and tightening it up and making it more impactful. I cannot stress enough how shocked I was when I first saw the Japanese version and quickly grasped how boring it is. I had listened to Schlesinger's commentary on the American DVD (there are a couple of other people with him there but he does most of the talking) and had learned what some of the differences were beforehand but, after seeing the Japanese version, I truly realized the improvements they had. They did it in two ways, the first of which I describe as "trimming the fat." The Japanese version is 106 minutes long, while the American cut is 98 minutes and most of the deletions consisted of stuff that was unnecessary and omitted due to pacing, like random shots of people elsewhere during the opening moments with our three main characters, a sequence of Yuki slowly wandering through the warehouse in Tokyo before finally finding the Godzilla Prediction Network "headquarters," overlong shots of military vehicles going where they need to go, those news reporters commenting on the destruction being caused by the spaceship as it heads toward the Shinjuku District, the messages of conquest that the aliens broadcast over all the computers in Tokyo, etc. They also rearranged some shots to keep a sense of energy and consistency with the film's flow, like cutting from the main title to the part where the lighthouse keeper is almost killed by Godzilla, as well as to remove some continuity errors, like when the same two vehicles ram into each other during one sequence in the Japanese version. In addition, some sections of the film were cut because they didn't entirely pan out or make sense, like when Godzilla appears like he's ready to fire his atomic blast at one point but never does, and the whole thing dealing with the degrading oxygen quality around the spaceship on top of the tower. While we're on this subject, an example of this that has to do with the re-writing of the dialogue is how the scene where we're introduced to both Miyasaka and Katagiri is handled. It seems that some audiences became confused when, in the original version, at that party they talk about Godzilla having arrived in Japan and that it's at Level 3 but then, the next time we see Miyasaka, he's in a submarine in the Japan Trench. Apparently, people didn't understand what was going on, even though I think it's made clear that they're deploying a sensor to use to detect Godzilla. Regardless, they re-wrote the scene at the party to where Katagiri and Miyasaka talk about the meteorite, that they already know that it's down there, and that they're preparing to head down to study, which is what the scene in the sub and them dropping that sensor entails. I guess it works better for people, even though I didn't have a hard time understanding what was going on originally (plus, it now makes you wonder why Katagiri and CCI didn't seem to react at all to Godzilla's initial rampage in Japan here).

The other way they made the film more exciting and enthralling was reworking the sound design and beefing it up with a greater number of sounds or more powerful ones. This significantly helped make the film feel more full of life and not as slow or dull as it was originally and also added more weight to certain scenes and moments, with such additions as more Godzilla roars (having one when the title appears as well as at the very end of the credits were some nice touches), louder booms and crashes, more people screaming, a whirring sound for the spaceship that it didn't have before, sounds for the bombs they plant in the Opera City Tower, and so on. While they kept a lot of Takayuki Hattori's score intact, they had J. Peter Robinson, who had worked on movies like Wayne's World, Encino Man, and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, write some new music for scenes that either didn't have any music originally or had some but it wasn't all that effective. He wrote some nice, creepy music for when our main characters first encounter Godzilla on the other side of that tunnel, old-fashioned silly music for some of the overtly comical moments, a much more appropriate, pounding military theme, music that was a little more memorable and foreboding for Godzilla's battle with the military, and a freakish-sounding remix of Godzilla's theme for when Orga makes his first appearance, creating a nice link between the two, as more haunting and powerful music for the first part of their fight. Some additional Akira Ifukube cues were played during the film's final moments, with a little bit of Rodan's music leading into a reprise of Godzilla's march during the first bit of the credits, and I'm sure they also used bits of Michael Hoenig's score for the 1988 version of The Blob in a couple of spots (it is Columbia, so they were probably able to do it). All in all, as you can tell, I really like the American version of Godzilla 2000. Yeah, the dubbing is silly at times and they do make some mistakes (they don't do a good job of getting across that Io gave Miyasaka some fake disks in order to protect the network in this cut) but, regardless, I think it makes for a much more enjoyable viewing experience than the Japanese version. In fact, Toho liked this version so much that they used it for the territories where the film hadn't yet played, subtitled it into Japanese for another domestic release, and, to this day, the international dub has not been released on DVD anywhere in the world.

Needless to say, Godzilla 2000 is a film that I'm very conflicted on. On the one hand, you have the Japanese version, which is a very boring, going-through-motions affair that is so obsessed with reveling in the old-fashioned techniques of Godzilla films that it forgets to actually tell a compelling story, create complex characters (even if the ones we got are likable), actually try to make the special effects look good, as they had been in the previous cycle of movies, or do anything new or innovative with the concept of Godzilla and monsters in general, with what new ideas are proposed never being adequately explored. But then again, you have the American cut, which may be pretty cheesy and tongue-in-cheek in terms of its dubbing and dialogue but is much more entertaining as a whole, with improved editing and pacing in addition to more thrilling and impactful sound design and music. As you can tell, I highly recommend going after that one if you ever decide to see this movie but, as always, it's ultimately up to you to pick your poison. In conclusion, Godzilla 2000 wasn't the best inaugural film for the Millennium series but, what's really unfortunate is that it served as a sign of the direction this third cycle of Godzilla movies would take for the most part as it played out.

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