Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Countdown To Godzilla: Godzilla 2000 Review

    So here we are, 23 days until Godzilla.  In 1994, a final draft of an American Godzilla script was written but didn't go into production.  In 1998, we got...well, y'know.  Apparently, Toho wasn't too happy with the end result of Tristar's Godzilla so they responded with this film, the big guy's 23rd film.  This was the only Japanese produced Godzilla film I've seen theatrically and that was 14 years ago.  Recently, I bought a copy off Amazon and gave it a watch, actually a couple watches because my son likes this one and...I don't think this movie has aged well.

     The plot of this movie follows a father/daughter team who have started a Godzilla Prevention Network, kind of like Godzilla storm chasers, to study him and better prepare the world for dealing with him.  They have a reporter tagging along with them but then the father's old rival, the head of the Crisis Control Intelligence, is trying to put them out of business by aiming to kill Godzilla once and for all.  During this drama, Godzilla wreaks havoc on the military until an asteroid CCI has discovered turns out to be an alien vessel that aims to take a new form and claim the Earth as its own.

Godzilla vs Orga, the new monster.

     Okay, so what's good about this movie?  Well, it was nice to see a more traditional Godzilla film with the actor in the suit against miniatures and another actor in a suit and the suit in question actually looks pretty cool.  It's an updated, more detailed version of Godzilla without giving the character a complete overhaul.  When the Godzilla suit is onscreen and not green screened in any way, it looks really good.  The new monster, Orga (although it is never actually named in film), is pretty neat as well, sort of borrowing the characteristic of the Gryphon from the 94 script where it starts off as an alien vessel and then can take on the form of what it eats as it tries to do so with Godzilla (spoilers: it ends very badly and explosively for Orga).  Unfortunately, the guys in the suits are pretty much the only good things going for this movie.

Godzilla's sick of your shit...

     What's bad, you ask?  First off, I felt that a lot of, dare say all of the human characters were not terribly well flushed out.  It wasn't until the third or fourth viewing that I realized that the reporter following the father/daughter team is in no way related to them and they only say that she's the daughter's mother when they're trying to stop the military from blowing up a building that the UFO is perched on.  The rivalry between the head of the GPN and the CCI is shown but it's not explained terribly well or at the very least well enough for us to care about these people.  This probably wouldn't have been so bad if Godzilla had been in the movie more, but in traditional Godzilla-movie fashion, the title character really isn't in the movie that much.  The part where the head of the CCI dies at the end in such a strange fashion makes no sense to me.  Perhaps it was clearer in the original Japanese version but in the American dub, you kinda scratch your head and go, "What?"
     Okay, earlier I had mentioned green screening and there are a LOT of green screen shots in this movie, and most of them look awful.  There were so many shots that the production team filmed the palette shots on location, and then filmed the actor in the suit in the studio and then put the two together without bothering to check that the lighting matched or things like that.  If there was only a shot like that here and there, I'd shrug it off but there's just so damn many of them that it's really hard to ignore and really takes the fun out of watching this movie.  I would say something about the bad CGI shots in the movie, but this film did only have a budget of $8 million and CGI hadn't really been used a lot in the Toho Godzilla films at this point, so maybe they were just trying to find their footing in that regard.

Case in point...
     I know this review feels a lot shorter than what my long-winded self usually puts out, but there really isn't a whole lot to say about this movie.  I think this movie is more of an homage to the originals (featuring samples of the original's soundtrack) and a middle finger to the 98 film saying, "THIS is how you make a fucking Godzilla movie," and not much else.  Is it the worst Godzilla movie I've seen?  No, but if I had to chart out my least favorite of the films that I've seen, Godzilla 2000 would make that list, probably behind Godzilla vs Megalon.  If you're a die-hard fan of the series, well, you've seen this one already.  As for casual viewers, I don't think I could recommend this one to them and would probably suggest they skip it.  Hell, if it weren't for my son, it'd probably be another couple years or so before I watched this one again.

     Alright, join us next time when we look at the true farewell to the series, Godzilla: Final Wars.

     -The Cynic

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