Godzilla 2000 (Japan 1999)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/18/00
Alternate Title: Godzilla Millenium
Cast: Hiroshi Abe

Toho was so disappointed by Tri-Star's treatment of their star player in Roland Emmerich's and Dean Devlin's "Godzilla" (1998) that they resecured the rights to the franchise and brought the big guy back for his 23rd big screen appearance. Apparently the film did so well in Japan that Sony decided to import it for American audiences as "Godzilla 2000." While it's certainly more satisfying than Tri-Star's "Godzilla," it's still a rather embarrassing entry in the Godzilla canon. While Godzilla died in "Godzilla Vs. Destroyah" (1995), the American re-edit of the film doesn't make any mention of this, and I'd have to see the original Japanese version to figure out who this new Godzilla is (presumably Godzilla Jr.). The film revolves around a UFO that crashes into the ocean, and Godzilla isn't happy about its arrival. After dealing with the pesky and ineffectual Japanese military, the UFO morphs into a hideous beast and the two monsters beat each other up in the middle of Shinjuku, utterly destroying it in the process. There's also the side story of a bunch of peace-loving Godzilla watchers versus the nasty corporate scientists who want to destroy Godzilla, and a young news reporter who wants to get the scoop of the century by photographing Godzilla. But where is G-Force in all of this? Did they run out of funding only to be replaced by a bunch of weekend Godzilla hobbyists? The film raises a bunch of perplexing continuity questions, but the biggest question on my mind is why the filmmakers didn't take any tips from the creative geniuses behind "Gamera 2" (1996) and "Gamera 3" (1999). Those movies kick ass, while the effects in this big budget monster romp often look cheap and embarrassing. Too much reliance is placed on digital effects, and most of the composites are shaky and just plain dreadful. This was my first experience seeing the real Godzilla on the big screen, but I think I would have preferred to see it on video.