Gojira ni-sen mireniamu (Godzilla 2000)
Directed by Takao Okawara
Review by Matt Heffernan <email@example.com>
One of the reasons I enjoy being a film critic is that it can often be very challenging. This week is a good example. Later today, I'm going to see the re-issue of Kurosawa's Ran, but I have a different Japanese import to review right now: Godzilla 2000. Monster movies can't be judged like regular films. In fact, a critical review of one is irrelevant. All you need to know, whether you call him Godzilla or Gojira, is that he's big, he's green, and he kicks ass.
The greatest character ever made out of rubber is back, and this ain't no stupid Roland-Emmerich-Westernized version. The intrepid Godzilla Prediction Network is in the field, trying to keep Tokyo safe from any sudden appearances of the green guy. Team leader Yuji Shinoda (Takehiro Murata) and his precocious daughter Io (Mayu Suzuki) are joined by press photographer Yuki Ichinose (Naomi Nishida), who is looking to get some nice close-ups of Godzilla.
Well, he shows up, and he's not very happy. After some thrashing around and destroying power stations, the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency wants him killed. CCI is also involved in another project: lifting a 60-million-year-old meteorite out of the ocean. It turns out that the meteorite is a spaceship that has been lying dormant, and is even more intent on destroying Tokyo. As usual, the people end up depending on Godzilla to defend them against another threat.
So, it's basically the same as all the other movies. (Lest you think that this is purely monster vs. spaceship, the unseen aliens manage to conjure up a Godzilla-sized beast to do battle in the big climax.) The film doesn't approach coherency, nor should it. If you are looking for a moving story and inventive characterizations, you are watching the wrong film.
Godzilla 2000 delivers plenty of monster action with enough campy goodness to keep a smile on your face from beginning to end. Unlike so much Hollywood garbage, this film is so bad it's good. Some purists may object to the occasional use of computer graphics, but it is a definite throwback to the work of Ishiro Honda that many of us have grown up loving. Monsters rise from the sea, fall from the sky, and start smashing everything in site.
I give this film two and a half stars because I'm too torn between my intellectual critic side and my basic need to see stuff crushed and set on fire. My appreciation of camp collides with my better taste, and all I can offer up for a rating is a firm "thumb sideways". This is a must-see for fans of the genre, but all others should stay far, far away.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Gojira ni-sen mireniamu (1999)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan