Blu-ray Review: Godzilla 2000

When I reviewed the newest Godzilla, fanboys went all in a tizzy, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again here.

Here we have Godzilla 2000. Released in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in the US after a $1 million overhaul by Sony including some pretty good dubbing, rewriting, re-editing and a whole new sound design. Both versions of the film are included here. I watched them back to back and while there are subtle differences, they’re still the same movie, so I guess it depends on if you feel like reading or not. In most cases, the English dubbed versions of Godzilla films are pretty terrible, but since Sony put some money into it, the performances are actually pretty good and they don’t distract from the over all enjoyment of the film.

With Godzilla 2000 Toho was looking to reboot the series for the new millennium. However, this film doesn’t serve as a new origin story. When the film opens the people of Japan already know who and what Godzilla is. In fact, there is a group called the Godzilla Prediction Network (GPN) at serves as a sort of storm chasers for Godzilla.

As the film opens, Godzilla is targeting Japanese nuclear power plants so the Japanese military starts setting up a trap to take down Godzilla for good. At the same time a group of scientists finds a UFO buried deep beneath the ocean and decide to raise it to the surface to study it. However, things take a turn when it gets close enough to the sun’s UV rays. It starts to repower and heads off to find the genetic material it needs. That genetic material just happens to be Godzilla and now a battle is waged.

However, the big battle only happens in the last 15 minutes and the rest of the time is spent following GPN founder Yuji Shinoda and his daughter around as they try to figure out what’s going on with the mysterious UFO. Yuji also figures out that Godzilla has regenerative capabilities (Wolverine style) and that this is most likely what the aliens are after.

Eventually the UFO gets enough of Godzilla’s genetic material and transforms itself into a giant monster that the back of the Blu-ray cover calls Orga, though it’s never named as such in the film. Orga and Godzilla engage in a pretty epic kaiju battle and well, I’m sure you can guess how it ends.

Aliens are certainly not new to the Godzilla franchise, but what I found interesting, is that until Orga grows out of the UFO, we never see what they look like. Usually aliens in a Godzilla film are characterized so that the audience knows what they’re goals are and they make for a fun villain. However, in this film, they serve to provide more of a mystery for our heroes to solve than anything.

One of the great things about Godzilla 2000 is that it still utilizes guys in costumes. It makes the film look a little dated, more so than its 1999 release date, but it adds greatly to the overall enjoyment of the film if you’re a Godzilla purist.

The big thing that I complained about in the latest Godzilla was that there wasn’t enough kaiju fighting. I really wish I’d seen this film first, because that film has leaps and bounds more. Had I seen this one first I might not have been so overly critical. This film is seriously lacking Godzilla fights. He fights the Japanese military and the UFO briefly in the beginning and then there is the big fight with Orga at the end, but that’s it. Luckily the Orga battle is pretty awesome, or Godzilla 2000 might be really disappointing.

The film is presented in 2.35:1 (Japanese) and 2.40:1 (English) widescreen as well as Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo and English 5.1 Surround sound . This is a great looking Godzilla film. The sound in the English version is a little better as Sony completely redid the whole thing, but both versions look and sound great.

You get a Behind the scenes: (2 min.), Commentary on the English version only, and the Japanese trailer.

This is by no means an amazing Godzilla film, but I enjoyed more than either of the recent American ones (see also Roland Emmeric’s 1998 version starring Ferris Bueller and The Professional). The story is a little slow, but it’s got a great kaiju battle at the end and that’s really all that matters.

Toho and Sony present Godzilla 2000. Written by: Hiroshi Kashiwabara & Wataru Mimura. Directed by: Takao Okawara. Starring: Takehiro Murata, Naomi Nishida and Shiro Sano. Running time: 107 minutes and 99 minutes. Rating: PG. Released: September 9, 2014.

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