Forget that failed, F/X-driven flick producer Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich spent $120 million on in 1998, the new Japanese import "Godzilla 2000" is what Godzilla movies are all about: Low production values, high camp and a guy in a giant rubber reptile suit rampaging through a detailed miniature of Tokyo, knocking down buildings, kicking cars and breathing fire! Yeah, that's the stuff!
Getting a wide release in the U.S. thanks to a contractual obligation written into the rights granted TriStar Pictures for that American "Godzilla," this 23rd entry in the belovedly bad series is everything a cheesy monster movie should be.
It's shot on cheap film stock. The special effects, while improved with dough brought in by the American deal, are utterly corny. The dubbing is comical and the dialogue and acting even worse ("Great Caesar's ghost!" someone cries upon seeing Godzilla).
The complicated plot is complete nonsense: Godzilla is distracted from his usual routine of stomping on power stations by an alien ship, dormant for millennia on the bottom of the ocean, that wakes up and attacks Japan.
But all this stuff is deliberate and makes for an unadulterated B-movie delight.
The movie opens with members of the under-funded group that wants to study and understand Godzilla (hilariously named Godzilla Prediction Network) trying to forecast the mighty radioactive monster's next visit, when he pays them a visit, his footsteps shaking the theater in THX sound.
Meanwhile, a rival government agency dedicated to destroying the big G is trying to raise a mysterious meteorite from the ocean floor, hoping it will provide them with a new power source.
Huh? Well, never mind.
The meteorite turns out to be a barnacle-encrusted liquid-silver spaceship that, once accidentally activated by the nefarious government scientists, goes on a tear against Godzilla, trying to extract his quick-healing DNA (he's indestructible, you know) to reconstitute an immense alien chimera bent on turning the Earth into its own habitat -- or something like that.
Thanks to their Hollywood benefactors, the filmmakers here have some money to play with and put it to good use souping up some special effects, giving Godzilla better fire-breath and using CGI to improve upon some scenes that are traditionally done with obvious miniatures and low-rent blue screen photography. Perhaps as an homage (or perhaps as a spoof), "G2K" also borrows a page from Devlin and Emmerich's "Independence Day," having the alien craft land atop a Tokyo skyscraper as it threatens the world.
Eventually, of course, everything comes to a head in one of those monster mano-a-mano matches that destroy 10 to 20 city blocks with every knock-down and inspire kids to crush their favorite Matchbox cars underfoot while trying to imitate Godzilla's screeching roar.
Is this quality cinema? Of course not. It's crap. The point is, if you go in thinking of "Godzilla 2000" as nothing more than a mindlessly entertaining excuse to cheer, laugh and throw popcorn at the screen, you're going to have a great time.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th August 2000
Box Office Worldwide: $10M
Budget: $1000 thousand
Production compaines: Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd.
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Takao Okawara
Starring: Takehiro Murata as Yuji Shinoda, Naomi Nishida as Yuki Ichinose, Mayu Suzuki as Io Shinoda, Hiroshi Abe as Mitsuo Katagiri, Shirô Sano as Prof. Shiro Miyasaka, Kôichi Ueda as Military Man, Tsutomu Kitagawa as Gojira
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