Monday, April 11, 2011

Movie Review: Godzilla 2000

I just picked up a DVD copy of this movie for two dollars, in English and nicely letterboxed. It's a remarkable movie, unique in the Godzilla canon for the blasé manner in which the great beast is greeted in Japan. Oh sure, if the 'Zill man is stomping a neighborhood the locals are impressed alright, but if he's just wandering around the countryside the entire nation seems strangely unconcerned. Newspapers and government offices keep their attention elsewhere while Godzilla casually destroys the odd noodle shop or simply walks around. Even the trains are running as usual. It's bizarre.

There are two organizations concerning themselves with Godzilla: the Godzilla Prediction Network (the GPN) and the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency (CCI). The GPN seems to consist mostly of an SUV manned by a father and his ten year old daughter, assisted occasionally by a cute female reporter who is regularly hit up for gas money by the little girl. CCI at first ignores Godzilla altogether, focusing on the underwater discovery of a meteorite. The GPN wants to study and “contain” Godzilla; CCI just wants to kill him.

It's all soft-Godzilla-violence in this installment. People are put in jeopardy, but usually not killed. Pretty good suit, with a very cat-like snout and big fat legs, and huge, jagged back plates. This is in great conflict with the best movie in the series, “Godzilla, Mothra, King Gidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack,” in which the violence is personal and horrific and the glassy eyed suit is genuinely frightening. Nobody in that other movie was blasé about the monsters, that's for sure.

The meteorite is cool. Raised by CCI to the level that sunlight can penetrate, it sails the rest of the way to the surface on its own. After a while, it actually takes off and flies around the bay. Turns out, it's a UFO that crashed on earth long enough ago to have been encased in sedimentary rock, four million years is mentioned as a time frame. The first thing that the UFO does is genetically scan the humans. Finding nothing interesting it moves on to Godzilla, who is conveniently nearby. G's genetics are much more exciting, and the UFO and Godzilla spend the remainder of the movie in close combat.

Another interesting aspect of this movie is the wild, misplaced optimism of CCI and the Japanese military. A general proclaims, “we have new armor piercing technology that will go through Godzilla like crap through a goose.” The Z is subsequently hit by over thirty of these things with no apparent effect. After the “meteorite” floats to the surface, it is tied down with “electromagnetic cables” by CCI. The boss allows that there's “no way it's going anywhere.” The cables, of course, snap like dry spaghetti as soon as the UFO feels like taking off.

It turns out that the UFO wants to colonize the earth, changing the climate and killing all of the humans in the process. Godzilla thwarts them, but from my perspective the reason for this thwarting was that the UFO and the monster that it creates made their first order of business doing away with Godzilla. This is nevertheless interpreted as Godzilla protecting the earth, and the ending is sappy beyond endurance. “Why does he keep on protecting us?” says a guy from CCI. “Maybe because Godzilla is inside everyone of us,” answers the SUV dad from the GPN.

It's all colorful though, and the human characters are nice enough, so I enjoyed seeing it for about the fifth time and I'll be watching the DVD again within six or eight months.

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