Japanese Title: Godzilla 2000: Millennium
Directed By: Takao Okawara
Written By: Hiroshi Kashiwabara & Wataru Mimura
American Distribution By: Tristar Picutres
The first, and sadly only, Japanese Godzilla film that I have had the good fortune of seeing on the silver screen, Godzilla 2000 is a film that many fans believed would never have occurred if not for the fall-out of the 1998 American attempt at making a Godzilla film. Oh, I’m sure there would have been Godzilla movies made without that film but I doubt that they would have been released in such a short span of time following Godzilla’s last retirement.
Unfortunately, due to this film coming out a few years after said remake, when it was released here in American theaters, a lot of people who aren’t fans of the franchise were under the assumption that it was a sequel to the 1998 film. I honestly fail to see how any one could make such a gross mistake as that but that’s neither here nor there.
The film, like most of the Millennium era, is one that disregards all previous films save for the original though it is never established if this particular Godzilla is the same as the first one or a separate creature altogether. In point of fact, up until this film’s direct sequel that spelled out the history of this incarnation of Godzilla, it was a popular fan belief that this Godzilla was Junior grown up and unbelievably awesome.
This idea came about mostly from the major design aesthetics that were done to Godzilla this time around, making him fully green and turning his dorsal scutes a vibrant amethyst color. The real breadwinner though was the color alteration of his heat ray, from the atypical blue to a violent orange. Many fans, myself included, presumed that this was Junior super-charged to the max and thus capable of utilizing a slightly weakened version of his adopted father’s Spiral Heat Ray.
As to the film itself, its main focus on the human side of things is on two particular groups. The government sponsored and run Crisis Control Intelligence (CCI) whose job is not strictly limited to handling Godzilla but anything that could be constituted as a crisis. Such a crisis appears in the discovery of a unique rock formation discovered deep in the ocean that scientists speculate to be the remains of an extraterrestrial craft. Upon attempting to bring said rock up to the surface, it suddenly comes to life just enough for it to rise up and stand at an extreme angle following the path of the sun to absorb solar energy.
Meanwhile the second group, known as the Godzila Prediction Network (GPN), is a volunteer group run and founded by Yuji Shinoda who independently study Godzilla and try to predict his movements and motivations. Though not an overly large group, the GPN manages to make a massive leap ahead of the CCI and its leader Mitsuo Katagiri, by discovering something of Godzilla that had, up until this point, been pure speculation.
Namely, the genetic byproduct of Godzilla’s species known as Regenerator G-1 in North America but is called Organizer G-1 in Japan. The Regenerator G-1 is what allows Godzilla to heal so rapidly and makes him nigh immortal. Though not to the same extremes as such characters like Wolverine or Deadpool of Marvel Comics renown, it is not difficult to believe that Godzilla can regenerate so long as a good portion of organic matter remains. In point of fact, it’s a popular fan theory that this Godzilla, and all others that followed the theme of being sequels to the first film in 1954, had regenerated from the skeletal remains and that explains the massive time gap between films.
Unfortunately for Japan, the UFO has also made the same discovery. Upon blasting Godzilla back into the ocean, takes off towards Shinjuku where it lands upon the Tokyo City Opera Tower and begins to download all the information Japan, and the world, has on Godzilla.
CCI attempts to destroy the UFO by blowing up the roof despite knowing that Shinoda is also there attempting to discover the UFO’s plans via hacking it in turn. The attack ultimately fails and Shinoda manages to escape by the skin of his teeth and reveals to the CCI that the alien with the UFO wants the Regenerator G-1 inside Godzilla so that it can withstand Earth’s atmosphere.
Godzilla then arrives and through some clever tactics, the UFO manages to knock him out via burying him under a massive skyscraper and quickly proceeds to harvest massive quantities of Regenerator G-1. Absorbing the Regenerator G-1 into itself, the alien within the craft emerges in its full glory before its body begins to horrifically mutate.
Blasting his way out of the rubble, Godzilla quickly destroys most of the alien’s ship before spotting the result of the alien’s attempt at surviving Earth’s atmosphere. Like most kaiju, Godzilla’s DNA is highly mutagenic and the resulting creature is one well deserving of the name Orga.
The mutated alien initially does not desire to fight Godzilla but upon realizing that the Monster King will not allow it to retreat to try and make sense of its new ghastly form, goes onto the attack. It swiftly becomes apparent that due to the huge consumption of Regenerator G-1, Orga can not only heal far faster than Godzilla can but can survive a direct blast of Godzilla’s heat breath. The fight takes an even dire turn as the creature discovers that even the simple act of biting Godzilla allows it to further absorb his DNA and became a full clone of the Kaiju King.
The rest of the fight I’ll save for when I talk of Orga in full but I will say that it is easily one of the most brutal ways Godzilla has ever finished off an opponent.
Overall, I thought that this was an incredible movie to watch. The human side of things, like most of the Millennium films, actually pertains to the events transpiring on the monster side. We finally discover the means of Godzilla’s healing factor, and it’s by people who aren’t sponsored with enough money to construct freaking giant robots.
The GPN is, quite literally, the “tornado chasers” of the kaiju world, following and studying Godzilla from afar as best as they are able and yet they still manage to make an incredible leap in discovery that the government, in this film and in others, had only managed to speculate on and not make a full confirmation.
On the note of the GPN, specifically its founder/leader Shinoda, I ought to mention that his daughter, a literal kid, is also involved in the film’s events and for a time I had a problem with it. I mean, this is a guy who is chasing/following a freaking radioactive dinosaur and he brings his daughter along for the ride? True, she’s the one that manages to take care of him more than he takes care of her, what with cooking and the like, but she’s also quite intelligent and resourceful too.
It’s actually rather weird how common it is for the trope of a single father with a daughter in most monster films. Say what you will of Disney films and the multitude of characters without a mother for one reason or another, but in the monster film franchise, especially in Japan, it’s far more common but is also quite diverse. Thinking over every father-daughter pair I’ve seen in the Godzilla franchise, I can’t say that any pair was a copy of another.
As to the monster side of things, we get everything and so much more. Godzilla appearing and rampaging through the city, fighting and wiping out the military’s attempt at stopping him, and a good old fight between giant monsters to top it all off.
The special effects is one of the best in the Millennium era and frankly, I rather liked the changes done to Godzilla this time around, namely the variation of his heat ray. In previous films, Godzilla’s dorsal scutes would flash or light up before he unleashes his heat beam but in this film they actually heat up and can be used as an alternative form of attack if need be.
Overall, this is the modern generation’s Godzilla film that shows all of what the franchise has to offer to the younger generations to come.