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IN SHORT: By the book Gojira [Rated PG for monster violence and mild language]
And before we start, we've got Godzilla 2000 wallpapers for you, too!
When Toho Studios of Japan decided to stop making Godzilla movies a hunk of years ago, well, so much for New York City. While the Emmerich/Devlin Godzilla went with ultra-high tech (and landed with an ultra big thud on its bottom line) it woke Toho up to the continuing profit potential in the franchise. Besides, the Japanese (well, at least the girl I was seeing at the time) were horrified at the Americanization of, what is to them, the equivalent of a force of nature. Not a bad guy. Never a bad guy. A Protector.
The "original" Godzilla may not be a force of nature on these shores, but he's definitely a guy in a rubber suit (Tsutomu Kitagawa). Never a big screen phenomenon, most of us old coots grew up watching ol' Atom Fire Breath taking down Mothra or Destoroyah or Mechagodzilla or some other monster and trashing Tokyo on the small screen. Now we have the Suit on the big screen, enhanced by, but not dependent upon, CGI effects -- most of them were used to take elements out of the picture, rather than put things in -- and featuring an epic battle with an alien UFO creature called Orga. Orga, according to the notes since it's not in the movie, means "Giant Alien Millennian," which loses a little something in the dubbing from the original Japanese. Did I forget to mention that the English dub of all the old 'zillaflicks was so badly matched that it provided material for comedians and sitcoms for years? Consider it mentioned. Then again, to watch a Godzilla movie, you have to be willing to suspend more than a bit of disbelief because they truly are cheesy beyond belief. That's half the fun. That's also why they're great for teevee.
Before the opening credits of Godzilla 2000 occur, an enormous meteorite has crashed into the Sea of Japan. The Crisis Control Intelligence Agency, led by Katagiri (Hiroshi Abe) is endeavoring to raise the rock, led by scientist Miyasaka (Shiro Sano). Their one-time compatriot, Shinoda (Takehiro Murata), now runs the Godzilla Prediction Network, searching out the big green dude full time. The meteorite brings Godzilla up from the depths and ace newspaper photographer Yuki (Naomi Nishida) is there to take pictures and get in the way of Shinoda and his twelve year old daughter I-O (Mayu Suzuki).
The countryside gets trashed. The army and Air Force target Godzilla with new ultra-armor piercing missiles which, of course, only make him mad. Then the meteorite becomes sentient -- it's housing some kind of deep space vehicle with power enough to blast Godzilla to Kingdom Come. Once 'Zilla is dispatched, it's up to Japan's best and brightest to try to figure out what the space dude is really after, as it hacks into the computer systems of one of the world's largest cities, Tokyo.
And you know what Nietzsche said about Godzilla: "That which kills you only makes you stronger (sic)." Like any other flick, there were be a monster battle between monsters. Gape jawed humans looking on. Blasts of Atom Fire Breath and that oh so trademark-able Godzilla roar. When all is said and done . . .
Oh, no. There goes Tokyo . . .
Along the way, there are nods to other superheroes and special effects movies and the cheese element is still there. The Atom Fire Breath effect is much improved but the dialog is still to laugh.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Godzilla 2000, he would have paid...
And we sat with a bemused grin on our face, having lived through more than a dozen 'zillaflicks on an old twelve inch black and white. It was pleasant to see the old guy on a widescreen big screen. But Godzilla 2000 is just like all the others, technical improvements aside. If you've got a long history with the Force (of Nature), treat yourself to the big screen. Else, wait and rent it for the small.
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