Godzilla 2000, 2000, about 90 minutes, color, Toho films, Japan Distributed in the U.S. by Columbia Tristar. Directed by Takao Okawara. Starring Kitagawa Tsutomo, Hiroshi Abe, Takehiro Murata, Mayu Suzuki and Shiro Sano. Rated PG. Rating on a scale of 10: 8. (Reviewed in 2009)
When I was a child, I saw a lot of Saturday matinee thrillers. I remember really enjoying reissues of the Marx Brothers' Go West and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. But I never saw a Godzilla film. I didn't lose any sleep over it as a child, but, when Toho's latest Godzilla flick, Godzilla 2000, opened in August (2000), I persuaded my skeptical wife to catch a matinee at one of those new mega-cinema mall (this place was showing over 30 films).
So we settled down with some popcorn, and I put my feet up in the nearly empty theater and waited for some bad dubbing, some fairly cheesy monsters and Godzilla's distinct Japanese shriek. And that's exactly what I got.
Godzilla is cheesy and at times ridiculous, but still, it's a lot of fun. It doesn't try to take itself seriously, and as a result, provides great Saturday matinee popcorn-gobbling fun. When it comes out in video, it's a must for cult fans to rent this film, microwave the popcorn, and catch it late night on the tube.
Here's the plot: The Godzilla Prediction Network (I'm not making that name up) is in a race with Japan's Crisis Control Intelligence Agency to find Godzilla, who occasionally rampages the countryside. The Prediction wants to contain Godzilla and study the creature. The Crisis Control bureaucrats, led by one of the most stone-faced actors in film history, want to kill Japan's most famous beast. In between there's a nosy newspaper reporter trying to get the perfect photo of Godzilla. Somewhere in the middle of all this, a huge rock is lifted from the bottom of the sea to sunlight, thereby resurrecting a huge alien monster.
Guess who gets the fight it? There are many moments of camp in this monster-fest. Besides the ridiculous dubbing and sometimes-poor Toho effects, the scene where the woman reporter is chewed out by her editor is fun to watch. It seems she was too close to the Godzilla, and the radiation wipes out a good print! The final, dubbed line in the film is a howler, and I won't give it away.
There's a lot of action, and a lot of Godzilla in Godzilla 2000, and that makes it a winner and a must-see for cult film lovers. As mentioned, after it leaves theaters, it's best seen late at night, with beer or pop and a lot of popcorn. You'll laugh a lot, but you'll also enjoy the story, and the energetic rubber monsters flailing away. After watching this film, I'm sure Toho will bring back the big guy for a sequel every few years.
Editor's note: In the decade-plus after this film Toho and America made some impressive big-budget Godzilla/King Kong films.