Godzilla 2000 (which actually was released in 1999) is a curious beast.
After the Sony/Tri Star Godzilla failed to make an impact Toho studios felt the need to resurrect The Big G again so they rolled up their sleeves and dolled out a fresh new reboot for audiences to devour.
It was a new look Godzilla too, trimmed down, leaner and not boasting thighs like a jacked up sumo wrestler he’s still a dickish engine of destruction but not overtly villainous as he had been portrayed before. No, THIS Godzilla way more in the natural disaster realm, more like a tornado or a hurricane, if a tornado or hurricane boasted massive, sick back spines.
In fact, Toho lean so hard into the tornado analogy that their main character is actually a Godzilla chaser, a professor chasing the mighty lizard across country in a car in order to study him to come up with better Godzilla-early-warning systems. Accompanied by his precocious daughter and a panicky photographer, the scientist spends the opening credits driving either toward or hastily from his target through heavy mist at the wee hours of the morning. As his project continues and the military start rolling out new super shells that can supposedly piece Godzilla’s skin, you gradually begin to wonder where exactly this film is going.
At the bottom of the ocean, that’s where!
A group of other scientists, lead by a shifty boss – because of course they are – has found a massive UFO encased in rock on the sea floor which reactivates itself and goes looking for the mountainous saurion in order to study and adapt his genetic material without even planning on buying him a drink first. They fight, repeatedly and eventually the UFO creates Orga, a hulking monster DNA harvester with the giant hands of a Kaiju goalkeeper to do the job for it.
If it sounds from the synopsis that Godzilla 2000’s plotting is a little haphazard, you’d be absolutely right as the whole movie reeks of a rush job in order to capitalize on the U.S. remake. The separate plot strands barely cling on to each other by their fingernails as every contrivance is cleared up by having it fight something else whereas the humans are integrated into the story only by trying to escape crumbling buildings or simply by staring and pointing.
It’s a good job then that Godzilla 2000, despite of it’s obvious flaws, is so endearingly cheesy. And we’re not talking the cheap stuff either as the filmmakers smear that dairy goodness on thick, making an incredibly basic monster movie chug along nicely with barely a brain in it’s head and yet still creating memorable images seemingly out of nowhere – the shifty science guy screaming “GODZILLAAAAAAAAAA!!!” into the Kaiju’s face is beautifully ridiculous. Another weird plus point is how obviously shonky some of the visual effects. While still being “cutting edge” compared to, say Godzilla Vs Gigan but this is a film made in the same year as The Matrix and The Phantom Menace for God’s sake, I’m not expecting a fully CGI, photo-real, swimming Godzilla to be the level of Jurassic Park (and boy, do I NOT get it), but I this really the best they can do? And yet, once again it somehow adds to the charm.
The final shot of Godzilla 2000 crystallizes the experience of watching the film perfectly; the surviving characters openly wonder why Godzilla keeps saving them from evil marauders only for him to spectaularly set a third of the city ablaze in order for a cool image for the credits to roll over.
Impressively stupid, yet stupidly impressive.