Godzilla 2000

In addition to being terrible, one of the worst things about the 1998 version of Godzilla was that it threatened to swallow the past. Simply through marketing saturation—how long is that foot again?—the film seemed capable of transforming the popular conception of Godzilla from the beloved, rubber-suited terror of toy tanks into the behemoth featured in one of the least-loved blockbusters of the '90s. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and as a reminder of the true Godzilla, here's the Toho-produced Godzilla 2000. After dying off in the '70s, the Japanese Godzilla series has been chugging along since its revival with the film released here as Godzilla 1985. That entry was also the last to receive any sort of theatrical release in America, until now. A tremendous success in Japan, Godzilla 2000 sports marginally improved special effects and an extremely familiar formula: After Godzilla is spotted off the coast of Japan by members of the Godzilla Prediction Network, the army seeks to destroy him, not recognizing a more terrifying monster in its midst. Before long, Godzilla again establishes himself as Japan's best defense against rampaging gargantuas, this time a giant floating rock that reveals itself as a malevolent flying saucer. After so many decades, it would make sense for Toho to have figured out a way to avoid, or at least liven up, the long Godzilla-free stretches of exposition that bog these films down. In this case, the lengthy discussions of Godzilla's foe's origins and motives get in the way of the main reason for showing up: monster-on-monster action. When it arrives, however, Godzilla 2000 is everything a Godzilla movie ought to be. That final roar of triumph you hear could easily be a warning to all pretenders.

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