Tokusatsu Theater: Godzilla 2000 (1999)

Earlier this year, I became semi obsessed with getting my hands on tokusatsu shows and films. I did that part pretty well, but then haven’t watched many of them. So, when we recently cut the cable cord and I saw that Hulu had a BUNCH of Godzilla movies, I thought it seemed like the prefect time to jump back in.

I started with Godzilla 2000 because…well, I can’t remember. Maybe because it was newer and I was curious what that might look like? After a bit of reading, I came to understand that this film marked the beginning of the Millennium Period, the third line of ‘Zilla flicks. And after watching this Takao Okawara-directed film, I’m not really sure how I feel about this era that I’ve had relatively little experience with.

The story itself revolves around a bunch of scientists accidentally uncovering a space ship that had been buried at the bottom of the sea for years. Once it’s up, it starts attacking Godzilla who’s being tracked by a group called The Godzilla Prediction Network. From what I’ve read, this is supposed to be a direct sequel to the very first film and nothing else, but I personally didn’t notice (then again, I’m a layman at best).

On one hand, I actually felt invested in the human characters, especially the head of the GPN and his daughter. They’re basically the emotional center of the film as just about every other human character winds up connected to them in some way.

However, I wasn’t thrilled with the special effects this time around. The thing I love about watching Ultraman, Iron King or Super Inframan is the time, ingenuity and craftmanship that went in to creating miniature worlds filled with special effects that giant-looking individuals would stomp through. I don’t need them to look even remotely perfect, but just seeing how they went about trying fills me with joy.

Godzilla 2000, however deals with a LOT of compositing which means they took footage of a guy in a Godzilla suit (a great looking one to my eye) and then super imposed it over existing footage of real locales. This might have seemed mind-blowing at the time, but with a few exceptions, it looks clunky and old now. For my money, I’d rather see out-dated looking practical effects than out-dated CGI ones.

And yet, by the time the alien monster Millennian joins the fight, I was back in. Watching ‘Zilla fight a CGI space ship made me yawn, but when he threw down with another physical creature in his space — even with the compositing — a lot of my previous dislikes fell away. I mean, when Millennian unhinges its huge, webbed jaw and tries to eat Godzilla, I was pretty damn impressed! Plus, even in the earlier scenes, this film did a great job of conveying the dize and weight of Godzilla in a way that I don’t remember seeing before. He didn’t just crash into a flimsy model of a building and knock it over, he smashed into a structure of brick and mortar!

At the end of the day, I can’t say I’m disappointed I watched the film, but at least now I know to direct my attentions towards the more practical films made during the Shōwa and Heisei periods. Up next I’m gonna check out Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla because that name is just too cool!

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