Tuesday, August 18, 2020


Today is the anniversary of the U.S. release of Godzilla 2000, so I figured I’d celebrate by re-watching the movie and writing about it. Let’s start with a bit of history.

The movie’s Japanese title is Godzilla 2000: Millennium. In Japan, it was released on December 11, 1999. That original version ran 109 minutes. The American version is several minutes shorter. The cuts were mostly minor trims. Many critics opine the American version is a better paced and more entertaining film. From what I’ve read of what was cut, I agree with them.

I can’t imagine I didn’t see Godzilla 2000 in the theaters, but it may not have hung around long enough for that. The American version is dubbed, but the voice actors are Asian-Americans. That adds some authenticity to the film, though the occasional “American-isms” can be jarring. When an editor shouts “Great Caesar’s Ghost,” to name one such instance, it takes me right out of the movie.

At some point, I likely watched the original Japanese version via a VHS bootleg. However, as I have no idea where my VHS player is and because this is the anniversary of the US release, I watched the Tri-Star DVD of the film.

Here’s the Internet Movie Database cursory summary:

Godzilla saves Tokyo from a flying saucer that transforms into the beast Orga.

Like too many casual Godzilla fans, the summary only considers the monsters and neglects the interesting human stories that are often an enjoyable part of these movies. Godzilla films at their best are always more than the Kaiju fights.

Let’s focus on those human characters and their stories.

Yuji Shinoda [played by Takehiro Murata] is the founder of an cash-strapped volunteer organization that tracks and studies Godzilla. He’s a single father, trying to raise his daughter while quietly mourning his presumably late wife; the movie doesn’t explicitly say she’s dead. He knows that Godzilla is destructive and must be contained, but he also believes mankind can learn a great deal from the monster.

Daughter Io [Mayu Suzuki] is one of those lovable and spunky kids who takes care of her dad as much as he takes care of her. She is also the business brains of her dad’s organization, driving a hard bargain when a pretty photographer wants to accompany them on their  Godzilla missions.

Yuki Ichinose [Naomi Nishida] follows in the honored tradition of female photographers in Japanese Kaiju films. She doesn’t get a lot of respect at her newspaper, but she keeps chasing the big stories. Let’s face it. Stories don’t come bigger than Godzilla. Yuki spars with the Shinoda family, but she also bonds with them. In my head, I’m shipping a Yuki/Yuji love connection.

Mitsuo Katagiri [Hiroshi Abe] is the human villain of the piece. At university, he worked with Shinoda and Shiro Miyasaka [Shiro Sano], another scientist. But Katagiri’s ambition led him to what Shinoda felt was unethical behavior. Shinoda went off on his own; Miyasaka keeps working with Katagiri.

Katagiri is now the director of Crisis Control Intelligence, which makes him one of the most powerful men in Japan. He commands both armies and next-level weaponry. He cares about two things: finding new energy sources and killing Godzilla. Warm and cuddly, he’s not.

Tsutomu Kitagawa is the Godzilla suit actor, though we also see a CGI Godzilla a few times. Makoto Ito is the suit actor for Orga, a creature created by an alien spaceship to mimic Godzilla’s form and power, however imperfectly.

The movie opens with Godzilla making a dramatic entrance at a lighthouse. He has a boat in his mouth. When the lighthouse keeper flees, the boat breaks in half. When the boat halves miss the man, he scarcely has time to be relieved, when an electric tower falls on him.

[SPOILER WARNING: The lucky man is not crushed by the tower. It’s a nice nod to Buster Keaton and a quietly amusing moment. The film has other such moments, but they never get in the way of the tense action.]

While Godzilla is reintroducing himself to Japan, the CCI has found a rock-like object of considerable size that appears to radiate some form of energy. When they bring it to the surface, sunlight activates it. Revealed as a spaceship, it takes off on its own. It’s going after Godzilla.

Godzilla is still doing his rampaging thing. Miyasaka believes Godzilla is trying to destroy all human energy sources. I could use more convincing on that score.

The battles come fast and furious. Godzilla versus the army. That spaceship versus Godzilla. Shinoda versus Kitagawa, though they end up working together when Shinoda and Miyasaka make an astonishing discovery. The spaceship versus the CCI with considerable damage to the city. Godzilla versus the spaceship again and then the creature (Orga) created by the spaceship. Lots of perilous moments for the starring cast, citizens and soldiers caught in the middle of all this monster mayhem.

I like Godzilla 2000 a lot. It never drags, even when the science guys are talking pseudo-science. Team Shinoda are very likeable. Kitagawa is a compelling villain. The movie delivers a satisfying and quite thoughtful ending. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s definitely worth watching. If you haven’t watched it in a while, it’s worth watching again.

This is the kind of Godzilla movie I like best. Great human drama combined with great monster action. If I ever write Godzilla comic books, that combination is what I would strive for.

That’s all for now, Godzilla devotees. I’ll be back soon with more stuff. Stay safe, stay sane, and be good to one another. 

© 2020 Tony Isabella


  1. One of my favorite elements of this movie is the number of long shots with the Shinoda's vehicle racing along in the foreground, and Godzilla in the background. They really serve to bring out the immensity and majesty of what seeing Godzilla would really be like.

  2. Some of the dialog changes for the American version of this movie are a hoot!

  3. The only good thing about the American version is Raymond Burr. I do always find myself craving a Dr. Pepper after watching it for some reason though...