Godzilla 2000 (1999)
This film was a direct result of the hideously malformed train wreck that was TriStar's Godzilla from 1998. This Americanized version of Japan's national identity was a steaming pile of poo and an insult to the entire nation. Toho Studios, who had signed off on the TriStar picture, were under fire. They decided to make a new Godzilla movie, one that would try and return the lizard to its Japanese roots.
To be fair, Toho had announced shortly after they killed Godzilla off in 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah that they were planning on bringing back Godzilla to commemorate the new millennium. They were probably hoping to ride the popular wave generated by the TriStar movie.
Though Godzilla 2000 wasn't the best monster movie ever made, it did exactly what it intended to do. Namely, to return the franchise to where it was supposed to be. It also helped to squish any efforts by TriStar to barf out a sequel to their movie.
Godzilla 2000 begins a new continuity. The official Godzilla film canon is truly a mess and has been for forty years. There are basically three eras: The first movie on until this initial series ended in 1975, then the revival in the eighties that began with Godzilla 1985 and ended with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, and now this film. Each of the movies following Godzilla 2000 is meant to be a stand-alone film, a retelling the legend of Godzilla from a new perspective, with only the original 1954 Godzilla being the common starting point. For this reason, Godzilla 2000 and the films which will follow are often referred to as the "Alternate Universe" series, since each film will create its own unique Godzilla timeline.
The new Godzilla suit is great, looking very feral and nasty. The suit hadn't been updated since 1989 and it was showing its age. The new one is a return to the animalistic, natural look that was the norm in the first few Godzilla movies. Because this is a new timeline, they could alter the size a bit from the Heisei series of the 1990s. They scaled him down quite a bit, 180-feet tall instead of 325-feet. They also returned him to the more destructive, independent monster that he originally was. After all the kid-friendly Godzilla incarnations of the 1970s, the new Godzilla for 2000 was brutal and violent.
The American version of Godzilla 2000 differs a bit from the Japanese original, and I'll mention those changes in the body of the work. The changes are not drastic, and would be hard to notice unless you watched the two versions side by side.
On to our show...
BTW, During the first minute of this film the people who did the dubbing give a preemptive demonstration that they have no intention of trying to match the dialogue to the motions of the actors' lips. The first three spoken lines go on for at least three seconds after the actors stop talking. It was obvious that the people who did the dubbing had a certain amount of fun with it, however, as later examples will show. The dubbing was provided by Japanese-Americans and is rather good for everyone except for Katagiri, who sounds too deep-voiced (imagine Sean Connery's voice in David Spade's body).
Yuji Shinoda (I'll refer to him as "Shinoda" from here on out to not confuse him with Yuki) is the head, and presumed founder, of the "Godzilla Prediction Network." The GPN is a small network of computer geeks and Godzilla fans who use home-made seismographs and such to track Godzilla more effectively than the government for the purpose of warning people where he'll strike next, but at the same time trying to find a way to contain and study him without destroying him.
As the film opens, Shinoda's near Nemuro on the northeast coast of Hokkaido, waiting for Godzilla, who has been setting off telltale warnings on his fancy seismograph. Shinoda has brought along his ten-year old daughter Io and a reporter named Yuki Ichinose. Ok, first, bringing your young child out in the middle of the night to hunt for a huge, mutant lizard on a school night? Father of the year, ladies and gentlemen! Besides, if he leaves the kid at home, then he's alone with superfine Yuki, in a car, in the dark, with cameras. You do the math.
Here we get our first good look at our film's three heroes. Shinoda is a medium-sized, slightly stocky 39-year old man with a goatee and the fashion tastes of a science nerd. Think Ross on Friends. Shinoda is played by Takehiro Murata, no stranger to Godzilla films (he appeared in 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra II and 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah), here taking his first leading role.
His daughter Io (played by Mayu Suzuki) is cute and dependable, and pretty sharp for a ten-year old, kinda like Lisa Simpson. She runs the household and business matters while her dad obsesses about Godzilla.
Yuki is played by smokin' hot 27-year old actress Naomi Nishida, here with short hair and a trendy, if sedate, fashion sense. Think Rachael on Friends.
Back in his nifty Toyota SUV, Shinoda begins turning on his computers and monitors. He has a lot of hardware in his car--hope he bought the heavy duty battery. A helpful card tells us that this is the "Godzilla Prediction Network Mobile Unit".
Techobabble alert! Shinoda explains to a only slightly interested Yuki that these machines detect, "Density changes in the plasma that expresses voltage regulation." Io helpfully converts that into English for the audience (who are also only slightly interested), by saying it's basically a seismograph and "When a charge fluctuation occurs, the plasma above the earth's surface is induced to the ground, the plasma and the tremor in the ground become linked." Uh, ok...that was no help. Yuki (and the audience) just stares blankly at them and says, "Whatever." They begin to register the first signs of Godzilla's approach and they zip off down the road towards Nemuro. BTW, some of the close-ups of the monitors are all in Japanese, while others are in English. What gives?
Cut to our next set-piece. At foggy Nossapu Point, near Nemuro, a lighthouse keeper seems to have lost a fishing trawler named the Ocean Queen in the foggy darkness. Rumbling and crashing begins and the man has a close encounter with a ship's hull held in some toothy jaws, seen dimly in the fog. Very cool visual here, as we initially only see a few teeth and a staring eye as the title card "Godzilla 2000" appears on screen. The lighthouse keeper runs out of the lighthouse screaming, and Godzilla crunches the fishing ship with his powerful jaws. The bow of the ship narrowly misses the man and Godzilla then knocks over a radio tower on top of him, but the guy is unscathed as an opening in the tower conveniently falls around him.
Godzilla then walks through a nearby fishing town and the patrons of a small noodle bar find the establishment knocked into kindling around them by a familiar looking tail. In modern urban Japan, the northern island of Hokkaido is seen as full of poor, uneducated rednecks and hicks. Kinda like West Virginia. BTW, the dubber for the lady in the ramen bar sounds exactly like Doctor Ruth Westheimer.
Cut back to our heroes racing along a coastal road. They enter a tunnel only to find that the other end of the roadway is gone, having been sheered off by Godzilla. They screech to a halt just inches from the edge.
Seeing something dimly ahead, Shinoda angles his spotlight up. The beam works its way up a silhouette of Godzilla until we get to his head, which turns slowly to look directly down at them. Wait!!! I've seen this before...Jurassic Park, right? In the T-Rex paddock, complete with SUV and annoying kid. Shinoda switches off the light, but it's too late, Godzilla is interested now. He stoops down and gets his face right up to the car. Yep, Jurassic Park. Watch the computers in the back fry as Godzilla's radioactive body comes near. Godzilla looks great here, big and formidable, his size really apparent next to the car, the new feral-looking face is wonderful.
He needs a mint.
Like Jurassic Park, his exhaled breath fogs over their window. This freaks out Yuki who yelps and holds the shutter button down, the flash going off like mad. Godzilla's pupils dilate with the camera flashes, the quick visual obviously poking at the Tri-Star Godzilla as well as Jurassic Park. Godzilla roars "the roar" about ten feet from them, and the front windshield shatters. Hey, why only that one?
Shinoda, scientist-turned-action hero for the day, slams it into reverse and burns rubber back into the tunnel. Testing the top speeds of an SUV's reverse gear as they outrun a stomping foot, our heroes flee down the tunnel as an angered Godzilla destroys it behind them.
A quick note on the Toyota SUV he drives, as it's not something I've ever seen before. It's obviously a Japan-only model, though it looks like a Lexus RX-300 badged Toyota and with some cosmetic changes. It has a column shifter, which is very odd, and Shinoda has modified it with spotlights and replaced the rear seats with computer equipment. It sports several corporate sponsor stickers, though the only one I can read is "Canon" (in English).
Anyway, I guess Godzilla gives up because our heroes escape. Godzilla then goes after a fairly good-sized city which I'm guessing is Namuro. He wades through plumes of smoke, backlit by flames--pretty common Godzilla fare. People run and scream and point and the like. We get some lovely shots of fire engines racing around and even some high-tension wires going down. Yes! Godzilla here has this confused look on his face, kinda like he's looking for something or someone who was supposed to be there. He eventually wanders off down the beach to munch on a power station.
Here we get one quick shot of about an eight-year old kid staring out a window at Godzilla before his mother whisks him away. The look on his face is terrifyingly evil, like Damien in The Omen or that little boy in The Shining. Without a doubt, the scariest thing in the entire movie right there.
BTW, I've said this about all the Godzilla movies, but his dorsal spines flop too much. If they are indeed like similar dorsal spikes and plates on modern reptiles and fossilized dinosaurs, then they are attached directly to the animal's vertebrae and should not wiggle like they do with Godzilla.
Our heroes follow his rampage in their car. A funny little moment happens when Shinoda helpfully turns on the wipers to cut the wind that's blowing into Yuki's face. Ah, blooming romance. He then asks her if she's sure she has film in her camera and she says "Bite me." Young love, isn't it sweet? We do get a nice composite shot here of the car on the road with Godzilla in the background wrecking the power plant--the first of many such impressive visuals in this movie. As they watch him work, Shinoda intones, "It's like he's destroying our energy sources." (in the Japanese version he says "Does Godzilla hate the energy that mankind produces?" which might change the meaning altogether.) To end the set piece, we get two more great visuals, one as the camera zooms slowly in on Godzilla's face as he roars, very fierce. The other is as the camera zooms slowly in on Yuki's face as she watches, very hot.
Leaving our monster action for a bit, we now cut to an underwater set. A DSRV is rigging surfacing buoys to a "Big Rock", which we will soon learn is a meteorite resting within the Japan Trench, which is directly east of Japan. Crisis Control Intelligence Agency Chief Science Officer Shirou Miyazaki is there to let us know that the evil CCIA is involved. Miyazaki is a nerdy sort of fellow, with geeky horn-rimmed glasses and skinny ties.
We now cut to a dinner party back in Tokyo. Mitsuo Katagiri, head of the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency, a quasi-governmental agency with some enormous power, is wining and dining a bunch of men in suits. One of them mentions that Katagiri is only 32-years old. Katagiri is played by Japanese TV and movie heartthrob Hiroshi Abe, who here gives a listless performance bordering on being clinically dead.
Miyazaki comes in to update him on the progress of the Big Rock. He tells him that the rock is 600 feet across and sits 900 fathoms down. Katagiri tells him to begin surfacing procedures immediately.
This is the first of many times that Katagiri fails to act at all. Hiroshi Abe, the actor who plays him, is apparently some sort of sultry, leading man-type on Japanese television. Seeing him in this movie leads one to believe that the hype is strictly over his looks and not his acting ability. The closest analogy I can come up with is Keanu Reeves "whoa"-ing his way to stardom without an ounce of talent or ability.
I'll give you some back story to help you out. Shinoda and Miyazaki were colleagues before Katagiri enticed Miyazaki to join him at CCIA, this and competing philosophies on what to do with Godzilla have fueled the hatred between Shinoda and Katagiri. Got that?
Back now to Yuki's magazine (O-Parts Magazine), high up in a tower in downtown Tokyo. She's mad because her editor promised to put her on "hard news" if she brought back photos of Godzilla, but radiation has ruined all her film. But apparently photos of Godzilla are so rare that the editor sends her out to hook up with Shinoda and the GPN to try again. To which Yuki whines, "Not another joy ride with those freaks?!?" Her editor shoots back "Quit your bitchin'!" and sends her off.
OK, many things in that scene need to be dissected here. First off, "freaks?" how do you figure that one? They certainly seemed well-adjusted to us, and motivated for the public good, at that. Surely they're not freaks because they understand science? Second, "Quit your bitchin'"? You go dubbers! Also, I find it extremely hard to believe that photos of Godzilla could be that rare, especially in a country like Japan where everyone has a camera or a camcorder. Even if Godzilla only came out to play for small periods of time in this "alternate universe", you'd think there'd be millions of pictures to go around. He just walked through a large city the day before, I'm sure someone else got photos. And lastly, you want to be put on "hard news"? Well, what the heck is more hard news than a monstrous glowing lizard stomping cities and killing thousands?!?!?!? Is that less hard than a drug bust or a car chase? Does this mean that Godzilla's attacks are so common that they don't even make the front page anymore?
BTW, dialogue here and in other places establishes that Godzilla has appeared before and has caused some havoc. If this is truly meant to be a follow on to the original 1954 Godzilla, set almost forty years ago, then the last forty years in this movie timeline are not at all like any other. Seeing as everyone will be so amazed and surprised that an alien ship and a freaky monster will be battling Godzilla in the streets of Tokyo soon, it leads one to believe that in this timeline Godzilla has occasionally shown up but has not been attacked by all the weird monsters and aliens of the other timelines.
Anyway, Yuki reluctantly goes to find Shinoda again. Apparently the first time they hooked up, they met in a Starbucks and left directly from there to Nemuro because now Yuki has to ask directions to Shinoda's place.
The saddest moment in all of cinema now occurs when Yuki asks directions from a guy who happens to be holding a plank. Whenever he turns around, the plank guy cracks a co-worker in the skull, like three times, then accuses him of slovenliness while he's dazed. Why, oh why, did they decide this sort of slapstick was necessary? It's filmed in such a slow, planned way that I think that this is actually the preliminary walk-though the actors did so the cameraman could get the blocking right and somehow this footage made it into the final edit of the film. The music is jaunty but lame and totally out of place. Is this sort of thing funny in Japan?
That was funny?
Here we learn that little Io is in charge of the business end of the GPN. She tells Yuki that to continue to hang out with the GPN crew, she has to pay a membership fee of 200,000 yen up front and 50,000 yen per month. This seems like a lot. What was the yen to the dollar in 1999? Yuki guns this idea down (good girl) and then Io offers her a "discount membership" which basically means splitting gas money and buying the smokes. If Shinoda has to exhort journalists for gas money, how's he making the payment on the SUV? Maybe his mom helps out. And why would they make her pay anyway? Wouldn't they welcome the free publicity from a magazine layout?
Now we cut to CCIA headquarters in a big glassy high-rise in downtown Tokyo. Katagiri and Miyazaki are discussing the Big Rock that they found in the underwater trench. Miyazaki excitedly notes that the rock is highly magnetic and recovering it could be the first step to finding a new source of energy (??). They talk of reducing fossil fuel use as being a feather in CCIA's cap. What exactly does the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency do? Is hunting meteors considered "Crisis Control"? You'd think that Godzilla trashing Nemuro would be a crisis to control, eh? But never once do we hear them talk about that. Since we never saw him leave, who knows, maybe Godzilla stayed all day trashing Hokkaido. You'd think they might want to send a man or something. This is an organization in serious need of a reorganization or a name change.
Anyway, we now cut back out to the North Pacific where two of the CCIA's survey ships are preparing to raise the Big Rock. It must be some time later because Katagiri and Miyazaki are both here now. They are going to raise it with all the balloons that they attached to it earlier, like they raise shipwrecks today. Based on the visuals from the ship's monitors, however, there is no way that those smallish balloons could raise that rock, it must weigh 50,000 tons. But it works. Once the rock starts moving, however, it begins to rise of its own volition, bursting the balloons as it ascends upward. It surfaces among the research ships and floats there, in a scene that looks like the end of The Abyss.
As we fade out of this scene, we get a neat segue from a shot of the seawater frothing and bubbling around the surfaced rock to a rice ball dropped in a hot oil-filled wok. Very artsy. The wok is in Shinoda's place and we get a cute little domestic scene of father and daughter cooking breakfast. This is actually nice and even a little funny. I wonder what happened to Io's mom? Maybe she was killed by Godzilla, that would give us some motivation for Shinoda's quest. Shame that is never explored.
Shinoda here is reading a magazine with its cover framed full-screen for the audience to see. It's in Japanese, but I bet it's cool. And it seems to be entirely about Godzilla, as evidenced by the cover and the glossy pictures on the inside. O-Parts Magazine sucks, this magazine can get lots of photos, obviously, but not Yuki's. This is also another proof that Godzilla has been in Japan recently as an entire magazine is devoted to him.
Io then takes a phone call from "Outpost 2301" and Shinoda instantly says, "That'll be Sonora." Are there outposts 1 through 2031 out there? If not it's a weird numbering system, and if so then Shinoda can't possibly know all their names, can he? Anyway, Sonora says he's detected something Godzillaish approaching Japan from the east. At this, Shinoda and Io load up the SUV again to go lizard hunting, this time strapping their little motorcycle on the back. Io calls Yuki at work to offer her a chance to come along. She agrees and they swing by and pick her up. In the car heading north they learn from Sonora that Godzilla is most likely headed for the nuclear plants at Tokai, in Ibaraki Prefecture on the northeastern coast of Honshu. Yuki says, "Lovely, another Chernobyl."
Cut back to the Big Rock still floating in the open sea. It's still dark out, but spotlights from the survey ships illuminate men working on top of the rock. Miyazaki explains to Katagiri that they were drilling cores into the rock but have been stopped by hitting something unbelievably hard. Katagiri asks for an estimate of its age and Miyazaki answers that it's probably been on the ocean floor for 60 or 70 million years (!!!!). How does he know this? Maybe he dated some organic material stuck on the bottom of it.
Anyway, Katagiri gets an urgent call on his cell phone--Godzilla is coming to breakfast. Telling Miyazaki to stay with the Big Rock, Katagiri jumps in his CCIA Jet Ranger and choppers off to Tokai where Godzilla is supposed to land. In flight, he calls the plant manager and tells him to shut down his reactors. Here it's clear just how much power Katagiri wields as head of the CCIA, being able to turn off the electrical power to a major part of the nation just by a wave of his hand. [Editor Pam: If a giant lizard came by and stomped the reactors, I'm not sure it would matter if they were shut down or not. This was never covered in any of my nuclear engineering classes.]
Our heroes also arrive at Tokai just as Katagiri's helicopter does, landing in a field next to them. Katagiri strides out to meet Shinoda, a cold grin on his face. As he approaches, Yuki asks Shinoda who that is, and Shinoda replies that it's Katagiri, "Deputy Secretary of the Interior as well as the head of the CCIA". Deputy Secretary of the Interior? First we've heard of that, but, man, this guy is good to have all those titles at age 32. I'm 32 and I don't have any titles. But that's not the point, the point is that Yuki should have known who Katagiri is! She wants to be put on "hard news" and she doesn't even know the head of the CCIA, apparently the most powerful agency in the country???
The two men greet each other coolly and toss some verbal barbs. Here we get the gist of the back-story of these two men that I've already told you. Katagiri says "You should've come with Miyazaki when I founded CCIA." What, Katagiri founded the CCIA? But at the dinner party, the guests were all amazed that Katagiri was "named head of" the CCIA at age 32, wouldn't that presuppose that there was something existing before he was named head of it? Right?
Anyway, the two men now outline their competing plans for Godzilla, helping us all to know which one is Evil and which one is Good. I know they want us to be on Shinoda's side, but Katagiri's viewpoint really makes a lot of sense. He wants to keep Godzilla from killing people by killing him first. Exactly what is wrong with this idea? Shinoda wants to "contain him for study", which seems rather naive considering all the luck they've had with containing him in the past.
Katagiri's talk with Shinoda is interrupted by the arrival of a jeep bearing General Tokada, commander of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force's First Division who has been ordered to help him stop Godzilla. First off, if you had a giant lizard about to stomp your nation, don't you think you'd send in more than just one division? In fact, as we will see soon, barely a fraction of the division is actually involved in the coming battle.
As the First Division deploys to the beach to meet Godzilla, we cut to a shot of some model tanks rolling across a bridge. Our tanks here are clearly Type 74s (clones of the American M60 series), but in the very next shot, showing the tanks pulling off the bridge onto an access road, they are clearly Type 90 tanks (clones of the American M1 series). I seriously doubt that a front-line division would have a mix of tank types operating so close together. Lazy film makers. Would it have really hurt them to use the same models for all the shots for the sake of continuity? Copious stock footage of tanks rolling over a hill follow, again showing a mix of tank types.
Tanks on the move.
So a bunch of tanks (all Type 90s here) cruise down to the beach and stop in formation. The terrain in this wide shot does in no way match the preceding shots of the tanks approaching the beach (they seem to have avoided taking that nice wide road to drive over the grass), or for that matter, any of the following shots of the tanks firing on Godzilla. Is bunching your armor up really smart when facing an opponent with Atomic Fire Breath and size 137 feet? That's why I'm not a general, I guess. Anyway, when they are stopped, the unit commander reports, "Group Two in position." There is also a number of Type 96 eight-wheeled APCs in the mix, why are they here? I'm all for Mechanized Infantry, but when you're just trying to lure Godzilla into the river, these guys seem more like fodder.
Then we cut to the First Division field HQ, set up in a big tent out in the woods. Why didn't they just take over some local building instead of camping out? We do get a nice shot of a Type 82 six-wheeled armored car. The amount of cooperation between the military and the filmmakers here is impressive, allowing the use of dozens of vehicles and men. They obviously didn't mind their troops being in such a goofy movie.
A briefing is being given by the General to his assembled staff, some local politicians and Katagiri. Katagiri sits there all smug and smarmy the whole time. Behind them are several maps and charts set up on easels, showing enough swooping arrows and unit markings for an invasion of China. Closer inspection of the various maps shows that they actually match up with the coming attack. Neat, they could have just squiggled any lines on them but they went to the effort to draw out realistic battle plans on the set props. Why couldn't they devote that much attention to detail to the rest of the movie?
The General starts by saying "As we know from experience, when Godzilla attacks, he advances instead of retreats." This again provides proof that Godzilla rampaging around Japan is a fairly common thing and people shouldn't be too surprised by what happens next. The General outlines his plan to lure Godzilla away from the Tokai power plant into the mouth of the nearby Kuji River, where a bunch of underwater mines will "take care of him". This seems rather bravado, as "experience" has also shown that nothing the Japanese military has tried before has ever worked.
At this the politicians balk, concerned about the effect of the mines on the safety of the local population. What? Dudes, there is a giant radioactive lizard about to rip open a nuclear power plant in your town and you all are worried about mines capsizing a few fishing boats??!!!??? Grrr... The General replies, "Well, I'm not saying that we wouldn't get our hair mussed up, but I can promise not more than 200 or 300 casualties." Umm...300 dead from underwater mines in an isolated river mouth? Later, when we see this river mouth, there are clearly no residences or buildings anywhere near where the mines are, mostly just sand and roads.
In every other Godzilla movie, the military is seen as hopelessly outclassed and inept, but still honorably trying to defend the citizens of Japan. Here, however, we are supposed to boo and hiss the General for his nonchalance at killing civilians in his effort to stop Godzilla. This seems more at home in an American movie, which invariably portrays the military as evil and bad. Besides, why do the politicians not seem too concerned about the death toll to their city if the nuclear power plant is smashed? If the military wasn't here, imagine how many of their electorate would die.
BTW, the line "Well, I'm not saying that we wouldn't get our hair mussed up, but I can promise not more than 200 or 300 casualties." is taken almost verbatim from George C. Scott's character addressing the President in Doctor Strangelove. Who knows what the original actor was saying in Japanese, maybe it was something close, but the American dubbing team was having a ball here.
A politician asks what happens if the mines don't stop Godzilla, and the General replies that they have developed an advanced new weapon. I bet you are thinking some sort of super-cool hundred-foot tall robot with laser beam eyes, eh? No. Try new armor-piercing surface-to-surface missiles, which in the Japanese version are called "Full Metal Missiles" but here are just called "missiles". Boring.
The Full Metal Missiles.
The General brags that they are so powerful they can penetrate any known material. To back this dubious claim, he has an aide click on a nearby TV/VCR combo set up for just this purpose (I guess). The three-second tape shows a stock footage missile test of a rocket hitting a pair of big concrete-looking walls. The tape clearly shows English letters and notations along the top edge. Are we to assume that the missile was developed in Japan, but tested in America? I don't think so. The General guarantees that "it will go through Godzilla like crap through a goose." What? Crap through a goose? In the Japanese version the line is "They'll go through Godzilla no matter how tough he is!".
Alright, now the editing gets weird. First we cut to a shot of the GPN Toyota out on the beach and our three heroes setting up their cameras. Shinoda tells Io and Yuki to stay there while he's going to go off on the motorcycle for some reason. This is interrupted by explosions off shore. Cut to several depth-charge type explosions fountaining up out in the open sea. Cut to the Division HQ, where the General and Katagiri, et al, come out of the tent when they hear the distant, muffled explosions. Cut back to the open sea for some more underwater explosions and then we see Godzilla's spiky spines cutting through the water between the bursts like a shark's dorsal fin. The next shot shows him rising out of the water about five-hundred yards offshore, the Tokai nuclear power plant is clearly seen in the background to give us the distance estimates. Ok, now, what??? What were those explosions? Certainly they weren't the mines mentioned in the briefing, right? Those were explicitly said to be "in the river mouth" where the military would have to "lure Godzilla into them". So what were those explosions so far offshore? Was there something else here that they cut out of the final print? Bad, bad editing.
Ok, with the appearance of Godzilla off shore, here come the puny humans and their pathetic military. As with virtually all Godzilla movies, the Japanese Self-Defense Force gets a shot at the Big Guy. The results are almost always the same--either Godzilla shrugs off the attacks and goes on his merry way, or he gets pissed and kicks around a few tanks and melts a few helicopters before going on his merry way. Here, he will be seen to just stand there and take it, roaring a bit and waving his arms around as if to say, "Is that the best you got! My grandmother can fight better than that! Puny man-animals."
Instead of attacking in concert with one another, the various military units attack one at a time. Kinda like a bad Kung Fu movie where the hero is confronted by a dozen bad guys, who then proceed to attack the hero one at a time and get mowed down.
First up are the Army helicopter gunships, who get to him as he is still in the shallow surf about a few hundred yards offshore. We see fifteen (at least) AH-1S Huey Cobra gunships rise up over the trees to have a go at him, perhaps in a nod towards the American Godzilla movie. The choppers are all armed with eight TOW antitank missiles and two 2.75" unguided rocket pods each. Not really worth the effort, what with Godzilla's hide already proven to be able to deflect nuclear weapons and all.
Realized by some of the worst bluescreen shots since the 1940s, a mix of stock footage and K-Mart-quality plastic model Cobras race in and shoot off a couple TOWs each before turning to leave. Godzilla keeps coming, despite the puffs of smoke and foleyed-in explosions. Obviously, the pilots realized what a waste this was and just went back to base to play Digimon because we never see them again.
Katagiri looks on without emotion. He spends the entire battle to come staring straight ahead, hair perfectly in place, no sign of life showing at all. Not even a "Whoa." I'm guessing the director told him not to act too well so as not to upstage Godzilla.
Ok, having watched it for the tenth time, I just realized that the helicopter attack, albeit worthless, did get Godzilla to steer to the right, away from the nuclear power plant. Didn't realize he was so easily distracted, but it seems to have worked. So now, Godzilla wades into the shallow (really shallow) mouth of the Kuji River a few hundred yards from the beach and even farther from the nuclear plant. I assume he has seen the massed military might further up the river bank and is heading for it to do some kicking. He stops here, however, and doesn't move again until the military is done banging on him. I guess he got tired, it's gotta be hard slogging through all that water.
As he crossed over a small grassy area between the beach and the river mouth, approaching it diagonally, his exit from the sea and across this spit of land is seen from a retreating helicopter's view and is really quite effective despite the obvious bluescreening. These types of aerial shots are really the highlight of the movie in my opinion, showing an advancement in technique over previous Godzilla movies which relied mostly on ground-level shots of the action.
Great matte shot.
These long-shots also really show off the new Godzilla suit design. It's clear, however, that he's been eating a lot of Big Macs and Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the years he has been off-camera because he has gained considerable weight. He has a double chin, wider hips, thicker thighs and he doesn't seem to have the energy to run like he used to anymore.
On the other side of the river a bunch of tanks (Group Two) are arrayed before Godzilla. The unit commander orders his tankers to hold their fire until he gets closer, although Godzilla is already well within the effective range of their guns. Here, just before they open fire, we get another neat visual scene. This is a three-way composite, blended together very nicely, which really gives an effective vision of scale. In the foreground, we see Katagiri pull up in a jeep and get out. He gazes away from us across the formation of tanks, over which looms the approaching Godzilla. Very nice.
Another great matte shot.
The tanks open up. Godzilla takes repeated hits from the 120mm and 105mm guns, screeching and waving his arms around in the clouds of smoke. They are really smacking him good, but he keeps on coming. Must be High Explosive shells because they explode on contact in big gouts of flame and smoke. I'd think Armor Piercing shells would be more effective, but I'm not a general. By the way, in the shots of the tanks firing, you can tell which are stock footage and which are plastic models by watching if the tank recoils when the cannon is fired or not. When the tank in the foreground (real) lurches back with each shot, but the tank behind it (plastic) doesn't move an inch, it's really obvious.
Intercut into this attack sequence is an unintentionally hilarious scene of Shinoda zipping along a causeway towards the action on his motorcycle. He passes two guys with rubber boots and fishing hats walking the other way--towards the shore. Earlier and later shots establish that Shinoda left the girls pretty darn close to the action and is headed right for it. This means that with Godzilla battling the Japanese army literally right around them, these two guys are just ambling along looking for a good spot to toss a lure. I guess having forty years of rampaging monster attacks will really jade a guy, eh?
The tanks then reverse and pull away from the river bank and succeed in luring him further into the river mouth. (Though, at least they learned enough to get the tanks out of the way before he steps on them...) As promised, he sets off the mines. A huge gout of water and muck bursts up, obscuring Godzilla momentarily and giving the false hope that he's down for the count. However, no stinkin' mines are gonna keep The Man down and he emerges from the spray unscathed. You'd think an explosion that powerful underfoot would at least throw him off balance, but what do I know. Perhaps his tail helped him keep his feet. Despite being the cornerstone of their defensive plans, the failure of the mines is not mentioned and the entire scene lasts about five seconds.
And again, as noted before, the area of the river mouth where the mines went off was just off the sea front and the entire area is open scrub grass and sand dunes. Where are these 200-300 people who were in danger of being killed by this?
Katagiri looks on without emotion. If his tie weren't flapping in the breeze, I'd swear this was a still photo.
We cut immediately to a self-propelled battery of crap-through-a-goose SSM missiles. These are twin-rail launchers on what looks like a modified Type 90 chassis, a fairly neat design, shame they are all plastic models. Instead of the classic "Toho bottlerocket" method, the missiles firing and their attendant smoke trails are done in nifty CGI, similar to the modern Gamera films. The SSMs zip off, smacking into Godzilla's chest and thighs. Despite General Tokada's claims, these missiles don't seem to do any more damage to him than the tank shells or the TOWs. Don't think Tokada's getting that fourth star now. Sure hope they didn't spend too much money on R&D for those things.
Katagiri looks on without emotion. I swear to God he is Keanu Reeves!!!!!!
Now the Air Force gets into the action. We cut to some stock footage of some F-15J Eagles taking off from an airport. Oddly, the planes each carry a large centerline drop tank, which doesn't make much sense if they are just flying to another part of Japan. They also carry just two Sidewinder AAMs, one per wing. On first viewing, I figured that this was maybe just the only stock footage of F-15Js that they could find (not very likely) and the actual air attack would feature more heavily-armed planes. But the ensuing air attack on Godzilla only consists of six Eagles firing two Sidewinders each at him.
A Sidewinder is a dedicated anti-aircraft missile and carries a conventional fragmentation warhead that weighs just a hair over twenty pounds. Not quite what you would think needed to punch through Godzilla's A-Bomb-proof hide, but there you go. Wouldn't something a little more powerful be a better choice? As well, the pilots have to know that the underwater mines and the Crap-through-a-goose missiles have failed and they have nothing that will do any better, so maybe they just need the target practice.
Continuity errors abound in this attack. This galls me because they had enough money to do it right, did anyone watch this sequence before they printed it? First we see the jets zip above Yuki and Io just over the tree tops as they sit on the roof of their car with cameras, the noise pounding them down. Then we cut immediately to the jets about a thousand feet in the air to hear a pilot announce that he has acquired Godzilla. Then we cut right back to the planes just skimming off the grass again. What? Couldn't they even try to match the stock footage with the model footage? Cheap.
When the jets race over Io and Yuki they apparently are in stealth mode because they clearly don't react to them flying thirty feet over their head until they are well past them. Having been around jets, you can hear them long before you can see them, especially when they are flying so low that the ground reflects the sound waves. No way they could have just "sneaked up" on them like that.
What? Apparently, instead of coming at Godzilla straight on, the Eagles split up and came at him each from a different compass point. Why? Just so that they could show them all turning upwards at the same instant to form one of those nifty air-show moves that the Blue Angels do all the time. Here it just looks silly and needlessly dangerous. Hey, suddenly the jets don't have the drop tanks anymore? They just had them two seconds ago.
So the planes come in and pound the Big Guy with these dinky rockets, flames and smoke and such ballooning with each hit (way too big an explosion for a warhead the size of a football). Good thing none of them missed and pegged an F-15 coming in from the other side instead. Godzilla, for his part, just stands there stoically and takes the hits. Perhaps he knows that they can't hurt him, perhaps he's just enjoying the air show.
I'll give them another kudo here. There is a shot of a pilot's-eye view coming in to attack (although way too high again for the next scene) that shows Godzilla standing in the river mouth getting blasted by missiles. This is really very neat on several levels. They cut and blended him into the background shot of the harbor and coastline very well, thank you. Oddly one of the better visuals of the movie.
Katagiri looks on without emotion. I'm beginning to think that he's also a plastic model from K-Mart.
And then the planes leave, the Air Force having done their part for God and country, I guess. You'd think that if Godzilla was rampaging through the country, the Air Force would try a little harder. Especially since the mines and their vaunted Crap-though-a-goose missiles failed to stop him, you'd think that they'd send a few more in. Maybe the AF commander owes money to someone in Tokai and is hoping Godzilla will take care of his light work for him.
Ok, at this point we'll go back to the big-rock-under-the-sea plotline. Parts of this were cut into the above epic Battle of the River Mouth, but for the interests of clarity, I'll condense it all at this point. It all ties in, trust me.
Back during the hours before the dawn, at the same time Katagiri and Shinoda are having their little talk before Katagiri hooks up with the General, the floating Big Rock starts to move. Miyazaki is on the ship, obviously exhausted from staying up all night looking at a floating Big Rock. As he rubs his tired eyes, the ship starts to shake and shimmy.
Oh, why didn't I see this before? The "office" on the ship where Miyazaki has all his computers set up looks just like an "office" because it's clearly an office in some building. The chairs are your standard rolling type, the walls are peg boards, the computers sit there without any wall attachments. If even a little wave were to hit the ship, everything in the room would fall over. Instead of filming on an actual boat, they just filmed an office (probably down the hall in Toho's office building) and hoped we wouldn't notice. Crafty, very crafty. To simulate the ship shaking they just shake the camera. You can tell because, except for a stack of papers that artfully slides to the floor, nothing else in the room moves.
Miyazaki runs on deck to see the Big Rock slowly turning 90 degrees to stick up out of the water at a perfect vertical. I guess it uses some sort of anti-gravity thingy to do this, but don't you think it would affect the two ships a few dozen yards away? A cut to the rising sun gives us the hint that the just-then emerging sun has something to do with the rock flipping. Ominous music plays, blatantly ripping off the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the Monolith is first seen by the monkeys in the savanna. They even show us the rock from below looking up, filling the screen as the music crescendos, just like in that much better movie.
The Big Rock.
Miyazaki then goes back inside the boat to plink around on his computers. His on-screen display tells him that the rock "is following the sun" (what?). You needed a computer to tell you that? He then runs back on deck where the crew is still standing there stupefied.
Alright, here's the weird part. We get the impression that the Big Rock scans Miyazaki, reading him totally from the cellular level out in a neat-o visual of his innards. Kinda like in Star Trek. You don't know this, but the Rock was scanning him to see if he was Godzilla. He wasn't.
Then suddenly the Big Rock leans over towards Miyazaki's ship. It leans away from the sun, by the way, so why was he all excited about it "following the sun"? So it then flies off, accompanied by the whir-whir noise that all the flying saucers in the 1950s used to make. It clips the ship's crows-nest radar tower as it passes over, that's a nice touch. Miyazaki calls his boss Katagiri and tells him that the Big Rock just grew wings and flew off. Great.
Incidentally, if the Big Rock was between the rising sun and the ship, and the Big Rock took off over the ship (heading east) then the site of the initial excavation must be west of Japan, right? Does this jive with what they said before? No, because they said it was in the Japan Trench which is east of Japan. And then as the Big Rock zooms in on Godzilla it does so from seaward, which would be from the east, right? So if I have this right, the Big Rock went east past Japan and then did a 180 and came back to where Godzilla is. Were they lost?
Further proof of this "lost" theory comes from a cut-in scene just before the Big Rock is seen racing towards Godzilla. In the scene, the Big Rock is flying low over the water when it suddenly dips a "wing" down into the sea, casting up a nice big spray before pulling up and leveling out. So maybe they were lost and drunk. BTW, at the tremendous speed the Big Rock was traveling when it hit the ocean, you'd think it would cartwheel and crash. Guess not.
The Big Rock skipping along.
Ok, here we go, back at the beach for the Second Battle of the River Mouth. Just to get all the players placed right, here's a rundown. It's about midmorning and the sun is out. Shinoda is still on his bike down by the beach watching the battle. Io and Yuki are still on top of the SUV filming the battle. Katagiri is presumably still standing perfectly still somewhere, although he's gotta know the Big Rock is coming because Miyazaki called him. Godzilla is still anchored there in the mouth of the Kuji River getting pounded on, but like Rocky Balboa in the twelfth round you know he's not going down. The Big Rock is zooming in from the east.
The arrival of the Big Rock causes the usual pointing, gasping and "What the...?"s amongst the cast. Even Katagiri changes his expression ever so slightly when it appears. Oscar for him! The Big Rock flies slowly over Godzilla, who looks at it as if to say, "What the...?" and then drifts over Katagiri to give us the worst bluescreen shot in the history of cinema. Seriously, the Japanese are known for some of the best cutting-edge computer game graphics on the planet, would it kill them to work some into their cinema?
Here, however, we get another great flying point-of-view shot of Godzilla in the river mouth, this time as seen from the Big Rock. I hate to keep hitting this, but these aerial shots are really the highlight of the special effects. Notice, though, that here Godzilla is clearly still in the river mouth, in the relatively narrow channel of the river. Then, two seconds later, another series of aerial shots clearly shows Godzilla is now out in a much wider, much more open area of the harbor. Huh? Perhaps, he jumped when we weren't looking.
Anyway, the Big Rock does the whole scan-from-the-cells-out-like-in-Star-Trek thing on Godzilla. This shows us that the Big Guy has different looking cells from Humans, they have these little spider thingies all around them. The Big Rock has found Godzilla.
Godzilla's cells, looking like something out of Descent.
Then the Big Rock powers up its big-ass Energy Cannon, which is charged up by some yellow swirling firefly-looking stuff. The Cannon is located rather asymmetrically on its left front quarter, which is really great because so many of the monsters and machines in the Godzilla series are perfectly symmetrical. An ethnic compulsion, sure, but it's nice to see them mix it up here. The Big Rock blasts Godzilla one good, driving him backwards like a Jedi on a wire harness across the water to crash into a dockside warehouse model in a shatter of balsa wood and glue.
Understandably miffed at this unprovoked attack, Godzilla jumps up, shakes the hit off, and gets his swerve on. Seeing the whole firefly-powering up thing coming again, he heats up his own Atomic Fire Breath for a return volley. This is really neat, as his dorsal spikes not only glow, but they crackle and sizzle as they heat up. Then you see fire welling up in his mouth before he flicks his neck back as if to "throw" his fire. The two opponents both blast each other at the same time. Godzilla is once again knocked on his butt, but his breath really puts a hurt on the Big Rock.
Oh, come on! Ok, the Big Rock, sparking and aching, wiggles off out of control and passes directly over...what else in a Godzilla movie, a train. Why is it every movie has to have a train in it? And why is this train, which we see later was passing over a bridge that was at best three hundred yards from where Godzilla was getting blasted by the army two minutes ago, even here at all? Did anyone maybe think that having a train full of civilians running right through a battlefield was a good thing? Didn't anybody call ahead?
Ok, so the Big Rock crash lands in the river mouth, ending up sticking out of the mud at about a 45 degree angle. This massive object falling into a body of water at a high rate of speed oddly does not cause the expected tidal wave to knock down the bridge and inundate the coastline like it should have, but what do I know.
We then cut to Katagiri standing staring without emotion. The General pulls up in his jeep with some soldiers, one of whom looks to be about twelve-years old. Must be the director's kid. The General says, "Did you see that flying rock go by? It's unbelievable!" Yes, unlike a huge radioactive lizard. Katagiri just twitches an eyebrow hair to emote that he, too, thought it was amazing. Watching this from the shore, how could the General really think that his mines and tank shells could stop Godzilla when two mighty firefly blasts from a Big Rock barely dented him? What was he thinking?
Godzilla, I guess, quickly departs the stage at this point. We don't see him leave, and we wonder why he does leave when the Big Rock is hurting and down, but he does. A little later the General mentions that the Air Force is still searching for Godzilla but there is no sign of him. I assume he swam out to sea when we weren't looking.
Meanwhile, Shinoda has left the river mouth to motorcycle down to the beach where Godzilla first came ashore. He goes down to one of the massive footprints and jumps down into it. The print presents a problem because its front side is clean and shows no pile-up ahead of it. Meaning that to make it, Godzilla had to step straight down, then lift his foot straight up before swinging his foot forward in an extremely odd motion. Try walking along in soft sand (or snow) without dragging the front of the print out with the toe of your shoe, not gonna happen. Anyway, Shinoda sees something down in the bottom and whips out a plastic specimen jar from his knapsack and sticks it in it. Later we see him back at home analyzing the find on his computer, printing out a scan of cells and tissue. A quick look at the sample shows it to be a hunk of Godzilla's skin. How this hunk of skin came off when he stepped in the soft sand is not explained. Maybe it was already loose and just hanging there.
Shinoda checking the footprints.
Back at the crash-landed Big Rock, we can now see that Godzilla's Atomic Fire Breath knocked a bunch of the rock off to reveal a shiny silver spaceship inside. From now on, the Big Rock will be referred to as the "Silver Ship". The intrepid men of the First Division are busy running around the banks of the river setting up tents and moving vehicles into position. A couple of OH-6D helicopters circle around the site, apparently just to remind us that this is all just horrible matte paintings and bluescreening. I swear, this kind of shoddy visual work out of the Japanese is why we nuked them. Twice.
In the HQ tent again, Miyazaki is briefing the assembled Division staff, Katagiri, and a number of civilian types on the Silver Ship. One of the civilians has a horrendously bad 1970s/Faux-Beetles/trendy-back-in-style-with-the-kids haircut that seems totally out of place here. Must be the director's little brother home from college. We join in as Miyazaki says, "Therefore, I am convinced that this vessel comes from another galaxy." What? By "therefore", I assume that he just laid out his reasons for making this declaration without any proof at all, but the audience is not to hear them. This is one of those times when you would give a million yen to hear what came just before the scene opens. Does he know how big a galaxy is? Why couldn't it come from somewhere within our own galaxy? Did he see the Andromeda Galaxy registration sticker on the license plate? One of the civilians shakes his head and calls it all "incredible". Miyazuki replies, "Yeah, like Godzilla isn't." True words, my brother, true words. Miyazaki now goes further out on a limb with his theory that the Silver Ship draws its power from sunlight and when it crashed in the ocean all those millions of years ago, it sank down where sunlight couldn't reach and was only "reawakened" when his mini-sub shone its lights on it.
The Big Rock in the river.
This explanation is accompanied by a quick 60-million-years-ago "flashback" to a CGI Silver Ship crashing into the ocean, with several huge volcanoes gushing lava and ash into the sky. I know that Japan is very volcanic, but was it really this volcanically active at this relatively recent time in geologic history?
Just how dumb are the dudes who built the Silver Ship, anyway? Runs on sunlight? If they did come from another galaxy, then they would have had to travel a long way in space where the only "sunlight" was from pinprick stars, right? I guess they have some heavy duty batteries in there. And how ironic is it that they traveled millions of light years across the universe just to crash into the ocean and sink like a...well, like a Big Rock? Is it ironic, or is it moronic? Seeing how they fly the ship (see above note on dipping wing in water like a drunken freshman), perhaps it's not such a surprise after all.
Anyway, back to the briefing. Talk continues about how cool, neat-o it was to see it smack Godzilla around, and then one of the civilians says, "It's been inactive since the sun went down." To which, Katagiri replies, "Maybe, but we can't take any chances." What? "Sun went down"? In the establishing shot you just showed us it was broad daylight outside! Hey, I can see sunlight streaming into the HQ tent as you all sit there! What? Bad, bad editing. Ok, so then Katagiri orders that a "full set of diagnostics be run" on the Silver Ship.
Ok, what the hell? Now in the next scene it is pitch black outside and the stars are all out and shiny. The Army is doing what the Army does and is wrapping wires around the Silver Ship, essentially tying it down like Gulliver and the little people. Wait, the stars are out? Aren't stars sunlight? Why is it still inactive? And wasn't Miyazaki's theory that the dinky dive-lights on the minisub were sufficient to power the ship up and get it going? Then wouldn't you think that all those spotlights they are shining on the stranded ship, or even the ambient lights of the city or just the headlights on that Toyota truck in the foreground would be more than enough to power up the ship?
The Silver Ship in chains.
Oh, it gets worse. We then cut from a pitch black night scene of cranes laying wire cables over the Silver Ship, directly to a broad daylight scene of several helicopters taking off with "sensor pods" hung beneath them (these will run Katagiri's full set of diagnostics). Then we see the helicopters circling around the Silver Ship, again in broad daylight. Bad!!!
A few other notes here. The helicopters are older model UH-1 Iroquois and along their sides is painted "Crisis Control Intelligence Agency" in English. The same phrase is repeated on the sides of the sensor probes, also in English. No Japanese pictographs are seen on the helicopters here. Could it be that the scenes of the helicopters taking off were filmed especially for the American-version of the film, I assume so that we dumb Americans would understand what the torpedo-shaped sensor probes were for. I wonder if the Japanese version of this scene was better, and shot in the dark.
Iroquois with the probe.
Oh, yeah, during this time, Shinoda has driven back down to the area in his SUV. Quite a media circus has developed around the site and we see Shinoda working his way through the roadblocks and camera crews. These scenes are shot in broad, Silver Ship-powering-up, daylight, by the way. But I don't care anymore, so I've given up trying to figure it out. Couldn't they at least put a filter on the lens to give an illusion of night time? Please?
So the probes start diagnosticing and everyone bunches around the computers in the HQ tent to see what they find, which is basically nothing. Katagiri stands in the background watching, a blank stare on his face. To keep any form of emotion showing, he has even stuck his hands in his pockets. Only the occasional comment from him lets us know that he's not a cardboard cut-out prop.
A call comes to Miyazaki then, it's Shinoda and he wants to use the CCIA's much fancier equipment on the skin sample he found earlier. Miyazaki refers this request to Katagiri, who bristles ever so slightly at the thought of helping his bitter rival. Katagiri consents to meet with him to talk about it, however.
Ok, now, stay with me. I assume Shinoda called Miyazaki from his cell phone because the next scene is Shinoda in his SUV still inching through the media zoo at the edge of the site. Here he sees Yuki, who is out there hustling for a story with all the rest of the reporters, and calls her over. At what point did she leave Io and him to go join the other reporters? He offers to take her along so she can take pictures while he "collects some samples". Yuki is wearing this wretched bucket hat like Gilligan wore on Gilligan's Island, that threatens to affect her cuteness level. It simply has to go.
That's a bad hat.
Then suddenly they hear a beeping from Yuki's laptop computer, which is in her camera bag. Pulling it out and opening it up, they see that data is racing along the screen. It looks like all those scenes in Star Trek when Data downloads some info from some computer into his head and you see the computer screen zipping through all the files at an impossible rate. Some exposition here between the two of them lets us know that this is exactly what's happening, but they don't know (duh) who is downloading the info. They then cast suspicious glances up at the Silver Ship as the scene fades out. A little later they learn that the stolen data was all from the "Godzilla files". What? Oh, alright, I guess that makes sense.
A few notes. The screen shows that the files being read are all dated 01/08/99, I guess this is when they filmed this particular scene. Also, the laptop says "Sony" on it in English, even though the screen displays Japanese characters. I don't know if this is right. Do electronics sold in Japan have the company name in English on them? This is like buying a Sony TV at Wal-Mart in Oklahoma and having the brand name in Japanese on the front.
Alright, Shinoda meets up with Katagiri and Miyazaki. They banter about and eventually Katagiri agrees to allow Shinoda access to his equipment if he agrees to share his findings if they are important. Seems fair, though Shinoda acts like he has to give up his lung. That settled, Shinoda makes to leave for Tokyo. On the way to his car he tells Yuki to "come along and get in the car, we're leaving." Ummm, isn't she here in Tokai on assignment for her employer? Should she really be leaving the site of a crashed extra-galactic space ship, perhaps the story of the century, to follow a disheveled hack scientist back to Tokyo? It's strange that no hint of romance develops between these two lead actors. If this were an American movie, then Shinoda and Yuki would have already fallen in love and then her leaving with him to go to Tokyo would make more sense. Anyway, Shinoda calls his daughter Io on his cell phone (knew he had one!) to tell her about Yuki's computer getting hacked. Io, ever the brains, says that the entire network is in risk. What? How is that?
Shinoda is really putting a lot of miles on his car on this one day. First he drove to Tokai from Tokyo to see the battle that morning, then back to Tokyo to analyze the sample later in the day, then back to Tokai to see Katagiri that night, and now back to Tokyo again. At about 120 miles one way each trip, I sure hope his SUV gets good gas mileage. No wonder Io was trying to scam Yuki into paying for half the expenses.
Ok, Shinoda and Yuki are next at what I assume are the labs of CCIA. Hey, there's Miyazaki! How'd he get here? No mention of him meeting Shinoda back at the Tokyo labs was made, maybe it was off-camera. But why would Miyazaki be here and not back at Tokai where the big alien space ship is?
Shinoda shows Miyazaki the scans of the skin sample. Blah, blah, blah. I won't bother with all the scientist-talk but the gist of it is that they are amazed to learn that Godzilla's skin (even a detached piece of it apparently) is capable of cellular regeneration at amazing rates. At this they both act stunned. What? Has no one learned this fact in the past forty years of dealing with Godzilla? Again, I get the feeling that this movie exists in a bottle separate from all the others, despite the clear statements by our characters that Godzilla has indeed been bothering Japan for forty years. Stupid scientist.
Apparently Yuki is as bored with the scientist-talk as the rest of us, because she gets this forlorn, I'm-a-fifth-wheel look on her face and leaves the lab. She and Shinoda wave good-bye through the glass, Yuki's smile hiding what is obviously sorrow at not being able to be a bigger part of Shinoda's life. It is painfully clear that Shinoda is an idiot. We see the telltale signs that Yuki is falling for him, but he just keeps his eyes on the big lizard thing. Stupid scientist.
Go have sex with her, you dumbass!!!
So he and Miyazaki use this electron microscope thingy to poke at a Godzilla cell. Finding that a regenerative compound in the cells repairs the damage, Shinoda proudly names the thing "Regenerator G-1". How lame. Shinoda, all your life you've been working to come up with something new and meaningful to add to the study of Godzilla, as well as the potential beneficial impact on humankind, and now that you have, you go and celebrate by giving it such a sucky cartoon name? Stupid scientist.
Here we begin to see that Miyazaki is turning from the Dark Side. Some exposition here between the two men makes it clear that Shinoda and Miyazaki aren't so different after all. The joy they share here together as fellow scientists making an important discovery is genuine. Gradually up to this point we've seen that he's the yen to Katagiri's yang on most issues, bringing a softer, more human perspective. Makes you wonder why he left to go with Katagiri in the first place. Maybe it was money. Maybe at one time Katagiri was a nicer man (back when he could actually emote, perhaps) and hadn't yet been absorbed by his own self-importance. A shame the movie never really delves into this. Also, these three guys were all in college together, right? I wonder if Japanese universities have classes in Godzillaology? I'd think they'd have to in this timeline.
Alright, here we go, boys and girls. Back to Tokai and the Silver Ship. We are told that the clouds are beginning to clear (what?) and the HQ tent is abuzz with fears that the ship is soon to take off again. So I guess this is now sometime during the next morning? It's clearly daytime outside, even if partly cloudy. Anyway, Katagiri assures them all that the ship is tied down too well to escape. The cables are electromagnetic, he says.
I just notice that in all the shots of the tied-down ship, it's clear that while many of the cables are just wrapped around the whole thing like giant lassoes, several other cables are affixed directly to the ship itself. I can imagine the General giving that order, "Sergeant, go up there and hammer these eye bolts into the side of that huge alien space ship so we can string cables through them!" "Sir, yes, sir!" Although earlier, the drilling crew was stopped by the hard surface, so how did they manage to attach the cables to the ship?
So the clouds part and the sun shines down on the Silver Ship, which predictably begins to shimmy and shake. Can you guess what's going to happen here? It shakes all the remaining rock off to reveal a shiny silver spaceship. The "unbreakable electromagnetic cables" snap like 10-pound fishing line and the ship lifts out of the water and zooms off. Katagiri stands staring at this, careful not to allow any facial muscles to move. I think he had some Botox shots in his face just before filming, it would explain a lot.
The Silver Ship, by the way, is really nicely designed. I've already lauded it for its offset Energy Cannon, and the smooth, flowing lines and unbroken surfaces make it look really sleek and powerful. There are no visible exhaust nozzles or vents so I guess it uses an anti-gravity drive to move. Oh, and it's shaped kinda like a bicycle seat.
So Shinoda and Miyazaki get the call while in the lab letting them know that the spaceship is off and running. They go into some big Houston NASA control center-type of place, I assume part of the same CCIA complex that the lab was in. On the big view screen they can see a horrible bluescreen visual of the Silver Ship flying along just above a generic urban corridor. Very strangely, the three CCIA UH-1 helicopters with the sensor pods are flying right alongside the ship. This means that, while we've already seen it fly at tremendous intergalactic speeds, the Silver Ship is now tooling along at the helicopters' top speed of 150 mph. Maybe the idiot aliens can't get it out of first gear. They are headed for downtown Tokyo. Tokyo always has a bulls-eye on its back. I guess in American monster movies, it is always New York City that gets attacked by the giant bugs and the aliens. Why don't you ever see Henderson, Kentucky get attacked by the mutant snakes with laser beam teeth?
The Silver Ship in flight.
Ah, I guess the director recently watched Independence Day, eh? Annoyed by the helicopters buzzing around it, the Silver Ship zaps the three helicopters. A very neat touch is that one of the helicopters, as it's going down in flames, skips along the top of a parking garage to crash off-camera. Oddly, Katagiri, following just as close in his Bell Jet Ranger, is not destroyed. Upon seeing the other copters flamed, Katagiri's left eye widens about an eighth of an inch to show his horror and shock at this turn of events. The Silver Ship keeps going on, passing over your typical frightened crowd of citizens, who dutifully stare and point at the sky and chatter in fear. The shadow of the ship passes over one crowd shot, another homage to Independence Day.
We now see your typical street vendor as he stands outside his shop wondering what all the ruckus is about. Apparently he doesn't watch TV or he would know that a huge alien ship is headed for Tokyo. As he sees the ship cruise overhead, he inexplicably shouts, "Gott im himmel!" and begins frantically pulling down the shutters over his shop windows. Gott im himmel? Yes, as the subtitles confirmed, this Japanese merchant just yelled "God in heaven!" in German, although the mouth movements suggest that the original script called for him to say something more profound, perhaps "Aieeeeee!". This is another example of the American dubbers enjoying their work.
The ship continues its slow, leisurely cruise over Tokyo...Hey, wait a second! Where is the freakin' Air Force? You'd think they might want to at least make an effort to protect the air space over the country's capitol city! I guess the director didn't see Independence Day after all, otherwise he'd toss in some jets getting flamed by the spaceship and all. Anyway, the ship now passes over the office building where Yuki works. She is there, so I guess she went there instead of going back to Tokai where they sent her to begin with. She's not getting that expense voucher signed. They all run to the windows to look as the ship passes over.
Three notes here. First, here, and in all the shots of the ship from the ground, you can see the city reflected on the polished, shiny underside of the ship. This must have been a bear to animate, but it really adds to the believability of the visual. Second, when Yuki's boss (editor?) first sees the ship he exclaims, "Great Caesar's ghost!" exactly like Perry White in Superman. No really, I swear! (Though in the Japanese version he just says "Look!") And thirdly, and I'm sorry to have to keep pointing this out, but man, Yuki is a fine looking woman.
Ooops, I guess the director did see Independence Day, because the Silver Ship now glides to a stop directly over the top of a big, tall skyscraper just like the one in Los Angeles that the saucer in ID4 stopped over. It also happens that this tower is the one Yuki's magazine has its offices in. How convenient. The ship physically sits on top of the tower, crushing the topmost floor and sending everyone inside to the floor. Why it didn't just hover over the top of it using its anti-gravity power is unknown.
Sitting on top of the building.
One can only imagine the stress on the tower with this massive space ship resting on top of it. Tokyo is earthquake-prone, so their buildings are very structurally sound, but this still seems like a lot of undesigned-for stress on the tower's support system. Maybe the Silver Ship is made of something comparatively lightweight for its size, or maybe is 90% hollow. Sure. This is the Shinjuku District of downtown Tokyo, by the way, scene of many a monster stomping over the last fifty years.
Anyway, Katagiri and the Army show up to evacuate the building, which is called "City Tower" (lame...), and to cordon off the area. An overheard radio announcement tells us that a five-mile no-fly radius has been declared around the site, which is now military airspace. Military airspace, eh? Then why does the Air Force stay in their hangers for the rest of the film?
Yuki is dragged kicking and screaming out of the tower as she wanted to stay behind and take pictures. How dedicated. As she is carted out of the tower she shouts, "It's the scoop of the century!". I guess, but why did you leave the Silver Ship in Tokai? One of her fellow reporters is a hippie-type, complete with shag hair, Elton John sunglasses, an Axel Rose head band and a cut-off denim vest. Think Hyde on That 70's Show. He calls Yuki "sister" and "baby", but it's ok, because he's cool.
We cut to a briefing by the vaunted CCIA staff seated around a big round table in the CCIA tower. This has got to be very close to City Tower as Katagiri is shown walking into the control room where we saw Shinoda earlier just a few moments after the Silver Ship plopped down on City Tower.
Katagiri (I think, hard to see whose mouth is moving and the dubbing is horrible here) says, "Now that we know it's hostile, we have to do everything we can to destroy it quickly." Ok, let's break that sentence down. First, how do they know it's really hostile? Sure, it fried the three helicopters, but they were following very close, maybe the aliens thought they were a threat and acted in self-defense? Landing on the tower doesn't prove hostile intent either, it's not like it waded through the city blasting away with its Energy Cannon. And, besides, didn't the Silver Ship try very hard to kick Godzilla's ass before? Wasn't that what the military was trying to do? Sounds like they are on the same page. And then he says that they "have to do everything we can to destroy it quickly." Then one of the staff says, "Thank goodness that it will be dark soon." I won't go into how stupid that is in light of everything that has happened before. Katagiri sits in his chair, perhaps tied down with his arms super-glued to the table to prevent him from emoting, and says that they "can't wait until tomorrow, they have to destroy it tonight."
We now cut to a shot of Godzilla swimming through the water. While this is done in all CGI, it is still fifty times more cool than the similar scene in Tri-Star's Godzilla. I assume that the Big Guy is on his way to Tokyo to confront the Silver Ship again. What he has been doing for the last hour or so is a mystery. Maybe he had to pick up a suit at the cleaners before they closed. After I praised them they go and have Godzilla open his mouth up and audibly roar while swimming underwater.
Ok, next we see that the media circus has set up tent again and is bunched up outside the military perimeter, filming and doing stand-up interviews. As we watch Yuki strolling through the mass of reporters, some of the snatches of dialogue that we catch are interesting. One reporter says that all traffic in and out of the Shinjuku district has been halted. Apparently, blocking off traffic doesn't necessarily mean that the District has been evacuated of civilians, as we clearly see hundreds of extras in the background. These are men, women, children, whole families and comic relief guys all staring up and chattering like they are supposed to do. This makes the following carnage worse--somebody should be held criminally responsible for allowing all these civilians to stick around in what will be a war zone. In a cute bit, one of the reporters says that this whole scene is "right out of an old science fiction movie."
Then Yuki's laptop starts that spooky-download-on-its-own thing again and we see that all the computers in the area are now doing the same, even ones set up in electronics stores. Back in the CCIA control room, all their computers are also being scanned and pillaged by the Silver Ship. Katagiri reacts to this potential catastrophic breach of security by exhaling his breath for one half-second more than normal but otherwise remaining very still. A goofy infrared scan shows that, yes indeed, the Silver Ship is hacking the heck out of all the computers in the area. Hey! Why was it that the night before it was only Yuki's laptop that was being similarly hacked and scanned? Why would the Silver Ship, then half-sunk in the river, pick her computer at random to scan? Oh, yeah, she's the star of the film. The laptop she has is now a completely different one than the Sony she had just the other night. Either the prop master goofed or Yuki's newspaper hands out laptops to their reporters like candy. Anyway, the CCIA fears that the ship will "soak up every last bit of data from City Tower's supercomputer."
As if to prove this assumption, we now cut to Yuki down in the Tower's mainframe room, where the supercomputer is, I guess. Hey! What the hell??!!? How did she get back into City Tower? Wasn't the military guarding the building? How did she get in through the security cordon? Did she use her feminine charms, did she know a secret tunnel concealed behind a fake book shelf, did this film's editor fall asleep? And what the hell (part two)??!!? Her hair is completely different. Did she stop to get a haircut before sneaking through the iron wall of M16-armed soldiers? It does look really nice, though, very contemporary and frames her face well. Anyway, having snuck in here alone, she starts to unplug every cable she can find, trying to stop the hacking. Though if the ship is able to turn on and hack laptops at a distance and even computers in department stores, then I'm not sure unplugging things is gonna help, but there you go. Sure enough, she sees that it's still downloading.
Back at CCIA HQ, more nifty visuals and exposition tell us that the Silver Ship is quickly hacking and slashing through every computer in the city, and might drain all of Tokyo's data in just a few hours. Ok, they might have changed the premise here on us a little bit. Before, the ship was just copying info (I guess), but now it's wiping computers clean as it raids them. This sounds much worse.
Miyazaki clenches his teeth and bemoans that this suckage of information could "mean the end of our civilization!". Wise Shinoda (still there) mocks him, asking "you really call this civilization?" Ah, Shinoda, you are indeed a sage, you alone recognize that mankind has become too dependent on modern technology and this hubris will mean our downfall. Hey, wasn't Shinoda the guy whose livelihood is that whole network thing that is wholly dependent on modern technology? Just asking. Shinoda then sneers, "you (the CCIA) try to destroy everything you do not understand." Hey, isn't Godzilla destroying things he doesn't understand when he wades through a city every few years? Why is it ok for him, Shinoda, but not for us? Just asking.
Alright, from this gripping character moment we cut to an outside shot of the Ship/Tower combo again. Now it's twilight and the lights of the city shine brightly. As well, oddly, a close up shows that the lights are lit in the tower, including the floor directly under the ship. Wouldn't the shock of the ship plopping down on it break the light bulbs or even trip the circuits? Hey, and there are now two Japanese Army OH-6D helicopters buzzing around the ship (!!!). Is this smart? Sure, the sun is down so maybe the ship is inert, but do you really want to take the chance? This movie is rough on helicopter pilots.
Now we see what the military's plan is to destroy the ship before sunrise. They are going to put a bunch of demolition charges in the City Tower and implode the building out from underneath the ship. I guess they are hoping that the ship will be destroyed when it falls to the street in the pile of rubble. This might sound good, if it wasn't already shown to have absorbed an Atomic Fire Blast from Godzilla and a subsequent high-velocity crash and show no ill effects. But I guess the Humans have to try something. Trucks pull up into the building's underground parking garage and the engineers unload the charges, which look like big, industrial size turkey fryers on wheels. They place them on the 51st floor, which is about ten floors from the top. This seems like a weird place to put them. Too far away for the blast to directly affect the ship and maybe too high to collapse the building. Oh, well.
The turkey fryers.
Back in CCIA HQ, Shinoda hears his cell phone ring. It's Yuki, still in the City Tower's mainframe room. Shinoda is understandably insistent that Yuki get out of the building as the Army is going to blast it. Yuki, of course, won't leave because she is "close to finding out why the aliens want to learn about Godzilla." This seems kinda obvious, but anyway, Yuki hangs up on him and Shinoda calls her an imbecile (though in the Japanese version it's "old maid", which is weird and probably sexist). He does however, run out of the room. Yep, he's on his way to save her before the building is blown up. That's gotta be love.
Here comes Shinoda, racing along the street in his SUV towards the tower. Oh, yeah, and Io is with him. Rats! I forgot to mention that Io showed up at the CCIA HQ at some point in the evening. Anyway, dad and daughter barrel up to the roadblock manned by about fifty soldiers and some armored vehicles. They tell Shinoda that he can't go in because the whole place is going to blow in ten minutes. Shinoda curses Katagiri (like it's his fault that stupid Yuki is in there). Then, and I swear to God this happens, a siren sounds off camera (I guess the ten-minute warning) and a few of the soldiers look up. Thus distracted, the fifty soldiers with the M-16s fail to notice it when Shinoda and Io run past them and into the building!!! What the hell???!!?? This movie makes the military look very, very bad. And nice of Shinoda to take his only child into a building that's about to explode. Father of the year!!!
Ok, this is all going to happen fast so stay with me. Shinoda and Io run in to find Yuki still watching the computers. Shinoda tells her to take Io and get out, while he stays and tries to figure out what the aliens want with Godzilla (???). If I get this straight, the alien spaceship (which is sitting on top of the building) is inexplicably downloading its plans for global domination into Yuki's laptop while simultaneously draining every other computer in the city. Grrr...
Back at CCIA HQ, Katagiri learns that "two people are still in the building" (shouldn't that be three?) and that Miyazaki authorized that they be in there (???). I don't know whether Miyazaki guessed that our heroes were in the building and is just covering for them, or did he radio the roadblock and tell the soldiers to let them through, because this is not what we saw happen. Bad editing. Anyway, Katagiri (Boo! Hiss!) says continue with the countdown anyway. Maybe he really is evil, because we are shown that he has the detonator box right there in the control room and he could easily wait a few extra minutes until our heroes are out of harm's way. Miyazaki's change of heart was a long time coming, by the way, as over the course of the movie he has slowly come to realize that Shinoda is right and all this CCIA stuff is madness.
Ok, Yuki and Io run out of the building to see the last of the Army trucks driving away. They jump up and down to get their attention but they don't see them. In the scene of them in the road yelling, in the background there is a red Toyota Celica convertible parked right on the side of the road. In the next scene we see Yuki and Io in that same Celica racing after the Army trucks honking the horn and flashing the lights. What? Ok, one of two things must have happened here. One, Yuki hotwired the car and stole it. Or two, she owns the Celica and had it parked on the street right across from the building where she worked all day long with the top down. I don't know which is more unbelievable. Anyway, she stops the convoy and tries to get them to postpone the detonation, but Katagiri overrules them and Io looks all bummed.
Yuki and her Celica.
The soldiers drive off and Yuki starts the car and follows them, seemingly having given up any hope. Io sits silent in the front seat, her head down as she contemplates what's about to happen. We see Yuki's eyes welling up and soft music cues tell us that her heart is breaking. She then u-turns and zips back towards the tower to save the man she now knows that she loves. Ahhhh..... But then, when they get back to the building she grabs onto a struggling Io and tells her that it's too late and they can't save him now. What? Well, at least she made the effort...
Meanwhile, inside City Tower, Shinoda is running through the corridors. The elevators are dead (??) so he runs down the stairs. A lot of stairs. This means that the mainframe room that Yuki was in was pretty high off the ground. This ten minute countdown is lasting forever. This is all starting to look like a rip-off of Die Hard.
Back at HQ, Katagiri has moved his staff out on the roof of the building, setting up some computers and tables on a patio overlooking the city. Why he did this is beyond me, although it does allow a great view of the city and the coming action. Katagiri begins to initiate the detonation. He is handed a sealed case which contains a string of code numbers that he then has to punch into a console. All this security for what appeared to be plain old demolition charges? It looks more like the President ordering the ICBMs to launch, complete with secret codes and fancy keys. Just seems weird. As the second hand on his Rolex Submariner hits 12, Katagiri flares his nostrils a bit in excitement and pushes the button. Now we see that the "demolition charges" aren't conventional explosives at all. They seem to be shooting energy out of the top of the turkey fryers as smoke billows around them and red and orange lights glow. The top of the City Tower explodes in a huge gout of flame and smoke, very classy.
Shinoda is tossed about a bit but gets up and keeps running down the stairs.
Yuki and Io, strangely not crushed by falling debris, crouch at the base of the tower and scream a lot.
Katagiri and Miyazaki stare from the rooftop at the burning tower. The cloud of smoke and the dark of night obscure totally the Silver Ship and for a second we hope that their plan worked. But, alas, the Silver Ship emerges from the cloud intact. Ah, the folly of men. Crushed, Katagiri stands there silently like a wooden statue.
Ok, this is a spot where the American editors cut a hunk out of the Japanese version, presumably to keep the running time down. In Japanese version, after Katagiri saw the smoke drift away from the Silver Ship, it sends a "slide show" of sorts to the computers set up on the roof, showing a series of words basically saying they are going to take over the Earth and such. Just in case you were wondering, the words were "erase, suppression, dominate, prosperity, opulence, revolution and kingdom". It was a nice dramatic scene, which put the helplessness of the situation in sharper focus. Too bad it didn't survive the final edit.
Then the smoke clears completely. Hey, the fires on the top of the building are suddenly gone. What??? Then proof that the director owns a copy of Independence Day on letterbox DVD arrives when the Silver Ship shoots an beam of energy out of the bottom of the ship to blow up the City Tower. This happens floor by floor, just like in ID4, and is pretty well done.
The next few minutes of screen time are definitely Die Hard-esque. Shinoda hears the coming blast and jumps down an open elevator shaft, sliding down the cables to the bottom (!!!) as the blast reaches him. Never mind that whole roaring ball of flame thing, ok.
Yuki and Io are next seen in the basement of the tower (!!!), a little dusty but still alive for some reason despite the fact that twenty seconds earlier we saw them outside the building (???). Here they meet Shinoda who somehow managed to escape the elevator shaft that must have been filled with flaming debris and made it under the walkway of the basement so he could dramatically pull off a grate and pop up to greet them (!!!). He hugs Io and shows Yuki that he has saved her laptop, presumably filled with vital info on the alien's plans for both Godzilla and world domination (???). Yuki smiles brightly (man, she's cute) and the music swells.
Then, suddenly, our heroes are up on the roof of the CCIA building with Katagiri and his setup. (!!!!!) How they escaped what must have been a hellish death, trapped in the collapsed basement with millions of tons of burning rubble above them is left to our imaginations. Stupid movie. Stupid movie. Stupid movie. Stupid movie.
Anyway, if Katagiri is amazed that they survived, he doesn't show it. Miyazaki, however, runs to give Shinoda a big bear hug. This is a clear sign that Miyazaki has broken free of the Dark Side and is now one of the Good Guys, thus saving him from future death by Godzilla. Shinoda then growls at Katagiri, "Nice try, asshole." Well, the American dubbing team just blew my mind. I think that the use of this word is kinda out of place in a Godzilla movie, which have always been targeted at a much younger audience. There have been several uses of "ass" and "damn" earlier in the movie, and at the time I realized that it was an attempt maybe to give Godzilla 2000 more of a contemporary Western feel. I'm not opposed to bad language in film, as long as it serves a purpose, but not in a Godzilla movie. They could have easily changed the dialogue and made this a "G" movie instead of the PG-13 it was release as in America. But I digress, in the Japanese version, the "asshole" line is "Somehow I managed to survive!". That sounds better.
Shinoda shows everyone why the Silver Ship wants Godzilla (!!!). Mainly, that the "Millennium Aliens" want to start an empire on Earth by converting our planet's air to make it more suitable for them (!!!). When they crashed on Earth in prehistoric times, they lost their solid composition and were reduced to anti-matter in the process (!!!). They need Godzilla's cells to regenerate their bodies (!!!). Got all that? Good, because how Shinoda is supposed to know all this is so far off the unbelievability scale that I won't waste your time dissing it.
Moving on, Godzilla suddenly shows up in Tokyo Bay. Everyone seems so surprised that he's here in the city. Where else did they think he'd be? Also, knowing that he had a very good chance of making a move for Tokyo, wouldn't it seem wise to have the military guarding the entrance to Tokyo Bay? Maybe some nets, or mines, or submarines? Something? Where's the Air Force, the Navy, Boy Scouts?
Anyway, Godzilla starts stomping towards the Silver Ship, causing the usual damage and special effects. Then we cut to the lot of a Toyota dealership, where salesmen and customers alike point and scream and run. What? People are out buying cars at a dealership virtually in the shadow of a huge silver UFO that just blasted a skyscraper? It's now clear that Toyota Incorporated sponsored this movie. First we have Shinoda's Toyota SUV, then Yuki's Celica, and now we have several very obviously placed Toyota dealership signs (in English, no less!) and a front-shot of a Toyota Sienna minivan.
Godzilla, being nice, walks down the streets, careful not to hit the buildings. He really, really looks good here, the new suit design is glorious! Reaching the Silver Ship, which is just hovering there above the city, he stops and gives the roar as if to say, "Come get some!".
Ladies and Gentlemen, Round One! Ding! The Silver Ship for some reason shoots straight up in the sky for a few thousand feet before coming right back down again to plop down on top of another high-rise with a crunch.
Ummm, ok...From here, the aliens telepathically yank cables out of the ground to fly through the air and wrap around Godzilla like lassoes. Ummm, ok... It sure looks like they are just common power and utility cables. Why can't Godzilla just break them? He can go through a building and lift a ship with his teeth, don't you thing he could break a telephone cable?
Regardless, the pulling cables overpower Godzilla and he goes down. We get a nice aerial view of Godzilla thrashing on the intersection of downtown freeways just before the cables inexplicably drag him along the ground and smash him into a huge block of apartments. That's gotta sting. Again, I just can't see these cables, even telepathically spun together into bundles, being strong enough to pull a 55,000 ton animal at those speeds.
Dazed but now thoroughly pissed, Godzilla gets on his feet and heats up his dorsal spines, melting off most of the cables. He then lances the building the Silver Ship is perched on with his Atomic Fire Breath, carving a trail of flame up the side of the structure.
The Silver Ship, however, dodges the blast and comes zooming in at Godzilla, like it's playing chicken, before swerving off at the last second to get around behind him. Godzilla's having none of that stuff. Whipping his tail like Jean Claude Van Damme doing a roundhouse kick, he prangs the Silver Ship, sending it skidding across the ground. The ship is tough and it quickly recovers level flight, seemingly none the worse for the hit.
This time wisely keeping the range more open, the Silver Ship toasts up its Energy Cannon and gives Godzilla a hurtin'. Gut-punched by the blast, Godzilla crashes backwards at the base of a huge, three-tower office complex. The Silver Ship zips in and before Godzilla can recover, it uses its underbelly energy shooter thingy to knock over the three towers on top of his head. A really bad composite shot of this makes it look like either Godzilla is only about 6'3" or the towers have like 9,000 floors.
Seemingly the victor, the Silver Ship hovers over the tomb and from its belly come thousands of little firefly looking things that spin and coalesce into a ball that sends tentacles of energy down into the rubble to get to Godzilla's body. These are the same kind of energy tentacles that before leeched all the city's computer data, or so Miyazaki tells us. Like he can tell...
That set up, the Silver Ship is trying to draw in Regenerator G-1 cells from Godzilla, or so Shinoda tells us. What? The spinning ball begins to form into a cellular matrix of sorts and the Millennium Alien emerges from the Silver Ship, regenerating into its original form--a single giant squid-like alien that I swear looks like one of the aliens from the Encounter at Farpoint episode of Star Trek. It then begins to use Godzilla's Regenerator G-1 cells to adapt to our atmosphere, or so Shinoda tells us. What? When did he become such an expert on alien biology?
As Shinoda explains that last bit of insanity, we get a wide-angle shot of the rooftop with our heroes. A large billboard dead center reads "KLA Tenco" in English in another horrible example of product placement. I know that wasn't there before and it looks so obvious here now.
Ah, things are looking pretty bleak for mankind, eh? Giant morphing alien with conquest on its mind about to do its Tamerlame impression on Tokyo, Godzilla down for the count, a grease smudge befouling Yuki's heavenly face. Looks like the end of humanity. But wait!!! Suddenly the rubble explodes outward and Godzilla leaps to his feet. Yes!!!!!
Spying the Silver Ship hovering (maybe empty if indeed it only held the one alien which is now down below) he sticks it with an Atomic Fire Breath blast. Burning heavily, the Silver Ship piles into the ground just like the saucer at the end of Independence Day did, exactly. Godzilla roars in victory.
Godzilla then turns to confront the alien itself, which by now has morphed into a horrible clone of Godzilla. The clone differs in having the Energy Cannon in his shoulder, wicked huge claws and a hammerhead-shark head. The name of the alien is given in the literature as "Orga", though it's never identified as such in the movie. The name is based on the Japanese version of the Regenerator G-1, "Organizer G-1". That said, the creature effect is superb, one of the best villain monsters in all the movies. Kinda looks like either a juvenile alien queen from Aliens or the Rancor from Return of the Jedi, or even a send-off of the iguana in Tri-Star's Godzilla.
None are Orga.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Round Two! Ding! The two heavy weights face off against each other, fairly evenly matched.
Here's the tale of the tape:
200 feet high
Energy Cannon in left shoulder, wicked claws, can open mouth very wide.
Godzilla (Millennium series)
180 feet high
Atomic Fire Breath, nasty overbite, reputation and panache.
Godzilla gets the first lick in, bitch-slapping Orga upside the head before they lock arms in a grapple. Godzilla bites his head, taking a hunk off just like Mike Tyson. The hunk that he spits out hits the ground with a flash-bang of light, which seems really odd, but there you go.
Orga pulls away and catches Godzilla with a filthy uppercut to the jaw that staggers him back onto the ropes. Taking advantage of the space, Orga blasts him with his shoulder-mounted Energy Cannon, driving him back into a building where he gets his spines stuck.
And then...what? Ok, I guess Orga telepathically raises the hulk of the Silver Ship, either that or it recovered on its own. Since it's obviously half-melted, I'd like to believe that Orga is moving it around like Darth Vader tossing boxes at Luke Skywalker. Godzilla shakes free of the building and moves in again.
Now Orga suddenly leaps up into the air!!!! I can only imagine the muscle strength required to lift that much weight, but there he goes. He lands with a boom and a puff of smoke but I'd think the shock alone would cause much more damage. The editing is a little confused, but I guess Orga just did that little bounce to distract Godzilla.
The ploy works, and the Silver Ship rams into the distracted Godzilla, knocking him over. Need to get that peripheral vision checked, big man. Now Godzilla hates surprises and he is seriously mad when he pops back up. He shakes his fists and heats up his spines.
Orga slides the Silver Ship in between them to catch the Atomic Fire Blast from Godzilla, which once and for all destroys the Silver Ship. Some spillover takes a chunk out of Orga to boot. The wound begins to bubble and regenerate (remember, he's full of G-1). Can Godzilla destroy a giant alien mutant with many times his own healing speed?
Man, Godzilla is pissed. He comes as close to running as the suit will allow as he charges Orga, eyes gleaming, teeth flashing, spit flying. Godzilla apparently has been watching Chuck Norris videos because he whips his tail around and catches Orga's legs, knocking him over on his butt. Then for good measure, he cracks him on the head twice with his tail.
As Orga stumbles back to his feet, Godzilla bites him on the left wrist. In this shot you can really see how big and nasty Orga's claws are. Orga shakes him off and then bites Godzilla's left forearm and holds on. Now, in a nice CGI effect you can see Orga sucking Godzilla's Mojo out through his teeth. Orga's head begins to morph green and scaly like Godzilla. Shinoda on the roof explains, "He's trying to become a Godzilla clone!" Sure, like you know that. Katagiri just stares intently.
Godzilla finally kicks free and gives Orga an Atomic Fire Blast to the head for good measure. This blast must have been pretty weak because he only heated up for about a second before firing it off.
Orga now looks freaky, all bubbly with spines growing out of his back. Being so ugly, Godzilla Atomic Fire Blasts him again. Apparently Orga is now conveniently standing on a huge underground fuel bunker or is wearing a coat of tanker trucks because he engulfs in a monstrous pillar of flame. Godzilla waits patiently for the flames to die down. We get a full-screen wall of flames and then Orga emerges from it, a bit singed and smoking in places but still coming.
OK, here it gets really weird. As they face off once again, the bubbling cloning Orga hisses just like a drone from Aliens and then opens his mouth up impossibly wide. It's like a rattlesnake unhinging its jaw to gulp down a prairie dog. Even Godzilla shakes his head at this and says, "What the...?"
Godzilla must have a plan here that he's not sharing with us, because he suddenly rushes forward and sticks his head inside Orga's mouth!!!!!!!! As Orga gulps more and more of him inside, he starts to clone/morph faster. Ah, now I see his plan. Godzilla heats up his spines and nukes Orga from the inside, giving him some serious heart burn. Why run into Orga's mouth? Wouldn't it be easier just to shoot some flame into Orga's open mouth? There's a massive explosion that must have leveled five city blocks and everyone ducks and screams.
From the burning piles of rubble, Godzilla stands up, spines still crackling with residual energy. Orga's smoking corpse falls over, now truly dead, and disintegrates into dust. Godzilla leans back and gives a triumphant roar to the heavens. Yes!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! Godzilla by KO!
Ugh, kill me. Now they ruin the moment by having the humans start talking again. Yuki says lamely, "Boy, that's ironic. It woke up after 60 million years and Godzilla destroyed it the very next day." Yes, very ironic. To which Katagiri, studying at the feet of Keanu Reeves, deadpans, "Yeah."
Thankfully, Godzilla, sensing that the humans are ruining his moment of glory, comes lumbering over to the CCIA tower. Everybody runs for the elevator, except for, you guessed it, Miyazaki and our heroes, who stop when they notice Katagiri still standing at roof's edge staring like Captain Ahab at Moby Dick.
Katagiri steps back and slowly lights up a cigarette before saying, "I've never been this close to Godzilla before." Godzilla rests his claw with a thump on the roof's edge just feet from Katagiri. And here, at the very end of the movie, Katagiri finally, finally emotes!!!! There is genuine fear and shock on his face as Shinoda tries to pull him away. For his efforts Shinoda gets slugged in the nose, Katagiri obviously is going to face down his white whale. Katagiri then looks up and laughs, "Ha Ha!" and then shouts "Godzilla!" at the top of his lungs as the Big Guy rips off the front of the building, taking Katagiri down with it. Shinoda lunges to catch him, but it's too late. Godzilla then turns and walks off as Shinoda weeps for Katagiri's death.
Ok, the fact that Godzilla seemingly picked Katagiri out of the crowd and killed him tells us that he's a lot smarter than we imagined, and has a sense of good and evil even. To be fair, the only evil thing Katagiri ever really does is try to kill Godzilla, which doesn't seem particularly evil to me. Not that he's any better at killing Godzilla than anyone else. Him not stopping the countdown to save Shinoda can been seen two ways: he is a dick, or he was concerned with the overall plan and saw that the life of one man was nothing stacked up against the potential chaos if the spaceship escaped. I guess after reading that, maybe Katagiri was just a dick, after all. Godzilla smacking him down probably was the best thing. [Editor Pam: Was there actually supposed to be a history between Katagiri and Godzilla that was cut from the movie, something like that between Moby Dick and Captain Ahab? Some serious trauma that would explain Katagiri's wooden state, and some old grievance that would explain why Godzilla attacked him specifically?]
Anyway, Miyazaki then says, "We scientists produced this monster. And ever since we've tried to destroy him." These lines tie this movie in nicely with the original intent of the original 1954 Godzilla, which was that H-Bomb experiments were to blame for Godzilla's rise.
Now we get my favorite part of the entire movie. Once Katagiri and the aliens are gone, you'd think Godzilla would head off into the ocean and another sequel, right? No, this Godzilla celebrates his victory by trashing more of the city with particular fury. He's probably thinking, FLAME!!!! "Dammit, I told you last time I stomped this miserable city that I wanted more koi ponds!" FLAME!!! "Who the hell built this McDonalds here??!" FLAME!!!!! The scene is totally silent except for some beautiful, Lord of the Rings-esque music, and is really quite powerful. Oh, crap! They ruined it! He just passed by a large, obviously placed, and well-lit billboard for Toyota.
Godzilla taking his hurt out on Tokyo.
Wouldn't Godzilla's "radioactive" Fire Breath leave some residual radiological contamination after he's done frying Tokyo? In the original 1954 Godzilla, it was stated that men were dying after being exposed to radiation from his breath. It's hard to have a sequel if Tokyo is unlivable for a thousand years.
To make it even worse, Yuki is forced by the script to say, "But then, why does he keep protecting us?" Just as she is asking this, she's watching Godzilla incinerate Tokyo, so I think she's insane. Alright, alright, he did kill the evil aliens, but it wasn't because he was trying to protect the fair citizens of Japan. Was he protecting the citizens of Namuro in the beginning of the movie when he smashed up their city? Was he going for the nuclear power plant to protect us all?
But that's not the worst line, oh no, it's not. In one of the lamest wrap-ups in film history since Doogie Howser ended Starship Troopers with the line "It's afraid!", Shinoda looks lovingly across the flaming wreckage of Tokyo as Godzilla goes Dresden and says, "Maybe because Godzilla is inside each one of us." Kill me.
Alright, a few notes on the closing credits. There are three one-name actor or actress credits that read "Bengal", "Denden" and "Dangerous", I wonder who they are and if Japanese audiences recognized them. The American actress Shelley Sweeney is listed on the IMDB, but not in the film's credits, despite having a speaking role, what gives? The stuntmen inside the Orga and Godzilla have their credits stuck in with the technical staff, no respect there. And finally, I found the presence of one of those "The incidents and characters that have been depicted are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, yada yada..." disclaimers at the end to be incredibly funny.
Written in August 2003 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda and Darci Sharver.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...