Thursday, September 18, 2014

GODZILLA 2000 On Blu-ray

Due to the theatrical release of the 2014 GODZILLA, most of the Toho Godzilla movies from the past 20 years have recently come out on Blu-ray. One of the latest has been GODZILLA 2000 from Sony. What is notable about this release is that the disc contains both the American and Japanese versions of the picture.

GODZILLA 2000 came out after the disastrous 1998 American feature film. It was Toho's attempt to re-boot the series (Godzilla had been "killed" in 1995's GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH). All the Godzilla movies made by Toho after GODZILLA 2000 are referred to as being part of the "Millennium" series. The Toho Godzilla features made from 1984 to 1995 are referred to as the "Heisei" series.

The Heisei Godzilla series stuck to a sort of rough continuity, but the Millennium series does not. In GODZILLA 2000, it is never explained why Godzilla is around--he just is, and the story goes along as if all the other kaiju films were never made.

GODZILLA 2000 is a typical Toho monster movie entry. It is not particularly special in any way (other than "reviving" Godzilla). While Japan tries to deal with Godzilla's latest rampage, a giant meteor is found deep in the Pacific. The meteor turns out to be a spaceship, and the alien inside wants to use the form of Godzilla to help it conquer the Earth.

The idea of a new, re-booted, "real" Godzilla must have been exciting for Sony Pictures, who prepared an American version for theatrical release in 2000 (and yes, I saw this in the theater). After the failure of the 1998 American pseudo-Godzilla, I can only assume that Sony felt that U. S. audiences would respond to the true representation of the King of the Monsters.

The American version of GODZILLA 2000 runs about 99 minutes, the Japanese version about 107. There's really not a whole lot of difference between the two. The Japanese version has a bit more destruction, and the ending is a bit more ambiguous. The American version tries to strike a more humorous tone in the dubbing, but for the most part the Japanese and American dialogue is pretty much the same.

Of course the highlight of any kaiju film is going to be the fighting and destruction scenes, and GODZILLA 2000 has plenty of those. One thing about this movie is that a fair amount of CGI was used, and it doesn't hold up too well (several of the matte shots here do not look very good). When GODZILLA 2000 sticks to the practical effects, it comes out great.

The Japanese version of GODZILLA 2000 presented on this disc is not as sharp -looking as the American version, and the picture image is significantly darker. The sound quality on both movies is excellent. The only extras are a Japanese trailer, a behind-the-scenes feature (which runs about two minutes), and a audio commentary with the filmmakers.

It's good that Sony has decided to release most of Toho's recent Godzilla movies to Blu-ray. There's been a lot of internet sniping on how the movies look, but it's better than not having them on Blu-ray. These Blu-rays are fairly affordable on Amazon, and most kaiju fans will want to pick them up to complete their Godzilla home video collections.

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