Gojira ni-sen mireniamu (1999)
This film is first of what would come to be called the "Millennium" series of G-films. Unlike the Heisei films, these films do not, by and large, form a continuity, with one exception, which I'll go over when I come to it. They also tend ignore the continuity of the previous films - again with some exceptions.
It is known in the U.S. as Godzilla 2000 and sometimes Godzilla: Millennium.
This is another film that I saw in a theater. How we all cheered when the Toho logo came up on the screen!
The film was directed by Takao Okawara.
The music was done by Takayuki Hattori, although you'll hear an Ifukube theme or two, in there.
SFX were handled by Kenji Suzuki, and were generally pretty good.
Godzilla was played by Tsutomu Kitagawa. The new G-suit more savage-looking, with pointier spines.
Orgah was played by Makoto Ito. Can't say as I'm too wild about the design of Orgah as a creature.
Takehiro Murata played Prof. Yuji Shinoda, head of the Godzilla Prediction Network, a sort of homespun group of researchers who study Godzilla in hopes of predicting its movements.
Mayu Suzuki played Shinoda's young daughter Io, who basically looks after him.
Naomi Nishida played Yuki Ichinose, a reporter assigned to cover the GPN.
Hiroshi Abe played Mitsuo Katagiri, the extremely heelish deputy of the Crisis Control Intelligence Agency, and old acquaintance of Shinoda's.
Shiro Sano played Prof. Miyasaka, another old acquaintance, who is sympatheic to Shinoda, but has become Katagiri's flunky.
There are some differences between the U.S. and Japanese versions - unfortunately the English dubbing produces alot of forced humor - for example, a Japanese character who says "We're in danger!" in the Japanese version is dubbed to be saying "Gott im himmel!" in the English one - that doesn't work for me. To be fair, there's a certain amount of forced humor in the Japanese version as well.
There's a lot of good scenes in this - the night attack on the fishing town is very eerie and atmospheric, and Abe gets to do some great overacting in the scene at the end where Katagiri mouths off to Godzilla.
The film revisits the old dichotomy between those who want study Godzilla and those who want to kill him. The notion of Godzilla attacking power plants is also revisited.
The film addresses the concept of Godzilla's durability by revealing that he has a sort of healing factor - Shinoda discovers that Godzilla's cells contain something he calls "Organizer G-1" ("Regenerator G-1" in the U.S. version), that allows Godzilla to repair physical injury almost instantaneously.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this picture - I remember at the time thinking how glad I was to see the series getting back on course.
Next: Big bugs!
Gojira tai Megagirasu: Ji shometsu sakusen (2000)
This picture's title translates as " Godzilla Against Megaguirus: The G Elimination Project War". It is usually known in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.
It was directed by Masaaki Tezuka.
The music was done by Michiru Oshima, with an Ifukube theme or two added in.
SFX were done by Kenji Suzuki.
Tsutomu Kitagawa played Godzilla.
Minoru Watanabe played Megaguirus, a giant insect much faster than the usual ponderous kaiju. Megaguirus' henchcreatures, are named the Meganuras, derived from the insect monsters in Rodan.
Misato Tanaka played warrior woman Kiriko Tsujimori.
Shosuke Tanihara played science whiz Hajime Kudo.
Masatoh Eve played the project head.Motohiko Sugiura.
Yuriko Hoshi played Professor Yoshino Yoshizawa. You may remember her as photographer Junko in Godzilla vs. The Thing and reporter Naoko in Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster.
Toshiyuki Nagashima played Kiriko's platoon commander.
This film goes off in a new direction, as it presents a sort of alternate history for Japan. It begins with a fake newsreel in which scenes from Gojira (1954) were re-shot with the new G-suit, and explains that Japan's capital was moved to Osaka in the wake of Tokyo's destruction. (There's some amusing shots of seeing the Diet Building next to Osaka Castle.)
Then, in the wake of Godzilla's destruction of Japan's first nuclear plant, Japan abandons nuclear power for alternative energy sources.
In the present day, Japan is desperate for more power sources, and an attempt is being made to use plasma energy to create a new power source and a weapon to deal with Godzilla.
Kiriko, our heroine, is part of an Anti-Godzilla Command Unit. the group's attempts to create a miniature black hole somehow brings Megaguirus into our world, and it and Godzilla duke it out.
Overall, the story is OK - there's some creepy scenes where people get attacked by the Meganuras - and the effects are good. Megaguirus isn't my favorite critter, but it's good to see Godzilla fighting a new kind of enemy.
Next: Ghost Story?
Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidorâ: Daikaijû sôkôgeki (2001)
This film is known in the U.S. as Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, which is apparently a reasonably good translation of its title.
The director was Shusuke Kaneko.
The music was by Kow Otani, with the usual Ifukube themes.
SFX were done by Mskoto Kamiya.
Godzilla was played by Mizuho Yoshida.
King Ghidorah was played by Akira Ohashi.
Baragon was played by Rie Ota. Ota was the first woman to play a monster in a Godzilla film.
No word on who, if anyone, played Mothra.
The film was originally meant to feature Anguirus and Varan, but the studio wanted more marketable monsters, so Mothra and King Ghidorah were brought in.
Chiharu Niiyama played BS Digital Q reporter Yuri Tachibana.
Ryudo Uzaki played her dad, Admiral Tachibana.,whose parents were killed in Godzilla's first attack.
Masahiro Kobayashi played Takeda, Yuri's colleague and would-be boyfriend.
Shiro Sano played Yuri's boss.
Eisei Amamoto returned to the G-series after a long absence as the Prophet/Ghost.
You may notice two girls look up as Mothra flies overhead. These are sisters Aki and Ai Maeda - as near as I can tell, this is just a gag on the fact that the Mothra of this film doesn't have Twin Fairies following it around.
I'm not wild about the G-suit in this picture, for some reason. The head in particular looks wrong to me.
The "theology" of this picture is kind of odd - apparently, Godzilla is possessed by the spirits of all those who died in the Pacific War, who are miffed at the fact that the Japanese have forgotten the suffering people underwent in the War. Baragon, Mothra and King Ghidorah are the three "Guardian Monsters" of Japan, sent by the gods to protect the Japanese from the consequences of their forgetfulness. This does not stop them form killing any number of Japanese on their own, of course.
There's a scene where a cop shoots at Baragon with a pistol, that reminds me of a similar scene in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
There's a little dig at the U.S. G-film, "The Americans say it was Godzilla, but in Japan they say it wasn't."
There's also a scene with a girl in traction freaking out as she sees Godzilla coming up the street, that's amusing in a twisted sort of way.
The film ends with a real Friday the 13th moment, as we pan down to the bottom of the sea, and we see that there's nothing left of Godzilla but its heart. Inevitably, as Ifukube's Godzilla theme begins to swell, the heart begins to beat...
Overall, this is an OK picture, but perhaps not my favorite. That said, there's some good monster-fighting in this and some amusing destruction shots
Next: Mechagodzilla, again?
Gojira tai Mekagojira (2002)
This picture is known in the U.S. as Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
The director was Masaaki Tezuka.
The music was done by Michiru Ohshima. This is the first score in a long time that contains no Ifukube.
The special effects were done by Yuichio Kikuchi.
Godzilla was played by Tsutomu Kitagawa. We're back to the "spiky" G-suit in this picture.
Mechagodzilla (a.k.a. "Kiryu") was played by Hirofumi Ishigaki. Not sure why MG is called Kiryu here. The design is OK, I still like the Showa MG best, though.
Yumiko Shaku played Akane Yashiro, another female solider out to redeem herself for a past mistake.
Shin Takuma played scientist Tokumitsu Yuhara.
Kana Onodera played Sara, his moody daughter.
Koh Takasugi played Col. Togashi.
Yusuke Tomoi played Hayama, Akane's nemesis.
Junichi Mizuno played Lt. Sekine.
Kumi Mizuno - Miss Namikawa in Monster Zero - played Prime Minister Tsuge.
Akira Takao played Igarashi, her successor.
Takao Nakahara played Chief Hitoyanagi.
Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui appeared briefly as himself.
Kiryu is presented as a "bio-robot", made from the original Godzilla's bones. When a new Godzilla attacks, the sound of his roar awakens atavistic memories in Kiryu, and it runs wild.
Mention is made of various monster-fighting forces, including the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) and the JXSDF (Japan Xenomorph Self-Defense Force).
There are brief cameos by Mothra and by Gailah (a.k.a. The Green Gargantua) from the 1966 film Furankenshutain no kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira ("Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda versus Gaira"), a.k.a. War of the Gargantuas.
All in all, it's not a bad picture - there's some good monster-fighting scenes, and it's always good to see Kumi Mizuno, again.
The final fight ended in a draw, with a good set-up for a sequel.
Next: The Sequel!
Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
This picture is known in the U.S. as Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S..
It was directed by Masaaki Tezuka.
Music was done by Michiru Ohshima.
SFX were done by Eiichi Asada.
Tsutomu Kitagawa played Godzilla.
Motokuni Nakagawa played Mechagodzilla.
No word on who, if anyone, played Mothra.
Hiroshi Koizumi reprises his role as Dr. Shinichi Chujo from Mothra (1961).
Noboru Kaneko plays Yoshito, Shinichi's nephew, and member of the Mechagodzilla ground crew.
Miho Yoshioka played Pilot Azusa Kisaragi.
Mitsuki Koga played Pilot Kyosuki Akiba.
Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka played the Shobijin.
The dead monster washed up on shore is Kamoebas, from the 1970 epic Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû, a.k.a. Yog: Monster from Space, one of the few Toho monster films that I do not own a copy of.
The gyst of the film is that the Shobijin and Mothra feel that using the bones from the '54 Godzilla to make Mechagodzilla constitutes profaning the dead, and they want the Japanese to bury the bones at sea, in return for which Mothra will offer to assume protective duties for Japan. The Japanese are reluctant to rely on Mothra, and then Godzilla comes and ends up fighting Mothra and Mechagodzilla, anyway.
It's a good movie - it's very reminiscent to Godzilla vs. The Thing (particularly with the birth of twin Mothrae at the end), and it's good to see old Hiroshi Koizumi again. There's some good battle scenes in it, and the effects are good.
There's one good piece of "Engrish" in it - a control panel is clearly labeled: "Caution: Do Not Do Wrong Operation".
Next: Final Wars?
Gojira: Fainaru ouzu (2004)
This picture was known in the U.S. as Godzilla: Final Wars. It's the last of the four G-films that I saw in a cinema.
It was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
The music was done by Kisu Emason, of "Emason, Reiku and Paruma" fame. ;) Additional music was done by Nobuhiko Morino and Daisuke Yano. The viewer will also note an Ifukube theme or two, as well as music from Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster.
SFX were done by Eiichi Asada.
Godzilla was played by Tsutomu Kitagawa. The G-suit in this picture reverts to a look more like that used in the Heisei films.
Motokuni Nakagawa played King Seesar and Monster X.
Naoko Kamio played Rodan and Minilla.
Toshihiro Ogura played Anguirus, Ebirah and Hedorah.
Masahiro Matsuoka played Ozaki the Good Mutant.
Rei Kikukawa played biologist Miyuki Otonashi.
Kazuki Kitamura played the Young Controller.
Vaguely Stalin-looking mixed martial artist Don Frye played Captain Gordon.
Akira Takarada played Sec. Gen. Naotaro Daigo.
Kane Kosugi played Kazama, Ozaki's rival.
Maki Mizuno played newscaster Anna Otonashi.
Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuki returned as the Shobijin.
Kenji Sahara played paleontologist Hachiro Jinguji.
Kumi Mizuno played Commander Namikawa.
Masakatsu Funaki played M-Unit CO Kumasaka.
Masato Ibu played the Old Controller.
Masanobe Takashima played Major Kita.
Shigeru Izumiya played Old Grampa Hillbilly.
Kenta Suga played the kid who finds Minilla.
Notes and References:
The Gotengo is based on the flying sub used in Atragon.
In the opening narration, we see images of the monsters Varan, Gezorah, Baragon, Gailah, Titanosaurus and Megaguirus. Gezorah appreared in Yog: Monster from Space.
When the Xists try to BS the Earthlings into believing that a planet called "Gorath" is going to crash into the Earth, it's a reference to the 1962 film Yôsei Gorasu (a.k.a. Gorath).
The montage over the opening titles (which I find very effective) contains Godzilla scenes from the Showa, Heisei and Millennium films. We even get to see the Newkirk Motors Building get blown up again!
Monsters in the Film
Anguirus is seen attacking Shanghai, and later is among the monsters that fight Godzilla near Mount Fuji.
Ebirah is seen attacking the Tokai Petrochemical Complex. Godzilla later throws him at Hedorah in Tokyo.
Gigan is beheaded fighting Godzilla at the South Pole. Restored and upgraded, he is beheaded fighting Mothra in Tokyo.
Godzilla is seen to be frozen at the South Pole at the start of the picture, and turning him loose becomes a big plot point.
Hedorah appears only briefly in Tokyo, being poked in the eye with Ebirah.
Kaiser Ghidorah is the final form of Monster X. It has an unfortunate tendency to sound like an outraged chicken.
Kamacuras is seen attacking Paris, and later is impaled on an electrical tower near Kanazuru by Godzilla.
King Seesar is seen attacking Okinawa, and later is among the monsters that fight Godzilla near Mount Fuji.
Kumonga is seen attacking rural Arizona (not sure why, perhaps a tribute to all the 60's "big bug" pictures that were set in the Southwest), and is later given a "Team Rocket send-off" in New Guinea by Godzilla.
Manda is killed by Gotengo early in the picture.
Minilla appears near Mount Fuji. No explanation is given for its appearance there.
Monster X appears in Tokyo, and later morphs into Kaiser Ghidorah.
Mothra is seen to leave Infant Island to fight Gigan in Tokyo.
Rodan is seen attacking New York City, and later is among the monsters that fight Godzilla near Mount Fuji.
Zilla (while it is never so named in the picture, this is Toho's name for the U.S. "Godzilla") is seen attacking Sydney. Later Godzilla smacks him into the Sydney Opera House.
A kid in Vancouver is seen to throw a toy turtle into a fire, and the turtle is not at all meant to be a stand-in for Gamera, Mr.Daiei Lawyer.
The scene with the pimp and the cop in New York City is extremely regrettable.
The Xists' ruse falls apart awfully easily.
Also, why not have all of the monsters attack Godzilla at once?
All in all, this is not bad for what is essentially a re-make of Monster Zero and Destroy All Monsters. If it suffers at all, it is because I think they tried to stuff too much into the picture, it feels a little crowded. It's good seeing the old-timers again - there's always the fun of seeing who aged well and who didn't.
Next: Another American re-make!
This film was directed by Gareth Edwards, a director whose work I am otherwise unfamiliar with.
The music was done by Alexandre Desplat. He's no Ifukube, but the music was OK. At least it wasn't simply unconnected pop songs.
I don't get the impression that there was a single special effects master comparable to Tsuburaya on this. Nevertheless, the effects were well-done. The Godzilla design isn't my new favorite, but it's certainly more like the "real" Godzilla than the 1998 creature. The enemy monsters are called Mutos, and are vaguely reminiscent of Orgah from Godzilla 2000. I don't personally find them all that memorable.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Ford Brody, a young Navy man who gets caught up in his father's obsession. He's sort of a generic "heroic white guy".
Bryan Cranston, probably most famous for playing the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, plays Joe Brody. Joe is that well-known stock horror movie character, the Guy Who Everyone Thinks He's Crazy, But He Was Right All Along. He's also only in about the first twenty minutes of the picture.
Ken Watanabe plays Doctor Serizawa, a scientist who investigates the shenanigans occurring. He's largely wasted in the part. All he does is try to get a look at Godzilla, and spout vaguely New Agey "The Earth seeks balance" nonsense.
Elizabeth Olsen (i.e., the Olsen Sister who can actually act) plays Elle Brody, wife of Ford, a nurse. She is also largely wasted in the part, as all she does is be fearful most of the picture.
David Strathairn plays Admiral Stenz, another stock character, the Military Guy Who Wants to Blow the Monster up.
Juliette Binoche plays Sandy Brody, wife of Joe and mother of Ford.She's also only in the first few minutes of the picture, and doesn't get to do much.
Sally Hawkins plays Serizawa's assistant, who pretty much just goes around reminding him of stuff.
The story-line of the picture is simple enough stuff. The science of how the monsters came into existence is pure gibberish, but then, it always was in these pictures. There's a few too many convenient coincidences in it for my tastes - Ford just happens to have the right skill set to help with the atom bomb that is the major plot device at the end of the picture. He's also rescued a little to easily at the end. If this was a Japanese picture, I have a feeling his character would have died heroically. There's nothing too unforgivable. To me, the most glaring plot misfire is the bit at the end when he sends the nuke out to sea on a boat with five minutes to spare - there's just no way the boat would have made it far enough in that time frame to save the city.
The monster fights are reasonably good - there's one or two set pices that are pretty amusing. The one that got the biggest cheer was when Godzilla held a Muto's mouth open and fired his heat beam straight down his throat.
The end of the picture does seem to be setting up Godzilla as a "hero" a little too quickly, though of course they could change that in a potential sequel, which there will likely be if this film makes as much money as it seems like it will.
Overall, I enjoyed it a good deal. It's not the best G-Film ever, but it's a respectable mid-range Godzilla picture, better even than some of the Toho pictures. There's not a lot of brilliant acting in this, but you don't really expect that in a Godzilla movie. If nothing else, it wipes away the national shame of Godzilla (1998). ;)
Shin Gojira (2016)
We start with a sound of giant footsteps, and the '54 G-roar. As the coast guard investigates a boat adrift in Tokyo Bay, something damages the Aqua-Line Tunnel. We then cut to the Prime Minister's office, where the government gathers to react.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo government plans evacuation and the PM reluctantly calls for mobilization of the SDF.
As the evacuation commences, the creature "evolves" into a large, semi-bipedal form. (The Ifukube cue that is used here feels oddly out of place. In my brain, I imagined the Pokémon evolution music playing while this was going on.) When it roars for the first time, it's the G '54 roar.
The attack choppers get into place, but abort their attack when they realize that there are still civilians in the area, and the creature goes back into the bay. Yaguchi is now head of the anti-monster team, which is the usual collection of oddballs who don't fit in but who will be right about everything. They work out that the creature is metabolizing nuclear energy.
Elsewhere, the PM is coming under pressure from the US government to let them handle all access to information about the creature. We meet our last major character, Special Presidential Envoy Kayoco Anne Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), a Senator's daughter. Ishihara does OK in the part, but if you listen to the Japanese language track, she is obviously not a third generation American. Her English is fine, but her accent is way too thick for that. Probably perfectly convincing for a Japanese audience, I suppose.
She wants them to find Goro Maki, he whose boat we saw in the first scene of the movie. He apparently foresaw the creature's arrival, and named it "Godzilla" after a creature from the mythology of his native Ohdo Island. (A callback to the first movie.)
Yaguchi's team comes up with the idea of freezing Godzilla, and much is made of their selfless teamwork. Godzilla comes ashore, now much bigger than ever. The SDF attacks, with the same amount of success that they always have in these pictures, that is, none.
The USAF is called in. This is really the first of these movies to take note of the fact that US forces are stationed in Japan. A scene with the USN attacking Godzilla was filmed for Mosura tai Gojira (1964), but these were exclusively used in the English language version , Godzilla vs. The Thing. The USAF actually manages to wound Godzilla, but he shoots down a stealth bomber with his fire breath. (He's now using a Heisei Era roar.) The PM is convinced to evacuate, even as Godzilla begins shooting beams out of his dorsal spines - he does a lot of pulling new powers almost literally out of his butt in this - one of which blasts the PM's escape chopper.
Godzilla now goes in to rest mode . This feels a bit Plot Convenience Playhouse to me, but I suppose you could rationalize that he was tired from fighting. A lower-ranking minister - one gets the impression that this was a guy who was too unimportant to be called in to deal with the monster crisis - becomes the new PM. Yaguchi is now a cabinet minister. (apparently he has plans of bieng PM one day. Patterson warns Yaguchi that the US, with UN backing, wants to nuke Godzilla. Various character lament Japan's status as a US vassal state.
The evacuation continues. This is the first G-film to really discuss what the economic impact of of Tokyo being evacuated and destroyed would be for Japan. Yaguchi's team races to complete its freezing plan before the nuke deadline, getting computer help form Germany and getting France to stall the attack to buy them time to complete their plan.
We also learn that Patterson has dreams of being President some day.
Yaguchi's team commences their attack, using bomb trains to distract Godzilla, and waves of US drone strikes to exhaust hi energy weapons. US missile strikes drop building on him, immobilizing him so that ground teams can pump coagulant into Godzilla, freezing him. The nuke is held in abeyance, and our heroes are left wondering what will happen next.
Overall: A pretty good picture. Anno did a good job, injecting new ideas without putting in too much weirdness. As Gojira (1954) was a reaction to the atomic attacks on Japan and the Lucky Dragon #5 incident, this picture was a reaction to the Fukushima disaster, and the Japanese government's perceive mishandled response to it. It's probably the most overtly "political" of the G-films, but not obnoxiously so.