So I know that I am horribly late to the party when it comes to these films but as far as I’m aware they weren’t discussed on the board so I feel okay starting a new topic. I’m not sure what made me decide to watch the films. I was just browsing the sci-fi section at Hastings and they had quite a few Godzilla movies and I liked the cover to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and decided to give the films a try. I’ve never been a big Godzilla fan. I’ve seen the original film and the American remake, as well as the American cartoon series, and that’s about it. So I was pretty much a newbie as I started watching the Millennium films. I knew that each one was a self-contained story(apart from the Mechagodzilla films)so it didn’t matter too much which order I watched them in. So I’ll review them in the order that I watched them.
I will admit that I haven’t watched Godzilla 2000 yet. The only reason being is that the Japanese language track isn’t on there so I can either have English or French dubbed and I hate dubbed movies. I’d rather hear the original language and read sub-titles. I will probably buy this movie and suck it up because I want to own all of the Millennium films and who knows? Maybe the dubbing won’t be that bad. And I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to it as the movie plays.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was the first movie I watched. Overall, I liked it. Mechagodzilla, or Kiryu as they call it in the film, is a great kaiju and his battles against Godzilla were amazing. Honestly, if they had gotten rid of the scientist and his daughter and focused more on Akane I would have liked this film a lot more. But those two characters don’t drag it down too much.
I thought this was a good first film to start with. Godzilla attacked and was subsequently killed back in 1954. Japan has been attacked by other large monsters since then and has developed means to combat them. Then another Godzilla shows up and stomps around Japan, forcing the Japanese government to take drastic measures. Those measures being using the bones of the original Godzilla to create Mechagodzilla.
The movie wasted no time in having Godzilla show up, which was fine with me. I was ready to see the big guy start smashing stuff up. His introduction was pretty cool, coming up in a giant wave behind a reporter in the middle of a hurricane. Godzilla has arrived.
Like I said above, the scientist and his daughter annoyed me to no end. The daughter was just too cute for her own good, and the scientist was a little stalker-ish with how he kept trying to date Akane even though she’s half his age. If those two characters had been dropped I would have been a happy camper.
Luckily I liked Akane. She’s a damaged character who got several soldiers killed when Godzilla first showed up and hasn’t gotten over the event. It doesn’t help that the brother of one of the soldiers who was killed is part of the Mechagodzilla team and makes her life a living hell.
I also liked that Mechagodzilla still retained the essence of Godzilla and went berserk when it heard the current Godzilla roar. It made Mechagodzilla more than just a giant remote controlled robot. It gave the character some pathos.
All in all, I liked this movie. Annoying characters aside, it was fun and had some great action in it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get past the fact that these were guys in suits stomping around model cities but after a while I just accepted it and went along for the ride. It helps that I’ve been seeing a steady diet of guys in suits destroying cities watching Power Rangers my whole life.
I next watched Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. It’s a direct follow-up to Mechagodzilla even though it gets rid of pretty much the entire cast from the last movie. I’m not going to complain that the scientist and his daughter are gone from the movie, though. In their place is Yoshito, a technician who works on Mechagodzilla, his grandfather Shinichi who apparently was in the original Mothra film, and Yoshito’s nephew Shun who is nowhere near as annoying as the girl in the last movie. There are also a couple of new Mechagodzilla pilots but they don’t add much to the film, IMO. Also, Mothra makes an appearance. This had me excited because I knew that Mothra was a frequent star in the Godzilla films as well as appearing in her own films.
The film begins a little while after the battle between Mechagodzilla and Godzilla in the last film. Mechagodzilla is being repaired and the pilots are being sent to the U.S. to get more training (because it makes sense to send Mechagodzilla pilots to America where Mechagodzilla isn’t) and new pilots are being brought in. I really don’t get why they felt the need to replace the pilots, especially Akane who had developed a bond with Mechagodzilla. They still could have focused on Yoshito and just had her in the background.
Anyways, Mothra and her fairies come to warn Yoshito and his family that Mechagodzilla must be laid back to rest in the ocean. If they don’t, Mothra will attack Japan. But if they do, Mothra will protect Japan from any future attacks. Shinichi warns the prime minister who feels that they can’t rely on a giant moth. Can’t exactly argue with him there. Of course Godzilla eventually makes himself known and attacks the city. Shun calls on Mothra who comes to their aid and does kinda badly. I like Mothra. I really do. She’s a cool kaiju. But a giant flying moth against Godzilla isn’t much of a contest.
Mechagodzilla goes into battle and aids Mothra. Mothra eventually bites it but Mothra’s egg hatches and two Mothra larvae head to Japan to help their momma. Mechagodzilla gets injured and Yoshito is the only one close enough to go repair the giant robot and get it back in the fight. Eventually, he realizes that Mothra was right and all Mechagodzilla wants to do is head back into the ocean depths, but it is willing to take the new Godzilla with it.
I like this film more than the previous one. The annoying characters are gone and the new characters are more interesting. The fights were also better simply because Mothra and her larvae were battling with Godzilla so it changed things up. I liked the ending as well with Mechagodzilla diving into the depths with Godzilla in its embrace. Taken together, the two Mechagodzilla movies were a lot of fun and I am glad that I chose to watch those two first. I am officially in love with Mechagodzilla now.
Next I watched Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack which I’m going to abbreviate GMK because I am not writing that title out again. I was glad to see that this film had King Ghidorah in it because he’s basically Godzilla’s Luthor or Joker, or so it seems. So I was ready to see these two slug it out.
What I was not ready for was this film. Wowza. I was expecting another campy, silly, fun Godzilla movie like the last two. Instead what I got was a serious take on Godzilla and an excellent movie and probably my favorite out of the bunch.
Godzilla in this movie doesn’t mess around. Even though Godzilla stomped around in the last two films I never got the feeling that he was evil. Here, however, Godzilla was a force of nature and pretty scary. It helped that the film slowly built up to Godzilla and only gave us glimpses for the first thirty or so minutes. The when Godzilla does show up he gets right down to business and lays waste to everything around him. Even his atomic breath is treated as a serious weapon here with tremendous destructive capability. I love the look of this Godzilla too (minus the beer belly). It looks evil.
The characters are a lot better too. Yuri and her father Taizo really carry the movie and do it well. While I liked the characters in the last two films, here I really cared for these two and didn’t want anything bad to happen to them.
It was a little disconcerting to see the Mothra in this film after watching Tokyo: S.O.S. This Mothra is fine with collateral damage and doesn’t come equipped with fairies (though female twins do make a cameo appearance). Plus this Mothra doesn’t have gold dust, but instead fires thousands of stingers. I think the stingers do more damage, honestly. Still, I kind of missed the fairies and the singing and the larvae.
I was surprised to see Baragon show up since he isn’t in the title but that’s okay. I liked this spunky little kaiju that had no chance whatsoever of stopping Godzilla. At least it tried, and gave us a pretty cool fight scene.
I will admit to being a little disappointed with King Ghidorah. I didn’t mind him being one of the good guys, but he did seem under-powered in the movie. He doesn’t even get his wings until Mothra dies and uses her life force on him. I can’t complain too much because that final battle with Godzilla is pretty epic. You will believe that two men in rubber costumes can fight each other.
The change to Godzilla’s origin was surprising. Here he is the vengeance of all the people who died at Japanese hands during the war in the Pacific. It works in the context of the movie and explains why Godzilla is hell-bent on destroying Japan.
Oh, how funny was it that they reference the American Godzilla in this movie? I know it was just to take a dig and say that the Godzilla in that movie wasn’t the real deal, but now you could technically watch the original Godzilla movie, the American Godzilla, and then GMK since they apparently all exist in the same universe. Not thinking ahead were they?
I can’t praise this movie enough. It wasn’t what I expected at all and I loved every minute of it. This is the movie I would show people who think the Godzilla films are cheesy and just for kids. In fact, I will probably force my friends to watch this one since they think Godzilla films are pretty stupid.
So, I go from a great film in GMK to Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus. Suffice it to say, it’s a downward transition. Honestly, the movie starts out pretty well. I loved the opening scene of Godzilla in black and white attacking Tokyo. The film’s alternate history is pretty interesting, what with periodic Godzilla attacks forcing Japan to move their capital and getting rid of nuclear energy. Then the bazooka attack on Godzilla was a terrific sequence. Kiriko is a good protagonist though she reminded me of Akane. I like the G-Graspers and their organization. The Dimension Tide is a cool weapon and a nifty way to get rid of Godzilla. There are no really annoying characters to be found.
And yet, most of the movie is a bore. I like the idea of a legion of deadly mutated bugs attacking and one of them being a giant deadly mutated bug that attacks Godzilla to steal his nuclear energy. Yet the smaller bugs don’t really do anything. Even when the military attack them they just fly off. And seeing Godzilla being attacked by a swarm of really fake looking CGI bugs and a few puppets does not an interesting scene make. I was hoping that the showdown between Godzilla and Megaguirus would spice things up but honestly it wasn’t great. It had its moments, like when Megaguirus dropped that pyramid thing on Godzilla’s head.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on it simply because I watched GMK before and was comparing the two. Or maybe this was just kind of a dull movie. I don’t know. But this is probably my least favorite of the Millennium films.
Oh, and does every Godzilla film have to have one character go on a suicidal mission to stop Godzilla? Does Toho make that a requirement for every script? Inquiring minds want to know.
So last is Godzilla: Final Wars. This is the one I was most excited about because of the sheer number of monsters appearing. So far I had only seen Mechagodzilla, Mothra and her kids, Baragon, and King Ghidorah. I was ready to see a ton more monsters, and the movie delivers in that regard. I had an absolute blast with this film and its sheer insanity. Sure, it rips off a ton of movies and the monster battles are rushed but that didn’t really bother me.
I like the universe this film set up. Nations create the Earth Defense Force to combat giant monsters and give it a lot of cool tech like flying ships. There are also mutants now who have superhuman strength and work for the E.D.F. I just like the concept of everything. I wish all of this had been set up in a previous film so we could have spent more time with these characters.
When the monsters appear en masse and just start destroying everything in sight I was in awe. It was wonderful. And who would have guessed that the American Godzilla(referred to as Zilla)would make an appearance? These scenes were great. Finally giant monsters attack the rest of the globe and not just Japan. I loved seeing Ozaki, Kazama, and the rest of the mutants take on Ebirah and almost kill it before the Xiliens arrive. I wish that that sequence would have gone on longer.
I didn’t even mind that Godzilla had so far only appeared in a few minutes of the film. I loved everything else the movie was throwing my way. I won’t lie though. I was ready for the King of All Monsters to get pulled out of the ice and start laying waste to everything around him. And when he does it is glorious. Yes, most fights aren’t long at all but that’s okay. The few fights that do last longer are worth it. Godzilla versus Anguirus, King Caesar, and Rodan was terrific. Oh, and I laughed when Godzilla defeated Zilla in about ten seconds. While I certainly understand that Zilla is no match for Godzilla I was hoping for a longer fight between the two of them. But I’m sure most fans cheered when Zilla was dispatched so easily.
Really though, the main fight was what made the movie. Godzilla vs. Monster X(who becomes King Ghidorah), as well as Gigan and Mothra thrown into the mix? Oh hell yes. Gigan was a great looking monster and I was sad that he seemed to meet an untimely death so when he reappeared for the final battle I was happy. I was even happier when Monster X became a giant Ghidorah that kicked Godzilla’s butt all over the place. This is the King Ghidorah I had expected to see in GMK. A towering beast that was pure evil.
The human drama was just as interesting to me. Ozaki may be a Japanese Neo, but I’m fine with that. He was a good protagonist. While the actor playing Captain Gordon shouldn’t give up his day job, I couldn’t help but like the big guy. I’ll also ignore the fact that he was speaking English while everyone else was speaking Japanese and everyone seemed fine with that. It was also strange that Kazama would speak English with what to me sounded like an American accent every now and then as well. Oh, and he keeps the tradition of a suicidal attempt alive. I will give them points in that this case he was trying to stop the Xiliens and not Godzilla.
The Xiliens were definitely out there villains. They looked like a cheap Matrix knock-off and the Xilien Kaizer was a brat but I liked them. They fit the movie perfectly.
While I have no clue exactly where Baby Godzilla came from and why it doesn’t share daddy’s rage issues, I didn’t mind it showing up at the end to convince Godzilla to give peace a chance. I had been wondering why the movie kept showing us Baby Godzilla riding around with the kid and his grandfather so I was just glad to see that it did indeed have to do something with the overall plot. Maybe it’s a schmaltzy ending, but I think it works. Godzilla did basically save what was left of humanity and since this was the big celebration of his 50th anniversary they couldn’t kill him off. So Godzilla letting go of his anger and riding off into the sunset with his kid was a good send-off.
I will say that I do wish that each movie hadn’t been a stand-alone film. If they had built to Final Wars it would have made everything that much grander and maybe Final Wars wouldn’t have been so rushed. But I can’t argue that the reboot allowed them to vary things up with each film and allowed them to try different things. I wouldn’t trade GMK for anything and it would be hard to do other films after having Godzilla be so completely evil.
So now, aside from Godzilla 2000, I’m done with the Millennium films. All in all, I enjoyed them a lot. They definitely made me a Godzilla fan. GMK is the best of the lot, IMO. My favorite anyway. I think Final Wars takes the next spot, followed by Tokyo S.O.S. and then Against Mechagodzilla and ending with Vs. Megaguirus. But I had fun watching all of them and will probably re-watch them a lot.
Next I think I’ll tackle the Heisei era Godzilla films. Or try to anyways. I’m not sure if they are all even on DVD. I know Godzilla Vs. Biollante is as well as Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2 since I saw them at the store when I was buying the others. Hopefully they all are since from what I’ve read it seems like those films have a loose continuity between them.
I’ve also discovered that the director of GMK, Shusuke Kaneko, directed three Gamera films in the 90s that are apparently considered some of the best kaiju films around. So I went ahead and ordered the Blu-Ray trilogy and that should arrive any day now hopefully. Consider me a kaiju fan now.