[box cover]

Godzilla 2000

"Get Ready to Crumble!" screams the tagline of Columbia TriStar/Toho Studio's Godzilla 2000, and for once the advertisements tell it like it is. The Godzilla legacy rebounds in a big way with this latest installment, after being butchered beyond recognition with Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's misguided 1998 Hollywood remake starring, of all people, Matthew Broderick (an agreeable enough actor, but casting him as an action hero? Ho boy.) Fortunately, Toho — the studio that originated the Godzilla series and produced 23 of the 24 'Zilla flicks currently in existence (all but the Devlin/Emmerich effort) — opted to go back to basics for 2000, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable tale that will probably be a guilty pleasure for most of its viewers — you may like it, but you won't necessarily want to admit it. Godzilla 2000's appeal admittedly isn't contained in its storyline; Godzilla fans tend to border on obsessive, and it's cute how Toho uses viewer enthusiasm to its advantage — the movie summary on the back of the DVD box, for example, is limited to a single sentence. Why waste words? Toho knows that Godzilla fans couldn't care less about the minuscule plot which ties (however loosely) this story together, and they therefore haven't wasted much time creating one. For readers who actually do care about stuff like narrative structure (and therefore could miss the point of this movie completely), Godzilla 2000 centers around the efforts of a grass-roots Japanese organization called the Godzilla Prevention Network to stop the military from destroying the nation's most famous export. While everyone recognizes the need for The Big G's containment, the GPN want him to be studied, not slain. The military disagrees, and develops new weapons to be used against its perceived foe. Godzilla's chance for redemption comes when an evil, sentient alien spacecraft (don't ask) arrives in Tokyo and announces its presence by causing mass destruction. Godzilla — probably thinking the spaceship is stealing his patented destruction shtick — comes to the rescue. It all results in a fist-fight between the heroic lizard and the villainous spaceship (no, we're not making this up). Okay, Godzilla 2000 doesn't feature exquisite storytelling, memorable performances, or inspirational dialogue, but what it lacks in narrative style it more than makes up for in its amiable silliness. It's impossible not to smile and cheer at the sight of grown men in rubber suits throwing each other around sets made of matchsticks, and you shouldn't try to resist the overwhelming sense of giddiness that's likely to result. And Columbia TriStar's excellent DVD presentation of the film will delight all kaiju (monster movie) fans, too. In addition to an impressive anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and a crystal clear Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the disc contains several minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, an optional French audio track (though no Japanese version is included, surprisingly enough), production notes, talent files (including an entry for the G-guy himself), the excellent theatrical trailer, and — best of all — a fascinating (and often hilarious) audio commentary track with the (uncredited) American writer/director who oversaw the movie's USA release. The only thing missing from the package is a deleted scenes gallery, an omission that's particularly disappointing since many intriguing references are made to this footage in the commentary track. Keep-case.
—Joe Barlow

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