A mobile unit of the Godzilla Prediction Network tracks the Big G when he begins targeting man-made energy sources. At the same time, the authorities raise a meteorite from the ocean floor in the hope of using it as an alternative power source. But the rock isn’t quite what they expected.
First movie in the ‘Millennium’ cycle of Toho studio’s Godzilla movies. This was the third series of films, and everyone’s favourite giant lizard was looking none the worse for wear after apparently bitting the big one in the volcano finale of ‘Godzilla Vs. Destroyah’ (1995).
This isn’t an origin story for the new century as our scaly hero is already an established character at the start of the film, with the Prediction Network already in operation (I wonder if they have any vacancies at the moment?) Our scaly hero wanders about a bit causing the usual devastation as our makeshift family unit (serous scientist, his know it all kid, bitchy female journo in search of a scoop) chase around after him for various professional reasons. There is a pleasing reliance on practical SFX here and the Big G himself is looking pretty fine and a sequence involving the destruction of a mountain road tunnel is especially good.
It’s with the other half of the story that things go a little awry. Scientists and government types are lifting this strange meteor out of the ocean, little realising that in fact it’s a hibernating alien spacecraft. And its occupants are hungry for energy. Things go pear shaped rather sharpish, and the alien takes up residence on the top of a skyscraper in downtown Tokyo, and begins infiltrating the city’s computer systems. Unfortunately, the CGI here is pretty ropey at best, and the fact that there was some US money pumped into the production doesn’t seem to have helped. The final face-off is therefore a little disappointing, although uou can’t deny that it’s good to see the Big G kicking alien butt old school again.
Elsewhere the dynamics of our heroic trio have evolved exactly as expected, although, as compensation, Hiroshi Abe makes a good, corporate villain and the resolution of his role is well handled. The Big G unleashes some completely unnecessary nuclear halitosis on downtown Tokyo late on, but he was probably fed up with the stoopid hoomans who tried to dust him with missiles earlier. What;s more surprising is that those uppity aliens thought they could play tag with the Big G in the first place. Idiots.
There’s some good Godzilla sequences in this picture and the story is pacey and has plenty of action. Unfortunately, it’s just not very original, and therefore this entry in the series is simply not very memorable. The DVD edition I have has an interesting commentary track by the filmmakers who cut and dubbed the film for U.S. release. Their comments provide a fascinating insight into the processes involved, the changes they made, and the reasons for them. The generally accepted view is that the American version is actually better than the original Japanese release, with much tighter editing that quickens the pace whilst retaining all the elements of the story. Having said that, subsequent Godzilla films from Japan were not released to theatres stateside.
Not the Big G at his best, but still quite a lot of fun. There is a piece of Godzilla in all of us, my friends.