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Movie Review: Godzilla 2000

A lot of the time writing my type of movie reviews is a big pain in the ass. There are many times I don’t even “review” films I’ve seen because I can’t think of a good hook or an interesting tangent to riff on.

But not with GODZILLA 2000!

Damn, what can’t I write about with this movie! I could do a real movie review, maybe compare this flick with the American version of Godzilla that came out a few years ago. Or, I could do a retro-review and talk about VOYAGE INTO SPACE which I saw the other weekend. Or, this is ripe for a great political discourse about two big ugly monsters slugging out while helpless mortals watch from the sidelines (you make the analogy for yourself). Or, I could even talk about fuckhead annoying New Yorkers who have to act like they’re too hip for Godzilla even though they’ve just paid ten bucks to see him.

Well, I know regular Underground Film Journal readers have your own personal favorite types of “mikE movie reviews”, so let’s have some Internet-style fun right here, ok?

For example, if you only enjoy me reaming people out, I’m going to give you a menu below so you can skip to that part and ignore my ramblings on the recent presidential conventions. But if you want a sampler of all my review styles, you can scroll past the menu and read on through. Got it? Here’s the menu:

1) Actual movie review
2) Retro-review featuring VOYAGE INTO SPACE
3) Scathing political commentary
4) mikE gives “hip” New Yorkers the reaming of a lifetime

1) If you didn’t know, GODZILLA 2000 is a continuation of the old school Japanese series of Godzilla movies and has nothing to do with that idiotic American crap that was made a couple years ago. In Japan, they’re still using a guy in a rubber suit stomping toy tanks and little model buildings. And I’ll tell ya it looks a zillion times better than a computer generated monster and NYC.

I’ve never been to Tokyo, so I don’t really know if they’ve built an authentic replication of the city for this movie, but it gave me the impression it was and that’s what’s important. In the American version, there’s a long chase sequence where Godzilla is being chased around generic tall buildings that could have been any city. They should have just shot the entire flick in Vancouver or somewhere. It was almost as convincing a NYC as in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN.

The great thing about the Japanese Godzilla movies, and which is very evident in this flick, is that Godzilla himself is a great character. And, man, is he one pissed off dude. He’s got this perpetual look on his face like a cat that fell into the bathtub. Plus, they photograph him like Stanley Kubrick shot Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING when he goes completely nuts. Head tilted down, mouth partially open, eyes rolling up into the top of his head.

Godzilla also lives his life in an odd contradiction. He’s definitely evil. He comes out of the sea and stomps shit just for the fuck of it. In this flick, he trashes power stations and destroys train yards for the sole purpose to show everyone that he’s one bad mother.

Yet, then, he’s always stuck in the unfortunate position of helping people. I won’t ruin the movie but there’s an evil spaceship also flying around. Well, I guess Godzilla isn’t trying to help humanity, that’s just an unfortunate side affect of him having to prove once again that he’s King of the Monsters. Hey, if it’s anyone’s job to massacre a million Japanese people Godzilla’s going to make sure it’s him and not some lame-dick aliens.

2) When I was a kid my two favorite shows were SIGMUND & THE SEA MONSTERS and SPACE GIANTS. Most everyone seems to know who Sigmund is, but there seems to be lots of people who don’t know of the Space Giants.

Who invented/started the “giant monster” genre? If I am wrong, excuse me, but I tend to think it was the Americans with 1925’s THE LOST WORLD and 1933’s KING KONG. But like lots of American culture (e.g. the car, electronics), the Japanese took a theme and supercharged it and made it their own.

SPACE GIANTS were part of a series of Japanese TV show imports that were sort of the precursor to the Power Rangers. The Space Giants were a family of giant furry aliens that could transform themselves into rocketships (and thus were a precursor to the Transformers, too, I guess). The other shows in the series were GIANT ROBOT and, most familiarly I would assume, ULTRAMAN.

Though I loved SPACE GIANTS the most, GIANT ROBOT was good, too. It was about a little kid who, when necessary, could talk into his watch and summon a giant flying robot to beat the crap out of giant monsters. My memory is a bit hazy on the subject of GIANT ROBOT, like why a little kid controlled a robot owned by a secret government agency, but I could always swear that this show was called GIANT ROBOT.

However, the other weekend at the Anthology Film Archives here in NYC, they showed a movie called VOYAGE INTO SPACE, which turned out to be a compilation of a couple episodes of GIANT ROBOT. However, doing research on the Internet, the only references I can find to the show I enjoyed as a kid calls it JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT. Which is appropriate because the kid in the show/movie is named Johnny Sokko and the giant robot does fly. But I swear to god the name of the show I watched was called GIANT ROBOT. What’s up with that?

Well, the obnoxious and unnecessary Republican and Democrat presidential conventions are now over. I skipped most of them, but I did force myself to watch Bush and Gore’s acceptance speeches (THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEECHES OF THEIR LIVES, as I was reminded by the media endlessly). I was disappointed I didn’t get to see such pretentious pomp and circumstance given to the best candidate this year: the Green Party’s Ralph Nader.

The day after the Bush speech we were discussing politics at lunch at work. Non-radical liberals seem interested in Nader and they like the idea of a third party, but mostly they’re afraid that, as the rhetoric teaches them, that a vote for Nader is a stolen vote from Gore and thus a step towards a Bush victory.

This is not to say that all Democrats are disillusioned by a Gore/Lieberman ticket. One of my co-workers wants to join a student volunteer pro-Gore organization (she’s going back to school). But what I find sad are the Democrats (whether they are actual Democrats or just “liberals”) forced into a mindset that they have to vote for Gore because they HAVE to so Bush doesn’t win. Shouldn’t voting be about choosing somebody you believe in and just not making sure somebody else doesn’t win? I have even spoken to die-hard Republicans who are either disgusted by or indifferent to Bush/Cheney, but have to vote for them so that Gore doesn’t win.

I am a registered Green voter and I know not all Greens will agree with me, but I will scream from every rooftop that I FUCKING BELIEVE IN RALPH NADER!! Do I think he’s going to be the savior of the free world? No. Do I think he’s a perfect human being? No. But he is to me the best guy running who will fight for or will at least bring attention in the national discourse the things I believe in. He’s not perfect, but I think he’d make a damn good president.

But, instead, as I will relate this to Godzilla, during the rest of the campaign trail most people are going to be captivated in watching two giant monsters slugging it out instead of making a choice they believe in. As I was told by another co-worker in regards to the Democratic Party (paraphrased): “It’s a big machine and there’s nothing we can do about it.” But if one of those two yahoos wins, it’s like the ending to any Godzilla movie. The “bad” monster gets killed, but Tokyo still gets destroyed in the process.

NYC is, hands down, my favorite place I’ve ever lived. Yes, I have trapped myself in my apartment on a beautiful summer day to work on this masterpiece of a review, but I generally keep myself busy going out and enjoying this grand city. Particularly, I am living in movie hog heaven here.

In the past couple weeks, I have seen classic new wave French cinema, classic Japanese giant monsters, art house flicks, underground video, mainstream Hollywood fare and work by emerging new filmmakers. I don’t know if there’s anywhere else I can enjoy such a smorgasbord of cinema, but I am happier than a pig in shit in NYC.

Seeing so many different types of movies also means I have sat with so many different types of film audiences. I’ll go sit through just about anything and even with movies I think I’m going to hate I try to keep an open mind and give each movie a chance to stand on its own. Even with the worst piece of imaginable drek, I attempt to try to find something enjoyable about it. I don’t want to sound full of myself, but I think in this regard I am relatively unique. Most people don’t seem to have this attitude I have. Instead, they just like to flaunt their “attitude”.

There’s a certain breed of New Yorker that revels in it, too, and must prove to the entire world how “hip” they are. Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck in audiences with these types a lot lately for some reason, a good example being the two fuckheads who sat in front of me at GODZILLA 2000. Though here they were watching a trashy giant monster movie, they had to make sure everyone knew how far above this type of entertainment they are. Yes, why certainly they understand the camp value of a Godzilla movie, don’t you?

Why go see a movie just to make fun of it? Oh, they had a good ol’ time, pokin’ each other and cracking up every time Godzilla came onscreen, hootin’ at inappropriate times during the movie. I’m not going to say GODZILLA 2000 is serious entertainment and that it wasn’t goofy for the most part. However, GODZILLA 2000 is a really fun movie to watch. Yes, the dubbing sucks. Yes, the tanks still look like toys. Yes, Godzilla still looks like a guy in a rubber suit. But to the shitheads who sat in front of me: You are not “cool” because you can make fun of these things. Yer just asswipes, and not to mention inconsiderate and rude. Next time, do me a favor and stay the fuck home.