Godzilla 2000: Millennium (ゴジラ2000 ミレニアム?) is a Gojira Nisen: Mireniamu1999 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the twenty-third installment in the Godzilla series, as well as the first in the Millennium series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 11, 1999, and to American theaters on August 18, 2000.
Godzilla is a literal force of nature to Japan. Yuji Shinoda founded the Godzilla Prediction Network (GPN) in order to predict Godzilla's landfalls and track his movements, all the while attempting to study and preserve him. One night, Shinoda and his daughter Io are tracking Godzilla near Nemuro, and are joined by reporter Yuki Ichinose, who is trying to get photographs of Godzilla for her newspaper. While the three are in their van, they receive notice that Godzilla has come ashore nearby. Shinoda drives towards Godzilla's location, but after reaching the end of a tunnel, he finds that the road is gone. Shinoda shines the van's lights up, revealing Godzilla looking down at the van. Yuki begins taking photographs, enraging Godzilla, who roars at the van, shattering the windshield. Shinoda turns the van around and drives back through the tunnel, with Godzilla chasing. After escaping the tunnel, Shinoda watches Godzilla walk towards the heart of the city. Godzilla arrives in Nemuro and destroys the city's electrical plant, to which Shinoda remarks that it's like Godzilla is trying to destroy mankind's energy sources.
Meanwhile, Mitsuo Katagiri, head of the government agency Crisis Control Intelligence (CCI), is informed by his subordinate Shiro Miyasaka that a huge ancient rock formation has been discovered in the waters off Japan. Katagiri orders that the rock be brought to the surface, so CCI ties balloons to the rock. Suddenly, the rock begins to ascend on its own, surfacing in between several CCI ships. Scans of the rock reveal that it is surprisingly hollow, and at least several million years old. Back on the mainland, Shinoda is informed by a source that Godzilla is heading towards Tokai, likely to feed on the nuclear reactors at the power plant. Katagiri learns of this and orders all reactors at the plant to be shut down, and mobilizes the J.S.D.F.'s forces to the area. The J.S.D.F. has recently developed a new anti-Godzilla weapon, the Full Metal Missile Launcher. The missiles launched by this are supposedly strong enough to penetrate Godzilla's hide and seriously injure him. Shinoda travels to Tokai and confronts Katagiri, angry that he is so fixated on killing Godzilla rather than preserving and studying him. Katagiri mocks Shinoda, stating that GPN will soon be history, then leaves. The next morning, the J.S.D.F.'s forces are lined up on the beaches at Tokai, anticipating Godzilla's arrival. Soon, Godzilla's dorsal plates break the water's surface and he emerges from the depths. Multiple fighter jets open fire on Godzilla, but he doesn't seem to notice them and continues wading to the shore. Godzilla makes landfall and is fired upon by tanks, which are forced to pull back when they fail to halt Godzilla. As Godzilla reaches further inland, the Full Metal Missile Launchers open fire on him. This time, Godzilla is visibly injured by the missiles, with chunks of his flesh flying off from the blasts. While Godzilla is blasted by the missiles, the giant rock suddenly takes flight and flies to Tokai, where it confronts Godzilla. Godzilla blasts the rock with his atomic breath, but it retaliates with a powerful laser cannon fired from a hole on its side. Godzilla and the rock exchange more blasts until Godzilla is knocked into the ocean and disappears. The rock flies away and eventually lands, with CCI quickly setting up a perimeter around it and tying it down with steel cables.
At the site of Godzilla's battle with the J.S.D.F., Shinoda recovers several pieces of Godzilla's flesh that were blasted off by the Full Metal Missiles. Shinoda intends to study these skin samples, but needs access to the proper equipment. Reluctantly, Shinoda approaches CCI for permission to use their equipment. Katagiri agrees, so long as Shinoda abides by all of CCI's rules and shares any information he learns. Shinoda works with Miyasaka, who was a former friend of his in college, to observe Godzilla's cells. The two discover that the skin samples have fully regenerated all of the damage sustained earlier with no scar tissue. Using the electron microscope, Shinoda and Miyasaka discover that a substance in Godzilla's cells, which Shinoda names "Organizer G1," allows Godzilla to almost instantly heal from any damage he sustains, rendering him practically immortal. Meanwhile, scans of the giant rock have revealed that it is actually an advanced alien spacecraft, that had been dormant underwater for eons before being activated by a submarine's lights. The occupants of the craft seem to have been converted into formless quantum fluid, and there has been no success communicating with them. Suddenly, the UFO begins to stir, and the cables restraining it come loose. The UFO then takes off again, heading straight for Tokyo.
CCI deploys choppers to shoot down the UFO, but the UFO uses a powerful shockwave to destroy its pursuers. The UFO reaches Shinjuku and lands on top of the City Tower. Gradually, it is discovered that the UFO is using the tower's computer systems to hack into all of Tokyo's computers and steal their data. Katagiri orders that the ship be destroyed by planting and detonating Blast Bombs on the tower's top floor. The charges are placed, and by nightfall are to be detonated. Yuki Ichinose, unaware of the impending detonation, goes to the tower and uses the computers to try and find out what the aliens are after. Shinoda and Io arrive to get Yuki out of the building, while Shinoda volunteers to stay behind and finish downloading the aliens' activity. Yuki and Io reluctantly leave and ask the nearby soldiers to delay the blast. The soldiers report to Katagiri, who coldly tells them to proceed as planned. Just before the detonation, Shinoda sees the word "MILLENNIUM" displayed on all the computer screens. Katagiri presses the detonator despite Miyasaka's pleas not to, and the Blast Bombs explode. The UFO is not damaged by the explosion, and retaliates by releasing a shockwave that demolishes the rest of the tower. Shinoda survives by sliding down an elevator shaft, and reunites with Io. Shinoda, Io, and Yuki reach the rooftop where Katagiri is, where Miyasaka runs to embrace him. Shinoda tells Katagiri "Nice try, asshole," then shares the data he retrieved. He reveals that the aliens are trying to find an ideal genetic host to allow them to take a new powerful form and adapt to Earth's atmosphere, and that they have determined Godzilla to be this ideal host. Soon, the aliens broadcast a message across all electronic devices, stating that they intend to conquer the Earth and start a "thousand-year empire."
Just then, Godzilla emerges from Tokyo Bay and comes ashore, intent on getting revenge on the UFO. The UFO creates tentacles that erupt from the street and attack Godzilla, but he destroys them with his atomic breath. The UFO attempts to ram Godzilla and knock him down, but he continues to fight. Finally, the UFO uses a shockwave to collapse a skyscraper onto Godzilla, burying him under rubble. While Godzilla is incapacitated, the UFO absorbs his DNA, transferring it to its occupants. After absorbing Godzilla's DNA, the UFO's occupants take a single collective form and emerge from the ship. The Millennian roars as it adjusts to the surface, but suddenly begins to convulse. The Millennian begins to sprout growths all over its body, the slumps over, mutating rapidly. Godzilla erupts from the rubble and blasts the unmanned UFO with his atomic breath, blasting it in half. As Godzilla stares at the UFO's burning wreckage, he is shocked to see something emerge from behind it: Orga, the result of Godzilla's DNA corrupting and mutating the Millennian. Orga looks at itself, trying to understand what it has become, but is attacked by Godzilla. Godzilla and Orga exchange blows, but every bit of damage Godzilla inflicts is regenerated instantly by Orga. Godzilla charges his atomic breath, but Orga telepathically summons the remains of the UFO to take the blast, destroying it. Godzilla blasts the unprotected Orga with a powerful blast of atomic breath, causing it to erupt in flames. As Godzilla stares into the inferno, he is shocked to see Orga emerge from the fire. As Orga approaches Godzilla, its gruesome injuries are regenerated right before his eyes. Orga bites Godzilla on the arm, draining more of his genetic material. As Orga absorbs more of Godzilla's DNA, it begins taking on more of his characteristics, like green scaly skin. Godzilla begins to understand what Orga is trying to do, and when Orga unhinges its jaw, Godzilla runs headfirst into the beast's maw. As Orga swallows Godzilla whole, it begins to grow in size and sprout huge purple spikes on its back. Suddenly, Godzilla begins to glow hot orange, releasing huge amounts of heat. When Orga realizes this, it's too late, as Godzilla unleashes a huge atomic shockwave that destroys Orga's entire upper body in a fiery explosion. After the explosion, Godzilla stands up and roars at Orga's headless corpse, which falls to the ground and crumbles into dust.
Godzilla approaches the rooftop, causing everyone except Katagiri to run inside. Katagiri just stares at Godzilla, and punches Shinoda when he tries to take him to safety. Katagiri lights a cigarette and remarks that he has never seen Godzilla this close before. Godzilla scowls down at Katagiri and places his hand on the roof. Katagiri then shouts Godzilla's name, to which Godzilla responds by destroying the rooftop and sending Katagiri falling to his doom. Godzilla turns away and walks back to the heart of the city, where he begins rampaging. As the others look on and ponder Godzilla's relationship with humanity, Yuki asks why Godzilla keeps protecting them. Shinoda simply responds, "Maybe it's because... Godzilla is inside each one of us!" as Godzilla unleashes his atomic breath in a destructive swath across the city.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Takao Okawara
- Written by Hiroshi Kashiwabara, Wataru Mimura
- Produced by Toshihiro Ogawa, Shogo Tomiyama
- Music by Takayuki Hattori
- Stock Music by Takayuki Hattori
- Cinematography by Katsuhiro Kato
- Edited by Yoshiyuki Okuhara
- Production Design by Takeshi Shimizu
- Assistant Directing by Toshimasa Miyamura
- Special Effects by Kenji Suzuki
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Takehiro Murata as Yuji Shinoda
- Hiroshi Abe as Head of CCI Mitsuo Katagiri
- Naomi Nishida as Photographer Yuki Ichinose
- Mayu Suzuki as Io Shinoda
- Shiro Sano as Professor Shiro Miyasaka
- Sakae Kimura as Captain Okawa
- Koichi Ueda as Tokai Nuclear Power Plant Director
- Misaki Yoshikawa as CCI Staff
- Yuki Tanaka as CCI Staff
- Yoshiyuki Omori as CCI Staff
- Daisuke Honda as GPN Staff Kimua
- Atsuko Kohata as Reporter
- Shelley Sweeney as Reporter
- Yoshimasa Kondo as Lighthouse Staff
- Masahiko Nishimura as Tank Corps Officer
- Denden as Fisherman
- Kentaro Sakai as CCI Executive
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
TriStar Pictures, who had also distributed every Heisei film in the U.S. starting with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, picked up Godzilla 2000 for theatrical distribution in North America. Mike Schlesinger, who supervised the North American release, said, "It [Godzilla 2000] was such a spectacular success in Japan, we decided it was worth taking a shot, maybe the time was right for Godzilla to come back to theaters." Sony spent approximately $1 million to re-edit and dub the movie, and an additional $10-12 million to market. The edited film was released to American theaters on August 17, 2000.
Unlike in the past, TriStar chose to not simply distribute Toho's international cut of the film, but create their own version, a process that had not been done since New World released The Return of Godzilla in the U.S. as Godzilla 1985. According to Mike Schlesinger, TriStar was provided with the international cut of the film containing Omni Productions' English dub, but he felt it was so bad it was unusable. As a result, Godzilla 2000 was edited in the process of Americanization. The U.S. version of the film runs 99 minutes; 8 minutes shorter than the Japanese version. Most of these were minor edits done to improve the pacing, and the sound effects and music were also improved and enhanced. The new dub track has a somewhat humorous, tongue-in-cheek tone to it, apparently in homage to Godzilla dubs of the 60's and 70's, with lines such as "Great Caesar's Ghost!", "Bite me!" and "these missiles will go through Godzilla like crap through a goose!". Some fans have criticized the American version of Godzilla 2000 for "camping up" what they perceive as a "serious" movie; however, Toho and Takao Okawara approved all the changes to the film in advance, and various amusing events throughout the story, such as people comically surviving Godzilla's rampage early in the film, make it evident that it wasn't meant to be taken too seriously. The U.S. cut of the film was given a one-week limited theatrical release in Japan with Japanese subtitles starting on November 11, 2000.
Among the other alterations:
- J. Peter Robinson was brought in to compose new music for the U.S. cut of the film. These new compositions are most prominent during the scene where Godzilla comes ashore at Tokai and Godzilla's battle with Orga.
- Shortened: the scene where Yuki seeks membership for the Godzilla Prediction Network.
- Added: A few more traditional Akira Ifukube themes. Some of Robinson's new compositions incorporate Akira Ifukube's Godzilla theme.
- Shortened: Godzilla's destruction of Tokai.
- Various new sound effects were added.
- Some of the American Godzilla's roars from the 1998 film were given to Godzilla.
- Orga was given more of a low-pitched groaning roar, whereas in the original cut it was a higher stock roar, originally used for Cretaceous King Ghidorah in Rebirth of Mothra III. The translation team changed "Organizer G1" to "Regenerator G1," on the basis that the word "Organizer" made no sense within the context it was being used.
- The humming sound produced by the Millennian UFO is replaced with a higher-pitched droning sound.
- The final battle between Godzilla and Orga features new sound effects aside from roars, most notably when the monsters make contact with each other.
- Shortened: The scene where a bewildered taxi driver sees the UFO.
- Deleted: Before escaping the building where the aliens are draining the information (just before the building is detonated), Shinoda sees the word "Millennium" on all the computer screens.
- Re-arranged: The scene where Shinoda goes down the elevator shaft while the building explodes.
Unlike in many past instances of Americanization of Godzilla films, the changes made to the U.S. version of Godzilla 2000 are generally well-received by fans. The new music and sound effects have been widely praised, and the dubbing has been viewed as a step up from Omni Productions' infamous English dubs. Toho and Takao Okawara were reportedly impressed by TriStar's edit of the film, and Toho even gave it a limited theatrical run in Japan, similar to what was done with Godzilla, King of the Monsters! in Japan in 1957.
Godzilla 2000: Millennium had a budget of ¥1,000,000,000, or roughly $8,300,000. When the film was released on December 11, 1999 in Japan, it sold 2,000,000 tickets and earned ¥1,650,000,000, or $15,000,000.
The American version, Godzilla 2000, had a budget of $1,000,000. When it was released to 2,111 select theaters on August 18th, 2000, it made $4,407,720 on it opening weekend and went on to make $10,037,390 total.
The North American release of Godzilla 2000 met with mixed to positive critical reaction.
Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle said the film "taps into a now-rare and innocent sense of wonder," and that "its action scenes are well-conceived." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" grade, saying that Godzilla 2000 "lands on an imaginative fault line somewhere between tackiness and awe." Jay Carr of the Boston Globe called Godzilla 2000 "a ton of fun, and then some." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post said "it's great to have the big guy back." James Berardinelli of ReelViews said the film "uses the Godzilla formula effectively" and "represents solid, campy, escapist entertainment." Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide praised the film, saying that "fans won't want to miss this addition to the canon."
Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today said Godzilla 2000 "may be dull, but the familiarity of it all makes it feel ceremonial, a reassuring ritual." David Edelstein of Slate said that he "periodically tranced out," but added that "it's fun to see" and "it still manages to dispel some of the lingering stink of Roland Emmerich's 1998 remake." Stephen Holden of the New York Times wasn't impressed, saying that "only a die-hard fan of the long-running Japanese Godzilla series could love Godzilla 2000." Similarly, Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post remarked, "Godzilla, go home."
Among kaiju-related websites, Stomp Tokyo said "there are some pretty impressive special effects," and concluded that "Godzilla 2000 delivers fairly well, if not spectacularly." Toho Kingdom criticized the Japanese version, saying "it's not hard to see why Godzilla 2000 was poorly received in Japan," but added that "the US version ... is infinitely better than its poorly paced Japanese counterpart. In all, the US version makes numerous badly needed cuts from the film to tighten it up."
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