MovieBob - IntermissionMovieBob Reviews All 29 Previous Godzilla Movies (Part 2)MovieBob - Intermission - RSS 2.0
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Godzilla battles giant dragonflies and black holes in the underwhelming (unconnected) follow-up to 2000. The "Millennium" relaunch was a swing and a miss with both Japanese and international audiences (both movies are sort of drab), prompting Toho to go in a radical new direction next time out...
GMK: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
While Godzilla had spent the 90s and early-00s mired in uneven films, Japan's other famous kaiju - Gamera the jet-propelled turtle - had been revived in a trilogy of celebrated features by director Shuseke Kaneko, who found a winning formula mixing high-end suitmation FX with bizarre metaphysical storylines influenced by anime/manga phenoms like Evangelion. Toho asked him to bring that same sensibility to an entirely new-canon, standalone Godzilla entry... and this was the result.
The atom-age paranoia is gone, replaced with Shinto-influenced mysticism, a total-upending of the franchise's conventional good/evil divide and an incendiary (for mainstream Japanese cinema) political edge: Godzilla isn't merely a mutant, he's an instrument of revenge against Japan by the collective unrestful-souls of all soldiers killed in WWII's Pacific Theater. Opposing him are the mystic Guardian Monsters of Old Japan: Baragon, Mothra and (a heroic!) King Ghidorah. You've got to try hard to make the weirdest Godzilla ever, but Kaneko got there.
Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
This was the first of two installments centered on a new MechaGodzilla (built from the bones of the 1954 Godzilla) that attempted to mix a nostalgic appeal to longtime fans (it actually counts the first half of the Showa Era series as part of its continuity and even name-checks War of the Gargantuas and Space Aomeba) with an anime-inspired story about a female mech-pilot who bonds with the machine - which turns out to be sentient and prefers to be called "Kiryu." It's not the best Godzilla ever, but I still wish this version had taken off beyond one sequel.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S (2003)
The second film of what's dubbed the "Kiryu Series" brings Mothra into the mix, offering to take Kiryu's place as Japan's protector in the hopes that maybe Godzilla will chill out. Godzilla does not chill out. It's not as good as the first one.
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
After trying for over a decade to make Godzilla "stick" as an ongoing franchise again and coming up short, Toho decided to retire the characters for a while. But they wanted to go out with a bang, conscripting Versus auteur Riyuhei Kitamura (then the "bad boy" sensation of the Japanese genre movie circuit and a huge classic Godzilla fan) to devise and direct the ultimate send-off - a "greatest hits" farewell tour so big it would have a U.S. premiere and finally land Godzilla "himself" a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The result is a gonzo love-letter from Kitamura to the Showa Era, blending a Matrix/X-Men-inspired superhero story for the human cast with a Destroy All Monsters-inspired alien-invasion story that pits Godzilla (and Minilla!) against an army of enemies both famous and obscure - even Gigan, Ebirah and King Seesar show up! So does 1998's American "Zilla," expressly so that Kitamura can have Real Godzilla kill him instantly while even his alien masters grouse about how much he sucks.