Tonight on Smackdown:
The Ultimate Hardcore match!
Soon Toho will release Godzilla 2000: Millennium, the latest Godzilla movie. But the Godzilla in the new film will not be the same Godzilla we have been made familiar with in recent years by the Godzilla movies from Godzilla 1985 on. That's because Godzilla dies in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
That fact was no secret, even before Destoroyah was released. It was kind of nice that, for once, a series of Godzilla movies was given a definitive ending.* All good legends should have a conclusion.
In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah's opening moments, we find out that Birth Island, where Godzilla and Little Godzilla (introduced in 1992's Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla) had been living, has blown up, apparently because the entire island was sitting on a huge uranium deposit. Doesn't anyone ever check these things? On the other hand, how would you get Godzilla to move? Serve him an eviction notice?
Godzilla shows up in the waters off of Hong Kong, and great balls of fire, he's literally glowing red. Much to the dismay of the city's residents, the giant monster stomps around Hong Kong for a while, then heads back to sea.
Drop the Chalupa!
In Japan, G-Force is mobilized to find out why Godzilla is acting so out of character. Naturally, they go to the only person who could possibly find the answer, at least in a Japanese sci-fi film -- a kid. Okay, this time he isn't some little kid named Ken wearing microscopic shorts, he's a slacker college student. But he's still named Ken. Ken (Yasfumi Hayashi) actually has quite a pedigree for the study of Godzilla, as his father is Dr. Yamane's adopted son. (See our review of the original Gojira for more on Yamane.)
Ken has worked out a theory about the way Godzilla's nuclear nature works, though he was chastised academically for it. (Huh?) Therefore he doesn't want to work with G-Force directly, until he's told that he would get to work with Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka), the young psychic woman who has appeared in all the Godzilla movies from Biollante on. Ken's hormones raging, he heads off to G-Force's control center, which looks like it might have been purchased at Dr. Evil's yard sale. Soon it is determined that Godzilla's internal nuclear reactions are running out of control, and he will either melt down or explode. Kinda like somebody who eats too much Taco Bell.
"Tell the truth: Is the hair
too 'Queen Amidala?'"
Outside of the Godzilla situation, other events are percolating. (Yes! Percolating!) Another one of Yamane's descendents is Yukari Yamane (Yoko Ishino), a TV reporter. She interviews a Dr. Ijuin (Tatsumi Takuro), who has invented "micro-oxygen," a miracle substance that seems to be related to the oxygen destroyer that killed the original Godzilla back in 1954. After the interview, one of her colleagues warns her that she was awfully hard on Ijuin. This is kind of funny, because to our American eyes she showed more politeness during the interview than Martha Stewart could muster if she held tea for the Queen of England.
Then a series of strange accidents strike a tunnel being built under Tokyo bay. It is soon determined that the location of the accidents is the place where the original Godzilla died forty years before. Some sort of prehistoric microscopic organism was mutated by the oxygen destroyer, and now it's loose.
The creatures, dubbed Destroyers, keep growing and growing, as the military tries vainly to contain them. Why does the Japanese military even show up any more? They're the Boston Red Sox of world militaries, at least in Godzilla films.
"No, seriously... there's some guy named
'Scott Evil' back there who claims that it's his room!"
Meanwhile, Dr. Ijuin figures out a possible solution to both problems facing Japan (Godzilla's meltdown and the arrival of Destroyer). That solution is karaoke. No! Wait! We meant freezing temperatures. Luckily the Japanese miltary happens to have developed freezer weapons, which are missiles and lasers(!) that freeze any target they hit.
When Godzilla Junior (the upgraded version of Little Godzilla) is spotted off the coast of Japan, G-Force lures the friendly monster into conflict with the Destroyer creatures, who have merged into one huge uber-creature. With his young-un in trouble, can Godzilla be far behind?
If Godzilla vs Destroyah isn't the ultimate extension of modern effects applied to giant monster movies (we might point to the recent Gamera movies for that), it's at least a big sparkly show with lots of stuff happening on screen. Destroyah is one bad-ass monster, although its particular abilities (such as the fact that it can split into multiple entities and reform at will) aren't explained very well and will confuse the heck out of the uninitiated. Heck, we weren't too sure about what was going on either. This last movie would have been the proper time to commission a great script, but Toho didn't bother. It's a darn shame.
Little known fact: Destoroyah is
actually a third-generation
Still, as we've said before, Godzilla movies aren't about plot, they're about giant monsters kicking the radioactive stew out of each other and making a mess of metropolitan cities in the process. This is one of the biggest productions the big G ever had. The new Super-X III, looking black and stealth-bombery, is a great addition, and the return of Lt. Sho Kuroki (Masashiro Takashima) from Godzilla vs Biollante as its pilot is a nice touch. (Masashiro Takashima's brother played Kuroki in Biollante, and Masashiro played a different character in Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla.) There are several small ways in which this film pays homage to the Godzilla legacy, like a cameo appearence by Emiko (Momoko Kouchi) from Godzilla (1954), and they really make the movie. It's nice to see a company handle its property, beloved by millions, with a little respect and knowledge of that property's history. Of course, a few years later they sold the rights to Centropolis for 1998's Godzilla and flushed all that down the toilet*, but we hear Godzilla 2000 is an attempt to rectify that situation.
There was much hullabaloo (a fading practice which is being replaced with "hype") surrounding the death of Godzilla in this film. Newspapers printed obituaries, small lizards wept, and rubber suit makers wondered at what other trades they might make a living. Few Godzilla fans took it seriously, however, and time has proven them right with the announcement of Toho's latest resurrection of their greatest creation. Thirty-story-tall monsters -- especially ones who pull in millions of yen at the box office -- just can't be held down by something as paltry as death.
* There have been several Godzilla timelines up to this point, but only one has had a proper ending. We're talking about Timeline 2 in the list below:
Great googly-moogly! All those timelines
are giving me a headache!
Timeline 1 - Godzilla (1954) through Terror of Godzilla (1974). It has been long debated whether or not Godzilla actually died at the end of Godzilla (1954). But after Godzilla's Counter Attack (1955), we can assume that all the movies feature one creature, albiet one that becomes goofier as time goes one. We would also include the Godzilla episodes of Zone Fighter in this timeline.
Timeline 2 (Heisei) - Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla 1985 through Godzilla vs Destoroyah. There is some dialogue that suggests Godzilla did die in Godzilla (1954), and a different monster appeared in all the other films. Then there's the whole time travel mess in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, which casts doubt on Godzilla's origin, and whether some events occured at all.
Timeline 3 (Millennium?) - Godzilla (1954), Godzilla 1985, and Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999). We haven't seen the new movie yet, so we can't talk about this timeline yet.
These would be all of the Japanese movies. Outside of those, we have a few American timelines:
Timeline 4 (Hanna-Barbera) - Godzilla, the animated series that ran on NBC during the seventies. This had no relation to any movie.
Timeline 5 (Centropolis) - Godzilla (1998) and Godzilla: The Animated Series. If Tri-Star makes a second Godzilla film, it will probably ignore Godzilla: The Animated Series, thereby starting another timeline.
And this is just the moving pictures. There are numerous books and comics that tell Godzilla stories as well, on both sides of the Pacific. Hmmm... Do we smell a website idea here? Go back!
* We actually weren't that dissatisfied with Godzilla 1998, but referring to it in derogatory tones has become so commonplace that it rubs off sometimes. Go back!