Takayuki Hattori

Godzilla 2000 (1999, Okawara Takao)

The most surprising thing about Godzilla 2000 is learning the director had made other moves in the series before this one. The writers too. It’s a little surprising, since it’s so full of lame lifts from American blockbusters (including Independence Day, which seems a little strange, given Toho made Godzilla 2000 after the American bungling of the property), lamer lifts from the nineties Godzilla series (which was a lot classier, even the worst entries) and the cast is incredibly weak. Sano Shirô gives the only competent performance. The rest of the cast, which I’ll get to in a bit, is atrocious.

The film’s a reboot, maybe the first reboot of the modern era of reboots, with Godzilla just a fact of life in Japan, without any context. Like the Sony and Apple product placement (lots of iMac ads here), he’s part of the scenery.

Okawara’s direction is laughable. It seems like he’s trying to mix somewhat modern filmmaking techniques (i.e. bad CG) into the Godzilla mix and he keeps failing. There are all sorts of lame comic set pieces and the film feels really small, like there are only eight people in it.

Oh, the actors. Naomi Nishida, Suzuki Mayu and Murata Takehiro are all awful. Suzuki’s the worst, but Murata’s playing an ugly romantic lead, which is kind of funny. Abe Hiroshi badly essays the role of a bureaucrat obsessed with killing Godzilla.

And I’m forgetting Hattori Takayuki’s score (awful) and the Godzilla costume (awful).

It’s a terrible picture.



Directed by Okawara Takao; written by Kashiwabara Hiroshi and Mimura Wataru; director of photography, Kato Katsuhiro; edited by Okuhara Yoshiyuki; music by Hattori Takayuki; production designer, Shimizu Takeshi; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Murata Takehiro (Prof. Shinoda Yuji), Abe Hiroshi (Katagiri Mitsuo), Nishida Naomi (Ichinose Yuki), Suzuki Mayu (Shinoda Io) and Sano Shirô (Prof. Miyasaka Shiro).

Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994, Yamashita Kensho)

To say Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla has it all is an understatement. It has more than that. It has dirt bikes, black holes, a “Muppet Babies” version of Godzilla, a superwoman, walks on the beach at sunset, and, apparently, the first butt shot in a Godzilla movie. It’s a wacky mess, proving having no story is sometimes a good thing. The 1990s Godzilla series was so dependent on continuity, at one point during the film, I thought Joss Whedon wrote it. Space Godzilla has a bunch of little details, but the thing moves at such a fast pace, they’re not used for any reason other than storytelling brevity.

I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a comedy. While the writer did go on to do other Godzilla movies, the director only did this one, which probably means Toho wasn’t happy with his performance. How could they be? He’s created a perfect Godzilla movie. It ends with a U.N. anti-Godzilla military guy opining, “Godzilla’s not that bad, is he?” After he’s just destroyed a city–of course, so has the Japanese anti-Godzilla military guy, in a giant robot (from these films, I’ve learned the Japanese solve all their problems with giant robots)–during a pointless fight with Space Godzilla. Maybe the lack of purpose–the film flip-flops between being about the telepathic control of Godzilla and the Space Godzilla’s origins in a black hole–is what makes Space Godzilla so good. It’s a bunch of scenes strung together, some of them really big–there’s some great matte shots in Space Godzilla, probably the most impressive in any Godzilla movie–all connected through the five main characters. Oh, I forgot–in my list up above–there’s a mad scientist too. Dirt bikes, black holes, and a mad scientist. Not much else offers you those three items.

There’s also the “Muppet Babies” Godzilla, which is cute and totally absurd. But really, it’s the cast. At one point, I got thinking about Yoshikawa Towako’s performance–when she’s standing around talking about mind-controlling Godzilla–she’s actually taking this absurd acting job seriously and making it all believable. All the other principals, Hashizume Jun, Yoneyama Zenkichi, and Odaka Megumi are good. Very likable, people you want to spend an hour and a half with. The best is Emoto Akira, playing a soldier obsessed with killing Godzilla. The film treats him as a goof-ball, running around on foot trying to catch the monster. It’s hilarious.

Technically, I already mentioned the sometimes great composites (usually when there’s no urban destruction involved). There’s also a really good score in Space Godzilla, something akin to a 1970s John Williams disaster score (except the two scenes I’m convinced are homage to From Here to Eternity). The most impressive thing about Space Godzilla, besides its approach to storytelling, is its sound design. The final fight scene has little weight, since no one’s really fighting for anything (the earlier fight, when Space Godzilla is trying to beat up Little Godzilla, is much more effective), but the sound design is amazing. Some great editing in the last fight scene too.

Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla is a big dumb mess and it appreciates and understands it’s a big dumb mess and does everything it can with that condition. It’s constantly delightful.



Directed by Yamashita Kensho; written by Kashiwabara Hiroshi; director of photography, Kishimoto Masahiro; music by Hattori Takayuki; produced by Tanaka Tomoyuki and Tomiyama Shogo; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Odaka Megumi (Saegusa Miki), Hashizume Jun (Shinjo Koji), Yoneyama Zenkichi (Sato Kiyoshi), Emoto Akira (Major Yuki), Yoshikawa Towako (Dr. Gondo), Saitô Yôsuke (Dr. Okubo), Sahara Kenji (Minister Segawa), Nakao Akira (Commander Aso) and Ueda Kôichi (Deputy Commander Hyodo).

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