Hi crew! 👋🏻 We’re now into the Millennium series of the Godzilla franchise!
The Millennium series is quite unique from the previous two series as each movie is a continuity reboot that is only connected to the original 1954 movie. In my opinion, this series is probably the easiest to get into for newcomers to the Japanese movies as they don’t necessarily require you to watch every single movie to be able to understand the next one that you watch, unlike a certain franchise these days.
After the Millennium series ended in 2004, Toho took a break from producing Godzilla movies in order to let audiences get excited about his eventual return. In that time, we got the 2014 American Godzilla movie which kickstarted the MonsterVerse series but I won’t be talking about that one just yet.
Once again, I watched these movies in their original Japanese with English subtitles, and I had to look for them on non-reputable websites thanks to Toho not releasing these movies in the UK at all. The BBFC really made them think that nobody wanted to watch them.
GODZILLA 2000: MILLENNIUM
Directed by Takao Okawara
Run time: 107 minutes (1 hr, 47 mins)
My Rating –
You guys would not believe the hoops I had to jump through to watch this movie. I’ve been using Internet Archive to watch the Heisei and Millennium movies since they’re not available on home media or streaming in the UK without paying outrageous import costs and they didn’t have a subtitled copy of the original Japanese cut (I don’t like watching dubbed live-action movies because the lip movements distract me and they’re often just not very good) so I had to download the movie from the website and a separate subtitle track just to be able to watch it and it took so long. This is a huge part of why I don’t like to pirate movies, but this was a necessary evil in this case. Anyway, enough of my complaining about availability issues.
Despite this movie being made in response to the first American Godzilla remake, I think this one was just okay. Yes, the practical Godzilla suit is miles better than the CGI monstrosity from that movie, the suit doesn’t have my favourite design and the CG could be a lot better. The more reptilian Godzilla designs aren’t my favourite because they often look too animalistic rather than monstrous and this design is a little too green for me, but I do like how the dorsal plates are bigger than before and the purple tones are a nice touch.
This movie is another battle movie, but I forgot that because it takes so long for Orga to show up. Most of the movie features a UFO just chilling out on the top of a building in bad CGI and once the practical Orga shows up, it felt too little too late. That being said, the fight between Godzilla and Orga is great to watch because the Orga suit is so well made and creepy looking, especially when he tries to eat Godzilla to become a clone of him.
I would watch this movie again if Toho ever decides to release it to home media in the UK because it’s not terrible and the hassle I had in just trying to watch it is clouding my judgement here.
GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka
Run time: 105 minutes (1 hr, 45 mins)
My Rating –
This movie is a little hit-or-miss for me because the special effects are great about 90% of the time, but on those occasions where they aren’t so great, it’s very noticeable. There are a lot of moments in the fight scenes where the frame rate decreases so much that I thought there was something wrong with my internet, but a Google search proved that that’s just how the movie is. Most of the movie is done with practical effects, which is the staple of the franchise in general, but there are moments that rely on CGI and chroma key and they just don’t look that good. The scene where Godzilla is attacked by a swarm of Meganula swaps between practical and CG and it could have looked a lot more convincing, but we do have to remember that this was the year 2000 and CGI has advanced a lot since then. One CG scene that I will say looks good is when one of the human characters jumps onto Godzilla’s back while he’s swimming, which does look convincing.
I’m still not the biggest fan of this suit design, but it has grown on me a little bit. Reptillian Godzilla designs aren’t my favourites but I do like how expressive this suit is. I don’t know if that’s because of the design, the way it was made, or because of how Tsutomu Kitagawa (the actor in the suit) portrayed Godzilla but he does look like a living creature and not just a suit.
The plot of this movie is where it let me down because it feels too sluggish, and the characters aren’t much better either. The only one I liked was Kudo but he felt like the stock “regular geek who helps save the world” character that was present in so many sci-fi movies in the late 90s and early 2000s. I probably just liked him for his hair because he’s not very fleshed out. The other characters are either bland as heck or unlikeable since their plan to destroy Godzilla is so reckless and stupid.
The thing that I can commend this movie on is its score. I am very biased towards Akira Ifukube’s scores from the Showa and Heisei series, but the music in this movie – especially the main theme – is absolutely top-notch. This is one of very few times where I didn’t find myself missing the classic theme from the 1954 movie, which shows how good the score is without it.
GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK
Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
Run time: 105 minutes (1 hr, 45 mins)
My Rating –
After the last two movies being just okay, I didn’t expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did. We have returned to having a sociopolitical message, which is always a delight to me. This time, the movie’s message is about Japan forgetting their role in the Pacific War, which is a topic that can be very contentious in East Asia. Godzilla being reanimated to contain the souls of all those innocent people killed by the Imperial Army maybe just a little too on the nose, but I like the idea of Godzilla being a zombie so it doesn’t bother me that much.
I have seen some conflicting opinions on the suit design, but I really like it because it fits the theme of Godzilla being a walking corpse in this movie: he’s a little thicker, just like how dead bodies tend to bloat after a while, and his eyes are completely white as if the pupils have rolled back into the head. It looks pretty creepy to me and I prefer it to the previous suit that was used in 2000 and vs Megaguirus. I also really like the Mothra puppet that appears which looks more like a giant insect than a pipe cleaner with wings, but I’m not the biggest fan of the Ghidorah design. The first time he makes an appearance, it’s CGI rather than practical effects, and because this is the early 2000s, it’s a little wonky, but once we get to see the suit/puppet combo it gets a little better. The heads don’t look exactly like Ghidorah and I believe this is because the director originally planned to use different monsters but changed them for marketing reasons and ended up modifying Ghidorah’s faces to resemble the scrapped monsters more. Ghidorah being smaller than Godzilla for once is something I can live with, but I like his more ferocious faces more.
While this movie is overacted to hell and back, I do like how Godzilla and Ghidorah’s roles are reversed, with Ghidorah being a guardian of the Earth instead of an evil alien invader and Godzilla being evil incarnate who plans on destroying Japan in an act of revenge. I’ll always enjoy a good villainous Godzilla but changing it up by making Ghidorah one of the heroes is a very nice touch.
GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka
Run time: 88 minutes (1 hr, 28 mins)
My Rating –
We have a 4-star movie on our hands! Movies that feature Godzilla fighting against a robot version of himself aren’t usually my favourites, but the fact that the Mechagodzilla from this movie has its own unique origin really changed things up for the better. Kiryu isn’t just a robot doppelganger, it’s a cyborg constructed from the bones of the original Godzilla that attacked Tokyo in 1954 and parts of that Godzilla’s psyche still exist within it, making it go haywire a couple of times. That’s just more interesting to me than “what if we had a huge robot that looked like Godzilla”.
This is the shortest movie in the Millennium series and that’s something that pleases me a little after so many of these movies going past the 90-minute mark because it feels more like the story gets to the point. We’re here to see a giant dinosaur fight a robot that looks like itself at this point rather than get bogged down in political allegory. Don’t get me wrong, I love some political Godzilla, but even I need a break from it at times.
I don’t normally comment on the human characters in these movies because they often don’t really matter but Akane is one of my favourite human characters in this franchise. She’s the only woman in her team and gets harassed by one comrade who thinks she was responsible for the death of his brother and she proves to them all that she truly is the best person to pilot Kiryu. Women in Godzilla movies have never really been submissive or in need of being saved, but Akane definitely stands out as one of the strongest both in terms of physical strength and writing.
GODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S.
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka
Run time: 91 minutes (1 hr, 31 mins)
My Rating –
This movie is a sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla which I really appreciate because almost every other movie is a standalone reboot that only has ties to the original 1954 movie. I like Kiryu so seeing it again was definitely a treat.
This is also one of few movies where I’ve experienced continuity lockout because this is also tied to the original Mothra movie from 1961 which I still haven’t seen. The movie kind of assumes that you’ve watched that movie too so it doesn’t really explain who Shinichi Chujo is and I ended up thinking that he was a returning character from Mothra vs Godzilla, but I was mistaken.
You’re all probably sick of me saying that every movie has the best effects of the franchise so far, but they really do improve and get more advanced with each entry. For me, this can be seen the best with Mothra who is portrayed by a puppet in most of her scenes but also with CGI for any scenes that would cause the puppet to be damaged. If I watched this in actual HD I may have been able to really tell when she’s a puppet and when she’s not, but since the copy on Internet Archive has five pixels in it, the effects are a lot more seamless.
I don’t really have much to say about this one because when it comes to the plot and the characters, it’s just okay. Akane returns for this movie but quickly exists to make room for other characters and I kind of missed her presence because I found her to be more interesting. The story is kind of a rehash of the previous one but with Mothra there too and it’s fine but it doesn’t really stand out.
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Run time: 125 minutes (2 hrs, 5 mins)
My Rating – Bro I have no idea how to rate this 🤷🏻♀️
This movie is definitely something. It’s a 50th-anniversary movie that features almost every monster that has appeared in the franchise up to this point all with new suits and state-of-the-art special effects but it ends up looking pretty cheap.
I don’t think this is a bad movie, but I also don’t think that it’s a good movie. It’s an ambitious movie, I’ll give it that because it feels like Toho was trying to imitate what they thought a Hollywood blockbuster is. The cinematography style borrows very heavily from the Matrix trilogy from the camera angles, the costuming, the fight scenes between human characters, the use of bullet time in one scene, and even the theme of one of the main characters refusing to be controlled by the villains. Homages in Godzilla movies aren’t a bad thing because the first movie wears its influences on its sleeves, but a lot of the Hollywood inspired elements are just lifted entirely to the point that it feels like the “let me copy your homework” meme.
The biggest problem that this movie has is that there is too much going on that it gets difficult to keep up with the plot. They had to fill out that meaty run time with something but there ends up being too many plot points. We have the Earth Defense Force using their mutant soldiers to fight the alien invaders, we have the monsters showing up in major cities around the world, we have Godzilla being awoken to fight off the monsters, and then Minilla does some stuff too. In fact, every time Minilla showed up, I thought “oh yeah, he’s here too.” There’s a grand total of fourteen monsters in this movie – including the 1998 American Godzilla who has since been renamed to just Zilla – and none of them really get enough screentime. A lot of the monster fights last a matter of seconds because they have to make room for the next one to make an appearance. They all have new suits and puppets so I can’t say that they look bad.
For all its faults, however, I can’t say that this movie is boring. There’s too much going on at once and the plot doesn’t give you a chance to breathe very often, but the action keeps you on your toes. Sadly, this is the last feature-length movie in the franchise that uses traditional suitmation as everything else has used CGI, animation, or motion capture technology. I am going to miss the rubber suits but Toho recently released a short film featuring Godzilla and Hedorah that uses the suits from Final Wars. It’s only five minutes and available on YouTube so you should give it a shot.
And that is it for the Millennium series! Next time we’re going to dive into the Reiwa series!
talk to me!
Have you seen any of the Millennium series Godzilla movies?