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'Godzilla' Lumbers Again

By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 18, 2000

   


    'Godzilla 2000' Big G is back, in all his chintzy glory.
(Toho Limited)
Since time immemorial mankind has worried about three important issues:

A. Is universal peace possible?

B. Is true love forever?

C. Could Godzilla beat a space monster?

The answers are (A) No; (B) For others, maybe, but not for you; and (C) Too close to call.

But wait! This just in! For an update on C, check out "Godzilla 2000" at your local multiplex.

Yes, folks, the tallest, darkest leading man in all Japan is back. He is still big, has all eight of Santa's reindeer's antlers on his back, fission-powered halitosis (all that raw fish) and the look of a Komodo dragon crossed with Lassie. His skin is still green rubber. His eyes are still buttons. When he walks, the earth beneath the Toho back lot still shudders and he looks--don't spread this around, I'd hate to disillusion the young and start rumors--like a man in a bad monster suit. In this one, he fights a giant-size ugly thing that comes out of a flying saucer that resembles a partially melted stainless-steel Frisbee. Battleground: Tiny Town, Japan.

Sparks fly, fires light, wires crackle, and a number of very nice miniature buildings are trampled into toothpicks. The Japanese, despite the trade deficit and their ability to build fabulous automobiles, still think that a guy in a monster suit is all that is needed for a monster movie.

This one was directed by old-time Godzilla pro Takao Okawara, who proves he hasn't learned a thing over the years. I like that in a man. About the only signs of advanced thinking are occasional images cribbed from "Independence Day," such as the creeping shadow of death as a big space thing from under the sea (don't ask) hovers over downtown Little Japan.

There are some indicators that Sony intended to release this literal monstrosity as a camp item. For one thing, when the Japanese actors--all trying very hard, no doubt--speak at around 340 mph (based on lip movements) the English soundtrack produces guttural utterances at about 7 mph. In other words, he's probably saying something like, "Sir, the space monster's genetic structure is changing owing to its absorption of Godzilla's rapid-regeneration DNA, which we have code-named 'G-1'!" which is translated, for our ears, as something like, "Sir, that monster is a crazy goofed-up idiot!"

Somewhere around the 750th repetition, this irony-free deadpan loses its humorous content. Sony would have been better advised to hire some smart young American comics and let them riff into a mike for a soundtrack, after the fashion of Woody Allen's "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" of all those years back.

Godzilla, go home.

GODZILLA 2000 (PG-13, 95 minutes) – Contains violence to Tonka toys and Popsicle-stick cities.

 

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


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