Although director Roland Emmerich's "Godzilla" was blasted by most audiences and critics, it actually was a solid success at the box office, taking in 136 million in the US and 221 million overseas. Although I certainly don't want a sequel to that version, the success prompted a new film - "Godzilla 2000", a new version of the old-school features that we're familiar with. The film was such a hit in Japan that Tristar bought the rights to the picture. According to the production notes, additional sound effects were added, and unfortunately 9 minutes were deleted.
The film really makes me unhappy that "Mystery Science Theater 3000" is no longer on the air, as "Godzilla 2000" falls into that "Good/Bad" catagory that worked so well for that show. The plot is certainly nothing new to those familiar with the older features - the giant green lizard has woke up once again, and he's not happy. He then proceeds to go on yet another rampage, knocking over buildings and crushing cars. The dubbed dialogue is often funnier than most comedies that are intentionally trying for laughs.
As for the effects, they aren't too bad, actually. It's still got that "old-school" look with a guy in a suit, but there are some sequences that are slightly more "polished" than you might remember from the early Godzilla movies. It all ends in a fight between Godzilla and another creature, plus there's the usual dialogue-driven scenes between some government agency who wants Godzilla taken down and scientists who want to study him - or, something like that. It ends in a mildly exciting battle between Godzilla and a space creature.
Overall, nothing particularly brilliant, but it does a good job bringing back the "old-school" Godzilla in this update.
VIDEO: Tristar presents "Godzilla 2000" in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and, like nearly all of the studio's releases, it is anamorphic. There are problems with the picture now and then, but these seem more film-related. The early scenes of the movie take place at night and in a rather misty/smoky area; they look rather murky and undefined. The rest of the movie doesn't present as many complaints. Sharpness and detail is generally pleasing, but not great.
Colors generally look good; there are times when they appear rather bland, but for the most part they look natural and without flaw. As for other concerns, I didn't notice any pixelation or shimmering. Print flaws such as marks or scratches aren't visible, but the picture does tend to look rather grainy at times. Overall, it's a good presentation for the kind of semi low-budget movie it is.
SOUND: "Godzilla 2000" gets a new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation for the American version, which, although not a consistent assault, often sounds excellent. There are parts of the film that are driven mainly by the dubbed dialogue and cheesy music, but once the action begins, the sound delivers. There are quite a few scenes where surrounds are used very effectively to put the viewer in the middle of the action. The scenes where "Godzilla" goes on a rampage often boast strong bass. The music sounds rather cheesy, but generally offers fine quality. The dubbed dialogue remains hilarious but clear. I don't think that the soundtrack of "Godzilla 2000" is exactly "demo-worthy", but it's certainly an entertaining experience that succeeded in making the corny action more exciting than it would otherwise have been.
MENUS:: Columbia has done a wonderful job on the main menu, which is animated with Godzilla in the background with people running through the streets. The picture also shakes a little as Godzilla walks, which is a nice touch. There is also a little animated transition between menus.
Commentary: This is a commentary from American version writer/producer Mike Schlesinger, editor Mike Mahoney and supervising sound editor Darren Paskal. The discussion is lead by Schlesinger, who provides an energetic tour of the movie, talking about details about the movie's production and how the movie was changed for American audiences. While just watching the movie alone you get an idea that things like this sound were redone and ramped up for this new version, but while listening to this commentary you find out that there's much more work that was done by this production team.
There are few pauses throughout the track. Although I would have liked to have heard a little more from the other participants, Schlesinger has more than enough information to offer to fill up the running time. Certainly worth a listen for fans.
Also: Trailers for both "Godzilla 2000" and the Emmerich version as well as a trailer for "Anaconda". There is also a quick behind-the-scenes featurette that lasts a little over 2 minutes. The usual cast/crew bios ("talent files") and production notes are also included.
Final Thoughts: If you're looking for some mindless fun, Tristar's DVD for "Godzilla 2000" may be worth a look as a rental.