Quantcast

Godzilla Ranking: The Millennium Era (1999-2004)

Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse expands this Summer with Godzilla: Kong of the Monsters. As a huge Godzilla fan, I’ve been happy to put together some fun posts about the classic Kaiju franchise. Enjoy some fun facts here, but this post for Why So Blu continues what I started with my Heisei era ranking. Now, I have a look back at Godzilla’s Millennium period, which ran from the late 90s to the mid-2000s. Get ready for more rankings, trivia, and killer poster art.

As explained in the previous post, there are distinct periods for the Godzilla franchise, reflecting the times studio Toho chose to reboot the series. While the Heisei era concluded with the death of Godzilla in 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Toho hated the American Godzilla from 1998 so much that the studio took the rights back and began work on a new series of Godzilla films that made up the Millennium era.

Consisting of 6 films, there was another shift in philosophy as far as how to approach these films. As opposed to the single timeline the films of the Heisei era took place on, the Millennium series films, with one exception, are composed of stand-alone movies that all act separately as sequels to the 1954 original. That makes this period an anthology series, with (mostly) different filmmakers brought in to put individual stamps on the franchise.

Monster mayhem was undoubtedly a bigger priority for these films, which is part of what made this era controversial within the fanbase. Sure, the slower-paced human-based storylines were moved more into the background, but an increase in action also led to an increase is CGI. Given the lower budgets and the look of CG in the early 2000s, even for that time, the quality was certainly lower than what audiences were seeing in films such as The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Nevertheless, there is entertainment to be had with this series. [Fun additional note: each of these films has a post-credit scene.]

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to ranking these films and showing off more posters:

6. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

The Setup: Japan builds Dimension Tide, a satellite-based weapon that creates wormholes to different times. The plan is to trap Godzilla, but a test of the device allows a giant dragonfly, Meganulon, to sneak into present day and lay a mass of eggs. This leads to the reveal of giant bugs called Meganula, and their queen, whom Godzilla must stop.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: Initially, Godzilla deals with the Meganula, a swarm of car-sized dragonfly creatures that also prey on humans. Some of these creatures drain Godzilla’s energy and inject it into a huge cocoon, which creates Megaguirus, the queen. There’s also a cameo with Meganulon, who first appeared in the 1956 film Rodan solo film. Meganulon cameos as the bug that sneaks into modern time to lay the eggs.

Thoughts: What sticks out with this film is how inessential it feels. The effort is there, and Megaguirus is entertaining enough as a Godzilla feature, but the plot is odd and convoluted, and ultimately forgettable. The fights are terrific, primarily because they are staged in broad daylight and the use of CGI doesn’t stick out as much as it does in the other films of this era. Still, there’s minimal draw to revisit this entry compared to the others.

Bonus Trivia: The opening footage of the film is taken from the original 1954 Godzilla, with the new Godzilla suit digitally edited in for the sake of continuity.

 

5. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)

The Setup: While using the GPN (Godzilla Prediction Network) to track Godzilla, humans discover a UFO that later transforms into the ancient alien lifeform known as Orga. It meets up with Godzilla, leading to a showdown taking place in the city of Shinjuku.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: The UFO is piloted by Millennians, who absorb Godzilla’s DNA and mutate into Orga, which is essentially the hunchback version of Godzilla.

Thoughts: I remember this film arriving in theaters, despite having little impact on American audiences (it ended up being the only Millennium film to get a theatrical release). Godzilla 2000 isn’t great, but it does seem to have a fun sense of wonder about it. The film is campy and entertaining enough, though the CG alien stuff certainly looks bad. This is also one of the rare times where the American cut plays better thanks to its tightening up of the pace.

Bonus Trivia: This is the first film in which Godzilla is actually green. Additionally, it’s the first Toho film to feature a CGI Godzilla.

 

4. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

The Setup: A direct sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Mothra and her trusted shobijin fairies warn humans to stop using Mechagodzilla (which has been constructed using the bones of the original 1954 Godzilla). Due to the defiling of the original Godzilla, the current Godzilla is continually drawn to attacking Japan.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: Godzilla has his work cut out for him in this film, as he takes on Mechagodzilla, known as Kiryu in this film, as well as a full-grown Mothra and two Mothra larva.

Thoughts: Even at the bottom half of the list, I think Tokyo S.O.S. is pretty good. The monster action is terrific, as the incorporation of Mothra adds some variety to this kaiju smackdown. There’s also fun to be had in the continued exploration of what makes this Mechagodzilla tick. It’s incredibly silly as far as the spirit of the original Godzilla affecting how Kiryu functions, but it works as a follow-up to the previous film.

Bonus Trivia: A dead monster washes up on shore at one point. It is the obscure Kamoebas from 1970’s Space Amoeba. It was initially going to be Godzilla’s first adversary, Anguirus, but the monster was deemed too popular with fans, whom Toho did not want to upset.

 

3. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

The Setup: To protect Japan from a newly risen Godzilla, Japan’s top scientists create a human-piloted cyborg, codenamed Kiriyu (loosely translated as “mechanical dragon”), using the bones of the original Godzilla that attacked Japan in 1954, whose remains have been left at the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, this Mechagodzilla has a soul, causing it to become extremely angry, and create a bigger rampage than Godzilla.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: Early on, we see a cybernetic Trilobite, which serves as the proof of concept for creating Kiryu. This version of Mechagodzilla is a radical redesign, compared to previous versions. It more closely resembles Godzilla and has plenty of fun superweapons at its disposal.

Thoughts: There’s always something enjoyable to be found in Mechagodzilla films, which is why it’s one of Godzilla’s most enduring foes. This film is a lot of fun in how it reinterprets Mechagodzilla in the craziest of ways (the bones of the original Godzilla, seriously!). The action is excellent, between the fights and the various scenes of city destruction. Plus, the human storyline is quite compelling. Even with the militarized overtones, there’s a solid tale of a soldier (Yumiko Shaku) wanting to settle a score after losing friends in a previous Godzilla battle. It all led to a film that was a big enough hit to be the only Millennium series film to get a direct sequel.

Bonus Trivia: Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui (whose nickname is Gojira) cameos in the film. He’s seen hitting a home run early on, as well as helping children get to a safe place during an evacuation to avoid the monsters.

 

2. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

The Setup: It’s 2044 and aliens are attempting to take over the planet using a wide variety of classic kaiju. To combat these extraterrestrials and their monster army, Godzilla is released from his icy tomb to travel the world and battle them all.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: Oh boy, where to begin? Well, Mothra teams up with Godzilla for the first time since 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, but this movie is stacked with adversaries. Rodan, Anguirus, King Caesar, Kamacuras, Kumonga, Manda, Ebirah, Gigan, and even Hedorah are all featured in various battles. Even the American Godzilla from the much-derided 1998 film, now dubbed “Zilla” by Toho, appears (only to be very quickly defeated by Godzilla in one of the film’s most hilarious scenes). Finally, a new version of Ghidorah, Keizer Ghidorah, arrives for the ultimate battle against Godzilla. This is a roided-up version of Ghidorah, who proves to be a suitable challenge to the King of the Monsters.

Thoughts: Final Wars is easily the most outrageous film of the Millennium series, with director Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) doing his damndest to recreate the spirit of the Showa era. As this film coincided with the 50th anniversary of Godzilla, the choice to pile on so many monsters allowed for the most action-packed Godzilla movie, even if many of the battles are quite short. At just over two hours, there’s also way too much human-based plotting, complete with homages to various American blockbusters such as The Matrix, X-Men, and Independence Day. It’s all quite silly, but this kitchen sink approach also means it’s a pretty consistently entertaining film, even if it’s pretty shallow.

Bonus Trivia: “We Are to Blame” by punk-rock group Sum 41 is featured during the Godzilla vs. Zilla fight, marking the first time non-Japanese music artists were featured in a Japanese Godzilla film.

 

1. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack aka GMK (2001)

The Setup: Godzilla, possessed by the vengeful souls of those killed during the Pacific theater of World War II, seeks the destruction of Japanese civilization. The only force that can stop Godzilla is the ancient Sacred Guardian Beasts of Yamato, which consists of a few classic kaiju.

Who Does Godzilla Fight: Godzilla first battles Baragon, a four-legged dog-like reptile best known from Showa era films Destroy All Monsters and Frankenstein vs. Baragon. The Mothra lava and a fully grown Mothra are also challengers to Godzilla in this film. Finally, King Ghidorah, in his first “hero” role, does his part to help fend off Godzilla for the sake of humanity.

Thoughts: For one reason or another, almost all of these Millennium series films has proven to be controversial among fans. GMK is no different. Some aren’t big into King Ghidorah being a hero, and the harsh deaths these monsters face. On the other hand, others love this movie, myself included. I think GMK is a terrifically made Godzilla film that goes in an ambitious new direction for the series. The music is great, the story is pretty solid, and the action is brutal. Godzilla is pure evil in this film and actually pretty terrifying. Plus, the supernatural element is the kind of thing that makes me happy, as it shows what kind of growth this franchise can have when the option arises to push the series in new directions. It all adds up to GMK being my favorite film from this era.

Bonus Trivia: Some of the miniature city sets in this film were used in Kill Bill: Volume 1.

That concludes my thoughts on the Millennium era of Godzilla films. In addition to the American MonsterVerse films, we are currently in the Reiwa era as far as Toho is concerned, though it currently only consists of the terrific Shin Godzilla and the three anime Godzilla films, which can be found streaming on Netflix. I haven’t had time to assess all 15 films from the original Showa era accurately, but with Godzilla vs. Kong arriving in 2020, just know that I will very likely be back with another ranked list!

***

Lastly, all of these films can be found for purchase on Amazon:

 

Share

Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

4 Responses to “Godzilla Ranking: The Millennium Era (1999-2004)”


  1. Eric

    Just cant agree with your placement of Final Wars.. That film IMO is the worst of all the Toho Godzilla films.. OK maybe a bit better then Revenge / Counterattack and Megalon. But man Final Wars commits the biggest SIN IMO, It ruins the illusion of giant Monsters. This happens due to awful Costume designs that look more at home in a Power Rangers tv show and the way the monsters are filmed which also feels more like the Power Rangers. Since the director very often does not film the monsters in Slow Motion they end up moving like humans in rubber suits. Soundtrack is a major issue also.. I mean I think I actually rank the 98 Godzilla higher then this… YIKES!!!

    Other then that 🙂 I have enjoyed reading your lists 🙂

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Appreciate that! And yeah, this is really a “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” situation. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about Final Wars (and really most of the films in this series). I was into Final Wars for its craziness, but I would also agree it has a look that’s not my favorite.

  3. Eric Larson

    Well its all about what we enjoy Aaron :). Cant argue with you there 🙂 … Great read! You gonna do the Showa series ?

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    I will! Once I do a proper rewatch of them all, I’ll likely put it together closer to Godzilla vs. Kong next year.