Now we come to the latest series of Toho’s Godzilla films: the Millennium Series (1999-2004). This is the shortest era of films in the franchise and the easiest ones to collect since the U.S. distribution belong to Sony only .
After the fan backlash from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s 1998 remake, Toho—who had originally intended to wait a decade before making a new Godzilla film—accelerated their plans for the King of the Monsters by rebooting Big G for the new millennium. While the Showa Series had a loose continuity and the Heisei Series had a (mostly) tight-knit continuity, most of the Millennium Series films are stand-alone stories. It is an interesting way of doing things, though most of them aren’t as good as the previous movies.
(Note: I currently only own DVDs of the films from this series, but I’ve done my homework on the Blu-ray releases).
To paraphrase Blue Oyster Cult, “Go, go, Godzilla” one more time!
Godzilla 2000 (aka Godzilla 2000: Millennium)
In a surprising turn, Sony gave this film a wide theatrical release in the U.S. during the summer of 2000. It remains the only Toho Godzilla film I’ve seen in a theater (it’s one of only two released in my lifetime, but I was two years old when the first was released). Sony’s DVD for this film was impressive for its time, but still falls short. Only the slightly re-edited dubbed version was included when Toho provided Sony with the resources to include the Japanese version. (Adding insult to injury is the inclusion of a French language track for whatever reason.) However, it’s in widescreen and includes a handful of special features, including trailers, behind-the-scenes footage, and an informative commentary by the team that dubbed it.
Since it played in U.S. theatres, this remains the only Millennium Series film to get a solo Blu-ray in the U.S., which was released just last week. The special features are the same as the DVD, but the big draw is that for the first time the original Japanese version is included. It can be viewed on a second disc. This is the one to own. I plan to upgrade to this edition just for the Japanese cut.
Godzilla x Megaguirus
This is essentially the same as Sony’s other 2004 G-film DVDs: widescreen and features dual language tracks. The only special features are a few trailers for other Sony films.
As mentioned in Part 3 of this guide, Megaguirus was released in a two-disc Blu-ray set with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (which is an odd pairing). My research says the picture and sound are improved from the DVD. Although, the only special features are a pair of trailers. Regardless, this is the one to own.
Despite the insanely long “retro” Japanese title, this was the most-hyped entry in the Millennium Series because it was directed by the famed Shusuke Kaneko (the Heisei Gamera Trilogy). It returns Godzilla to his roots as a malevolent menace and—gasp!—pulls a role reversal by having King Ghidorah be one of the heroes! (That’s equivalent to making the Joker a good guy to fight a villainous Batman.) Personally, I didn’t think it lived up to the hype.
Anyway, the DVD is the same as Sony’s other 2004 G-film DVDs: widescreen presentation, dual language tracks, and a few trailers. Sadly, my research says that the subtitles follow the horrendous dubbing and take liberties from the original Japanese dialogue that seem to disrespect the film.
Last week, the film received a Blu-ray release in a two-pack with the next film in the series, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. Like the DVD, it features widescreen presentation and dual language tracks, but I hear the subtitles are improved (though not perfect). I might consider buying it just for the subtitles. Maybe. Regardless, the only special features are a few trailers. I recommend this edition.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
This one has a silly title because “Against” sounds much better than “Versus,” and filmmakers are now scared of Roman numerals—note the sarcasm. While I do think this film wasted a great concept (Mechagodzilla’s CPU is a cloned Godzilla brain), the DVD is a solid release, and even a step above Sony’s other G-film DVD releases from 2004. Again, it features widescreen presentation and dual language tracks, but this time the subtitles correspond better to the original Japanese dialogue. A few non-Godzilla trailers are thrown in for good measure.
In a two-disc set with Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (see above).
The only direct sequel in the Millennium Series (a continuation of the previous film), Sony’s 2004 DVD for this film was an improvement in many areas. Widescreen presentation and dual language tracks return, but the subtitles are, once again, transcriptions of the dubbed dialogue (including an instance where there was added dialogue in the dubbing). However, besides a few trailers for other films (including some other Godzilla releases), it features a 22-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which showcases the special effects techniques used in the film.
Tokyo S.O.S. was released in a two-disc Blu-ray set with Godzilla: Final Wars just last week. It seems to be the same as the DVD except presented at a higher resolution. Go for this one.
Godzilla: Final Wars
This film celebrates Big G’s 50th anniversary and was intended to be his grand finale so Toho could once again retire him for a decade (hence Gareth Edwards’ epic reboot). The most Michael Bay-esque of all the G-films, it’s essentially a remake of Destroy All Monsters and even includes a (20-second) battle between Big G and his 1998 wannabe doppelganger. Regardless, it received a by-the-numbers DVD in 2005. There’s a widescreen presentation, dual language tracks, and subtitles that correspond to the Japanese dialogue and not the dubbing. As for special features, it includes numerous trailers for other Sony releases and an 18-minute B-roll showcasing how many of the special effects sequences were created. Unfortunately, it has no music or narration, so it’s kind of boring.
Released in a Blu-ray two-pack with Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (see above).
My guide to collecting Godzilla DVDs and Blu-Rays comes to an end. I hope you found it helpful.
For more detailed reviews of these DVDs, I highly recommend looking them up on Toho Kingdom. You’ll also find reviews for many of Toho’s other genre films.
Be sure to pick up the new reboot on September 16 for Blu-ray to complete your collection!