In modern day 2014, GODZILLA 2000: Millennium is one of the most well-known Godzilla films. 14 years ago it got a nation-wide theater release and the suit design remains one of the most iconic. While I and many others have seen this film dozens of time, the original uncut Japanese version has rarely been seen at all in the States. When it comes to Godzilla films, sometimes it doesn’t matter like in masterpieces such as Mothra vs. Godzilla and MONSTER ZERO, but sometimes it does matter such in Gojira and King Kong vs. Godzilla, where the English version changes the film for worst. 2000 is one of those rare examples where most fans agree the American cut is better. Thanks to the awesome people at Sony Pictures for releasing the film on Blu-ray this month, the Japanese version has for the time become widely available. So, is it truly inferior, actually better, just different, or virtually the same?
The Japanese version of Godzilla 2000 is essentially the same as its American counterpart but also differs because of deleted scenes the latter removes, different music, and even different monster roars. Because of certain deleted scenes, the American version seemingly puts Godzilla front & center and the Millennium ship as the backdrop while in the Japanese version a little more emphasis is placed on the Millennium ship-turned-monster Orga. This is the biggest crime in the American version: it cuts out key scenes explaining Orga’s goal. In the Japanese version, there are fantastic scenes where when after hacking computers in all of Japan, the Millennium shows words on them such as “Dominate,” Revolution,” and “Empire.” There’s even a short flashback scene of the ship arriving on Earth. Because of these cuts, the American version leaves the whole Orga plot incredibly vague to the point where the viewer has to imagine what’s going on. Some aspects are still vague in the Japanese version, such as whether or not there were actual aliens in that ship or it was just Orga all along. Ultimately, the Japanese version is better with the Orga part of the story because it actually gives him some interesting motivation.
While that’s a big thumbs up for the Japanese version, what it fails miserably in is the final battle. 2000’s final battle to me has always been one of the best climaxes in Godzilla movie history. This is thanks to America for giving Godzilla a range of different roars and Orga having a more menacing sound. But what is does best is the music, it is 10x better than what the Japanese version has. The original’s final fight makes it go from awesome to painfully average. There’s virtually nothing thematic about it and if it wasn’t for the American version, it would rank pretty low in the final battles category.
Besides those two things, both versions remain relatively the same. There are some nice Godzilla shots that were sadly shortened in the American version. The US version also changes some of the soundtrack, such as adding comical themes to the “funny” scenes such as a supervisor hitting his worker with a pillar unknowingly multiple times and the main character commenting on his assistant not smelling pleasant.
So which version is better? While America cutting out key Millennium scenes is a huge shame, the Japanese’s version’s final battle is just stale in comparison. And for that, I must give the edge to the North American cut. One might ask, “Just cause the final battle?” The climax is arguably the most important part of a movie; it’s what the film leads up to, everything that has happened before leads up to this moment. The original version does not satisfy in this department, making the overall movie more of a dull one. The perfect version would be if the Millennium scenes and all of Godzilla’s scenes were added to the US cut, but nonetheless the North American version remains the most entertaining to watch.