RanKing of the Monsters #3 – Millennium Mayhem!

Be sure to check out the whole RanKing of the Monsters Series to see who comes out on top!

A New Godzilla for a New Millennium

Our previous entry of Ranking of the Monsters highlighted some of the Heisei era’s heaviest hitters, with two ‘90s monsters (Biollante and Gamera) earning perfect scores. While the Heisei era continued in Japan until 2019, Godzilla’s return to Japanese cinema with 1999’s Godzilla 2000 marked the beginning of the “Millennium” series of Godzilla films. For the sake of simplicity, this entry of RotM will focus on monsters from around this time period of the early 2000s.

Godzilla (Millennium Series)

First Appearance: Godzilla 2000 (1999)
Notable Ability: MEGATON BODY SLAM!!!

Godzilla’s Millennium-era redesign is, in a word, pointy. So much so that I’m surprised some of the bigwigs at Toho allowed the design since toys based on the monster could easily puncture a careless child in at least a dozen places at once. Between the jagged spines and some extremely toothy jaws, and you get an edgy kaiju for a woefully edgy new millennium.

Edginess isn’t bad, though! Like the previous iteration, Millennium Godzilla is, for the most part, unwillingly heroic, assisting humanity inadvertently by taking down more malicious monsters. With no rival monster around, he is a destructive force of nature that humanity has to find a solution for or learn to coexist with.

Go! Go! Godzilla!

Millennium Godzilla shows off a bit more energy than the Heisei-era Godzilla, with the suit allowing more range of movement. He generally fights the same way he always has, though it’s impossible to rid your mind of the image of Godzilla leaping hundreds of feet in the air to crush his opponent with a devastating body slam after seeing it. That earns half a point right there!

This particular version of Godzilla appears in four movies (Godzilla 2000, Godzilla vs Megaguirus, Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla, and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS). He might be best known for inspiring the line, “Godzilla is inside each one of us!”, recited very earnestly by a human protagonist in Godzilla 2000 as Godzilla demolishes a Japanese city in the background. It’s truly a line for the ages.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Orga (G2K)

First Appearance: Godzilla 2000 (1999)
Notable Ability: DNA absorption leading to immediate physical evolution

After the relative failure of the American Godzilla film from 1998, Toho immediately set to work to revive Godzilla for a more traditional line of kaiju movies. Their first offering for this “Millennium series” was Godzilla 2000, which strips Godzilla back to its basics. Despite most of the film focusing on Godzilla as a recurring “natural” disaster, he is still given an alien foe to battle in the form (or multiple forms of) Orga.

Orga originally appears as an alien spacecraft, brought to life with the worst late-’90s CG imaginable. Seriously, this thing looks like if the T-1000 from Terminator 2 morphed into a sentient computer mouse. After absorbing Godzilla’s DNA, Orga becomes much more of a traditional kaiju, leading to a brief, but fun, battle against Godzilla.

Orga isn’t one of Toho’s better kaiju creations, but it’s… fine. It serves its purpose in giving Godzilla something other than buildings to destroy, and it’s fun to watch it attempt to evolve further by literally consuming Godzilla. The failed result of this attempt is one of the best moments in the movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Megaguirus

First Appearance: Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000)
Notable Ability: Energy-draining stinger attack

As a standalone Godzilla story, Godzilla vs Megaguirus isn’t very interesting, and not since Ebirah has there been a more underwhelming title monster in a Godzilla flick. Queen of the meganulons (an evolved form of a prehistoric dragonfly), Megaguirus at least uses her energy-draining stinger to put up a little more of a fight than a certain woefully outmatched ‘60s crustacean. 

As is the case with most of Godzilla’s insect-like opponents, Megaguirus was created as a puppet rather than being portrayed by a suit actor. As such, the oversized wannabe Pokemon has a bit less personality than most kaiju. 

Factor in some lackluster digital effects for when it’s zipping around Tokyo at high speeds and you have some less-than-satisfying monster action, except for that one part. Megaguirus, like the movie she headlines, is sadly almost entirely forgettable.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Take-Majin

First Appearance: Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008)
Notable Ability: Can grow up to six additional arms

Monster X Strikes Back is an oddball little kaiju movie that serves as both a sequel and satirical send-up of the 1967 cult classic, The X from Outer Space. Guilala, the bizarre chicken-headed monster from that movie, appeared on the first Ranking of the Monsters list, and he returns for this outing, along with a fittingly weird nemesis.

The ancient deity Take-Majin is prophesied to save the planet from Guilala and appears late in the film in some of the only non-stock monster-related footage. Portrayed by and named after prolific Japanese director/comedian/personality “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Take-Majin makes the most of his screen time by promptly taking a missile up his butt.

After the embarrassing ballistics mishap, Take-Majin uses his divine powers to grow numerous arms and decapitate Guilala with his gigantic ring-like weapon. The battle is fittingly silly, and offers some genuine humor in what is otherwise mostly an eyeroll-inducing slog of a movie. It’s worth noting that Take-Majin is one of the few humanoid kaiju from a Japanese movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Kiryu (Mechagodzilla)

First Appearance: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
Notable Ability: Absolute Zero Cannon

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla disregards all previous movies except for the original Gojira (1954). Humanity uses the bones of the original Godzilla to create a mechanical doppelganger, nicknamed “Kiryu,” to defend Japan against a second threat from Godzilla’s species.

The movie borrows more than a little from the popular ‘90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion in that it focuses on the psychological ramifications of piloting an occasionally out of control mechanical monster. Kiryu’s battle against Godzilla continues in Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), making the storyline the only duology of the Millennium-era Godzilla films.

In terms of design, Kiryu is a bit less sleek than its Heisei-era counterpart, and armed to the literal teeth with all sorts of artillery and laser weapons to take down Godzilla. Kiryu can even take to the sky to avoid Godzilla’s attacks, but its real strength lies in its diamond-powered “Absolute Zero Cannon,” which fires a gigantic beam of energy. Needless to say, the fireworks-heavy special effects show that results from Kiryu and Godzilla’s battle is a real joy to watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Steve Wittkamp

I like bad movies, good video games (Dragon Quest, Castlevania, etc.), and all manner of trivia. ...OK, I like some really bad video games too. AKA Falion.

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