Godzilla 2000

Godzilla 2000: Millenium [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] * by Takayuki  Hattori (CD, May-2005, GNP/Crescendo) for sale online | eBay

Composed by: Hattori Takayuki

After the disastrously unfaithful American take on Godzilla in 1998, Toho Studios immediately swung into action and restored the giant city-crusher to his proper glory. Just the following year they completed Godzilla Millennium. This film was given a limited theatrical release in the US the next year, hence the title Godzilla 2000. I rather like Godzilla 2000. It has high entertainment value with the wonderfully cheesy American dub. The plot itself, concerning a giant prehistoric rock which houses an alien life form with a secret plan for world domination, is actually not too bad, although the alien’s monstrous creation at the end of the film is laughably clunky. The human characters are interesting for a Godzilla film as well. Their relative memorability for American audiences might be a result of the (reportedly intentional) goofy dubbing. With Akira Ifukube, the franchise’s chief composer, effectively stepping down from the series for a second time, Toho turned to another man, Hattori Takayuki, who had previously done Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. Hattori created a fairly varied score, albeit with some very cheap-sounding instrumentation.

The American album release contains all of the Japanese score plus some sound effects. In the American release of the film itself a great deal of this music was taken out and replaced with new cues, none of which is presented on album. Comparing the music between the two versions, I’ll have to say that I generally prefer Hattori’s work, probably because his compositions show a thematic consistency. However, some of the American cues really add to the atmosphere of the military and monster scenes.

Hattori abandons his Godzilla theme from Space Godzilla, not a bad idea since that theme was a weak point in that particular score. It was too heroic and corny and didn’t suggest anything of the terror or majesty of the fire-breathing dinosaur. The composer instead gives Godzilla a melancholic theme, showcased in the first track. This theme doesn’t really make too much of an impact after the opening tracks, with only small statements woven into the score until the final battle cues. That said it is a far superior theme from Hattori.

Hattori provides three more themes, two of these for the military. The first is a militaristic march introduced in “The Self-Defense Force Swings into Action”. This theme is stated frequently, but isn’t as good as the grandiose marches of Ifukube and was almost completely excised from the American release. American producers evidently wanted something more hard-edged. The other military theme is more of a repeating motif which only makes two appearances. Completely removed from the American version of the film, this heroic theme caught me off guard when I listened to the album. I have to say it’s very exciting and thrilling. It makes “The Encounter with the Mysterious Object” a highlight. The third theme is that for the UFO, often driven by an electronic choir that is a tad corny. It is perhaps the most stated theme of the album, even more so than Godzilla’s.

The album runs in chronological order, starting off with a track devoted to Godzilla’s theme, and then entering into the music for opening sequence, full of various action and suspense cues (“Inches from Disaster” is a particularly corny one). Closing this section is “Godzilla Appears in Nemuro”, one of the best tracks to feature Hattori’s Godzilla theme. The second batch of tracks consists of atmospheric cues as the prehistoric rock is excavated. The album heats up again with the introduction of the military march and a couple of action cues, including the aforementioned “Encounter with the Mysterious Flying Object.” Mystery music takes over with “Eerie Silence” and “The Wonder of G Revealed”, the latter featuring a repeating piano motif backed by angelic choir. “Giant UFO Approaching” is one of the great highlights, with pounding percussion and a rendition of the heroic motif.

For nearly the rest of Hattori’s score we are treated to a very long series of suspenseful buildup cues as the stage is set for the final battle, with a couple of nice emotional tracks put in. Hattori could have probably taken one of his emotional ditties and turned it into a recurring motif representing the main characters (there is one bit that appears in both “Wonder of G Revealed” and Thinking of My Dad”, but it doesn’t appear enough to register as a full-fledged theme). The abundance of set-up music creates a somewhat anti-climatic feeling, as the actual battle music takes up less than three minutes of space. Those in charge of the American edit would add in more underscore, not pleased with the paucity of music for the final confrontation. After a choral interlude in “Orga: Irony of Fate”, the end title suite takes over. This suite comprises of another concert arrangement of the melancholic Godzilla theme followed by the UFO theme.

Also included on this CD is one of Ifukube’s original themes, which Toho is obliged to feature at least once in every Godzilla movie. Sound effects are distributed among the music. These sound effects are only there to please die hard Godzilla fans and somewhat break the flow in a couple of places, with footsteps and monster roars intruding on the listening experience. Godzilla’s roar does make an effective opener for the first track, letting the Big G introduce his new theme.

Takayuki Hattori’s music is the first for the Millennium series, and represents a shift towards more varied Godzilla scores. The themes do not have the same power as Ifukube’s, but are generally fine to good. Hattori does a good job adjusting and developing them as opposed to Ifukube’s practice of nearly rehashing the same theme arrangements. However, all of the good points find themselves offset by cheap-sounding instrumentation, which produces some unintentionally corny and dare I say hilarious moments. Overall, Godzilla 2000 is a decent score which would be better served by a powerful orchestra.

Rating: 6/10

Tracklisting

  1. Godzilla Roars/Godzilla’s Theme: 2000 Millennium
  2. Godzilla 2000: Millennium Main Title
  3. The Giant Tail
  4. Face to Face with Terror
  5. Inches from Disaster
  6. Godzilla Appears in Nemuro
  7. Deep at Sea
  8. Sixty Million Year Slumber
  9. The Object from Outer Space – Bizarre Happening #1
  10. The Self Defense Force Swings into Action
  11. Launching the Full Metal Missile
  12. The Object from Outer Space – Flight
  13. Godzilla Sound Effects
  14. Godzilla Comes Ashore
  15. The Encounter with the Mysterious Object
  16. Eerie Silence
  17. The Wonder Of G Revealed
  18. The Object from Space: Bizarre Happening #2
  19. UFO Effects
  20. Giant UFO Approaching
  21. Off to Shinjuku
  22. Earth Invasion
  23. Before the Explosion
  24. Millennium
  25. Thinking of My Dad
  26. 21:10
  27. The Millennium Kingdom
  28. Miraculous Survival
  29. Extraterrestrial Life: The Birth
  30. Tensions on the Rise/The Metamorphosis
  31. Astonishing Resurrection
  32. G’s Decision
  33. Orga: Irony of Fate
  34. End Title: Godzilla – Dreaded God
  35. Godzilla and Orga Sound Effects
  36. Godzilla’s Theme (composed by Akira Ifukube)

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