Okay, so I'm fresh offa watching G2K three times. It's been a while since I saw it, so after watching the American cut I backed to backed it with the Japanese. (which I'd not seen before)
I had underwhelming memories of this one. I came back to Godzilla quite late, and so didn't have the whole "withdrawal symptoms" like my bro up there. So back in the day, I watched it, went "meh" and moved on. Now I think I suspect I undervalued this film slightly.
To me, this is still a bit of a mis-hit, in both versions. It plays out as a continuation of the heisei series. Everyone knows about Godzilla, he's attacked before, and at the end, one of the characters asks, "Why does he keep saving us?" If we're meant to take this film as being the first of a new run, with only the original Gojira counting, those statements make little sense. It's a small thing, but it bugs me.
Also the UFO and Orga itself, don't really do anything for me. If anything, I feel a little sorry for Orga. Millions of years travelling through space, another few millions of years sitting at the bottom of the ocean... wakes up, gets mutated, has head blown off in the space of two days. Jeez, which god did he piss off in a previous life?
I'm not going to say anything about the CGI and compositing, because if we're going to start talking about slightly shonky SFX in a Godzilla film, then I think we're missing the point.
So. Good stuff? Oh, yes. Godzilla's initial attack is terrific. The use of the red lit backlighting was a very good choice, and did emphasise the fact that this Godzilla is a much more dangerous creature, than even the Heisei series. The shot of the car with Godzilla walking parallel in the distance was one of "those" moments, for me. One of those shots that make you realise just why the Japanese are so good at this kind of film.
I liked pretty much all the human characters in the film, which is a rarity. Io was just this side of precociously annoying, Shinoda was enough of an everyman to have you rooting for him, his love interest wasn't forced into every scene and underplayed well enough that a few Western films could learn from. Katagiri was a lovely character. Almost one dimensional, but that stoical approach worked for what he was trying to do. And the second scientist (now my names fail me) was easily my favourite character. He had depth, was pretty complex with shades of grey and was just enough of a good 'un to make you genuinely surprised when he did something for Katagiri. One of the better human ensembles.
Godzilla himself was odd... I'm not a fan of the neck and head on this suit, but they are minor quibbles. He was just underwhelming in this film, especially at the end battle. I can't quite put my finger on what makes it such an underwhelming experience. Giant monsters whaling on each other should be fun, and this just seemed to lack any energy. Orga's design probably didn't help, those arms are in the worst possible place for him to start duking it out...
Both versions of the ending worked for me. The silence with Godzilla nuking the city, or the Destroy All Monsters theme? I love that cue, I really do... But seeing as how I preferred the more minimalist approach to the score that the original cut had, I'm going to have to go with that. Hattori's score was fun, and called back to the more nautical sounding themes from Godzilla '85, which, again, I'm a fan of.
As an aside, I don't really have a problem with the US dub calling the things Regenerator G-1. As Orga is never referred to by name in the film itself, I can let than one slide.
That's all I got for now.