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'Godzilla 2000' kind of has the same plot as Jordan Peele's 'Nope.' Kind of.
Both Jordan Peele's latest and a mediocre Godzilla movie have a living UFO at their center.
Is Nope a kaiju movie? You could make the case that it is. While at first blush it has the premise and aesthetics of an alien invasion movie, the eventual twist reveals that it’s more of a monster giant movie. Still, it doesn’t feel quite right to classify Nope as a kaiju movie. Luckily, there is a movie — one unquestionably of the kaiju genre — that kind of has the same plot as Nope: Godzilla 2000.
Nope, now streaming on Peacock, is the third film from Get Out and Us director Jordan Peele. What initially seems to be a stylish take on a classic UFO story becomes something much stranger. The Unidentified Flying Object that’s lurking around the ranch owned by OJ and Em Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, respectively) is actually an Unidentified Flying Organism. There are no little green men inside — the saucer, later named Jean Jacket by OJ — is one living creature that has been sucking up and digesting horses and people.
Unlike Nope, Godzilla 2000 (which came out in 1999) is not a “good” movie, though it has its charms. The film was the first Godzilla movie that the Japanese studio behind the King of the Monsters, Toho, made after 1998’s infamous American Godzilla movie. It’s a return to form, in that Godzilla is once more a man in a suit rather than a dodgy CGI Jurassic Park rip-off, but it’s not a high point of the Godzilla franchise. It does, however, offer up an intriguing foe for Godzilla to do battle with: a living UFO.
In the movie, scientists discover a 60-million-year-old UFO at the bottom of the Japan Trench. It’s massive and covered with eons of rock, making it look like a giant oblong boulder. Shortly after its discovered, it activates, flying into the sky and eventually fighting with Godzilla. The UFO, which dwarfs even Godzilla in size, blasts Godzilla with a laser from the one opening in its surface, driving the monster away and then landing to get a solar recharge. During the fight, some of the rock encasing the UFO is damaged, revealing a slick silver surface.
When the UFO awakens again, it takes off and lands on top of Tokyo Opera City Tower where it emits a series of tentacles that go into the building as it starts downloading all the information it can find about Godzilla and his regenerative properties from the computers inside. The humans learn that the UFO was once an alien species they dub Millennians, and then when their spaceship crashed they were forced to convert the bodies to antimatter (as one does) to survive while dormant for tens of millions of years. When Godzilla attacks again, the UFO manages to get some of his DNA and reforms itself into a large squid-like kaiju — no longer a UFO but a single alien entity. (The tentacles and color scheme of this phase of the Millennian are, by what has to be coincidence, somewhat reminiscent of Jean Jacket’s final form in Nope.)
This phase is fairly short-lived, as the Millennian gets more of Godzilla’s DNA and transforms into a hulking, warped version of Godzilla, a bulky kaiju whose hunchback is the only reminder of the slick oblong UFO it once was. This version of what was once a UFO — now called “Orga” — attempts to attack and eventually eat Godzilla so that it can complete its transformation. While half-swallowed, Godzilla lets out a nuclear pulse that obliterates Orga, saving the day. Just as in Nope, the sentient UFO attempts to eat something that causes it to explode — another parallel.
The connections between Nope and Godzilla 2000 are, admittedly, a stretch. I cannot imagine that Peele was inspired by Godzilla 2000, or that any of the events of Nope are homages to the Millennian. And yet, it’s kind of interesting that two separate movies subverted audience expectations of what a UFO is — not a vehicle, but a character. Nope isn’t really a kaiju movie, not really, but it is a monster movie. Of course the King of the Monsters has trod similar ground before.
Nope is now streaming on Peacock. Godzilla 2000 is available as VOD.