Movie Review: "Godzilla" (1998)
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.
Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich found themselves on quite a roll with "Stargate" and "Independence Day". Despite much critical backlash, both films were major successes and highly entertaining popcorn movies. However, three times definitely wasn't the charm when they reached "Godzilla", the '90s remake of the classic Japanese monster.
Set on U.S. soil this time around, Godzilla is the result of nuclear testing on a remote island. He swims and stomps his way up the East Coast to New York City where most of the movie takes place. Our protagonist is Nick (Matthew Broderick), an earthworm specialist who is brought in to study the new beast. Woven into this crap is a lame unrequited love story (WTF!?).
It's just so obvious that the story and its characters were neglected so that they could get right down into the mega-budgeted special effects themselves. Godzilla is not only bigger than everything and everyone else in this movie from a physical standpoint, but metaphorically speaking as well. One can agree that the best parts of 1998's "Godzilla" are only the trailers themselves.
Big Monster, Small Characters
Back during the advertising campaign for "Godzilla", there were many posters on billboards, buses, etc. saying something to the effect of "His head is as big as this billboard" and "His foot is as big as this bus". Let's not forget the main tagline for the movie -- "Size Does Matter". Really? Well, I would say so because the characters in this movie are not only physically small in the eyes of Godzilla, but emotionally small in the eyes of the audience as well.
There was zero attempt to make these characters the least bit interesting. With "Stargate" and "Independence Day", they tried to. Kurt Russell was the cold-faced military man who lost his son, then there was the rivalry between Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Margaret Colin, the list goes on.
Romancing The Lizard
Of all things, they decided to include a love story in "Godzilla". Why oh why? This does nothing but soften the movie itself. For instance, right after the big action scene with the fish bait in Flatiron Square, Nick runs into Audrey at a corner store where he's picking up some more film for his camera -- Speaking of which, why would any corner store be open during a giant monster attack? Didn't the mayor say he was going to evacuate the city? And if you look at the store clerk himself, he seems to be very relaxed and not concerned at all about this city-wide emergency.
Anyway, the two of them quickly make up and he offers to take her out for a cup of coffee (WTF!?). If there was a giant monster stomping around where I live, a date would be the last thing on my mind. He almost got killed by Godzilla twice in one scene and he wants to go on a date!? One has to wonder what this idiot would do if he were in another Emmerich movie, "The Day After Tomorrow", he would probably take her on a canoe ride through flooded Times Square.
Now, let's also bare in mind that "Cloverfield" (a better giant monster film) also had a bit of a love story to it. While the characters weren't anything special either, they did seem a bit more realistic and the love interest herself was actually in danger. Nick's girl never really appears to be in any danger in "Godzilla".
Jurassic Park City
Much of the final act of "Godzilla" is set in Madison Square Garden where our characters discover that the big lizard is asexual and has been busy laying eggs the size of cars. Soon enough, the 'babyzillas' hatch and a big hide-and-seek chase sequence ensues that owes a lot to none other than "Jurassic Park" itself.
That's right, these things pretty much resemble the velicoraptors from that movie. Not only that, they lifted many of the raptor scenes as well -- They have the babyzillas opening the doors by themselves and even the creepy silhouette scene. Sheesh, how much more obvious can you get? I mean Godzilla himself (or itself?) is akin to a super-sized T-Rex.
Random Things That Make No Sense
- How is the Metlife Building still standing after Godzilla jumped right through it? It looks very cool, but it doesn't make sense. It would have been nice if we actually saw Godzilla jump through it though instead of seeing what happened afterwards.
- The military attempts to lure Godzilla into a trap by placing a pile of fish as bait in Flatiron Square, but don't lizards eat bugs and not fish?
- So many bullets are fired at this big lizard yet they all miss. How can the military fail to hit something that is so huge?
- How is it possible for a giant lizard like Godzilla to hide within a city of eight million people? This thing is like what, two hundred feet tall? It's not like it can just hide in an alleyway or behind a building.
Remedies for "Godzilla"
- I will always revert back to "Cloverfield" when it comes to "Godzilla". That movie is the equivalent of what a U.S. remake of "Godzilla" should have been. The creature design was effective, the creature had different characteristics, and the lice bugs were more original than the stupid babyzillas. Oh and there wasn't a happy ending, which helped (unlike "Godzilla").
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