Thursday, October 13, 2011

Godzillapalooza #23: Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla (1998)
Monster Profile:


-HEIGHT: 295 feet.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Zilla has no special powers. It has pretty impressive jumping, burrowing, and swimming abilities, but other than that it's just an overgrown, asexual lizard.
-BACKGROUND: The American "Godzilla's" background is one of the chief parts of this movie that I take a huge issue with. Basically, in this movie anyway, Godzilla is nothing more than a mutated iguana created by French nuclear tests in French Polynesia. WHAT?! So this "Godzilla" eats fish, reproduces asexually, cannot breath any kind of fire or nuclear blast, and is in no way indestructible like the true Japanese Godzilla. Basically the only similarity to the Japanese Godzilla is the trademark roar, at least they didn't mess with that. Also for some unknown reason he... or it... goes from the South Pacific straight to NYC. Whatever. For all of the above reasons, G-Fans and Toho have refused to recognize this imposter as Godzilla and simply refer to it as Zilla.

After some stock footage of nuclear tests and iguanas, the movie begins with a Japanese fishing boat being attacked by an unknown sea creature. Nick Tatopoulous (the films protagonist whose name no one can pronounce... It's not like it's that hard, you just say it phonetically... anyway) played by Matthew Broderick is introduced: a nuclear biologist who gets re-assigned to the US military's investigation on these strange attacks. Also investigating the case is the French Secret Service, led by Philippe Roache, played by Jean Reno whom I actually love in this movie. He's got some pretty funny one-liners, but more on that later. Anyway, the FSS interrogates an old Japanese victim of one of the attacks who says it was "Gojira!" they show this clip 8 million times. Skipping ahead quite a bit to when the plot finally starts moving again, Zilla shows up in NYC, runs around terrorizing everyone for a bit, and then disappears. Eventually Nick has the idea to lure Zilla out with fish. It works, the military attacks, it doesn't work. After Zilla disappears again, Nick finds a blood sample and determines Zilla is pregnant and nesting. He tells his college sweetheart, Audrey, and since she's trying to break into reporting, she breaks the story and Nick gets fired. The FSS picks Nick up and it's up to them to find the nest and destroy it. Audrey and her cameraman friend from the news station, Animal (played by Hank Azaria), follow them to make amends and break the story. Meanwhile, the military sets another trap for Zilla that doesn't entirely work. Zilla escapes into the river and is eventually hit by 2 torpedoes that everyone thinks kill it. Nick and company end up finding over 200 Zilla eggs inside Madison Square Garden, but before they can destroy them, they all hatch and starts chasing them around in a fashion shockingly similar to the Raptors in Jurassic Park. Nick and Philippe meet up with Audrey and Animal and they manage to broadcast from the NY Rangers booth to warn everyone of the dangerous babies. The four friends escape MSG just in time for 3 F-18s to blow it sky high and kill all the babies. But then, Zilla shows up again visibly pissed. It chases the four in a taxi until it gets caught in the suspension cables on the Brooklyn Bridge, giving the same three planes the opportunity to kill it with 12 MISSILES! WTF!? Besides the fact that the real Godzilla could NEVER be killed in this way, how does it make any sense that torpedoes wouldn't kill Zilla, but three F-18s would? Ugh! That's why this movie is a travesty. Oh by the, the movie actually ends showing a single surviving egg that hatches. And in case you were wondering, Nick and Audrey get back together and Philippe disappears into the night.

Oh my God... where do I begin with this movie. I saw this in theaters when I was eight years old, so excited to see a new Godzilla made in America, and I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I've already touched on how Zilla is in no way like the King of the Monsters. He even looks like a freaking iguana, it makes me sick. But the suckiness goes a bit deeper than that. For the most part the dialogue sucks balls. Matthew Broderick's character is kinda lame and constantly offering his words of wisdom. Maria Pitillo, who plays Audrey, is pretty attractive but can't act worth a crap, which would explain why I've never seen her in another movie. Another thing that chaffs me is how this movie feels like it was ripped off so many other sources. There's references to Jaws, the Independence day influence is apparent, and most of the time it feels like your watching a remake or Jurassic Park/Lost World. Literally there are some shots that looked like they were ripped out of the Spielberg films.

On the positive side, there are some things about the film I like. The special effects are great of course with plenty of gratuitous explosions that are fun to watch. I've already mentioned I love Jean Reno in this movie as well. Hank Azaria is also pretty funny, as you might expect. But there's still so many things that bother me. For example, why the Hell would Zilla go to NYC? If he was looking for a big city to nest in with plenty of fish, why didn't he just go to San Diego, LA, San Francisco, or Seattle for that matter. They're so much closer. Plus it literally pours down rain during the entire movie. Does it ever rain that much in NY? Yet another reason why Seattle would make more sense. Really though, this is an OK movie, it's mostly the fact that they tried to play the monster off as Godzilla that really bugs me. If they would have just made it a remake of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms it would have made more sense and probably been a pretty good monster movie. But no, they had to rape the Godzilla name. My emotions are so mixed. Watch it at your own risk. No one should be allowed to make Godzilla movies but Toho.

Best Part:
Pretty much any part with Jean Reno and the French Secret Service is awesome. He's got so many great moments. For example, the poor guy can never find a good cup of coffee in NY and it frustrates the crap out of him. It's also pretty funny when he impersonates Elvis to get into a military zone and it works. I also like Zilla's first appearance when a goofy old fisherman thinks he caught a fish and it turns out to be Zilla. There's some great chases too: when three helicopters chase Zilla through NY with explosions all around and the final taxi chase leading up to the crappy ending. Both are very entertaining. To round things out, here's Cinemassacre's James Rolfe's review of the movie. He makes a lot of the same points as me, but I love this dude and the video is definitely worth a watch.

My Ranking: #29 (out of 29)

Up next, Toho counters America's awfulness with another series of Godzilla movies. Thank God!... "Godzilla 2000"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Godzillapalooza #22: Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: In its final form, Destoroyah is 394 feet tall.
-MASS: 88,000 tons (final form)
-SPECIAL POWERS: In its final two forms, Destoroyah can fly. Its most powerful weapons are an explosive micro-oxygen beam and a laser from its horn. In its final form, it can also discharge energy from its tail. At any time, Destoroyah can morph into its aggregate form (more on this later) which has the ability to inject victims with lethal micro-oxygen.
-BACKGROUND: Destoroyah's background is a bit complicated to explain, especially to someone not familiar with the series, but in my opinion he is one of the coolest of all of Godzilla's enemies. The Oxygen Destroyer, the only successful weapon in actually killing Godzilla, created anaerobic conditions in Tokyo Bay, and after 40 years these conditions in essence revived a colony of microscopic Precambrian crustaceans with bad attitudes. They continued to grow and evolve until they became an army of human-sized, crab-like spiders. Ultimately they amalgamated into a giant version of this same beast, which swiftly evolved to a flying form to cope with military attacks. For its battles with Godzilla and his son, Destoroyah evolved into its final form, a ferocious, winged anti-Godzilla. In another ironic twist, the only thing that could killed the monster spawned by the first Godzilla's death, was the melt-down and death of the modern Godzilla.


-HEIGHT: 131 feet
-MASS: 16,500 tons
-SPECIAL POWERS: Thermo-nuclear atomic ray breath. Godzilla Jr is beginning to gain his father's power of cell regeneration.
-BACKGROUND: Little Godzilla is now almost totally grown up and looking more like old dad everyday (notice his dorsal fins haven't quite come in yet, I guess that's like nuclear monster puberty). He even gets into a fight with Destoroyah and is defeated, but the radioactivity from his father's meltdown revives him and turns him into a full blown Godzilla all his own.

The movie begins with a red glowing Godzilla attacking Hong Kong of all places. It's an awesome scene to open the last movie of the Heisei series (originally intended to be the last Godzilla movie altogether) and features one of the most awesome title screens ever conceived! More on that later. G-Force brings on the grandson of Dr. Yamane (remember him from the first movie?), Kenichi, who is a college student and Godzilla expert. Kenichi concludes that Godzilla's nuclear heart is like a reactor and in meltdown, thus it is only a matter of time until Godzilla blows up and destroys half the world. So that's the first problem on everyone's hands. But that's not all. Back in Tokyo, some construction around Tokyo Bay (where the first Godzilla was killed) keeps getting interrupted and there is no trace of oxygen in the soil. Turns out the Oxygen Destroyer's effects revived some organisms that eventually become Destoroyah (explanation above). The scene in which these microscopic Destoroyahs reveal themselves is creepy and awesome as they attack some fish in a public aquarium in a cool, updated version of when Dr. Serizawa demonstrates his weapon on fish in the first movie. Anyway, moving forward quite a bit, the Destoroyahs eventually become an army of giant crustaceans and attack people around the construction site. Before long Godzilla's son shows up, looking more like his dad than ever before, and fights Destoroyah in its amalgamated, giant spider-like form. Junior wins this round just before his dad shows up on the scene, but before they can celebrate, Destoroyah rises from the ashes in its final adult form. Destoroyah kills Junior and an enraged Godzilla seems to kill Destroyoah out of revenge. But as Godzilla tries to revive his lifeless son, Destoroyah comes back for more. Godzilla is weak, but with the help of the Super X III, destroys Destoroyah... ironic. At this point, Godzilla begins to meltdown. The army freezes him to contain the disastrous effects, but it is a sad moment when the crying Godzilla melts away and dies. However, all of the excess radiation revives and further mutates Junior. A new Godzilla is truly born.

This is a great potential ending and fantastic entry in the series, one of my favorites. Throughout the film there are countless references and homages to the first film that are really well done and enjoyable. The Yamane family and house is well represented from the first film including Momoko Kochi reprising her role as a now older Emiko. Destoroyah itself is a great way of tying-in the first movie with the last one. The movie's great on so many levels: the plot is cool, special effects are awesome, and the score could be the best of Ifukube's Godzilla career.

Godzilla looks absolutely awesome in this movie. Possibly his coolest look of all time. Most of his body is throbbing and glowing red due to the meltdown and steam pours out of his skin. It's awesome. Destoroyah looks about as evil as a monster can in his final form and is a formidable opponent. In his smaller forms though, I feel more like I'm watching an Alien movie... it's different, but it works. The movie's finale is action-packed and actually very moving. When Godzilla finally dies, it's an extremely sad and sentimental moment. Maybe it's just my lifelong fandom speaking, because watching one of my childhood heroes painfully melt-away was very striking the first time around. And then after we see Juniors revived and fully grown silhouette, clips from the original Godzilla flash over Ifukube's classic Godzilla march. Nostalgic and awesome. This movie is absolutely worth a look. A must see for every G-fan. Thank the Lord there were more G-movies to come, but the American entry to follow this one is the definition of the verb "to butcher".

Best Part:
The whole last part of this movie, starting when Junior arrives in Tokyo, is absolutely top-notch. The Godzilla action is everything you could hope for. Two awesome battles with an ever-changing Destoroyah and some surprisingly emotional dramatic moments. The ending is simply to die for, pun slightly intended. I've also already mentioned the films awesome beginning. I don't have the whole scene to show you, but I can give you this clip of possibly the greatest title screen of all-time! Notice the incorporation of the original Oxygen Destroyer. Simply awesome and easy for any G-fan to appreciate!

My Ranking: #7

Up next, the Godzilla takes a turn for the worst in the only film not made by Toho (go figure). Sometimes American filmakers do nothing but screw up... "Godzilla" (1998)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Godzillapalooza #21: Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Monster Profiles:


-HEIGHT: 394 feet.
-MASS: 88,000 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: SpaceGodzilla has powers running out of his ears to the point of absurdity, but hey we're talking about a Godzilla movie so that's half the fun. Because SpaceGodzilla was created from the same cells as Godzilla, he also has Godzilla's super-regenerative power. Rather than thermonuclear breath, SpaceGodzilla can fire a "Carona Beam" from its mouth that it can also control in midair. It can generate a gravity tornado and unleash bolts of energy from its shoulder crystals. SpaceGodzilla can form crystals around it and implant cosmic power in structures in order to make itself stronger. It can encase its body in a force field that deflects all projectiles and emits an aura that causes electrical disturbances. Furthermore, SpaceGodzilla can encase itself in crystals and fly through space at Mach 3.
-BACKGROUND: The best way to look at SpaceGodzilla is as Godzilla's extra-terrestrial evil twin. The film provides two complex possibilities for SpaceGodzilla's creation. Both involve Godzilla's cells drifting into space and being sucked into a black hole. The cells then combined with intense energy from stars which altered the genetic material and enhanced evolutionary speed creating a new monster that was spit out of a white hole. Sounding a little ridiculous? Bear with me. The two theories for Godzilla's cells entering space are as follows. First, Mothra could have carried some cells into space by accident after her battle with Godzilla when she flew out to stop the meteor. Second, when Biollante dissolved into spores that were released into space, some got caught up in a black hole (of course Biollante's cell contained Godzilla's genetic material). This is my favorite explanation, especially considering SpaceGodzilla bears some resemblance to Biollante in its face, but it is logically inconsistent. According to the events of "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah", which altered Godzilla's existence in history, Biollante never existed, thus making this explanation impossible. This movie mentions two events prior to "King Ghidorah" that the history change would have made impossible. In short, time travel is complicated. So the best philosophy is to do what you always do when you watch a Godzilla movie... turn off your brain and enjoy yourself.


-HEIGHT: 394 feet.
-MASS: 176,000 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: While not as impressive as MechaGodzilla II, Moguera still has a sizable amount of weapons at its disposal. It has plasma laser cannons in its eyes, a plasma laser cannon projector in its chest, and spiral grenade missiles fire from its drill-like hands for starters. It can move either by walking or using treads under its feet and its nose is an effective drill. It can fly at Mach 1 using rockets in feet and tail and travel through space at Mach 44. Moguera can also separate into two different vehicles: the flying Star Falcon (capable of flight at Mach 35) and the burrowing tank Land Moguera.
-BACKGROUND: Moguera first appeared outside of the Godzilla series in the 50's movie "The Mysterians." For the purpose of this series though, it is the second (and much less intimidating) creation by the UNGCC to follow MechaGodzilla II. Unlike the alien-invaders in the 50's, this 90's Moguera is intended to protect earth. The UNGCC name is actually an acronym: Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-type. Doesn't quite flow, but I'll accept it.


-HEIGHT: 98 feet.
-MASS: 8,800 tons.
-SPECIAL POWERS: Little Godzilla has gained the ability to breath short bursts of radioactive bubbles, similar to Minya's smoke rings. He can still communicate telepathically and his eyes still glow red when he's afraid.
-BACKGROUND: Extended exposure to radioactivity from his dad and in naturally occuring pockets on Birth Island (where he and Godzilla live) has turned the once Baby Godzillasaurus into a true little Godzilla. He has ballooned in size and is beginning to gain some of his father's powers. However, he is still helpless in battle and has a kind spirit and is very playful. Which brings me to another point: Little Godzilla is certainly cute (he looks more like a Pokemon than a Godzilla), but why in the world does Toho feel the need to make the Monster King's offspring always cute and cuddly?


  • MOTHRA (see movie #4) *Mothra herself makes a brief flashback cameo, but the Cosmos in the form of Fairy Mothras communicate with Miki Saegusa throughout the film.

The film opens up with the UNGCC's creation of their new and much less awesome looking weapon, Moguera. At the same time, two scientists employ psychic Miki Saegusa (remember her from every Heisei film?) and two G-Force Lieutenants two work on a project to implant a psychic receiver in Godzilla's brain to control him... dumb idea. So anyway, the five head out to Birth Island where Godzilla and his son live. The two Lieutenants meet Commander Yuki on the Island who is waging his own personal war on Godzilla somewhat unsuccessfully. Long story short, the receiver is planted and it works, but then it gets screwed up. Meanwhile, Moguera combats SpaceGodzilla as he is hurling himself toward Earth, but is defeated. SpaceGodzilla lands on Birth Island, kidnaps Little Godzilla and temporarily defeats Godzilla. Then things get really confusing and Miki is taken prisoner by the Japanese mafia. Anyway, SpaceGodzilla heads to Fukuoka, destroying everything in his path, where he sets up his base of operations. If you haven't caught on yet, SpaceGodzilla acts more like a Super Hero villian or a video game bad guy than a Godzilla monster, which is something I have an issue with. So back to the plot, Moguera and Godzilla both show up to fight SpaceGodzilla. Together they defeat SpaceGodzilla and save the world.

I have very mixed emotions about this movie, most of them negative. It is definitely the worst film of the Heisei series, but it's not quite as bad as many say it is. Let me break it down. First, the plot is kind of lame and SpaceGodzilla is complicated and not nearly as cool as he could be. Also the movie focuses way too much on the people and their love stories for a Godzilla movie. It moves really slow and the score is nothing to write home about. Godzilla is restored to his savior of the Earth role, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your style. I personally am cool with it. There's also plenty of inexplicable moments, for example, why does Commander Yuki use a submachine gun to try and fire his special bullets into Godzilla's chest? Were sniper rifles in short supply? And why the hell is the Japanese mafia in this movie? There's also a completely uneccesary shower scene in which we see Commander Yuki's ass. WHY?! Ugh.

On the positive side, the special effects are awesome. Koichi Kawakita returns after MechaGodzilla and does as good a job as ever with all the explosions and laser beams you can handle. On that note, the monster battles (while not the best ever) are very satisfying. Scenes of city destruction are also great. Godzilla looks as good as ever stomping through Fukuoka on his way to meet SpaceGodzilla in battle. I like that they found a way to include and update Moguera, but it's just nowhere as cool as MechaGodzilla so it's a little disappointing. I also am a fan of Megumi Odaka, who plays Miki Saegusa in every film of the Heisei series. Ok Godzilla movie, don't worry about missing it unless you're just a huge G-fan. All I can say is thank God Toho got their act together for the next movie, as it is one of the best entries of the series.

Best Part:
Ok so to get the obvious out of the way, the final Monster battle and the city destruction before it is the best part of the movie. Having said that, there are a lot of unintentionally funny parts that I would like to mention here. First of all, there's a part when giant crystals destroy part of the international space station. What's hilarious is when NASA officials explain that the only conclusion they can come to for this attack is that it was caused by a giant monster. Because I'm sure that would be a NASA scientists' gut feeling on anything. The other part is when the Mafia boss is playing one of those crane games at an arcade and he can't win anything. Meanwhile his assistant or whatever is being a whiny bitch. It's pretty funny. Unfortunately there's no clip on youtube, so you'll just have to check out the movie.

My Ranking: #20

Up next, Godzilla is dying and the Heisei series and Godzilla as we know him comes to an end. But a new era is ushered in, and Godzilla also fights a really sweet enemy... it's "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah"