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"


  1. that year 1998 godzilla is amazing! The monster is so cool! :) :D I'd always been interested of dinosaurs, but that's something so amazing! :D

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