Godzilla (1998)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 5:53 PM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 2.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 5/10

GODZILLA (1998) - Roland Emmerich

Everyone has heard of the king of kaiju's: Godzilla. Starring in twenty-eight films, the destructive monster represents a metaphor for nuclear weapons in the country of Japan, and remains a cult icon. Ever since 1954, Godzilla has terrorized Japanese audiences as an enormous nuclear monster. Forty-four years after the monster's first appearance, director Roland Emmerich reimagined the creature to an Americanized audience. The outcome? Mehh...

Godzilla explains the monster's origins by beginning the movie with a nuclear test in French Polynesia, where a lizard egg becomes mutated by the radiation of an atomic blast. The beast then travels to North America and wreaks havoc on Manhattan. The film follows Dr. Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), a scientist emphasizing on radiation effects on animals, who assists the mililtary to contain the monster.

To begin very bluntly, I request you to not watch this movie if you are a Godzilla fan to begin with, because you will be very disappointed. Then again, you might have seen it already and walked away angered.

Firstly, everyone in this movie does stupid things. If you are curious to see a movie in which the military is portrayed in the most dull-witted way possible, watch Godzilla. The military here do nothing but fire countless missiles and torpedoes at the monster, "which have so little effect we wonder how our tax dollars are being spent" (Roger Ebert, Godzilla). Before the pilots find out that their heat-seeking missiles are futile to a cold-blooded animal, the humans have already lost the Chrysler Building. To quote the mayor in the movie, "[they] caused more damage than the goddamn thing did!"

The plot of this film is considerably too predictable, which is okay if executed properly. But if the film receives a secondary narrative about the scientist's ex-girlfriend, and we didn't care about the characters to begin with, then we are not watching a movie about Godzilla. Emmerich tries to give the movie some substance by having characterization, but cheesy dialogue and bad acting are too lazy of ways to carry on the task.

Godzilla, the monster itself looks fine, but all the fans are going to say it looks nothing like the original kaiju, which I partially agree. I guess you can say this version looks more reptile-like, more animalistic. For example, the monster here does not stand upright like he does in the original Japanese films.

One big problem I had with this film ever since I was a kid was Godzilla was always shown at night, where you can barely see him. Watching it today, I can only see that the night effect will hide the fact that their CGI was weak. Imagine Jurassic Park with all the dinosaurs shown at night. The visual wonder will be gone. To quote Ebert once again, the movie made the monster "[hop] out of sight like a camera-shy kangaroo." As a result, my favorite sequence in this movie takes place in Madison Square Garden, where the indoor lighting finally becomes clear, and you can clearly see Emmerich's combined usage of CGI and animatronics.

In conclusion, Godzilla is the prime example of a movie where the screenplay is bad, and all the filmmaking techniques are only up to par, and you seek entertainment in what is mediocrely given. Making a movie about Godzilla is totally okay. After all, we have already seen Jurassic Park and even King Kong. But the difference between Godzilla and the two selected films are that they have either a sense of wonder or they are made so that you care for the monster. When Kong fights the planes, you are fighting with him. Here in Godzilla, there is no substance, just a straightforward machine-driven movie about a monster that wreaks havoc and people try to kill it. As a result, the key to enjoying the film is whether or not you're on board with this idea. For me though, I got on and off.


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