Godzilla (1998) – Rolamd Emmerich

 

It had to happen sooner or later, there was bound to be some crossover from the Sci-Fi Chronicles book and the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book… and it just had to be this one. Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla film, which for the Sci-Fi book continues my exploration of the Godzilla character, and for the Great Movies book ties in as a recommendation for my screening of King Kong.

I just wish it had been a better film, as Godzilla fans tend to refer to this one as GINO, Godzilla In Name Only. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the filmmakers’ disdain for the original films. If you don’t like them, then why do one?

And that leads me to another thing…

I’ve never understood how Emmerich’s films tend to get such solid casts with recognizable faces (sure people need a paycheck) but these films (and yes that includes Independence Day, but maybe not Stargate) tend to be nothing more than badly plotted popcorn films, yet they draw names, budgets, and effects (though this one suffers terribly).

So despite the fact that there is a solid cast in the film, including Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer, the film never really takes off or wows the viewer, despite the massive budget. Just goes to show once again that in the long run, its story and characters, and not the special effects that people really want.

In a rather goofy tale, Broderick plays Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, an expert on radioactive mutations, who is called in by the military, overseen by Colonel Hicks (Kevin Dunn) to help figure out some attacks that have occurred at sea, and some rather large footprints left on land.

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As the story unfolds, we learn that this Godzilla was created by nuclear testing done by the French, though the opening credits seems to suggest it was the American’s work near Bikini Atoll… Consequently, a French agent, Philippe Roache (Reno) and his team show up to try to contain it, or at least track the beast down and stop it.

Unfortunately no one believes Niko’s suggestions, and the military has their own ideas on how to do things.

Meanwhile, Niko’s ex, Audrey (Pitillo) is trying to make a name for herself in the news, and tries to get the story from him, with her cameraman, Animal (Azaria) at her side.

That’s the extent of the plot, as these cardboard characters seem just as ready to be knocked over as buildings and landmarks once Godzilla makes landfall in New York. He starts trashing the place, though the military causes even more damage, and is just looking for a safe secure place because, it seems the big guy is… pregnant.

This Godzilla has neither the beauty nor the awe that a Spielberg dinosaur creates, no matter what the film’s score would have you believe, and the CG in the final act gets a little shoddy…

There were a couple of in-jokes I did like, there were some ID4 toys in some scenes, and the New York Mayor was named Ebert (Michael Lerner) and his aide was named Gene (Lorry Goldman) – a swipe at Siskel and Ebert…

It just wasn’t so great…

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