Godzilla (1998) — Aren’t we all supposed to pretend this didn’t happen?

“We need bigger guns.”

Justin’s rating: I have my atomic firebreath after eating Taco Bell’s Chili Cheese Burritos!

Justin’s review: The complete meltdown of this American version is well-known by now. Hollywood, looking for any and all opportunities to cash in on the Next Big Thing involving Recycled Shows and Movies, bought the rights to remake the Japanese Godzilla franchise here in the U.S. Of course, the Japanese Godzilla movies are nothing short of incredibly infamous for rampant destruction, rubber monster suits, bad dubbing and general cheesiness. If you love this style (and hey, who doesn’t?), these movies can fill a quintessential void in our hearts; namely, being four years old and wanting to stomp on everything.

Yet this “reimagining” takes an awful turn as we see the results of decisions by committee. They try, hard, to give Godzilla logical science backing him (or her) up, but then shoot themselves in the collective foot multiple times over during the course of the film by not following their own line of reasoning. They hire big name actors (sorta) to fill in roles that amount to “Look up and point and yell something” characters. It’s very clear they couldn’t decide whether to play it straight — action, scifi, carnage — or drum up the camp, and the mix is positively mind-boggling in its failure.

Worst of all, the story comes off as dizzy and incoherent, like a toddler trying to explain the branches of government. Hence why the film’s slogan “Size Does Matter” was quickly parodied into numerous t-shirts spouting “Plot Does Matter.”

Godzilla, cranky lizard that he (or she… doesn’t this sound like that Life of Brian sketch?) is, is born from nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Naturally, he makes a beeline for (where else?) New York City. In my mind, this happened after the following conversation in the writers’ room:

Head Writer: Okay, we need Godzilla to trash a highly recognizable American city. And since there are only two cities in America, we’ll do… [flips coin] New York.

Writer Intern: [bringing in a map] Wouldn’t Los Angeles make more sense? There aren’t many direct routes from the South Pacific to the eastern seaboard, unless we’re going to show a five minute sequence of Godzilla going through the Panama Canal.

Head Writer: You’re fired.

In Godzilla 1998, a massive lizard threat emerges from the ocean, Ferris Bueller is brought in as a consultant on his day off (ba-dum), and authorities manage to evacuate the entire NYC metropolitan area in about three hours. Now, as we mentioned earlier, there are many inconsistancies in this film, but it’s a pretty big pill they ask us to swallow in blindly accepting that millions of New Yorkers are really gonna bug out of down just because of a nuclear lizard. My guess is, they’d probably adopt the sucker as a mascot. Sponsor him in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Anyway, because Godzilla fluctuates between two and 40 stories tall throughout this entire movie, he disappears on occasion to give the humans their own interest stories. The audience applauds the insight of the movie studio that recognizes that the main need of anyone watching the film would be to see humans love, bicker, and fall in love instead of more gratuitous destruction from the TWO-TO-40 STORY TALL MONSTER WE CAME TO SEE.

The movie, already floundering like a tanker run aground on a coral reef, is finally torpedoed by complete idiocy. Godzilla turns out to be a hermaphrodite (or something) and gives birth to hundreds of eggs in Madison Square Garden. Each of these eggs hosts leftover raptors from the Jurassic Park set, and our bumbling idiots, er heroes, are the only ones who find them in time to make one REALLY big omelette.

Both Japanese and American Godzilla films are movies you’ll make fun of, hopefully with friends. The difference is, the Japanese movies are funny in their intentional goofy selves, while the American version is sad in just how spectacularly bad a big-budget disaster can be.

One comment

  1. You know, as a stand alone giant monster film… I don’t think it’s all too bad. Sure it’s dumb but it is kind of entertaining with the action and such. All in all, I don’t hate it like I do many of other films in the late 90’s. Personally, how can anyone make a serious movie about a giant mutated lizard that decides to hunker down in New York City? You can’t make the acting good because New Yorkers are annoying ass holes.

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