Tanner Reviews Godzilla (1998 Film)


Oh come on! With a tagline like that how can you not be made fun of?!

Oh come on! With a tagline like that how can you not be made fun of?!

With the release of the new Godzilla movie, that I will be seeing this week. This movie has resurfaced in the mind and eyes of those who had the misfortune of seeing it in sixteen years prior. Coming from the mind of big budget, big cast, all explosions, no substance, and precursor to Michael Bay director Roland Emmerich, the 1998 version of the towering lizard monster nearly killed the Godzilla franchise with how much it was hated not only by critics, but by fans as well. Even people who are fans of Emmerich’s other movies like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow have very few kind words to say about this movie. It may not be the worst ranked on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, but anytime this film pops up, it is usually met with ‘Oh, you mean that HORRENDOUS Godzilla movie from the 90’s.’ But is it really as bad as people make it out to be? While I will admit that this movie is not per say ‘good’, I will defend this movie as not being as horrible as people make it out to be.

Due to nuclear testing in the French Polynesia, a lizard nest that was within the radiation blast becomes irradiated. Several years later a Japanese fishing vessel is attacked by a very large creature to which the sole survivor of the vessel calls him ‘Gojira’ (or Godzilla:semantics). We then get to see our plucky protagonist Niko ‘Nick’ Tatopoulos starring none other than the man with the perpetual fifteen year old face of Matthew Broderick. He is recruited by the US Government to research the fishing accident since he is the top mind in his field.

But let’s just move on to the part where Godzilla shows up in New York City and starts reigning havoc on everything that it comes in contact with. So the story goes as the American military tries to slay the gigantic creature, Nick discovers that the creature is in fact asexual and thus does not need a mate to reproduce (oh we will get to that soon). Add in the appearance of Jean Reno as some french dude and we have ourselves a genuine critical disaster… Or do we?

Pros

All Things Considered, It has that Roland Emmerich Level of Entertainment

Say what you will about Emmerich, he sure knows how to make flashy lights and grandiose battles look very entertaining. If you need a guy to create the big battle, he is the guy that you call. Watching Godzilla tear New York City a new asshole is very entertaining and the battles can be very intense.

Some of the best parts of the movie comes in the third act when the group is trapped in Madison Square Garden with the little mini Godzillas and have to find their way out of the building. The fight scenes are intense, the visuals are cool to look at, and it is certainly entertaining to watch.

Jean Reno is Always a Delight

I love Jean Reno. He is an exceptionally talented actor and really underappreciated for his talents all things considered. For those who would argue me on that, I will say that whatever high accolades that Reno has been given, he should be given much much more. He is very entertaining, very talented, and was a shining ray of light in this movie. Playing a member of the French Secret Service, Reno brings that right level of action hero awesome and witty attitude that helps carry the movie. Most of the time I was hoping they would skip the Totopoulos plot and follow ‘Mr. French’ as he tries to kill the monster with nothing more than four other French dudes, witty attitude, and the right amount of attitude.

Hilariously Stupid

The Roger Ebert/Gene Siskel Parody

What in God’s name was Emmerich thinking? I can understand that you would be a little hurt over Siskel and Ebert giving your beloved Independence Day negative reviews. But even for those who disagree with Siskel and Ebert’s assessment, still love and respect the now passed on critic duo. To have the balls to parody them in such a way that Godzilla did is so stupid that I had to create a whole other category just to classify it. Not to mention parodying it in a movie that is worse than Independence Day just adds a cherry on to the ridicule cake as far as that one is concerned. And while we are on the subject of horrible writing and bad ideas.

Cons

They Keep Losing the Monster and the Creature Reproduces Asexually (or Bad Writing)images

The two big ones are listed above, but really there is a lot of bad writing all together… But for now let’s stick to the big two that I want to discuss. First off, how in the hell do they keep losing a monster the size of Godzilla in the middle of New York City? Yes, the movie attempts to explain this when Nick says that the buildings make sure he can easily hide and yes New York City is a big fucking city. But this thing is the size of half of those damn sky scrapers! Granted this might be possible, if it weren’t for the fact that you have aircraft, satellites, the US military at your disposal in order to catch this sucker and you can’t find the damn thing. I don’t know if that is bad writing or Emmerich attempting to say that the military is inept… Either way it is incredibly stupid!

Then we have the big second act turning point. Oh yes, apparently Godzilla reproduces asexually. Thus our lovely creature does not need to have sex in order to reproduce. This comes as part of the big finale that includes Madison Square Garden full of Godzilla eggs ready to be hatched. When this first comes to Nick’s mind, he buys a handful of pregnancy tests and sure enough the reptilian abomination is. When asked by Nick’s ex girlfriend, Nick just handwaves it away saying ‘Not if she reproduces asexually.’ Dude! You got to put a little more emotion into that then just ‘Oh. She reproduces asexually.’ The idea of a complex lifeforms such as Godzilla or really a lizard reproducing without the need for sex is mind-blowing. Tremors 2: Aftershock does a far better job ab portraying the fact that you have a complex creature that reproduces asexually. The woman in that movie is practically shooting through the roof with excitement from the science boner that she has at this discovery. Nick just waves it off like it is nothing.

This is partially due to Broderick, partially due to the writing, but all together it is just plain bad.

Matthew Broderick

God love the man. He gets so much grief nowadays… Primarily due to this movie actually… Well that and Inspector Gadget. I can’t fault Broderick too much in this one though. It isn’t for a lack of trying. The guy was certainly trying to portray the character of Nick Tatopoulos. But man he just is not good in any kind of action role… Even if he is playing the nerdy little scientist caught in the wrong situation. I don’t know if it is the way he carries himself or if it is the fact that being Ferris Bueller has forever cast him into the role of an over-privileged underachieving  teenager, but I cannot take him seriously when he is on camera. Whether he is talking about science or advising people or just plain existing. As a secondary character I could see Broderick fitting in decently. But as the leading man, this is just some very poor casting.

Conclusion

So after all this, after even me tearing this movie a new one. Is it really as bad as critics and fans make it out to be? No… No it really isn’t. Oh it isn’t good, but at the same time it isn’t terrible either. It is a loud bombastic summer time popcorn movie. It does suffer from terrible writing and Matthew Broderick has thankfully stayed away from the realms of action movie anything after this, but besides that, you can watch Godzilla and not be bored by it. If you have nothing to do on a Tuesday night and it pops on AMC or something like that, it can at least kill two hours or be some good background noise while you surf the internet.

Final Score 2/5

Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Look forward to the continuation of Marriage Month this week as well as my review of the most recent incarnation of Godzilla. 

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