Godzilla (1998) Recap

Jamie

Godzilla is back, Jack! And boy is he… something. When a series of disasters are tracked to a nuclear-mutated giant lizard a military/scientific team follow it to NYC where it has gone to lay its eggs. Will they be able stop Godzilla (and perhaps get the girl (and perhaps advance their journalistic ambitions)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Godzilla.

How?! A giant lizard is on the loose, a product of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific, and as they track it across the globe they recruit a nuclear scientist/biologist expert, Nick, to figure out what’s going on. When the lizard, called Godzilla, shows up in NYC and starts to wreak havoc, Nick figures out that it’s using the island as a nest to hide its eggs until they can hatch. Meanwhile his ex-girlfriend, Audrey, is an aspiring journalist who uses her connection to Nick to get the big Godzilla egg scoop. Unfortunately she ruins everything because this leak gets Nick kicked off the team, his theory discounted, and she doesn’t even get credit for the story. Damn… because I was really invested in this aspiring journalist storyline you spent 45 minutes on. Anyway, Nick isn’t ready to give up and teams up with some French special forces to infiltrate the city and find the eggs. Audrey also isn’t ready to give up (hmmm, seems like they have a lot in common… particularly regarding giving up and whether they are ready to do something like that) and follows Nick into the city. There they find that Godzilla has laid his eggs in none other than Madison Square Garden. Ready to blow that place to smithereens and eviscerate a species they are just a second too late and the eggs hatch into a million velocirap… I mean, baby Godzillas. Using Audrey’s journalistic skillz they broadcast from the announcing booth and alert the army to what needs to be done: blow up an NYC landmark (eeesh, how very 90’s). Managing to escape just in time, the army blows all those baby animals apart, but are surprised to find an enraged Godzilla emerge from under the city and start a rampage. Acting the hero again, Nick and his team lure Godzilla to the Brooklyn Bridge where it becomes entangled and is finally subdued. THE END… or is it? (it is).

Why?! I actually enjoyed the motivations for Godzilla. While I remember it kinda being made fun of at the time I actually think the idea that this large lizard just chilled for a while eating fish in the pacific until it was time to lay eggs at which point it found a nest in a city because the buildings allowed it to hide is kinda cool. I don’t really understand the whole “asexual reproduction” thing they came up with… seems a little Jurassic Park and unnecessary. I would have preferred for the male Godzilla to show up and be a garbage shrimpy lizard that the female Godzilla immediately eats or something… but I digress. The motivations for the human characters though are trash. Audrey is a one-dimensional, poorly written character that wants to be a journalist and that basically motivates everything she does and Nick is supposed to be a former hippy dippy nuclear activist turned scientist that then mostly just wants to destroy Godzilla off the face of the Earth. Just very strange.

Who?! Dedicated to the memory of Tomoyuki Tanaka, the long time producer of the Godzilla franchise who died from a stroke the year before this film. Additionally, while we always note Presidents and the such, I do think that city mayors are probably fairly common in their own right, particularly of NYC. This had Mayor Ebert, named after critic Roger Ebert as a dig by the director. Nice one, Roland.

What?! The product placement comes at you in this film fast and furious. Broderick is glancing at his swatch, the French secret service are holed up in their UPS van, Godzilla attacks a ship full of delicious Bumblebee tuna, etc. But my favorite is a joke where Broderick buys a Kodak disposable camera (like the type used by a stereotypical NYC tourist) to take pictures of Godzilla… right before that stereotype went out the window and completely dates the film.

Where?! This is as perfect an A as you can get. Doesn’t reach A+ because they didn’t go with the Godzilla Attacks New York title, but Manhattan is pretty much a starring character as the buildings are described as the perfect Godzilla habitat. Add on top that Godzilla uses iconic MSG as a nest and they have to blow it up (that wouldn’t fly past-2001) and you got gold.

When?! This was obscure for sure. The only thing I really saw that would potentially help with this was a poster on a wall in NYC for a concert in the beginning of March… but like those posters probably go up well before the concert and stay up for long after so not great. I bet it’s discoverable considering how much NYC shit was visible while Godzilla was rampaging about, but it would take a full reviewing of the film and that ain’t happening. F.

This movie is not good and it’s interesting that you can find articles written claiming that it’s not as bad as people remember. Sure I think the basic premise is actually pretty good but it stop at that point. The film looks bad, is about 50 minutes too long, and they spent most of the filler time between Godzilla sightings rehashing the professional motivations for the characters. Are we supposed to care that Audrey wants to be a journalist but feels like she can’t make it in a male-driven world. A Godzilla monster is attacking! Why not just make her a successful and ambitious journalist and be done with it? Seemed like a big disservice to Maria Pitillo who took a lot of heat and ended up being the only actor to get a Razzie nomination (and she won). It’s not her fault really. I think she plays the character well, it’s just that the character is trash. I think this stands as a nice part of 1997-9 trilogy with Batman & Robin and Wild Wild West. Wild Wild West is crazy and fun, this is drab and bad, and Batman & Robin is BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Ah, remember simpler times. Bill Clinton is in the process of being impeached. The dot com boom is a chugging with no (discernible …) end in sight. And the US was swept by Godzilla-mania! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – When Patrick was a young child he had a terrible affliction. That affliction? Godzilla-mania. Or at least I remember when this film came out, I remember the secrecy surrounding what Godzilla looked like, and I distinctly remember thinking it looked dumb when it was finally leaked. Very specifically I didn’t really get why it didn’t look like Godzilla. This rewatch was a long time coming.

The Good – The main actors are all fine given what they are given to do. It was an interesting premise: the idea of Godzilla just being a new species (focused less on the consequences of nuclear proliferation) and very specifically an animal, and using a biologist angle to figure out how to deal with it. The CGI is not good, but it certainly was big, and that’s something. The first half hour is that of a genuinely good film, I was supremely entertained by the first half hour.

The Bad – The next one and a half hours? Woof. I feel bad for Maria Pitillo who was fine, but got a load of shit for this film because whoever wrote it seemed to just have “Audrey looks confused” written into every scene. The side romance story ropes in a strange journalist plot that makes NYC seem rather small. The entire Madison Square Garden plot down to them blowing the building up is something that could have only happened in 1998 very specifically. Oh yeah, and who could forget what genuinely might be the worst song ever created. My god, my ears! P Diddy why?!

The BMT – Yeah, of course. It might actually be the quintessential big-budget creature feature for BMT. Most creature features are terrible, but they are also mostly low-budget and get away with it (sometimes coasting on irony alone), or they are like the fifth sequel to an originally good feature. This is a pretty rare misfire right out of the gate. And for a remake of a beloved franchise no less.

Roast-radamus – Hmmmmmm, it could sneak in for Where (Setting as a Character) for sure for New York City. And there is an outside shot it will age like a fine wine and it’ll get a nod for BMT in general. Otherwise I can’t think of an in your face product placement. I would love to say How (Worst Twist) for the baby egg hatching at the end, but I don’t really think that was a twist. More of a sequel set up. And I think Godzilla laying eggs in Madison Square Garden isn’t a notable terrible twist either.

StreetCreditReport.com – It occasionally gets onto lists of worst remakes (well deserved I think). Additionally MovieFone and Siskel and Ebert put it on their worst of lists of 1998. It has serious cred for the late 90s, although a bit of it is washed out by how bad Armageddon was received that same year. That is one I find mentioned more these days, although partially out of a kind of cult love for its jingoistic cheesiness.

You Just Got Schooled – One more bad film watched, one more animated series to sample. Godzilla (1998) indeed had a sequel in the form of Godzilla: The Series. Opening exactly where the film left off our heroes (plus a few new friends) discover the egg teased at the end of the first film which promptly imprints on Nick and escapes to New York Harbor. Quickly growing in size and displaying intelligence, loyalty, and an oh-so-important sterility, Godzilla 2.0 is chased around by the military until the gang finds a new monster in Jamaica. After Godzilla battles and defeats the beast everyone realizes that Godzilla could be the only thing standing between humanity an apocalypse at the hands of other mutated monsters. Godzilla … The Series! Honestly for a late 90s cartoon it actually was pretty good I thought. They still gave Audrey nothing to do, which would have been funny if it weren’t so sad. I would say A for adaptation because I genuinely think this was the vision for the sequel. For actual cartoon maybe a B? I would give it higher, but I don’t think people will go back and be like “this is great!” like they’ve done with Gargoyles. But this is serviceable.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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