Godzilla (1998) Preview

Jamie and Patrick crawl through the wasteland, no civilization in sight. “What are we going to do, Patrick?” Jamie cries through parched lips. “We’ll never find a police station.” Patrick meditates on this possibility while looking in his backpack of supplies. Only one delicious five-dollar footlong from Subway left. They each get a half-foot and sit against a rock to snack. Without warning Jamie stands up, his eyes ablaze, and throws his remaining sandwich to the ground. “This Subway sandwich is delicious, but what’s the point? We’re going to die anyway!” Suddenly they hear a faint buzz in the distance as a police car approaches… or is it a car? As it nears they notice that it’s a rocket skateboard. Rad. The police officer hops off his board, dark visor down, and gets right up in Jamie’s face. “Littering, dirtbag? Do it again, scum, I dare you. You are a weed. And I’m a weedkiller.” Patrick tries to interrupt, but the police officer pushes him back. “You want to get blown away too, filth? Both of you are coming with me and you’re lucky to be alive.” Jamie and Patrick look at each other in shock and shrug. Guess they’ll make it to the police station after all. After a super cool ride on the police issue rocket skateboard they enter the station, loose paper blowing around their feet and dangerous looking punks attempting escape at every turn. Almost immediately they hear a loud roar from up ahead “Fultz! Get in here, you no-good, rule-breaking piece of shit!” Other police officers whistle and clap as the officer, apparently Fultz, drags Jamie and Patrick into the sergeant’s office. “You wanted to see me Sarge?” He asks, looking annoyed. When the desk chair turns Jamie and Patrick are shocked… is that… Godzilla? That’s right! We’re watching the 1998 smash hit Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Roland Emmerich. A bit of a surprise that it is on the rejected list given that it had such anticipation and star power and is still known today as a giant critical failure. People were basically laughing at it. But perhaps it didn’t quite reach the depths of Batman & Robin. Let’s go!

Godzilla (1998) – BMeTric: 58.7

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(I guess it makes sense … a little weird that it would drop to almost below 50. This film should be a classic bad movie and thus immune to regression to the mean. Then again, mid-5.0s probably makes sense. A rating in the 4s is incredibly low for a blockbuster no matter how bad.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  Giant lizard monster moves swiftly from the Pacific to N.Y. harbor, and terrorizes the Big Apple. Biologist Broderick hooks up with mystery man Reno and his team to stop it. Giant-scale fx-driven no-brainder doesn’t make much sense, has shallow characters, and goes on too long – but still offers a surprising amount of fun. Followed by an animated series.

(Did I just hear “animated series” … I think I know what I’m doing for the You Just Got Schooled section. Anywho, quite a mild review to be honest, but also a little bit like how I remember it. I saw this in theaters almost certainly, and I remember thinking it was fine. I was 12 at the time … but still, I distinctly remember thinking it was silly but fine.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt6bMHUoE6I/

(Ooooof that Hank Azaria shot at the end. I just watched a video where he went through his filmography and he said this film was a terrible experience, that they were just soaking them with water the entire time and he got sick like four times.)

Directors – Roland Emmerich – (Known For: Stargate; The Patriot; The Day After Tomorrow; Independence Day; White House Down; Anonymous; Future BMT: Stonewall; BMT: 10,000 BC; Independence Day: Resurgence; Godzilla; 2012; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017, and for Godzilla in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: We literally just watched Universal Soldier which he directed. For all intents and purposes we’ve finished his filmography, Stonewall is too small to qualify. So good for us I guess.)

Writers – Dean Devlin (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Stargate; Independence Day; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Independence Day: Resurgence; Godzilla; Geostorm; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1999 for Godzilla; and in 2017 for Independence Day: Resurgence; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: Good friends with Mel Gibson.)

Roland Emmerich (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Stargate; The Day After Tomorrow; Independence Day; BMT: 10,000 BC; Independence Day: Resurgence; Godzilla; 2012; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017, and for Godzilla in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Independence Day in 1997; Notes: I think I mentioned this in the Universal Soldier preview as well, but he was one of the first openly gay directors in Hollywood.)

Ted Elliott (story) (credit only) – (Known For: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Aladdin; Shrek; Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest; The Mask of Zorro; Treasure Planet; Small Soldiers; The Road to El Dorado; Future BMT: The Legend of Zorro; The Puppet Masters; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; BMT: Godzilla; The Lone Ranger; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Lone Ranger in 2014; Notes: He used to spell check reviews for Roger Ebert. Collaborates with Rossio frequently.)

Terry Rossio (story) (credit only) – (Known For: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Aladdin; Shrek; Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest; Deja Vu; The Mask of Zorro; Treasure Planet; Small Soldiers; The Road to El Dorado; Future BMT: The Legend of Zorro; The Puppet Masters; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; BMT: Godzilla; The Lone Ranger; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Lone Ranger in 2014; Notes: Was at one point a Machine Parts Inspector. The writing partner of Elliott for the most part, although their filmographies differ slightly.)

Actors – Matthew Broderick – (Known For: The Lion King; Manchester by the Sea; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; WarGames; Trainwreck; Glory; Bee Movie; Tower Heist; The Cable Guy; The Producers; To Dust; Ladyhawke; Rules Don’t Apply; Election; You Can Count on Me; The Tale of Despereaux; Margaret; The Freshman; Addicted to Love; The Road to Wellville; Future BMT: Inspector Gadget; Deck the Halls; The Stepford Wives; Family Business; She’s Having a Baby; Dirty Weekend; Finding Amanda; Diminished Capacity; BMT: Godzilla; New Year’s Eve; Notes: He’s done a lot of random guest spots on television more recently. He’s been married to Sarah Jessica Parker for over 20 years now.)

Jean Reno – (Known For: Leon; The Promise; Mission: Impossible; Hotel Rwanda; Ronin; Flushed Away; Nikita; The Big Blue; French Kiss; L’immortel; Margaret; La ragazza nella nebbia; The Crimson Rivers; Subway; Wasabi; Armoured; Al di là delle nuvole; Comme un chef; La rafle; Future BMT: Couples Retreat; The Pink Panther; The Pink Panther 2; The Last Face; Just Visiting; Xia dao lian meng; Flyboys; The Da Vinci Code; Days and Nights; BMT: Rollerball; Godzilla; Alex Cross; Notes: One of the more notable french actors to have transitioned into an international film star. He worked with Luc Besson early in his career.)

Maria Pitillo – (Known For: True Romance; Natural Born Killers; Chaplin; She-Devil; Bright Lights, Big City; White Palace; I’ll Do Anything; Spike of Bensonhurst; Future BMT: Dear God; Wise Guys; Bye Bye Love; Frank & Jesse; BMT: Godzilla; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actress for Godzilla in 1999; Notes: She got married in 2002 and has a daughter, so it is likely because of that that she seems semi-retired. Sang in The Lost Capone.)

Budget/Gross – $130–150 million / Domestic: $136,314,294 (Worldwide: $379,014,294)

(That seems … fine-ish. They were certainly expecting much higher, but that is kind of shockingly high for a film without a sequel. I guess how badly it was critically panned might have done it in.)

#24 for the CGI Star genre

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(Below a Transformers or two, and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles … so this is basically the Michael Bay category. Still quite high considering it came out in 1998. People loved their CGI star in 2010.)

#11 for the Creature Feature genre

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(Highest grossing creature feature we’ve seen for BMT, right at the late-90s peak. This is indeed the highest grossing bad creature feature available.)

#15 for the Disaster genre

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(Somehow beaten out by 2012 as far as BMT goes, and the highest we can get is Armageddon. An interesting genre. There was a set of exploitation films in the 60s and 70s (like Towering Inferno), which I have to say I find rather distasteful. Then as CGI blew up it came back in the late nineties, and then it surged again around 2010-15 … it certainly seems like when things are “going well” in the US people like to see some big disaster films, and when things aren’t … well then reality will suffice I suppose.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (12/75): Without compelling characters or heart, Godzilla stomps on everything that made the original (or any monster movie worth its salt) a classic.

(Yeah, a complete catastrophe considering this is a beloved cult franchise. It was supposed to break out a whole new world of remakes for Hollywood, but alas, they had to stick with garbage J-Horror adaptations instead for a bit. Reviewer Highlight: You have to absorb such a film, not consider it. But my brain rebelled, and insisted on applying logic where it was not welcome. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Sklog Does Matter (A-)

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(Kinda working for me in an old school kind of way. Needs a bit more green maybe. You could image a version of this being the poster for a 1982 Godzilla reboot, although that font is straight 90’s and I love it. Artistic, nice framing, font, and tells a story. I dig it, what can I say?)

Tagline(s) – Size Does Matter (B+)

(Short and sweet and can’t help but love a blockbuster that uses a dick joke as a tagline. I think the biggest problem for me is that it’s not really clever… just kind of using the dick joke and having that be the joke. Still, it’s working.)

Keyword(s) – giant monster; Top Ten by BMeTric: 82.2 Skyline (2010); 74.8 After Earth (2013); 64.3 Max Steel (2016); 62.3 Ghostbusters (2016); 62.3 Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997); 62.0 Independence Day: Resurgence (2016); 59.9 Monsters: Dark Continent (2014); 58.7 Godzilla (I) (1998); 54.7 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012); 54.6 Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995);

(Wowza, there are a lot available. The Ghostbusters one is fake though, at least, it doesn’t qualify by a country mile … you know what, I’m going to bold that because I’ve seen it, so there.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 10) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jean Reno is No. 2 billed in Godzilla and No. 5 billed in Rollerball, which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 2 + 5 + 1 + 2 = 10. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Despite the less-than-expected box office performance, this film still made more money worldwide than any other American movie based on a foreign film. It held this record until Godzilla (2014) claimed it 16 years later, although accounting for inflation, this movie still made more. (Yeah it is kind of crazy. Imagine if the movie was halfway decent!)

Godzilla has only about 11 minutes of screentime. (I guess, having watched it he is still all over the film even if you aren’t seeing him)

Mayor Ebert and his assistant Gene are spoofs of the late film critics Roger Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel (who would pass away less than a year after the film’s release). This is in response to the duo giving negative reviews to Emmerich and Devlin’s earlier films Stargate (1994) and Independence Day (1996). (That’s pretty funny)

An animated series called Godzilla: The Series (1998) was made which continued the storyline of the film. In the series, Tatopoulos accidentally discovers the egg that survived the destruction of the nest. The creature hatches and imprints on Nick as its parent. (Great ….)

Toho Studios gave the American creators a 75-page dossier of what they can and cannot do with Godzilla’s character. This included the following rules: Godzilla cannot eat people, only fish, he has to have three rows of dorsal plates, no more or less than three toes on his feet and four fingers on his hand, she cannot be made to look silly, he cannot die in the movie. Almost all of these points were disregarded, and according to Patrick Tatopoulos, the only specific instructions Roland Emmerich gave him was that Godzilla should be able to run incredibly fast and that it shouldn’t resemble a dinosaur too closely. (WTF)

The lead role was written specifically for Matthew Broderick. Indeed, the actor committed to the film without reading a finished screenplay. (Kind of cool)

Dean Devlin aggressively defended the movie on internet message boards, at times telling the Godzilla fans “to hell with you” if they had a negative opinion over it. The official Godzilla message board was shut down soon thereafter due to all the heated arguing. Years later, Devlin has admitted to recognizing the movie’s faults and apologized to the fans in various interviews. (Internet forums are poison Devlin)

Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin abandoned Godzilla’s iconic atomic breath in favor of a “power breath”, where their Godzilla would simply blow objects away by exhaling a strong wind-like breath. However, news of the power breath leaked before the film’s release, which outraged fans and forced Emmerich and Devlin to make last minute changes on scenes involving the power breath, effects supervisor Volker Engel stated, “Dean and Roland wanted this monster to retain a certain menace and credibility, but Godzilla’s breath is something everyone expects to see at some point, So they came up with instances in which you would see something like the old breath, but with a kind of logic applied to it. We make the assumption that something in his breath, when it comes in contact with flame, causes combustive ignition. So you get this flame-thrower effect, which causes everything to ignite.” Creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos added, “We were creating an animal. We weren’t creating a monster.” (Actually pretty good reasoning, but completely makes sense that fans would be annoyed as well)

The number of the cabs used in the chase at the end of the movie is MN 44. Moon 44 (1990) is the title of an earlier film that was directed by Roland Emmerich and in which Dean Devlin appeared. (Fun fact)

Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed the new Godzilla, states that the creature design mixes elements of various reptiles; also, he wanted the creature to be imposing and to inspire respect. To achieve that, he was inspired from the character Shere-Kan featured in The Jungle Book (1967); the tiger had a noticeable chin and Tatopoulos applied this characteristic on his design, taking the appearance of it from what he refers to be a “Selfin Dragon.” He also gave the creature humanoid shoulders and hands, very similar to the features included in the original design. (It … actually does kind of look like a tiger chin)

Godzilla’s design is based off a marine iguana as they originated in the Galapagos which is in the South Pacific. (It isn’t in the South Pacific, it is on the equator, but yeah, you can see a marine iguana in the opening)

The tanks used in the fish feeding scenes were actually big plastic/fiberglass mock-ups that were wheeled around on big dollies. (Movie magic)

When a cross-promotional deal with Anheuser-Busch was cancelled, visual effects artists had to digitally “erase” all Budweiser labels seen on beer bottles in the film. (Ha, when product placement goes wrong)

Was meant to be the cinematic debut of actress Maria Pitillo. The movie immediately “won” her a Golden Raspberry Award as the Worst Supporting Actress and she stopped receiving movie roles some years later. (Ridiculous since the film gives her absolutely nothing to do)

Roland Emmerich wanted his Godzilla to be fast. He can run about 200 mph. (Huh, that seems … too fast)

In a 2014 interview for the British film magazine Empire, Roland Emmerich admitted that he wanted to make a disaster movie about meteors rather than a Godzilla flick. However, Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998) had already been made by the time he was done directing this movie, which frustrated him as he wanted to make one first. (Ha)

Razzie Notes

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Maria Pitillo, 1999)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel (1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Dean Devlin, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Roland Emmerich, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, 1999)

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Into the Storm Preview

This week we move onto our Action film in the cycle and were really fortunate to have a recent film come out that took place in one of our remaining states. That would be Into the Storm, a found footage (ugh) disaster film set in the town of Silverton, Oklahoma. We had always planned on watching it and I was delighted to find that it worked so well for mapl.de.map. Rest assured, we’re almost there! Let’s go!

Into The Storm (2014) – BMeTric: 34.3 (November 18, 2016)

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(Ah, classic. Look at that VOD release bump. I think maybe a good thing to look at in the future is the size of the VOD bump relative to theatrical and see how consistent that is. I’ve seen movies with bumps around four times the original theatrical run. This looks to be three times the original. Perhaps it is related to genre? Commentary and plots generated on November 18, 2016)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars – Given our national interest in all things weather-related, “Into the Storm” feels like an inevitability, almost a cinematic obligation to the country’s latest obsession, and it’s about as creatively inspired as that description makes it out to be.

(So you’re basically saying it’s boring? Are you though? I can’t tell. If you read the rest of the review it goes on to say how poor the character development was and how they wanted some deep characters. I just hate this bullshit. Reviewers pick and choose when to care about character development and plots when they want to hate a movie or not. So the non-characters of Jurassic World (3 stars) are OK, but we couldn’t possibly watch a tornado rip a town apart without feeling a deep connection to the characters involved? Sorry, just breaking in the new saddle on my high horse.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBH25XxM-7g

(I don’t think I have to see the rest of the film. I believe I just watched the entire thing. I will admit, although I didn’t like the tone of the RogerEbert.com review, they may be on to something. The characters and events look very poorly thought out in this one. Almost as if I’m only supposed to be interested in watching a giant fucking tornado… wait.)

Director(s) – Steven Quale – (Known For: Final Destination 5; Aliens of the Deep; The Hundred-Foot Journey. BMT: Into The Storm. Notes: He did Final Destination 5 (the finalest of all the destinations)! I heard that one was supposed to actually be pretty good… now I’m intrigued.)

Writer(s) – John Swetnam – (Known For: The Hundred-Foot Journey. Step Up: All In. BMT: Evidence; Into The Storm. Notes: Currently directing/writing an upcoming found footage dance film called Breaking Through. A found footage dance film?! That’s amazing. I CANNOT WAIT).)

Actors – Richard Armitage – (Known For: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Captain America: The First Avenger; No End in Sight; Last Days in Vietnam. BMT: Into The Storm. Notes: Only bad film on the resume, though I’ve never heard of him. Does audiobooks and won the 2014 Best Audiobook of the Year from Audible for Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel.)

also stars Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $47,602,194 ($160,602,194 Worldwide)

(Despite doing reasonably well at the box office it was still labeled a flop. Actually had the 188th worst opening ever for a super saturated (3000+ theaters) release. Right above previous BMT film This Means War.)

#26 for the Disaster genre

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(Pretty rough, right around the cinematic classic Volcano starring Tommy Lee Jones. This is a rarity: a terrible movie coming out at the peak of a genre’s popularity and financial prowess. Since then the disaster genre has collapsed. I think this might follow the zombie-spaceship-wasteland paradigm. Where disaster films make way for alien attack makes way for etc. etc. But hard to prove. That big peak maybe came from Apollo 13 and/or Twister … or maybe just Titanic doing crazy business in 1997. Sleep well disaster genre.)

#11 for the Found Footage genre

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(Right around BMT Classic The Devil Inside. The found footage genre page is clearly incomplete (and in no way does this make me trust boxofficemojo as a source …) because Blair Witch 2 is missing (unless that wasn’t found footage). The little bump down in gross I think was the ushering in of the Blumhouse style of production: low budget, high volume, large profits. By all accounts the production style is working and is being looked at as a possible way forward for independent movie development. I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing, it just means a bunch of barely movies get released to theaters. Good for us I guess … I guess.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (30/140), Critics Consensus: Clumsily scripted and populated with forgettable characters, Into the Storm has little to offer beyond its admittedly thrilling special effects.

(Gah! Why am I going to this movie? Am I looking to engage with the characters as they run screaming from a tornado? “But you need to identify with them so you care about them.” They are still in danger from a giant fucking tornado that apparently looks awesome, right? That being said, I do not doubt that this script is clumsier than Paul Blart on a bender (relevant!).)

Poster – Into the Sklog (D)

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(I guess it’s got the color scheme going for it… at least consistent. But it’s a bit cheap looking and the font is shit.)

Tagline(s) – Prepare to go (F)

(Welp, that’s a shame. I’m about done defending this one. I do understand that it is meant to be paired with the title (prepare to go… into the storm) but that is still awful. Just awful.)

Keyword(s) – storm; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.5 The Avengers (1998); 72.2 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998); 68.5 Psycho (1998); 64.3 Gulliver’s Travels (2010); 63.6 Swept Away (2002); 57.7 Virus (1999); 57.3 Darkness Falls (2003); 57.0 Dr. T & the Women (2000); 56.9 Godzilla (I) (1998); 53.0 An American Haunting (2005);

(Hell yeah The Avengers has a horrible CGI storm. This list is quite nice. Looks like a ton of garbage movies like to use weather in their plotlines. And for that I say thank you!)

Notes – In a clear homage to Twister (1996) , a statue of a cow is blown off a building and across the screen in one scene.