Several decades ago, Godzilla destroyed Tokyo and a lot of other places. The series was exploited by several spin-offs against various creatures like King Kong and so forth. And now, in 1998, during a time where people are thriving for high-tech, but basic, films with lots of graphics and not much brain, Godzilla has made a comeback. However, nobody liked it.
It starts off great. After following it across the world, without really knowing its course of action, the army discover it is headed towards New York. It does come to New York, and destroys a lot of buildings, steps on a lot of cars, and so forth. And then it disappears. This sequence was great and was everything I expected from a Godzilla movie. With excellent special effects, the destruction of the city was excellent.
But the worst thing a movie can have is bad characters. Godzilla is overflowing with them; in fact, there isn't one really good character. Matthew Broderick didn't sound convincing once, and he was about as nerdy as he could be. His ex-girlfriend was just annoying and her friends were stereotypical. The lame attempt to mock Siskel and Ebert (as the mayor and mayor's assistant) was unneeded and Jean Reno's character was disappointing. A fifth grader could write better characters than this.
Somehow, Broderick thinks that New York is a perfect place for hiding, even though seconds before saying that he asked "How could the military lose something so big?" A city is not a good place to hide because you could see something that large from the air, and it definitely couldn't go in the subway system like it did. Worst off, the screenwriters decided to have the city be evacuated, which destroyed all hope of having Godzilla be a conventional disaster movie. Innocents are needed, but there were none.
Of course, most of the destruction is caused by the military. The soldiers in the movie couldn't shoot worth a damn, and they destroyed half the city with bullets and missiles. This led to the movie's second major mistake: The screenwriters wanted the audience to feel sorry for the creature. What they should have done is have Godzilla be a blood-thirsty, fire-spitting lizard that ate lots of people and went on a wild rampage. What they did was have it be an asexual mother that gave birth to lots of little Godzilla babies.
These babies were such a rip-off of Jurassic Park it wasn't even funny. The Lost World had one tiny scene where they spoofed older Godzilla films, but Godzilla's entire ending sequence was devoted to these little velociraptor-type creatures.
Godzilla had two major mistakes: having an empty city for Godizlla to destroy and making the audience feel for the beast. I did feel for it, especially when it was on the verge of dying and when it looked down at one of its dead, burnt babies. This should never have happened. The characters were just additional annoyances. The only partial lifesaver was the graphics, which is what the movie is about anyway; it wouldn't have been that hard making a good destruction movie. I could have done it... obviously the guys wasted all their effort on ID4 and by the time they got to Godzilla, they were plum out of ideas.
The first time I saw it, at the theater, I liked it. Maybe it was the hype, or maybe it was exactly what I was expecting (a mindless action film), but either way, as a rule for writing reviews, it is to never change your first impression. My impression of Godzilla has been changed, however, and no matter how wrong it is to change my original position, I must admit that this movie could have been twice as good as it is. It was good the first time, but after that, the wasted potential Godzilla has is overwhelming.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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