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Godzilla (1998) – Movie Review

Godzilla (1998)

Written by: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich, based on the character owned by the Toho Company
Directed by: Dean Devlin
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer

My Advice: Wait for MST3K

It seemed like the match made in heaven, right? D&E, the men behind ID4, take on the king of all monsters in a cage match where the cage is Manhattan, yes? What could possibly go wrong? You name it. What need is there for a synopsis, really–I mean it is a Godzilla flick, right? Well, I won’t spoil anything that the newspapers and other reviewers haven’t by telling you that the G-Man is a G-It and can lay eggs and proceeds to do so. So you got Godzilla Babies coming to the Saturday Morning LineupTM anyday now.

Let’s talk about the cast, all great talent–at least in other films they’ve done. Broderick must have figured he was in cash cow, um, cash lizard heaven, because his performance lacked any redeeming qualities. Instead he seemed to revert to Ferris, forgetting that he’s proven his worth with films like Glory. Jean Reno is the only one to leave this flick without egg on his face, doing such a great tough guy (complete with Elvis impersonation) that Warner Bros. has him in the Batsuit for the next chapter of that particular franchise. Maria Pitillo’s character is so pitifully helpless and annoying that I was praying for her to die ten minutes after meeting her. Hank Azaria does fairly well with his New York cameraman bit, but it’s almost a one-note for this guy. Harry Shearer‘s sleazy newsman is delightfully bad, but hey, he wants to sleep with Pitillo’s character so I wanted him to die too.

[ad#longpost]With this kind of cast, what happened to create such lousy performances? Try a complete lack of character direction on the part of Emmerich and also try terrible predictable soap opera dialogue by D&E. And then there’s the plotholes the G-Man himself could nest in. You get: Helicopters that can’t fly above building level; The Amazing Godzilla-Proof Car!; And my favorite–immortal fish. You also suddenly are in the middle of Jurassic Park 3 when for forty-five minutes, the raptorzillas get loose and you find yourself praying for Jeff Goldblum and that damn Winnebago sequence again because that way you would know God was merciful.

Worst of all, in a unabashedly juvenile attempt to get back at the critics who panned ID4, the bumbling Mayor’s name is Ebert and his inept assistant’s name is Gene. Slamming Jurassic Park with a T-Rex getting trashed is one thing, guys, but mature filmmakers shrug off critics. Especially critics like me.

But hey, we’ve got a sequel coming, right? I think for the next one D&E should produce and leave directing and writing to those who can do it. And before someone slams me for being too hard on the film, I thought Gojira looked pretty damn cool, both above ground and underwater, it’s just his supporting cast and crew let him down. I wasn’t expecting much of anything from this film, but as Hollywood is teaching me: my hopes are still way too high.

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