Godzilla (1998)

godzilla poster 1998 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 2/10
Visual: 6/10

Godzilla's design is interesting

The story and the characters are horrible

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Godzilla

Studio:  Centropolis Entertainment

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  May 20, 1998

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

godzilla monster attack design

Wait…why did Godzilla suddenly decide to hump this building?

Through years of nuclear experiments and destruction of the planet, something has arisen.  Tracking a mysterious trail of destruction from the South Pacific all the way to New York, Dr. Niko “Nick” Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) is brought in as an advisor to the military due to his research of mutation.  Gojira…aka Godzilla…has attacked New York City, and Nick theories gets him fired from the team.  Now joining up with a French agent Philippe Roaché (Jean Reno), a wanna-be reporter (and former flame) Audrey Timmonds (Maria Pitillo), and her camera man Victor “Animal” Palotti (Hank Azaria), Nick must find the Godzilla’s motives and stop Godzilla once and for all.

godzilla elevator scene baby monsters

Definitely more of a popcorn movie

Directed by Roland Emmerich, Godzilla is an action adventure film.  The movie was released as a potential relaunch of the classic series which began in 1954 with Gojira.  The movie was met by largely negative reviews and fans of the Godzilla series also hated the concept.  It followed the classic Godzilla series in 1995 with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.  The movie was nominated for Razzies for Worst Director, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay and won Razzies for Worst Remake or Sequel (it tied with The Avengers and Psycho) and Worst Supporting Actress for Maria Pitillo.

I grew up on Godzilla and it felt like there was always a Godzilla movie on every Saturday afternoon.  When I learned that Godzilla was going to get big screen treatment, I was excited.  I went to the theater…and was hugely disappointed.

godzilla 1998 cab scene jump

1) The cab wouldn’t work
2) It looks awful
3) I want them all to die horrible deaths by this point

Godzilla obviously isn’t an American story and despite this, the movie decided to not only set it in the U.S., but also in New York City.  Weirdly, the movie still placed Godzilla’s origins in the South Pacific and that meant that Godzilla had to travel the whole world to just reach New York City…which seems very random.  Add to this that once Godzilla reaches New York, it becomes one boring computer animated chase after another…then Godzilla dies for a big chuck of the movie to allow its (her…his?) offspring to do more running and chasing…only to have Godzilla return in the final frames for a showdown.

The movie is also loaded with horrible acting and obnoxious characters.  Matthew Broderick is out of his league as the adventure scientist and teaming him with the cliché cameraman Victor “The Animal” Palotti (Hank Azaria) and the really irritating Audrey Timmons (Maria Pitillo) didn’t help his case.  Jean Reno, who is normally fun, feels out of place.  The movie also weirdly parodied Siskel and Ebert with Michael Lerner (Mayor Ebert) and his assistant who resembled Siskel (this was to get back for their bad reviews of Emmerich’s Independence Day and Stargate).

godzilla movie ending zilla

If you could read Zilla’s mind “I hate all you mfers”

The only saving grace of Godzilla is that some of the special effects are quite good for the time but they did not as as well.  The design on Godzilla isn’t bad, but Emmerich wasn’t a Godzilla fan so changing his appearance didn’t matter.  I didn’t hate the change, but the “Size Does Matter” description of the character became a punchline for multiple movies (also the smaller Godzillas were cooler so size didn’t matter).  Any goodwill created by the interesting Godzilla design was however destroyed by scenes like the cab-in-the-mouth scene which looked horrible and other general plot faux pas.  It is also kind of weird to see New York City get trashed with a lot of jokes surrounding the destruction in the post 9-11 world.

Financially, Godzilla did well.  The movie more than made its budget back, but the huge backlash caused plans for two sequels to be scrapped.  A spin off cartoon did air on FOX and was much better received (running 40 episodes).  This Godzilla is recognized as part of the whole Godzilla series (he’s called Zilla in the canon), but it should mostly be forgotten.  The classic Godzilla returned with a new series in 1999 with the first film titled Godzilla 2000:  Millennium.   A new big screen Godzilla was released in 2014 and was generally better received.

Preceded By:

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

Followed By:

Godzilla 2000 (1999)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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