Monday, September 5, 2011

Godzilla (1998)

Credentials: 4.9 out of 10 ( / 25% Certified Rotten ( / 32 out of 100 ( / Nominated for 5 Razzies at the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards, won 2 (in Bold and underlined)--- Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Sequel or Remake, Worst Supporting Actress (Maria Pitillo)
Plot: A gaggle of iguanas are sunning themselves on a rock and doing whatever else it is iguanas do when all of a sudden the French come along and drop a bunch of atomic bombs on them. Not to be deterred, one iguana lives to tell the tale. Unfortunately for humanity, said lizard just so happens to mutate into a ginormous, fire-breathing, city-stomping, asexual-reproducing menace. Oh yeah and if all that wasn’t bad enough, he’s pregnant (yes I said he) which means he’s all hormonal and crazy. It’s up to a brave man (Matthew Broderick) who wouldn’t let school tie him down in the 80’s to save the day.  Luckily he’s got most of the cast of “The Simpsons” to stand by his side. Giddy up!
Thoughts: Not sure why, but I’ve been on a bit of a “Godzilla” kick over the last few months.
                And by kick, I don’t mean I’ve been watching the movies or anything like that, even though most of them are a delight. Instead, I’ve satisfied my half-hearted “Godzilla” cravings by wandering around Wikipedia, reading movie plots and pouring over monster stats. It’s a tremendous amount of fun, but still, hadn’t watched the big guy kick butt…

                Until now. Sadly, I went with the 1998 American version directed by Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) and written by Emmerich and Dean Devlin. And two guys named Ted Elliott and Terry Russio sorta helped. You might know them from their wholly unimpressive work as Johnny Depp’s backup dancers on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
                I made my selection based on the fact I remember enjoying the movie’s soundtrack back in the day. Despite rocking out to its tunes, I never actually saw it for some reason.
                And now I know why.
Emmerich tries extremely hard to make his “Godzilla” a marriage between “Independence Day” and “King Kong.” He doesn’t pull it off.
The problem is the script. Even the characters don’t really know what’s going on. In one sentence Matthew Broderick’s character waxes poetic about how awesome and majestic Godzilla is, only wrap up that thought by urging the military blow the ugly brute straight to hell.
The whole movie is bipolar like that. It can’t decide whether it wants you to sympathize with Godzilla or root for his ultimate destruction. Every time you think the movie has picked a side, it hops right back into the middle.
Emmerich needs a clearly defined villain, like the menacing E.T.s in “Independence Day.” He’s outside of his area of expertise when it comes to shades of grey.
And come on. The whole story that Godzilla needs a place to crank out some babies is fantastically uninteresting. Wasn't anyone paying attention? The last time Godzilla had a kid it sucked! Why do it again!!??
When he actually has his whelps, it seems more like a ploy to sell toys and pad the runtime than an actual, useful part of the plot. I’m not sure why Godzilla decimating New York wasn’t enough, but apparently the kiddy subplot was a must.
The creature effects, even by 1998 standards, are abysmal. I don't hate the revamped look Godzilla has--- basically a big iguana that walks on two legs. It's just the effects that bring him to life are awful.
For a guy like Emmerich, who lives and dies by his special effects, this is unforgivable. The borderline hokey tricks used pale in comparison to ground-breaking efforts like “Jurassic Park” (1993) and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991).
Sure, the green screen tactics look more convincing than the old school, “guy-in-a-rubber-suit” method, but not by a whole lot.
For his part, Matthew Broderick exploits his boyish charms to come out of this dung heap smelling an awful lot like roses. Essentially, he plays a slightly less neurotic version of the Jeff Goldblum character from “Independence Day.” He's just so darn likable.
:07- Let this be a lesson to all of the kids out there, if you play hooky enough, the army will show up
:14- Alright we get it. His last name is hard to pronounce. Let it go already!
:17- Bumblebee tuna shout out!!!
:25- Mayor Ebert and his assistant Gene? Haha, Siskel must have been so pissed he had to be the assistant
:38- I’m sorry, how exactly can Godzilla hide INSIDE of a building? He’s a giant lizard. I don’t think he’d make it through security
:49- Wow, Godzilla’s new fire breath is very lame. VERY
1:15- I’m tired of all this talk about French coffee! We get it! Broderick’s name is hard to pronounce and the French are eccentric! You don’t need to keep repeating your jokes!!
Video Evidence
What a truly awful song. What the hell was I thinking liking it back in the day? And how did Puff Daddy ever get famous writing junk like this?
Better than most of the movie...

And so there it is: “Godzilla” (1998). Bumblebee tuna.

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