Posted by: ckckred | August 26, 2012

Godzilla (1998): A Demonized Version of the Japanese Icon

A hateful adaption of the original monster

Note: Since a new rebooted Godzilla is coming soon, I thought I’d like to review some of the old films, but would like to start off with the hugely despised 1998 version.

Godzilla is an enormous clump of a movie, a giant wad of special effects with nothing else in it.  It’s an insult to any filmmaker out there or anyone with a thinking bain, and one of the most unpleasant films I’ve ever viewed.  Watching it I was stunned how horribly awful it was and wondered how it could be so terrible.

Of course I should have seen this coming.  Director Roland Emmerich, who gave us dreck like 2012 and 10,000 BC, is known for making big and dumb disaster movies. And the old Japanese Godzilla films are big and dumb.  But there’s an appeal to them as they embrace their sheer stupidity and inaneness, which is the reason why I’m a big fan of the series.  Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, which is still his best film, also did accepted the goofiness of its premise and actually was a pretty decent movie.  Godzilla, on the other hand, doesn’t.  It believes it’s a serious attempt at the monster, which ruined the movie right from the very start.

The film starts off with ominous warnings of the monster similar to the original Japanese movie.  A bunch of ships are sunk, there are warnings on the radar, etc. And eventually, Godzilla makes his first public appearance in New York, where he wreaks havoc on the city by running amok.

When I was watching Godzilla tear apart the city, I just saw a giant special effect.  To make something look like it’s actually inhibiting a shot requires a lot of imagination and innovation.  Take Jurassic Park for example, where we are given shots of dinosaurs towering over trees and running across plains.  Spielberg gives us a good view of the dinosaurs so we know what to expect.  Most of the time we see Godzilla, we can’t see him very well because the entire movie pretty much takes place at night and during a giant rain storm that doesn’t seem to end.  This could work if we’re given some good angle, but Emmerich insists on quick cuts and takes.  Many of the scenes feel nauseating to watch.

Dr. Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), a scientist who studies radiation’s effect on nature, is sent to study the beast and soon discovers that Godzilla is female (to quote Roger Ebert “You would think that if a 300-foot monster were male, that would be hard to miss”) and pregnant.  Godzilla has come to New York to lay her eggs, meaning there will be more Godzillas running around the world.

The original Japanese Godzilla is actually a surprisingly good film which explored the threat of nuclear weapons.  The other Godzilla movies aren’t, but as I said before are pretty enjoyable.  Godzilla on the other hand is seemly groanworthy, and it’s easy to glare at many of the illogical problems.  Godzilla repeatedly changes size throughout the film (though he’s about 300 feet tall and towers many skyscrapers, he can enter a subway tunnel).

But even worse is its damaging view of the Japanese monster.  This Godzilla looks nothing like its Japanese model.  The original stood straight up and wrecked anything in its way.  this version just zooms around buildings.  When the original could shoot out an atomic beam, this one couldn’t do anything except snort out air.  In fact, the only thing Emmerich’s version has in similar is the roar.  The Japanese hated the film so much that in Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla takes on the American version and beats him in less than 15 seconds.

Recently a reboot was announced which would be more loyal to the series.  I’m interested in that and am pretty sure it would be better than this pile of junk.

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Responses

  1. This Version Of GODZILLA Is BY FAR The Worst Flick I Ever Had The Misfortune Of Seeing On An Opening Night In The Theater. I HATED This Version. I Totally Agree, It’s A Pile Of Junk Junk Junk.
    My Favorite Godzilla Movie…
    …Honestly…
    …Is “GODZILLA 1985” hahahaha
    I Owned It On VHS Until My VCR Died And Trashed The Tape In The Process hehehe
    (*memories*)
    hehe 😉
    -B.

    • I completely agree. I saw it on television, and turned it off after 30 minutes. It wasn’t until a few years later until I managed to force myself to watch the entire thing. As a Godzilla fan, I hated it and wish it was never made.

      Strangely enough, Godzilla 1985 is one of the few Godzilla films I haven’t seen. My personal favorite is Godzilla vs. Destroyah. Thanks for commenting.

    • I love Godzilla 1985! You got to chase down a copy and check it out. G vs Destroyah is epic.

  2. Great summary and I totally agree. I do own the DVD only because I collect monster movies but the film itself has not held up well at all and my son and I are hardcore Godzilla / Kaiju fans and we own all of the Toho Godzilla (and non- Godzilla) movies. Good post. I like the blog! Oh I love when the 2 Godzilla’s clash very briefly in Final Wars.

    • In Japan I heard they refer to the 1998 Godzila as just Zilla. I love when those 2 Godzillas clash as well.

      • Yep that’s true. It’s just called Zilla. Final Wars is just all around a great Godzilla entry.

  3. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this…but this movie is one of my guilty pleasures. You know, those movies that is terrible, but for whatever reason you like it. Yep….this is it for me. It might be my Asian-ness not allowing me to hate this movie. LOL

    • I watched a lot of the old Godzilla movies when I was a kid on TV, and I disliked the movie for not being loyal to the original series. I’m glad you liked it though. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I used to own every Godzilla film but had to sell them during hard times. I’m thinking about tracking them all down again. One of my favorites is Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack”. I also loved …vs Destroyah. The 1998 U.S. remake was an abomination. Great review.


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