Godzilla (1998) / Sci Fi-Action

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi monster action/violence
Running Time: 139 min.

Cast: Matthew Broderick, Hank Azaria, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Harry Shearer, Kevin Dunn
Director: Roland Emmerich
Screenplay: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich

Review published May 10, 2000

A series of nuclear explosions in the South Pacific creates a titanic lizard-monster that's born pregnant that destroys Manhattan. With over 200 eggs laid, the human race faces extinction if a biologist, a couple of reporters, the French CIA, and the military can't kill them all before they all lay eggs of their own.

Astounding special effects is the real show here, with convincing bone-crunching sound, it's a videophile's wet dream. Director and co-screenwriter Roland Emmerich ( is re-joined by Dean Devlin (Universal Soldier), the writer of two of his most popular prior works (Independence Day, Stargate) to create yet another comic book style special effects action mega-movie. The problem here? There are many.

1) Not scary at all. Regardless of whether Godzilla is destroying New York, killing seamen like Jaws, or the baby lizards are going after the heroes Alien-style, you won't feel any fear or menace, as if you know none of them are in danger of dying. This is in large part the fault of problem #2 of the movie, which is:

2) The campy, corny, cheesy tone of the story undercuts any potential for getting into the film. It goes for laughs, which are not there save the inclusion of Michael Lerner (Barton Fink, Vibes) as Mayor Ebert in an obvious dig on the famous film critic. Since it is obvious that Emmerich is going to dumb up his films so they can be universally understood by all age groups, you just know that nothing truly bad is ever going to happen since even face to face confrontations with Godzilla himself are seen as moments of cuteness.

3) It goes on too long. Did it really need to be 2 hours and 20 minutes? About an hour of that is padding with Godzilla running around between the buildings doing a whole lot of nothing.

4) Matthew Broderick. He can be good (Glory, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) but in this film he is just plain wrong. And it really annoys me that a biologist stands around telling military personnel what to do, like remove manhole covers. His character was far from necessary, and he serves merely as an annoyance rather than someone to root for.

5) What I always say after these special effects blockbuster extravaganzas: "If you're going to spend $100 million on special effects, why not pay a top-notch writer $3 million to come up with a good script." This film could have been written by a 10-year-old, and plays to that age. I've seen so-called children's animated features that had more of interest to adults than this film.

Well, the list could go on. It is disheartening that the films I grew up with that made tons of money (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.) were entertaining and strove to fill you with a sense of wonder. It seems nowadays that the main goal to insure that the producers recoup their investment by making sure even the most ignorant idiot can follow what's going on. As if the special effects alone will fill children's minds with a sense of awe. However, you can dress up a pile of dog crap however you like...sprinkle glitter on it, add a ribbon...but all you'll have is a pretty pile of dog crap.

-- Remake of Gojira (1954). Remade as Godzilla (2014)

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo