Recently, I reviewed Waterworld. Now I’m talking about 1998’s disaster opus Godzilla. These are two of the biggest flops of the 1990’s. Overhyped and overproduced, and expensive as all get out, perhaps they’re hitting Blu-ray in the hopes of eeking out profits. Someone thought they might have had something here, but when Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin came off of Independence Day, this was going to be the next big thing, but instead they misfired. My review of 1998’s Godzilla after the jump.
Mathew Broderick stars as Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, a scientist who studies the effects of nuclear mutations. He’s brought in by the American government when Godzilla begins fucking things up. At first, Godzilla is outside of Tokyo, but then he comes to New York. Long swim. Emmerich stages everything like ID4, so there’s some moments, but the destruction doesn’t take your breath away. You know how he’s going to do it, and he never figures out the right angles, so it’s always more about destruction than the star of the flick. And where destroying New York should have been sort of awesome, here they never stage it in such a way that it’s dynamic. Hell, the video game Rampage was more exciting.
Broderick comes to New York and meets his ex-girlfriend Audrey Timmonds (Maria Pitillo). This film singlehandedly killed Pitillo’s career, so she can’t be that good in it. She works at a news station and uses Niko to get more info on the giant lizard, and “Animal” (Hank Azaria) acts as her cameraman. Also on hand is Phillipe Roache (Jean Reno), a French foreign national who knows that his country may be responsible for the big guy. Reno is the only one who walks out with his or her dignity intact.
Godzilla is pregnant, so there’s a chance to stage some Jurassic Park style Velociraptor attacks on people. Here’s the problem: Emmerich stages disaster with great aplomb, but he’s not a great action director, and here, you’ve got people running from shit. But because it’s a lizard, you’ve got an antagonist, and the film doesn’t really capitalize on that. You’ve also got Michael Lerner playing a thinly disguised version of Roger Ebert. It’s a mess of a follow up to a huge hit, and even Sony at the time knew they had a stinker. Watching eleven years after the fact only points out how this was one of the biggest disappointments of its era, and people were actually excited to see it. The cast is uniformly boring or terrible, though I do like how the main character is actually resourceful (though often in ways that are unexpected – the blood test thing isn’t all that well set up, all things). Time has done nothing for the movie, except after 9/11 perhaps the gleeful destruction on New York doesn’t go over nearly as well as it once did. There’s just so little here, and it goes on for so long.
Sony’s Blu-ray release presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. It rocks. The transfer is pitch perfect, and the film has never looked so good. There’s a trivia game for the film, and an audio commentary by visual effects supervisor Volker Engel and Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Karen Goulekas. This is from the DVD, so obvious people thought audiences would listen to anyone blather about a film at that point (they were kind of right). There’s a behind the scenes (7 min.) with Harry Shearer hosting in character, and “All Time Best of Godzilla Fight Scenes” (10 min.), and the music video for Heroes by The Wallflowers. And a PSP digital copy.