Godzilla is a 1998 American science-fiction monster feature film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day; Universal Soldier; Ghost Chase) from a screenplay co-written with Dean Devlin. It was a reimagining of the popular Japanese film monster of the same name.
The cast features Matthew Broderick, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn and Jean Reno.
Godzilla earned $379,014,294 in gross revenue before ancillary sales (VHS, DVD, TV, cable and Blu-ray). Despite its initial commercial success upon release, the film was met with a negative reception from critics and fans of the Japanese Godzilla series alike.
The negative reception highlighted by critics included the film’s thin plot, acting, and directing while fans of the Japanese Godzilla movies targeted the film’s drastic reinvention of the titular character, which included its radical redesign and departure from the source material.
Following a nuclear incident in French Polynesia, a lizard’s nest is irradiated by the fallout of subsequent radiation. Decades later, a Japanese fishing vessel is suddenly attacked by an enormous sea creature in the South Pacific ocean and only one seaman survives.
Traumatized, he is questioned by a mysterious Frenchman in a hospital regarding what he saw, to which he replies, “Gojira”. Doctor Niko “Nick” Tatopoulos (Broderick), an NRC scientist, is in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine researching the effects of radiation on wildlife but is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of an official from the U.S. State Department. He is sent to Tahiti and Jamaica, escorted by the military, to observe the wreckage of the recovered Japanese fishing trawler with massive claw marks on it. The Frenchman is also present, observing the scene, and introduces himself as Philippe Roché (Reno), an insurance agent.
Aboard a military aircraft, Doctor Tatopoulos identifies skin samples he discovered in the shipwreck as belonging to an unknown species. He dismisses the military’s theory that the creature is a living dinosaur, instead of deducing that it is a mutant created by nuclear testing. The large reptilian creature, dubbed as “Godzilla” by the media, travels to New York City leaving a path of destruction in its wake…
This was an unfortunately wasted opportunity with a Godzilla that is presented as just a giant radioactive lizard – without any kind of character – plus vacuous human characters that just annoy rather than engage the audience.
All the supposedly heroic characters wear baseball caps backwards, thus a moron alert flashes to the audience even before they spout their trite dialogue. That said, the mildly amusing French secret agent element and the finale with the baby Godzillas – ripped off from Jurassic Park – are mildly engaging.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“What it is, in short, is a plain old allosaurus (or whatever paleontologists are calling it these days). Godzilla’s profile was always absolutely unique and unmistakable, but this thing here? I saw pictures of that in dinosaur books when I was a kid. I mean, Christ, he doesn’t even breathe radioactive fire!” Den of Geek