‘Godzilla’ has flaws, but it’s as bad as you may have been told

[rating=3]Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer
Director(s): Roland Emmerich
Writer(s): Screenplay by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich; Story by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich; Based upon the character Godzilla owned and created by Toho Co., Ltd.

The giant lizard gets the CGI treatment in 1998's 'Godzilla'
The giant lizard gets the CGI treatment in 1998’s ‘Godzilla’

I am most likely one of a handful of people who actually enjoyed Godzilla, the Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin creation from 1998. Yes, I enjoyed it. It’s fun, with some good action sequences. It entertained me. I’m not sure what more I was supposed to get from a movie about a giant lizard.

Like most kids of my generation, I grew up watching Godzilla movies on Sunday afternoons. I loved them. At the same time, we’re talking about a series of movies featuring a guy in a rubber suit. You can’t take these movies too seriously. The same has to be said about Godzilla. It’s a popcorn movie whose single purpose is to entertain. It’s not deep, it’s not meaningful, it simply tries to give you a good time.

The story basically works as follows: Mutated by the nuclear tests performed by the French, a giant lizard that becomes known as Godzilla comes to New York City and wreaks havoc. The military struggles to stop him with the help of biologist Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), while French secret service agent Philippe Roaché (Jean Reno) looks to contain his country’s involvement in the creature’s unintentional creation.

Okay, I’m not saying it’s perfect. It hits some notes that work, and on some levels does justice to the original Godzilla character. At the same time, Emmerich and Devlin had to be practically forced to remember that Godzilla has been featured in dozens of films and has a loyal following. Ultimately they made a massive disaster flick featuring a giant lizard. Plus, the concept of the baby lizards worked against the film, because it smelled too much like a rip off of Jurassic Park.

With that said, I still like this flick. I laughed at its humor, and enjoyed the great chase sequence at the end. Reno as Roaché is the single best character in the entire film, easily making the whole viewing experience worth while. Hank Azaria is also terrific, and Broderick does a fine job in a rare leading role in a big budget action flick.

Could the film have been better? Of course, that goes without saying. Godzilladoesn’t take itself too seriously, and on some levels it fails to take itself seriously enough. You could have worked some real drama into this story. You could have let it be more of an homage to the original Godzilla films, and perhaps even let it be an out-and-out monster flick. But even having written that, I still am entertained by it.

This new “monster edition” includes three new extras: a collection of Godzilla’s best fight scenes; production art; and three episodes from the Godzilla animated series. The fight scenes featurette is really an advertisement for the Godzilla films on DVD, featuring action sequences from movies like Godzilla vs. MecaGodzilla. The three episodes from the animated series are “What Dreams May Come”, “Monster Wars Part 1”, and “Where is Thy Sting?”. The animation is pretty good, but I’ll leave it up to you regarding the stories (again, the inclusion of these episodes is to advertise the release of the series on DVD). The other extras were on the original DVD release, and include a commentary by the special effects team, the “Heroes” music video from the Wallflowers, as well as a promotional featurette and production stills.

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 2 hr., 19 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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