GODZILLA 

(1998)
With Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Reviewed by Guest Reviewer Steve Bailey
Previously published elsewhere.  Used by permission.

Hi, folks... yeah, not really Godzilla, I know... sorry...      He's taller than the Statue of Liberty! He's twice as long as a 747! And he's as boring as a drunken houseguest on New Year's Eve!

    Once again, INDEPENCE DAY auteurs Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich use the latest technology and Hollywood hype to turn modest 1950's tripe into expensive 1990's tripe.

    Yes, they came up with a unique reason for Godzilla's rampage (suffice to say, our boy has no need for Viagra), and those viewers salivating for killer destruction scenes will be more than pleased.  But the film looks so murky that I still couldn't tell you what Godzilla looks like as a whole.  You come out of this movie thinking, "Couldn't $120 million buy a decent camera lens?"

    Looks like they didn't spend much on the screenplay, either. As with most recent movies where the effects are the star, Godzilla gives us its version of The Supporting Cast Nobody Cares About.  There's the soft-spoken scientist (Matthew Broderick), whose warnings nobody will heed; his ex-girlfriend (Maria Pitillo), a would-be television reporter whose work keeps getting scooped by her sexist boss (Harry Shearer, doing a misplaced impression of Johnny Carson); and a New York mayor (Michael Lerner, doing a misplaced impression of Roger Ebert) who keeps trying to turn this disaster to his advantage.

    Like many other effects-driven stories, the whole thing is taken so seriously that it becomes irritating to watch. How reverent can you be about a male, maternally driven lizard who stomps all over New York to find a building where he can find out?    Yet Devlin and Emmerich treat their flimsy story like it was Wuthering Heights. I never expected to look back longingly on THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK but at least that movie had a better sense of proportion (and fun).

    The screening of this movie which I attended had an awful lot of patrons, young and old, scurrying up and down the aisles. That's never a good sign for a movie intended to be a crowd-pleaser.  After a while, you're left to ponder which of the non-stars will get picked off by the monster (just like those poor extras on the old "Star Trek"). Or wishing the filmmakers had the wit to include just one shot of a Japanese scientist whose lips were out-of-synch with his dialogue. - SB

Copyright © 2010 Steve Bailey.  All Rights Reserved.  Used by special permission.

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