Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
He’s big. He’s green. And he’s back! The much anticipated, heavily advertised, and merchandised to the hilt—Godzilla! Everyone’s favorite Japanese giant is back to wreak havoc on the people. And this time the town of choice—New York, the Big Apple is about to have a lizard shaped big bite the size of a tank taken out of it. On the opposing team (who can ever think of Godzilla as the bad guy) is world renowned worm researcher Nick Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), fledging reporter and love interest (Maria Pitillo), some French guy (Jean Reno), and the U.S. military (played by lots of people with weapons).
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this film since I saw the first teaser over a year ago. Boyhood memories of the mythical sea monster with nuclear breath, bouncing almost joyfully as he (she, it, whatever) blasted the military with a cone of destruction. I was looking forward to the slick computerized special effects of Godzilla’s rampage. I imagined the terror of the U.S. Army as they discovered Godzilla was not JUST a big lizard, but a big lizard that could breath a cone of nuclear fire (the breath was a big thing for me). Instead I got Jurassic Park Goes to New York. Godzilla is now a big lizard, really big. Really, really BIG! But that’s all. All the personality, all the intelligence, all the cool destrobreath (again with the breath)—gone! Yeah, Godzilla runs through New York and smashes things but it’s just not the same. The REAL Godzilla would be ashamed of this imposter and REAL Godzilla fans will be left flat with the plain old vanilla lizard.
This movie contains some language, adult topics and a lot of violence. Unfortunately, the people behind Godzilla felt some need to have fledging reporter sexually propositioned by her boss. It was unnecessary, brief, but be ready to explain if you see this and your kids ask. A lot of the violence will be too intense for young viewers, as Godzilla and company (I don’t want to give away everything) get up close and personal with some of the characters. Some of the raptor chase screen in “Jurassic Park” I and II are very similar. These close, intense screens might be better avoided by the family.
All said and done, if you are a diehard classic Godzilla fan, this movie will not meet your standards for the movie monster king. If you just want to see it because you liked “Independence Day” and you are buying the hype, you will probably enjoy it. However, my recommendation is pass and if you absolutely have to see Godzilla, go rent “Destroy All Monsters” or “Monster Island,” less language, less intense violence, and less realism will make for a less negative (spiritually) experience.
Year of Release—1998