Review: “Godzilla 1998”

Many critics have trouble enjoying a ‘popcorn’ movie (ie. a film made purely for entertainment), which is why I hate being referred to as one because I love those kind of films. A great popcorn movie doesn’t have to be well-constructed, all it has to do is to thoroughly entertain you for 2 hours – “Godzilla” doesn’t do that.

Granted it is a better popcorn movie than recent blockbusters like “Deep Rising” & “Batman & Robin”, it still falls far behind such other recent ones as “Starship Troopers”, “Wild Things” and “The Wedding Singer”. So what’s the major problem? To start off with nothing. The opening documentary-style sequence of the Pacific nuclear tests is an interesting start, as is the concept of the creature moving through various locations. Then the characters appear and while the actors are great choices, the characters they are stuck in are only watchable & easily forgettable.

Great comic talents like Shearer and Azaria are stuck with disappointing dialogue, Broderick does his usual likeable brainiac, Doug Savant is a surprisingly good stuttering army sergeant, while the always great Jean Reno easily becomes the film’s best character. The rest are just dull, especially an annoying mayor. Upon reaching New York, the film basically replays all the trailers its been airing over the past year, and so your not majorly impressed.

Some scenes in this early bit are great (eg. office window), but this is the weakest part of the film. Then a major shooting action sequence begins and the film picks up and becomes more enjoyable. One thing that becomes quickly clear however is the fact that the creature isn’t scary or convincing (some shots are great, but quite a few scream CGI, others just seem out of proportion).

Emmerich & Devlin’s FX in “Independence Day” made one gape in awe, the ones in “Godzilla” you look at and say “hmm, seen that before”. A sequence involving the baby godzillas seems a direct rip-off the raptor kitchen scenes in “Jurassic Park” (in fact several scenes in the film remind you of that movie). Also the film goes on longer than it should have. That’s the film’s major trouble, it’s an action movie but the action is unoriginal and uninvolving (it looks nice but doesn’t have any effect on you and in fact you wish for something meatier).