Saturday, October 24, 2009

Movie Review: Godzilla (1998 Film)

Godzilla
Rated PG-13
2 Slimes
Copyright TriStar Pictures 1998

THE CHARACTERS

Dr. Niko Tatopoulus: Matthew Broderick! He is known as the Worm Guy, because he is a scientist who specializes in worms and also the effects of nuclear fallout on them. How does that make him qualified to hunt down a gigantic monster anyways? Sure, there is radiation involved, but we are talking lizards here. You know, a different part of the animal kingdom. He also has a previous relationship with Audrey, but I don’t know why they got together in the end.

Philippe Roache: Jean Reno! He is the French version of the Secret Service and often poses as an insurance agent to get close to attention. He is in charge of a group of people whose job it is to take out Godzilla since it was his and their own country that did the nuclear testing that created the monster. He is the only survivor of his team.

Audrey Timmonds: She is Niko’s ex girlfriend and an upcoming TV reporter. I find her behavior rather odd when she encounters all of those photos he still has of her and I am surprised the military didn’t arrest for stealing classified information.

Victor “Animal” Palotti: Hank Azaria! He will be our Brooklyn accented sidekick for the movie and he is Audrey’s cameraman. He is most likely made of four leaf clovers because he is beyond lucky with everything he does throughout the film.

Colonel Hicks: He is the main government official who is the in charge of taking out Godzilla. Hmm… so what was he thinking when he hired Niko to help out on this job? Oh well, the monster is dead by the end so I guess he got the job done regardless.

Charles Caiman: Henry Shearer! He runs the TV station that Audrey works for and is a complete womanizer, despite having a wife. Since he is often so blunt about his womanizing, I’m surprised his wife hasn’t found out yet. Maybe she is in denial, gave up on him, or is secreting planning some divorce surprise.

Mayor Ebert: He is the mayor of NYC who is a candy addict and is running for reelection when this whole Godzilla thing happens. Too bad for him, a gigantic monster can really ruin a good reelection campaign.

Sergeant O’Neal: He is the colonel’s right hand man and an extremely big worrywart.

Godzilla: A gigantic, asexual monster created from the fallout of nuclear testing in French Polynesia that ends traveling to New York City. I don’t know that course of events leads the thing there, but why I should bother thinking too much in a movie like this. The beast’s eyes are light sensitive and he is eventually killed by a bunch of missiles to the chest. What a wimp! In any other movie, it takes another gigantic monster to bring him down!

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Radiation plus iguana eggs equals Godzilla.
+ Ex girlfriends do not mind if you still have tons of photos of them.
+ Lighters translate English into Japanese and can also bring people out hypnotic trances by just waving it in front of them.
+ Fishing nets and fishing poles are capable of actually capturing a kaiju.
+ Sometimes gigantic footsteps cause quakes, and sometimes they don’t.
+ A gigantic monster can hide easily in New York City.
+ Gigantic monsters love piles of large fish.
+ There’s nothing like getting a Kodak moment with Godzilla.
+ Chewing gum makes you look more American.
+ Baby Godzillas eat fish and popcorn.
+ Gumballs can trip up baby monsters.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
5 min – A translator or some subtitles would be appreciated. Ah well, monster carnage!
11 min – Well then, why don’t you get out and take a look from above!?
19 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST FISHING BOATS!
22 min – I’m sorry, was that a joke?
24 min – RUN! START RUNNING! DON’T FREEZE UP!
26 min – Beautiful day? Does he not see that it is raining?
27 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST, WELL, EVERYTHING!
34 min – I wonder how he did that.
45 min – My God is that monster cheesy looking!
48 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE DAILY BUGLE!
50 min – You know, if you are locked on, those missiles shouldn’t have destroyed the Chrysler Building.
52 min – Fly higher! A helicopter has that ability so DO IT!!!
58 min – Why New York?! Oceania seems like a better place to nest!
65 min – Those arrows are pointed the wrong way!
79 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST SUBWAY WALLS!
88 min – That’s not destroyed! The thing is still in one piece!
92 min – SHOOT IT!!!!
103 min – What? No questions about why they are there or anything?
110 min – You don’t see that often.
117-120 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST ALL OF NEW YORK CITY!
129 min – What? Does this mean a sequel now?

NOTABLE QUOTES
Philippe: I am Philippe Roaché, DGSE - Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure.
Dr. Niko Tatopoulus: It sounds... big.
Philippe: French Secret Service.
Dr. Niko Tatopoulus: Oh.

Sergeant O'Neal: I can't believe it, uh... he did all of this and... we did nothing to him.
Dr. Niko Tatopoulus: Ah, that's not true. We fed him.

THE PLOT

Ah yes, Godzilla. The biggest monster to ever come out of Japan and leave a lasting impression over the entire world. If you’ve seen the movies, it is mostly just a guy wearing a rubber monster suit stomping over cities and fighting other people in other rubber monster suits & giant puppets. That is pretty much it in a nutshell (Real Godzilla fans could explain this better than I can). The movies are big hit in Japan, so why not make one here in America with the guys behind Stargate and Independence Day? Oh, you’ll find out why.

The movie opens up appropriately with nuclear testing and then a monster attacking a Japanese cargo ship. You know, the usual thing you see in a Godzilla? Basic stuff. As soon as we get a good monster attack, we cut away to a dork who will be our main character and hero for the film. This would be Dr. Niko Tatopoulus and he is worm specialist.

The government shows up at one of his experiments and reassigns him to the whole Godzilla case. I would like ask about his qualifications for figuring out how to deal with a gigantic monster created by radiation. While this goes on, a French agent called Philippe Roache is doing some investigation into the whole monster dealy as well.

So, the army and Niko start tracking down the monster by following its foot prints. From that, we somehow find ourselves in New York City where we find Audrey Timmonds, Niko’s ex girlfriend. She wants some reporting job at the local TV station she works for, but really, I rather see some monster destruction then hearing about this.

Back to Niko, he has been tracking the monster from Panama, to Tahiti, and then all the way to Jamaica. Godzilla sure can move! Niko does some testing on some flesh left behind on one of ships that Godzilla attacked. He theorizes that the monster isn’t a dinosaur and is instead a mutant created by nuclear testing near the French Polynesia. Strange, I thought Godzilla was made from the radiation in Japan. Oh well, similar enough.

Tracking the monster’s movements, they discover that thing is heading directly up the eastern coast underneath the water. My question is, where exactly is Godzilla going anyways? He was going almost a straight line and then suddenly he went straight north! Anyways, cut to New York City (you can see where I’m going with this, right?), where we zoom in on the local fish market. Some guy is fishing up on pier nearby when he hooks a big one. A really big one!

Suddenly, Godzilla shows up and runs a mock in the fish market (there goes one economic means for the city). While this is happening, somewhere, we find out that Siskel and Ebert are now running the entire city with Ebert as the mayor and Siskel as his yes man/assistant. The movie review business finally pays off some people. As Mayor Ebert gives a speech for reelection, Godzilla shows up and ruins it. I guess monsters hate politics.

So the monster starts a lot of chaos in the city and Niko, the government, Philippe’s team, and the rest show up to handle the situation. But guess what! Godzilla has disappeared! How can you lose track of a 6 to 7 story monster in a city? You think someone would see it! Then again, they find out later the thing had burrow into the subway, so I can see how they might lose track of it. Ah well, they prepare to handle the situation and watch some camera footage that Victor “Animal”, a local TV cameraman, had caught on tape of the beast. Realizing they may be way over their heads, they plan their next move, which is to lure the beast out into the open so they can attack him.

That night, the army lays a large pile of fish out in the middle of a street which is able to lure Godzilla out into the open. As the monster starts eating the fish, the army opens fire and if you have seen any Japanese monster films before, you know their attempts at killing it are crap. Anyways, after a brief chase scene with helicopters (All of which are destroyed), Godzilla disappears yet again. He is the only monster that I can think of that is good at hide-and-seek.

After all of that chaos, Audrey and Niko meet up with each other and reflect on old times. I’m surprise they don’t bring up the fact that the monster is running loose, but I guess that isn’t important or anything to mention. He brings her back to his base lab to talk more, but when he leaves her alone, she goes and ends up stealing a Top Secret tape of the investigation. What an ass, that’s all I can say.

Niko, meanwhile, does some testing on some of the blood the monster left behind and discovers that the monster is pregnant! He urges the military to find the nest and destroy it, but they instead fire him when they discover that the top secret tape has been used on the evening news! Audrey finds out what she has done and goes to apologize to him, but he refuses to listen to her.

Niko is then recruited by Philippe to help him and his French team to take out the monster’s nest, since the Americans won’t. The cameraman Animal and Audrey decide to follow them all and get the story so that they can prove that Niko is right about the eggs to the American military and also help herself out in her career, since it was her boss Caiman that ended up releasing the secret footage on the air.

While this is going on, Colonel Hicks and Sgt. O’Neal, the military men in charge, try using the fish bait trick again to lure Godzilla out again. This works out once more and they open fire on it yet again, forcing him to retreat into the Hudson River. The navy, who were standing by, shoot him dead with torpedoes. Geez, he’s rather weak this time around. Then again, he did do a cross world journey all the way to the city.

Philippe, Niko, and the French team (with Audrey & Animal right behind them) arrive in Madison Square Garden where they discover Godzilla’s nest. Apparently instead of just 12 eggs like Niko thought earlier, there appears to be over… I’m guess 100 to possibly 200 eggs! That’s a lot of sequels! As they set the charges to blow up a bunch of the eggs, they all start to hatch! Bad luck I guess.

So everyone is forced to retreat as the Velociraptor rip-offs start to emerge from their eggs. In the end, Niko, Phillipe, Audrey, and Animal are the only ones to get out the place alive. When they were doing so, they manage to get a message out to the military to destroy Madison Square before the baby monsters get out. They escape the building just in time as the place is blown sky high.

So, you think this is where the movie ends right? WRONG! Godzilla shows up out of nowhere and has apparently been resurrected! WHAT?! God sure has a weird sense of humor. So the four of them now steal a cab car and proceed to escape from the beast. They lead it out onto the Brooklyn Bridge, where it gets trapped in the suspension cables. A bunch of the jets come then and fire their missiles into it, finally bringing the monster down.

They look at the dead monster and cheer happily. Philippe leaves silently, happy to have helped defeat Godzilla; Audrey quits her job; Niko and her get together (Why?); Colonel Hicks congratulates O’Neal on a job well done; and everything is good again in NYC. Well of course until… you know, when those monsters from Cloverfield attack. Speaking of other monsters, apparently one of the eggs from Madison Square Garden has survived and hatches! Oh boy, here we go again!

Well the movie officially ends there and what a ride it was. It isn’t the greatest movie around and it really wasn’t anything like the Godzilla series. In fact, in Godzilla, Motha, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, they brought up the movie and stated that the Godzilla in this movie wasn’t the real one, just another monster called Zilla since it isn’t anything like the real Godzilla. Fair enough, but what do I think of the movie in general?

Let’s start with the bad. Godzilla (Or should I really be saying Zilla?) doesn’t look good. Occasionally, the monster does look alright, but when you see the whole body shot, he isn’t really that speculator with the CGI technology they used to bring him to life. Acting is a bit problematic with three of the main characters giving semi decent to lousy acting performance, despite them being rather good in other films. There is a lot of weird, convenient, or cheap moments that don’t really seem like it would be possible given the circumstance. Also, the story seems to be on the weak side and there are a lot of moments that make it seem like they are copying from Jurassic Park and its sequel.

However, there are positives to this movie that keeps it from failing. The special effects are rather good and there is a neat balance of CGI and puppetry with Godzilla and its babies that works. While the story is weak, it is entertaining and fun for a little action and monster flick. While acting can be bad from three of the main characters, the rest do a good job, especially Jean Reno, who makes his character likeable and great to watch. Overall, the movie is average and it is a decent popcorn movie. I can understand why people would be upset with it not being anything like the Godzilla franchise, but since I am not a real huge fan of it, I wasn’t disappointed too much with what I saw. If you are going to see it, just see it as a giant monster movie and not a Godzilla film so you won’t be upset.


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