Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stuff I Grew Up With: Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla (1998 Movie Poster).jpgNow this is the movie that I'm sure you've all been waiting to hear my opinion on ever since I began this little project. Well, if that's so, the wait is finally over. You shall receive my complete and honest opinion on this film right here, right now. Indeed, I do have a long and complicated relationship with this movie that would make for a lengthy and interesting blog entry in and of itself but I will try to keep it brief here in this introduction. Let's start at the beginning, which for me, was in December of 1997. I had no clue whatsoever that this movie was even being made. For that matter, as I've stated in the previous reviews, I didn't even know that Godzilla movies were still being made over in Japan throughout the early to mid-90's and that's because, even though I had just recently really gotten back into Godzilla, I was still only ten and, therefore, didn't belong to any fan clubs or have any subscriptions to newsletters or fan magazines or anything similar (I wouldn't get the internet for almost another two years) that would have informed me that Godzilla had still been going on since Godzilla 1985, which was the most recent film I knew of. I figured that he was a relic of the past and that the only current thing that was related to him were those Trendmasters toys that I've mentioned far too many times by this point. So, when my Mom comes home from Christmas shopping one night and informs that there's a new Godzilla movie being made, it was a total surprise that almost caused me to wet myself. I would have never, ever thought that I would have been able to see Godzilla on the big screen. I figured he was something that I would see nowhere else but on the TV screen. Well, needless to say, I got really excited, and that excitement was hyped even further when, that New Year's Day, they played an appropriately-themed teaser for the film, where people are counting down to the new year in Times Square when Godzilla's smashes the ball and sends it hurtling towards them. It then said, in big, glowing text, 1998: THE YEAR OF GODZILLA (I actually thought that was the title of the movie). As the months passed after that first teaser, both myself and my step-cousin were absolutely thrilled and couldn't wait for Memorial Day to arrive. The fact that weekend marked the beginning of our summer vacation made it even more perfect.

Now, what also happened during those passing months was that I got a sense that this was going to be a much, much different film than the Godzilla movies I had grown up with. Not only could I sense even at that age that this was much bigger and more advanced than any of those past films but, judging from another teaser that showed his foot crashing through a museum skylight, I knew that Godzilla himself was probably going to look different. Of course, one of the biggest aspects of the hype was how they kept Godzilla's look a secret until the week the film opened, a marketing strategy that, believe you me, worked in making you want to see the film. In fact, not too long before the film's release, I got a firsthand look at Godzilla's new design thanks to a picture in this novelization of the film I picked up at an On-Cue. To this day, I don't know how the company who published that book didn't get sued by TriStar for potentially damaging such a major part of the marketing campaign but, regardless, there was Godzilla in all of his newly-designed glory and, scout's honor, when I saw that picture, I thought it looked really cool. Like I said, I already had a feeling that Godzilla wasn't going to look the same as he had before and so, when I saw that he had indeed undergone a Hollywood makeover, it wasn't that surprising and, in fact, was rather thrilling for me to see that my childhood hero was getting this type of treatment, that they were using far more advanced techniques that I knew the older films didn't have. My step-cousin felt the same way when I showed him that picture. Now, let's get to the movie itself. On the Sunday of that Memorial Day weekend, my mom took my step-cousin, who had spent the night with me, and I to see the movie. I'm not sure where we went but I know it was at a much bigger theater than the ones we typically went to at that point and was much farther away than those others as well. To say that was a fun afternoon for the both of us is an understatement. We were really digging the movie all throughout it, although he was enjoying it a little more than I was, and after it was over, we went out to eat and had a fun time. Above anything else, it was a fun start to a pretty damn good summer and was enhanced by the merchandising that accompanied the film's release. I will confess that I got so many toys from that movie that it was ridiculous. I already had plenty of Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars toys filling up my room and now, I was filling it with even more stuff, most of which I still have, I might add. I also enjoyed the books that came with it, including another, more mature novelization, and a nice, official magazine based around its production (I was a little too young to enjoy something like that but it was nice to have just to look at the pictures), not to mention the influx of Godzilla movie re-releases on video and other, original, novels that I came across around that time too. And, of course, I got the movie itself on video that Christmas. So, for all intents and purposes, 1998 really was the year of Godzilla for me!

Alright, enough buildup, let's get to my opening opinion on the film. What do I think of it today? Well, first off, I must say that, even though I may have stated to the contrary many times, I never truly hated this movie. My opinion on it is pretty low now, I will say that, but I was never really like everyone else who was saying, "God, this fucking movie ruined Godzilla!" Again, I just said that I was to placate those I encountered who did feel that way, which were a lot. As I've stated before, I didn't know that there could be such a thing as a subjective view on films, TV shows, or anything until I got the internet and began seeing other people's thoughts, most notably on sites like IMDB. Before that, I just felt that people liked something because it was new, which meant that I, by extension, had to feel that way too. Even though I really did enjoy Godzilla '98 when I saw it in the theater, I did have some issues with it, like Godzilla's constant running away from the military, the whole "asexual" reproductive angle, and such, but, in my naïve young mind, I just thought, "Eh, it's new, so I must like it." But, once I got the internet, I realized that this film was not only reviled by virtually all Godzilla fans but that casual moviegoers weren't too fond of it either when they saw it. Nearly every single review called this movie an absolute waste of time, nothing more than effects-filled, bloated monster movie, and a film that was undeserving of the title Godzilla. The latter sentiment, of course, came from just about every Godzilla fan on the planet. As you probably know, you put your life on the line if you tell any diehard G-fan that you like this movie because that's equivalent to telling any diehard Star Wars fan that you enjoy the prequels, especially The Phantom Menace. It really is amazing to me how absolutely pissed off people get about this movie. In many ways, I definitely understand it, because some of those issues reflect my own personal ones with the film, but on the other hand, I'm kind of like, "Good lord, it's just a movie!", which is how I feel about such extreme reactions to any film, for that matter. Now, as for what I personally feel about Godzilla '98, I think I can best sum it up by saying that it was a very important part of my childhood and whatnot but now, it has no other value to me other than nostalgic sentiment. I may still smile when I think about the time I had going to see the movie with step-cousin and watching it on video afterwards but, whenever I watch the movie today (which isn't often), all I see is empty spectacle. The money is definitely up there on the screen in terms of the effects and the scope of the thing but, everything else is just by-the-numbers and flimsy, with no ambition or high aspirations to it whatsoever. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make something that's just a good popcorn movie but this kind, where you have characters that I'm simply blasé about for the most part, action scenes that wear out their welcome after a while because they don't change things up, and an overlong running time (this film definitely feels like it's almost two and a half hours), doesn't appeal to me. Plus, as I'll get into, there are aspects of it that I find to be very petty and juvenile on the filmmakers' part.

In 1968, nuclear tests are conducted on the French Polynesian islands, resulting in the irradiation of an iguana's nest due to fallout. Three decades later, a Japanese fishing vessel is attacked and destroyed near that location, with the only survivor being an old man who, upon questioning by a mysterious Frenchman, identifies their attacker as, "Gojira." At the same time, nuclear specialist Dr. Nick Tatopoulos is studying the long-term effects of radiation on earthworms at the site of the Chernobyl disaster when he's interrupted by the arrival of the U.S. State Department, who reassigns him to another project. He's taken to Panama, where he meets with Colonel Hicks and is made cognizant of some sort of attack on a village there, as well as some enormous footprints. After he and the others see a videotape of the Japanese sailor released by the French government, they travel to Jamaica to examine the wreckage of the fishing vessel. Nick takes a flesh sample from the wreckage, while Hicks deals with the Frenchman, Philippe Roache, who claims to be from a French insurance agent. After that, three fishing trawlers off the eastern seaboard of the United States are pulled underwater by some tremendous force, although all of those aboard manage to make it off safely. When he and everyone else hears of this report, Nick gives them his theory that this creature is a mutant caused by nuclear testing on the French Polynesian islands and is the first of its kind. This creature soon makes his way to New York City, where he comes ashore and wreaks havoc before disappearing down underground. With the entire city having to be evacuated, and the mysterious Roache and his crew keeping tabs on their operation unbeknownst to them, Nick and the military come up with a plan to lure the creature out into the open, which does work but their attempt to kill him fails and leads to them causing more damage than he did. While everyone else regroups and tries to formulate another plan to kill the monster, Nick discovers from a sample of his blood at the site that he reproduces asexually and is either about to lay eggs or already has. Realizing the horrific implications of this scenario, Nick tries to warn the officials that they must act on this as soon as possible but his plan is derailed when his ex-girlfriend and aspiring reporter, Audrey Timmonds, takes a classified tape from his tent and creates a news report around it, which eventually airs, albeit after being stolen by her slimy superior, and results in Nick being fired as a result. Because of this, the military decides not to pursue the possibility that the monster, dubbed by the media as Godzilla, could have a nest somewhere in the city and all hope seems lost until Nick is hijacked on his way to the airport by Roache, who reveals himself to be of the French Secret Service and that his purpose is to cover up the fact that his country is who conducted the tests that created Godzilla. Nick then decides to join with Roache and his crew in their plan to get into the city and search for and destroy the nest that night. The only question is where they can reach it in time before many, many more Godzillas are born to eventually take mankind's place as the planet's dominant species.


Stan Winston's Godzilla model
for Jan de Bont's aborted film.
Concept drawing of the Gryphon,
Godzilla's opponent in the aborted
film.
Talks of a Hollywood-produced Godzilla movie had been in the air since the early 1980's, when Steve Miner made it known that he intended to follow up Friday the 13th Part 3 with another 3-D genre picture, which would have been Godzilla, King of the Monsters in 3-D. He hired Fred Dekker to write the screenplay and they did, in fact, manage to get support from both Toho and Henry G. Saperstein, as well as pique the interest of many highly talented effects artists, including Rick Baker. But, the film never came to fruition due to Miner's projected budget of $25 to 30 million, which all potential financial backers balked out. Nine years after that idea fell-through is when Saperstein brokered a deal between Toho and TriStar to once again try to produce an American Godzilla film. After the deal was made, TriStar then brought on Aladdin-screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott to write the script and, after considering people like Tim Burton, eventually chose Jan de Bont as director, with Stan Winston's studio tapped to do the effects. This proposed film, which would have been called Godzilla vs. The Gryphon, would have portrayed Godzilla as a genetically-engineered failsafe device left behind by an ancient civilization in order to guard the Earth, with his opponent being a shape-shifting alien monster that creates bodies for itself out of the genetic material found on various planets. Ultimately, though, this project didn't come to be either and the reason, once again, was due to the budget, which de Bont insisted be $130 million, with the studio then calculating that it would, in reality, probably cost up to $200 million since these types of movies always seem to go over-budget. De Bont left the movie after it became clear that TriStar was unwilling to give him the funds he felt was necessary to make it and took with him the special effects artists as well as the screenwriters. After that is when TriStar went to Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, whom they had actually approached before hiring de Bont. Both of them had initially turned it down because of the perceived "cheese factor" of the whole thing and only eventually agreed to do it if it could be completely on their terms. Since the two men had already had a couple of very popular films under their belts with Universal Soldier and Stargate, and were, at that time, about to have an enormous blockbuster on their hands with Independence Day, TriStar was confident that they could deliver the goods and thus, allowed them the complete creative control on the film, which, ironically, ended up costing around $200 million.

Money was only one part of the large stumbling block that kept Godzilla from breaking into Hollywood for such a long time; the real problem was what the very name of the character meant to American audiences at the time. While Godzilla was certainly a recognizable brand, what came with it was an enormous camp factor, with what was considered to be cheesy and primitive special effects, ludicrous plots, and really bad dubbing. He may have much more stateside respect now but, at the time, that was what he meant to the general American public, with a big reason for that no doubt being due to the large availability of Godzilla vs. Megalon, and so, major studios felt that it wouldn't be in their best interest to invest a lot of money in something like that. They knew that there were American fans that absolutely loved all of those aspects of the films and that they also had a special appeal to children but that was not enough to guarantee that they would make a healthy profit from it, which was also why none of the Japanese movies past Godzilla 1985 got a stateside theatrical release, regardless of whether or not they were more serious in tone (Godzilla's perceived niche appeal is what derailed the Steve Miner film from getting the necessary budget back in the 80's). That's why the choice of Emmerich and Devlin seemed like the way to go. Since they themselves admitted that they weren't big fans of Godzilla, it was felt that they would be the ones who could get around the issues of campiness and cheesiness that would have guaranteed that the movie wouldn't have much mass appeal and ensure it would be worth the exorbitant amount of money that was to be put into it. In fact, they had already proved they could do that by making Independence Day an updated, more contemporary throwback to the alien invasion films of the 50's that were now similarly seen as old hat, cheesy, and defunct. However, as we'll see, even though the movie would be very profitable, that decision, along with some other ill-advised choices, would end up ultimately biting them in the ass really hard.

I don't mean this as any form of disrespect towards anyone who enjoys his movies but, for me, Roland Emmerich has always been right up there with Michael Bay in terms of the big, loud, dumb movies that they both make. I will say that Emmerich is perhaps a little better than Bay since his films tend to not be as insulting or frat boyish in terms of the humor and comic relief in them (you typically don't see shots of women's cleavage and butts or urination and crotch jokes in his flicks) but, it's still that same type of overblown, shallow spectacle that, for me, gets rather tiresome after a while. Again, I have no problem with popcorn movies but these examples of Hollywood excess, with one scene of enormous explosions, over-the-top action, and big stunts after the other creates a feeling of fatigue in me that begins to set in around the halfway marks of these movies, especially if it's just the same thing over and over again. Case in point: I find the first several big action scenes in Godzilla '98 to be really spectacular and entertaining but, once they're done, the movie really drags for me and starts to become bogged down by the emptiness of the film's scope, making the second half of it rather mind-numbing (although, I will say that the climactic cab chase does have some great moments). Plus, as I mentioned before, I don't like how he and Devlin prove in this film that they're not too good at taking criticism and respond to it like spoiled teenagers. In any case, my lack of interest in the types of movies he often makes is why I can't comment that much on the rest of Emmerich's films because most of them I've simply avoided. I kind of like Independence Day, if for no other reason than the likable charm of Will Smith and the impressiveness of the creature and digital effects there but, again, after a while in that two-and-a-half hour movie, it starts to feel very bogged down and my mind goes numb. I saw The Patriot when I was in high school but I don't remember too much about it and I've never had the desire to watch it again, although I do commend Emmerich for taking a step back from gigantic science fiction and disaster movies to do something like this (in fact, I didn't even know that Emmerich did this movie when I first saw it). That's all I can say about his other movies; the rest I've never seen or had any interest in seeing. I do know that Emmerich kind of regrets having done Godzilla because of the negative response it got, which he attributes to his own admitted disinterest in the franchise, the rushed shooting schedule, and its not being test-screened for audiences, although he still does defend the film as having been very profitable for the studio regardless. And while it may have forever put him on the bad side of Godzilla fans, it certainly didn't hurt his career, seeing as how he's continued to have commercial success with movies like The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C. (which I've heard is particularly awful even for him), and 2012, although White House Down didn't do so great when it was released in 2013 and I also don't think he's as hot a commodity now as he was around the time when he made Independence Day and Godzilla.

This film was my first exposure to Matthew Broderick (or, at least, I thought it was until I learned that he voiced the adult Simba in The Lion King) and, while I've never been a huge fan of him or his acting style, I don't think he's all that bad in this movie as Dr. Nick Tatopoulos. Granted, I think his association with this movie was a major reason why I put him on that list I made up of actors and filmmakers that I don't like (that and the fact that I've seen him in other movies where I did think he genuinely sucked) but, after re-watching the movie again for the first time in a long while, I think he fits the bill when it comes to the character he's given. There are some awkward moments with his acting, as I think there are in any performance he gives, and some of the humorous moments given to him fall flat for me, but still, he has a likability and charm, as well as inherent geekiness, to him that makes him a great fit for the character of Nick and makes him easy to root for. You actually feel bad for him a couple of times in this movie, like how he's yanked out of the middle of his research on the Chernobyl earthworm without any explanation and doesn't find out what's going on until he ends up Panama, as well as when his ex-girlfriend, Audrey, after coming back into his life after eight years, double-crosses him and does something that results in him getting fired from his position in the project when, ever since he came onto it, all he was trying to do was help them track down and kill Godzilla any way he could. Indeed, while he was initially irritated about his research being interrupted, once he discovers that this is something much, much more important, he does everything he can to figure out what this enormous creature is, where it came from, and how they can stop it. He makes the important discovery that Godzilla is a completely new creature that came about as the result of nuclear contamination, like the earthworms he studies, helps them attract Godzilla into the city with the use of a fish trap, and, most importantly, finds out that he reproduces asexually and is either about to lay eggs or already has. Another thing that makes Nick a likable character is you can see the enthusiasm he has for his work, even when he was to dig around to dig up worms in the rain or trudge around in the sewers of Manhattan to find evidence of Godzilla. Even though he certainly realizes that Godzilla is a major threat to mankind, especially when he discovers that he's going to lay eggs, you can still see some elation when he figures the creature to be the first of his kind and when he rushes off to the lab to confirm his potential proof about Godzilla being pregnant (that is so weird for me to say). He also takes his work very seriously, even when it comes to studying worms, which leads to people giving him the nickname, "The Worm Guy." He feels that researching the Chernobyl earthworm is important and it will add to the knowledge about the effects of radiation, which is also how he feels about studying Godzilla and goes as far as to plan a report on the matter for the government. You also really feel for Nick when Audrey betrays his trust and ends up getting him fired from his position. His anger and disgust towards her is completely understandable and relatable. And ultimately, what makes Nick someone to root for is how he's determined to do the right thing. Even though he's fired from the project, he tells another scientist who became somewhat close to him to make sure that the army finds the nest no matter what and, when Philippe Roache informs him that the military, because of the whole thing with the media, has decided not to look for it, joins up with him and his crew to track it down and destroy it, knowing the danger that it entails. Again, while I may not be the biggest fan of Broderick, I can see why they cast him and I think he does fine in this role.

Now, the character who's a little harder to like is Maria Pitillo as Nick's ex-girlfriend, Audrey. On the one hand, like Nick, it's easy to feel sympathy for her because she's stuck in a dead-end job under a slimy boss who couldn't give a crap less about her future career or all that she's done for him and, what's more, it's in a very tough, cutthroat city like New York where someone who's as fragile as her doesn't make it very far. You can also certainly understand why she would need such a big story in order to get ahead in her job, which is why she steals Nick's top secret tapes about Godzilla's first appearance and possible origin. However, at the same time, you find out from Nick that she just upped and left him without so much as a note or a phone call when he asked her to marry him eight years before and, after she meets up with him for the first time in such a long while and the two of them are beginning to patch things up, she betrays his trust and does something that results in him getting fired from his position with the military. She gives Nick this whole thing about how some people change and then, proves that she hasn't changed in all these years. What's more, the way she approaches him after he gets fired and is packing his things inside a cab is really ill-advised, like, as he mentions, she's surprised that the story led to some kind of falling out between him and the military and goes as far as to give the flimsy excuse of, "You never said it was off the record." Nick's response of, "I shouldn't have had to, Audrey," is totally justified and so is when, after she tells him the reason she did it, he asks her, "And you thought that made it okay to steal my tapes?" But, I can't completely stay mad at her since, after Nick leaves, she's really torn up about it, now truly realizes the repercussions of what she did when the military announces that there's no reason to believe that Godzilla has a nest and that Nick will most likely never forgive her for it. I don't know if she would have felt the same if her boss hadn't stolen her story or if she even mentioned Nick by name in her original report but, still, she knows she really messed up and takes her friend's, Animal, advice to make it up to Nick and follow him into the city so she can tell the entire world that he was right about the nest. This plan may put the two of them into serious danger and lead to them being excess baggage for Nick and Philippe Roache but, still, she's trying to do the right thing and ultimately does do right by Nick, which is why he does forgive her and clearly plans to have a future with her after the movies is over. All in all, Audrey may do some underhanded things during the course of the film and her justification of it to Nick is flimsy but, even so, she's still a good, sympathetic person at her core and does go out of her way to set things right once she realizes what she did so I can't totally hate her, even though I know others do.

By far the best character in the film, and possibly the best thing about the entire film, is Jean Reno as Philippe Roache, the French Secret Service agent who keeps tabs on the main characters by posing as an insurance agent. This guy is just awesome. He has a great presence to him that's established right when you first meet him as he comes in and, in that deep, French voice of his, questions the sole survivor of the Japanese fishing vessel in a Tahiti hospital about what he saw. He's really smooth, too, in how he poses as an insurance guy when Colonel Hicks first meets him in Jamaica and how he reacts when the colonel tells him to get his people out of the way before he has to do it for him, as well as when he very subtly puts a small microphone bug on the back of Mayor Ebert's suit collar by patting him in a friendly manner. Plus, while I find a lot of the humor in the film to be rather eye-rolling and unfunny, I must confess that I do smirk at how Philippe is unable to find a decent cup of coffee, like when he first gets it and, after first being disappointed that his partner couldn't find any croissants, he takes a sip and groans in disgust, "Ugh, you call this coffee?!", to which his partner replies, "I call this America." I also giggle when he gets another cup of coffee later on and, after taking a sip and groaning again, saying, "You said this was French Roast!", one of his comrades shows him that it is indeed French Roast and he says, "More cream." And if you can't laugh at Jean Reno talking like Elvis Presley in order to get past a security checkpoint and explaining to Nick, "Elvis Presley movies. He was the king," then I don't know what to tell you. Philippe is also an out and out badass during the film's latter half, not only with how effortlessly he hijacks Nick by posing as a cab driver and later shows him all the weapons he and his crew have managed to accumulate, simply explaining, "This is America. You can buy anything," but how much of an awesome, take-charge leader he is during the sequence in Madison Square Garden. He's yelling orders at his men to do what they can to keep the Baby Godzillas contained inside the building while they're being chased, gives Nick the telephone number and code-word to reach the military to get them to blow up the building while barricading a door, just ups and shots a keypad to get inside of an automatic door, shoots out a window and repels down the outside with a line to escape the Baby Godzillas when they break into the room, casually asking the others, "Anyone care to join me?", and comes up with a great way to clear out the Baby Godzillas gathered in the building's main lobby in order for them to make it outside. Philippe continues to be a badass during the climactic cab chase with Godzilla, driving with incredible skill down the streets and alleyways and, all the while, continuing to be both smart and rather funny, especially when they get caught up in Godzilla's mouth and when Animal says, "You're going the wrong way!", yells, "Would you shut up?!" Finally, on top of all this, Philippe actually has a reasonable explanation for what he's doing. As a member of the French Secret Service, he sometimes finds it necessary to protect his country from itself and wants to wipe out all traces of the ill-advised nuclear tests France conducted thirty years ago, i.e. Godzilla, before it becomes known to the world and causes more trouble for them. Like I said, sensible reason, and I like how, after Godzilla and his offspring are dead and the job is done, Philippe very subtly sneaks away from the others and heads home, but not without thanking Nick for his help. So, while I may not be a big fan of many aspects of this film, Philippe Roache is one I always look forward to seeing.

Another character in this movie whom I really enjoy is Hank Azaria as Victor "Animal" Palotti, who works as a cameraman for WIDF News, the same news station that Audrey works at. He's just a great, funny, dependable, and likable guy, the kind of person who could easily be your best buddy. You like him the moment you meet him, when Audrey is complaining about how much her life sucks to her friend and Animal's husband, Lucy, and when she says that, to her boss, Audrey is just a pair of breasts that talks, Animal comments, "Hey, there's an image." And when Lucy goes on to describe the guy as, "dirt," "puke chunks," and all sorts of other nasty things, Animal, who's trying to eat lunch, says, "Hey, I'm eating. You notice that I'm eating." Later on, when the city is being evacuated after Godzilla arrives, Lucy tells Animal that Audrey is going to spend the night with them and, in a very likable and un-sleazy way, jokes, "Cool. A threesome. That's excellent. I'm a little tired." Speaking of which, you have to mention the part where Animal follows Godzilla, knowing this is something to film, and almost gets stepped on. His reaction, which is abject terror when he thinks he's about to be crushed, followed complete shock and frightened laughter when he realizes that he's survived and slowly turns around to see Godzilla round the corner, is both absolutely relatable (I'd definitely have the same reaction, as well as have to change my shorts afterward) and genuinely funny at the same time. I also enjoy Animal's relationships with Audrey and his wife, Lucy. He and Lucy are constantly ragging on each other in a playful manner, with Animal saying that his life sucks because he's married to her, and he sometimes acts like he's really scared that Lucy is going to kill him for doing something stupid, but, at the end of the day, you can tell that they really do love and care about each other, which makes their relationship fun to watch. As for Audrey, he acts like a really good friend to her, trying to track Nick down to get him to cut her a break after he angrily leaves her in the rain when he's been fired and later comforting her when she's broken up about what she's done, saying, "You made a mistake. It happens." He's the one who comes up with a great idea for her to make it up to Nick, which does end up paying off, albeit with a little of danger on their part. Finally, throughout the final act of the film, Animal continues to be a funny tag-along to the proceedings without being annoying, especially during the cab chase where he makes funny comments like, when Sergeant O'Neal tells them over the cab's radio that, even though he has them trapped in a tunnel, they have to lure Godzilla out into the open where they can get a clear shot at him, "Eh, no problem. You want us to wash him up for you too?" I especially crack up when Godzilla manages to get the cab in his mouth and Animal absolutely panics, screaming, "Oh, you gotta be kidding me, man! We're in his mouth! We are in his mouth!", and when Philippe almost causes them to go down his throat, Animal yells, "You're going the wrong way, man! You're going the wrong way!" That's freaking great. And finally, I like how Animal just can't catch a break with recording this stuff with his TV camera, with Philippe stomping it at one point and taking the tape away from him without him knowing it at the end of the movie, saying that he'll return it after he removes, "A few items." Animal is another character whom you just have to love, I don't care who you are.

Touching on Animal's wife, Lucy (Arabella Field), she's a typical tough, kind of smart alecky, New York woman (when I thought back on the movie after having not seen it in years, I actually thought she was played by Leah Remini). She's a good friend to Audrey but very frankly tells her that her problem is that she's too nice, which doesn't do well for someone in New York City, and tells her that she has to be a killer to get ahead. Later on, when Audrey decides to take the initiative and ends up with her boss' press badge, Lucy commends her on finally doing something ruthless and helps her glue her picture over his on the badge, telling her not to wimp out on her at this point. Like I said above, while her relationship with Animal is full of a lot of teasing and ragging, and she actually blames Audrey's new vicious attitude that caused her to have a falling out with Nick on him, even though all he did was agree with her, there is genuine love between the two of them. She is a little hard on him, to the point where Animal feels he has to sneak out the window in order to get back into the city to follow Nick and the French agents, but that's only because you can tell that she doesn't want to do something stupid that'll get himself killed. I do like how, at the end of the movie when she discovers that Animal was involved with the events that led to Godzilla's death, she says she's going to kill him but, at the same time, cheers over said involvement. And finally, despite her tough attitude, she was good enough to allow a bunch of people who were left behind due to the city's evacuation to stay at her place, even though it was a shock and somewhat of an inconvenience for Animal.

As Colonel Hicks, Kevin Dunn has one mood throughout the entire film: exasperated. It's not in a mean-spirited way or anything but, no matter what seen he's in, Hicks really seems to hate his job and is annoyed with everyone he has to work with. When he's not yelling, he comes across as just really annoyed, most often in a way where he seems irritated at having to tell his subordinates what to do and when to do it. When the Apache helicopters are chasing Godzilla and one of the people monitoring it tells Hicks that they have a lock on, Hicks replies, "Fire the damn missile." And during the climax of the film when Hicks is told that Godzilla is heading for the Brooklyn Bridge, he orders, "Direct the F-18s to the Brooklyn Bridge," and, a few minutes later when Godzilla is still standing after taking a bunch of missile hits, yells, "Well circle around and fire again!" It's hard to get across in writing but his mood is one of, "Do I have to tell you people to do everything?!", although, amazingly, he's still a really likable guy when all is said and done. It's easy to understand his attitude given the situation and how he's dealing with an enemy that he's never faced before, as well as how he has contend with an asshole mayor who doesn't respect him or his operation, angrily criticizes everything he does, and clearly does not give a crap about the safety of New York's people. That's the thing: Hicks may be exasperated but he has a duty to protect the people of Manhattan, as well as the entire country, from Godzilla and is one that he doesn't take lightly. Even though he, like his superiors, is reluctant to believe Nick's theory about Godzilla possibly having a nest somewhere in the city after the whole fiasco with the press, when Dr. Chapman tells him that they can't afford to not check it out due to how vital it could potentially be, Hicks decides she's right and organizes a search party to sweep the city. When Mayor Ebert gives him crap over it, saying he doesn't have the authority to do so, Hicks snarls at him, "Try and stop me," which is something that makes you go, "Hell, yeah!" He may be a pretty irritated and angry colonel but Hicks is still ultimately likable.

While we're on the subject, let's briefly run down the other major military associates here. Sgt. O'Neal (Doug Savant) is a really nervous, jittery guy who Hicks and the rest of the team meets up with when they first arrive in Manhattan. This guy stutters and has so many long pauses in his sentences that you'd think he was related to Jeff Goldblum and you also wonder why or how he became part of the military if he's so nervous. There's not much important stuff that he says or does throughout the film, except maybe when he takes command of the units to attempt to kill Godzilla for the second time late in the film or when he gets into contact with Nick in the cab and tells him that they have to lure Godzilla out into the open where they can get a clear shot at him. I've never found his line, "We need bigger guns," to be particularly funny (at the time, I didn't know it was a takeoff of the famous line from Jaws) and I really don't care when, at the end of the film, he seems happy to have finally been commended by Hicks on his job. Since he's an ancillary character, it doesn't truly matter, but he's still always been one I could take or leave. An ancillary character whom I do rather like is Dr. Elsie Chapman (Vicki Lewis), the scientist whom Nick works with when he's brought onto the project. She doesn't do much in the overall film except flirt with Nick since she thinks he's cute and have a rather disinterested mood for most of it but I like her because, when Nick gets fired, she's genuinely upset about it for him, telling him that she's sorry for what happened. As he leaves, Nick tells her to make sure that Colonel Hicks finds Godzilla's nest and she promises to try, which she does and ultimately succeeds in convincing him to do so, imploring, "What if Nick is right and we blow this whole thing?" I like that because it shows how, even though she initially felt that Nick wasn't the right person for this assignment, she did genuinely grow some affection for him, shallow flirting aside, and wants to do what she can to clear his name after this bit of media disgrace. Plus, I also like what happens at the end of the film when, in her excitement about Godzilla having been defeated and Nick being exonerated, ends up kissing Dr. Craven, who gets a really excited and infatuated look on his face afterward and she, gradually realizing what she's done, goes, "Oh, God. Oh, no." Speaking of Craven (Malcolm Danare), there's not much to say about him other than he has a summer cold, which keeps coming up throughout the film when he appears. I don't particularly like him for the scene when Nick gives his theory about Godzilla having laid eggs and he laughs at Mayor Ebert's joke, "What is this, the Virgin Lizard?" or, when Nick says the eggs are going to hatch very quickly, he very disrespectfully sneers, "How could you possibly know that?" But, that aside, like I do still smirk at the look on his face when Elsie kisses him in her excitement at the end of the movie.

The rest of the supporting cast is made up of some pretty unlikable characters, unfortunately, one of whom is Mayor Ebert (Michael Lerner). This guy is just a selfish asshole whose only concern with Godzilla's arrival in New York is how this will effect his chances of getting re-elected. That's all that he constantly brings up throughout the movie and is the only reason why he's concerned about Godzilla being vanquished, not about the risk the monster's presence would mean to the citizens, what it could do the city's economy, etc. When he first meets up with Colonel Hicks and hears that Godzilla has disappeared, he says, "You mean to tell me that, in an election month, I've evacuated the city for nothing?!" When Hicks tells him that Godzilla may indeed still be lurking somewhere within the city, Ebert yells at him, "But you don't know for sure!" That's another thing that he does: criticize everything that Hicks and the army does and scold them for what he sees as incompetence on their part. He even tries to overrule Hicks' decision to search the city for a potential nest, since it'll only further delay a number of angry citizens (i.e. potential voters) from being let back into the city, by saying he has no authority with which to do that. The only moment with Ebert that I like is when, after an Apache helicopter misses Godzilla with a missile and blows up the Chrysler Building, the pilot reports it as a negative impact and Ebert goes, "Negative impact? That's the goddamn Chrysler Building we're talking about here." Other than that, he's not a pleasant character to have to endure (fortunately, he's not in the movie a whole lot) and after a while, you really start to feel bad for his much abused political aide, Gene (Lorry Goldman). While he has even less screentime than Ebert, this poor guy tries and tries to advise Ebert and do the best he can to help him in his bid to get re-elected but all Ebert does is insult and snap at him throughout the movie. Throughout the film, he just grins and bears it but, at the end of the film when Ebert shoots down his advice not to exploit Godzilla's death as a campaign angle and calls him an idiot, Gene finally decides he's had enough and tells the hateful mayor off before walking on him. I wish he'd have done more than just give him a thumbs down but I think the idea that Ebert has lost his political aide and his best chance of getting re-elected is good enough. (I'll discuss the joke behind these characters shortly.)

However, as bad as Ebert is, no one in this movie is more despicable than Charles Caiman (Harry Shearer), who's one of the head anchors at WIDF News and Audrey's boss. This guy is just a bastard, to say the least. He's even more self-centered than Ebert, believe it or not, and not only doesn't give a rat's ass about Audrey's aspirations or how she's busted her butt for him for years, but actually makes a move on her, despite the fact that he's married (I honestly don't think his wife would be too broken up about him cheating on her, though) and when she turns him down, refuses to help her get the job she wants. Throughout the film, he continues to treat her like dirt, even very stupidly refusing to listen her to when she tries to tell him that she knows someone on the inside of the operation and that she can get them a good scoop, and, when she comes up with her own lead on the story that could help her get ahead, he goes behind her back and steals it, claiming it as his own. He's just a complete slimeball and Shearer is really good at making him a shifty, untrustworthy dickhead, which it's satisfying when Audrey tells him off at the end of the movie, making it known that she's had enough of him and is quitting. But then again, it's the guy who voices Mr. Burns on The Simpsons, so what do you expect? Come to think of it, there are a number of Simpsons voice actors here. Not only do you have Shearer and Hank Azaria but Nancy Cartwright also appears in one scene as a secretary who tries to warn Caiman when Godzilla walks right by the window. I know that the creators of The Simpsons are big Godzilla fans, so maybe that's why there are so many alumni here (this is actually the only movie or TV show to have more actors from that show associated with it than the show itself) but it's still kind of odd.

One of my least favorite things about this movie is the humor, not because there's so much of it but because a good chunk of it sucks, in my opinion. Again, while I enjoy the funny moments with Jean Reno and Hank Azaria, the rest of the humor and comic relief in this movie just makes me roll my eyes because it's so juvenile, stupid, and even desperate. The running gags with no one being able to pronounce Nick's last name correctly, Dr. Craven having a summer cold, and Mayor Ebert liking to munch on some candy every once in a while are so unfunny and wear out their welcome very quickly, especially the gag with Nick's last name. After a while, it seems like they've finally given up on the gag when it suddenly comes back when you least expect it quite a bit into the movie. It's like, "Okay, we get it! He has a last name that's hard to pronounce. Enough already!" Some of the humor doesn't even make sense, like Nick's comment of, "That's a lot of fish." I'm with the Nostalgia Critic; I don't get what's supposed to be funny there. Is it his observation or that he's right since it is, in fact, a lot of fish? I don't get it. And that whole gag with Philippe giving his comrades chewing gum because he says it makes them look more American... am I supposed to be laughing because it actually works or because it doesn't, because I'm actually sort of half and half on it. I love Jean Reno talking like Elvis but that just... hm. But, now let's get to the most talked about running joke in the film, which is the slight against Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel with the characters of Mayor Ebert and Gene. In case you don't know, this was Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin's way of getting back at the two legendary critics for panning Stargate and Independence Day and it is, to say the least, juvenile and petty. If you know me, you'd know that I was never really a big fan of Siskel and Ebert and often found them to be snobbish and sometimes downright insulting in their reviews. That said, though, I always get really irritated when filmmakers act like big babies when people criticize aspects of their films, be it when Kevin Smith was complaining about those who panned his movies like Cop Out or when M. Night Shyamalan made a really nasty and egotistical attack on critics in Lady in the Water due to the bad things most of them said about The Village. My feeling towards any of that is, "What are you, six?" Criticism is just part of the filmmaking game. Some people aren't going to get what you're trying to do and are will make it known that they don't care for it. That's no reason to throw in petty insults towards them in your future work because all it does is make you look bad. You should just do your thing and not care about what critics say, which is what I try to do, despite how some critics do make me mad. Some may find it amusing but I think that Emmerich and Devlin were being very immature about it, what with how they made the Ebert character a selfish, loud-mouthed asshole who's constantly eating sweets and the character meant to be Siskel a put-upon lackey. Hell, as Siskel himself said, if you're going to do that, at least have the balls to go all the way and have Godzilla either eat them or step on them. You'll still look like a crybaby who can't take criticism but at least you'll have made your point.

Besides the Siskel and Ebert slight, there's supposedly another one in this film involving someone who hits a little closer to home as far as the Godzilla fan community is concerned. Apparently, one of the first people killed by Godzilla when he arrives in New York looks a lot like J.D. Lees, the editor of G-Fan magazine and who also apparently organized a lot of vocal opposition to the film in the weeks prior to its release. Now, I've never seen a photo of Lees, nor am I completely clear on exactly which character they're referring to who's supposed to look like him, but, if this is true, then it's one confirmation of a rumored hostile attitude that Emmerich and Devlin have towards the Godzilla fan community to this day. Let me make it clear that this is nothing more than hearsay but, apparently, Emmerich's opinion on the Godzilla franchise is more than just mere disinterest on his part. I've heard that he thinks that his film is better than all of the other ones, including the original Godzilla, and that Godzilla himself is a character who doesn't deserve the enormous fan-base that he has. I can't confirm this attitude but I do know from an interview I saw with him on an episode of the Reel TV series The Directors, he doesn't understand the love that Godzilla fans have for the character, saying that when people complained that they wanted the original Godzilla back, his response was, "And when was the last time you saw that actually make money in the theater?" He even goes as far as to joke about how, after all that complaining, Godzilla 2000, the first Toho film after this movie, was made and didn't do much of anything when it was released in the U.S., clearly missing the point of the matter. So, I don't know about major disdain but he clearly doesn't understand the fan base. As for Devlin, while he doesn't come across quite as pompous or ignorant as Emmerich, he does seem like someone who tries to placate the fans by simply telling them what they want to hear. When he was interviewed by the aforementioned J.D. Lees years later when it became clear that the planned sequels to Godzilla '98 were not going to happen, Devlin said that he had intended to have Godzilla adapt more traditional attributes, most notably his atomic blast. While there may be some truth to that since, in the much more well-received cartoon series based on the film (I need to get around to watching that), Godzilla does indeed have an atomic blast, given who was interviewing him at the time and the less than amicable atmosphere to the whole thing, it seems more likely that Devlin's comment was simply meant to talk down a bunch of angry critics. This perceived hostile attitude on the filmmakers' part has always made it rather difficult to embrace this movie, which is why I hope that most of it is just exaggerated rumor. If it is true... well, I'll talk about that during the wrap-up on the movie.

Upon re-watching this movie again, I was almost instantly reminded of something that I hated even when I was a kid: the ever-constant rain. You'd best enjoy the sun in the early scenes in Tahiti and Jamaica because once this flick moves to New York, you never see it again, which is something that I've always found very distracting and annoying. I understand that they probably had it rain throughout the movie in order to establish a mood, as well as simply because it rains a lot in New York, and, truth be told, it does kind of work since I personally really hate being stuck out in the rain, be it in a traffic jam or what have you, as well as having to walk through it into something as crowded as a subway. It's uncomfortable to me and if that's what they were going for, then I give them props. However, this is Godzilla, not Se7en, and after a while, the rain stops adding to the atmosphere and simply becomes annoying to me. I get sick of seeing dreary, overcast skies and constant downpours after an hour of nothing but and I'd like a little more variety, such as the skies clearing up during the latter third of the film or at least during the climactic chase with Godzilla. Plus, the darkness and the rain really makes it hard to see what's going on sometimes, especially during the action scenes, which has always made my mom wonder if the reason why they did that was to hide some special effects that they knew looked bad. Maybe most other people aren't bugged by this issue and it's a weird reaction that only I've had but, regardless, it's something about this movie that I can truly say I've never liked and still don't like.

Whether or not it was intentional on the filmmakers' part, there are aspects of this movie that, believe it or not, do hint back to the original Godzilla and also address current, international issues like that film did. For one, the first act of the film is very similar to that of the 1954 movie: we have an attack on a Japanese fishing vessel, followed by attacks on more ships, that quickly leads investigators to a wrecked island village, where the leading scientist stands in the gigantic footprint of the creature that caused the destruction, and while the original film didn't start off with footage of atomic tests, both of them do lead to the revelation that the marauding monster, which eventually makes its way to a major city, is the end result of such tests. Speaking of which, something else that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have to be commended for is actually making Godzilla a mutant caused by radiation, which is something that Steve Miner, Fred Dekker, Ted Elliot, and Terry Rossio before them tried to sidestep around. Those previous scripts still incorporated nuclear energy but they both merely had nuclear tests revive Godzilla rather than make him what he is. The Godzilla in this film might not have an atomic blast or be as lethally radioactive as the classic one but, he's still an animal who was turned into a gigantic monster by atomic testing, something that we've learned can't really happen in the decades since the 1950's and is probably why those previous screenwriters tried to lessen its significance. If nothing else, Emmerich and Devlin did embrace an idea that, core to the character of Godzilla aside, is antiquated and sneered at in todays age and made it the basis for a big budget, 90's sci-fi movie. When was the last time you'd seen that in a Hollywood movie by that point? But, then, there's another part of the problem that Emmerich and Devlin faced in adapting this old concept to a modern movie: what country should conduct the nuclear test that creates Godzilla since the U.S. itself hasn't done so since 1992? Some controversial nuclear testing done in Polynesia by France in 1996 solved that problem and also allowed them to reference current, topical events, just like how the original Godzilla did in the 50's (although, since in this movie, the nuclear test that created Godzilla was conducted in 1968, I think it would have been okay for the U.S. to be the country that did it). And, what's really ironic is how the creation of a French nuclear test attacks an American city is similar to how in the original film, Japan was attacked by a monster that was created by some other country's big mistake. This Godzilla may not have turned New York into a raging inferno by the end of the film like his counterpart did but, regardless, we still have another example of an innocent country bearing the brunt of another's hubris. Again, who knows if this idea was intentional or not but it is fascinating.

I chose this particular image because this is the one I saw in
that novelization that I mentioned in the introduction.
Okay, now let's talk about the most despised aspect of this entire film, which is Godzilla himself. First off, it's rather appropriate that in later years, Toho renamed this particular character as simply "Zilla" because there's nothing god-like about him; he's simply a big animal. Granted, he's a very strong and powerful animal, able to withstand a lot of military gunfire and run like hell despite his enormous size, but an animal nonetheless. On the surface, that may not seem like a bad way to go since the Heisei Godzilla was characterized in a very animalistic, instinctive manner, rather than very anthropomorphic like the original one eventually turned out, but, ultimately, what it comes down to is that this film took away what makes Godzilla special, which is his mythical, god-like elements and stature. When he's wading through an onslaught of military firepower, including big missiles and advanced weapons like maser cannons, and devastating all of those who oppose him with his atomic blast and unparalleled strength, as well as reducing entire cities to smoldering rubble, he feels like something more than just a mutated animal, like an all-powerful, unstoppable, and invincible force of nature that deserves to have the word "god" in its name. This "Godzilla" runs away from those who attack him and often hides from and defeats them by sneaking up on them. It makes him feel less like an all-powerful, legendary beast and more like all of the dime-a-dozen, gigantic, nuclear creations that we've seen in a myriad of sci-fi movies since the 50's. Some of those monsters are indeed cool, and some of those movies are classics, but they didn't have the staying power of characters like Godzilla or King Kong because they were one-note and couldn't serve much dramatic purpose other than the one film they each appeared in. On that note, it's a shame what they did to Godzilla here. I know that some might say, "Well, that's not realistic," but neither is the very idea of a giant, irradiated monster attacking a city! As long as you're doing that and have all the resources in the world to make it look good and believable, you might as well go the whole nine yards with it. At least, that's what I feel. Now, all that said, there are aspects about this Godzilla that I do like. Most notably, I like that he's not a pea-brain but rather, is quite intelligent and comes up with some pretty smart ways to evade those who wish to kill him as well as to turn the tables on them, with how he destroys one of the submarines that attacks him in the East River being a particularly clever maneuver. Second, I like that he's very agile and able to move very quickly despite how big he is. I wish he'd used that more to his advantage in an offensive way rather than a defensive one, though. And third, I like how the entire climax centers around him trying to get revenge for the deaths of his babies, as well as how relentless he is in doing so. He may be after some people who, technically, didn't kill his babies and, yeah, he does ultimately fail, but I love his tenacity and determination in trying to avenge his young. As you can hopefully see, I don't out-and-out hate the characterization of this Godzilla; I just wish they'd embraced the "god" part a little more.

Of course, what infuriated fans about Godzilla more than his characterization was his radical redesign here. Like I described in the introduction, when I finally saw what Godzilla was going to look like in this movie, I was quite thrilled because I liked the idea of Hollywood updating him and giving him a more modern look in a big way. My mother and a bunch of other people may have hated what they did to him, and even my dad, when he came in on me watching it on video one time, said, "That's not Godzilla," I always viewed it as just another iteration of the Big G, similar to how I always noticed that his look changed throughout the Japanese series of films and would continue to do so afterward. But, once Toho began making it clear that this creature and the character that they created and owned were two different things, it became hard to do that and now, even though I told people in the past that I hated the look of this monster simply to go along with them and not get jeered at, I do feel that this simply isn't Godzilla. I still think it's a cool-looking creature, very reminiscent of the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, whom I've always loved (even though this thing is supposed to be a giant iguana), and has an appropriately ugly, mutated look to it, with a nasty face and a throat that has a lot of flesh hanging down (I could have done without the enormous chin, though), not to mention some Godzilla-like aspects such as some dorsal plates and a similar-sounding roar, but it's ultimately not Godzilla himself. Unlike his namesake, this monster doesn't have an atomic blast, which is another major sticking point for diehard fans, although he does do something like it a couple of times in the movie when he roars at point-blank range and the force of it causes some fire and explosions in the process (which they put in at the last minute to calm some very irate fans). While that is a time-honored tradition of the character of Godzilla, I think that it would have been out of place for this creature to do that. Even though I think it was an ill-advised idea, they still attempted to go more realistically with Godzilla and, as I described, make him more like a big animal than an unstoppable monster. Therefore, I don't think it would have felt right for this Godzilla to shoot an atomic blast, which is something that I've felt ever since I first saw the movie. Plus, I think that would have added insult to injury when Godzilla is downed at the end of the film by simply being shot by missiles. As for the monster's roar, which was actually created by the filmmakers from scratch rather than just being a simple reworking of the classic Godzilla screech, I think it sounds really good, particularly with how it ends with a noise similar to that of the more familiar one and does truly sound like a more extended, modern take on that iconic sound. In addition, the loud, echoing moan that he often lets out before appearing is really eerie and lends an ominous, foreboding feeling to those moments.

People often that this film, along with the original Godzilla and Godzilla 1985, are the only ones where Godzilla is by himself, with no other monsters to be seen. That's actually not true with Godzilla '98 because there are many, many other monsters in the movie: his babies. Indeed, the entire next-to-last act of the film takes a major detour from being a traditional giant monster movie to a suspenseful creature feature with the main characters dealing with the baby Godzillas that hatch out in Madison Square Garden. Comparisons to the sequences involving the Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies are not unwarranted, particularly given how the baby Godzillas act a lot like those particular dinosaurs. I don't know whose idea it was to make Godzilla a creature who reproduces asexually but, regardless, that's always been an issue with this film that I've found to be a little weird. There's been something of a debate in the fandom about what Godzilla's gender is since he has no distinguishable sexual body parts and whatnot but, given that his moniker is the King of the Monsters, as well as my own personal fanboy preferences, I've always gone along with the idea that he is indeed a full-blooded male and will always continue to do so. That's why it's so weird for me to deal with the concept of Godzilla laying eggs and having young in this movie. I know the asexual angle doesn't automatically mean that Godzilla is actually a female, particularly when Nick says that each one of the babies are born pregnant (by the way, ew), but, in a way, that almost makes the whole thing worse. Anyway, let's get off of this issue and talk a little bit about the baby Godzillas themselves. They're fine. That's virtually all I can say about them since they serve no other function than to allow for a section of the movie that has action without involving the military shooting at a giant monster and, again, are virtually just reconfigured Velociraptors. The section involving them is pretty entertaining, mind you, as they prove themselves to be very agile and lethal (although their behavior is more one of brute force than the most animalistic cunning of their father), and there's also a genuine feeling of dread when you realize how many of them there are and what will happen if they manage to escape from the Garden (with Nick spelling it out for you in case you couldn't), but, again, there's not much else I can say about them.

It would be very disappointing if every single penny of this movie's enormous budget wasn't up there on the screen but, fortunately, that's not the case. The film's enormous scope, incredible sets, big action sequences and stunts, and the sheer amount of special effects present speak for themselves, making it obvious that the filmmakers didn't squander a single dime in trying to make everything look as real as it could. As for how well the special effects hold up, it's rather mixed. The actual physical effects, like the animatronics and the suits that were used for some shots of the baby Godzillas, are very impressive and still look good to this day. That's especially true for the enormous animatronics used for Godzilla himself, like his head and torso. This is back when they actually used physical effects in conjunction with CGI, a method that I wish they would go back to instead of now using the latter for everything. Now, when it comes to the CGI here, the quality of it is very much half-and-half. Some of it looks very good to this day and gets across the idea that Godzilla and his young are real flesh and blood creatures stomping around practical environments. There are other times, though, where the CGI looks very dated and archaic, particularly when it comes to the baby Godzillas (just look at the picture in the above paragraph to see what I mean). It can often look like something from an early Playstation 2 game rather than a living creature that's supposed to be there. The same goes for the CGI used to create the explosions and the destruction: some of it looks quite convincing, while other parts of it... not so much. However, the physical effects of actual cars, models, etc., being tossed around and destroyed look really nice, even if what's destroying them is executed by painfully obvious CGI. In short, Godzilla '98 is definitely a big mixed bag when it comes to the different methods used to create its special effects and while some of the bad stuff can be forgiven due to how young the technology was at the time, it's still very, very hard to buy them as being completely legit.

The movie has a really good opening title sequence consisting of old archive footage of the French Polynesian islands where the atomic test that creates Godzilla occurs. You see shots of the planning of the test, as well as the final preparations for it juxtaposed with the iguanas that live on the island, with one shot in particular focusing on a mother lizard caring for an egg in her nest. While it's never made known if that's the egg containing the iguana that will become Godzilla, I always find that shot to be a little sad considering what's about to happen, with the music becoming rather poignant at that moment. After that, we see the main command station and hear a countdown in French, followed up by the explosion as both those behind it and the iguanas watch in awe, with the music at that point making it feel very epic and profound. We then see the shockwave of the blast spread out towards the island that the iguanas are on, with another blast following it up as the island is covered in the radioactive fallout. The sequence ends with a slow push-in towards a single iguana egg as it's covered in the fallout, an effectively eerie prelude to what's to come. In a flash of lightning, the film cuts to a Japanese fishing vessel that's traveling through a thunderstorm in the South Pacific. As the captain watches sumo wrestling on TV while eating his dinner, the crew down below is preparing the fish they've caught. Back on the main deck, the captain continues watching TV until a warning sound from the sonar catches his attention. He walks over to it to see an enormous blip heading straight for the boat, which prompts him to sound the alarm throughout the ship. Everyone onboard goes into a frantic state as they try to prepare for whatever it is that's going on, with a guy on the main deck warning everyone about what's happening via an intercom system. That's when the ship is hit by an enormous impact, knocking everyone off their feet, with the poor old man who is to be the sole survivor falling to the floor and just barely missing getting impaled by a bunch of falling knives. Things then get eerily quiet for a bit, as everyone wonder what hit them, when they hear Godzilla's haunting moaning. That's followed up by his claws slicing through the wall of a corridor, causing water to begin pouring in and tipping the ship over, as everyone thrown is around as a result. As the ship begins to sink, the old man makes it to a position where he can see what's going, while the main deck is whacked by Godzilla's tail, smashing the windows and sending everyone there flying against the back wall. The scene abruptly cuts right there.

After the scene where we're introduced to Nick Tatopoulos as he's collecting earthworms at Chernobyl, followed by the one in Tahiti where we meet Philippe Roache as he interrogates the old Japanese fisherman about what he saw, getting the cryptic response, "Gojira," we get to the scene where Nick is taken to the island in Panama where Godzilla destroyed a village. He eventually finds out why he's there when Colonel Hicks tells him that there's a radioactive sample there for him to study and that he's "standing in it." After looking directly beneath him and not finding it, he quickly realizes that the "pit" he thinks he's standing in is an enormous footprint. As he breathlessly tries to take in what just happened, he's introduced to Dr. Elsie Chapman and Dr. Craven, the latter of whom shows them a videotape released by the French government of the Japanese fishing vessel, as well as the old man who identified the attacker as Gojira. A nicely done shot of two helicopters following Godzilla's footprints through the destroyed village and across the island transitions us to New York City for the first time, where we're introduced to Audrey and the problems she has with her boss. Once that's done, we transition to Jamaica, where Nick and the team come across the beached wreckage of the Japanese ship. The enormous wide-shot of the wreckage as they come upon it shows off the scale and budget of this flick very nicely, and I've always liked the shot of Nick staring in complete disbelief at the enormous claw marks Godzilla left in the hull of the ship. After a brief bit of business where Colonel Hicks meets up with Philippe Roache, who introduces himself as an insurance agent and that he and his men are repairing their report on the wreck, before being told by Hicks that they'd better get out of his way before he has to make them do so, we see Nick finding small cans of tuna next to the wreck, along with a flesh sample on the ship's savaged hull, as the scene transitions to three fishing trawlers off the eastern seaboard of the United States. As the captain of one boat prepares to play cards with a couple of his crew, the boats suddenly stop dead in the water. As the captain wonders what's going on, the man in charge of the engine cranks it up full throttle but the ship doesn't budge an inch. The captain goes out on deck and asks what's going on, with the engine-man saying that it's up as far as it can go and suggests that they might be heavy in the nets. The captain then goes out to the stern of the boat to try to figure out what's going on, with someone on one of the other boats asking what's going on and if the nets are full. He feels they must be caught on something down below and they decide to bring the nets in to see if they can break loose of whatever's holding them back. While doing so, the one captain is told that the engines are overheating but he insists that they keep pulling. That's when the trawlers suddenly start to be dragged along the water. The crews frantically try to cut the nets loose, with the masts of each ship breaking from the extreme pressure, but they're unable to do so as all three boats are pulled beneath the waves, forcing the men to literally abandon ship. You can hear Godzilla moan as the trawlers disappear beneath the waves, while the unharmed men floating along the surface, holding onto some floating debris from the ships. They themselves then hear Godzilla moan, followed by one of the trawlers bursting back onto the surface. Following that, Hicks is informed of what happened and Nick gives his theory as to what the monster might be.

Transitioning back to New York, which is identified in the caption as THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS, we get Godzilla's arrival. While Audrey chats with Lucy and Animal in a diner, an old man named Joe decides to try his luck and fish in the East River, all the while being mocked by a couple of homeless guys that the only thing he's going to catch out in the rain is a cold. But, he proves them wrong by getting a bite as soon as he casts his line. This "fish," however, proves to be much stronger than he anticipated and begins taking the line out in a very fast rate. Joe begins struggling to reel it in, apparently not noticing a big eruption of water that happens about twenty feet, signaling that this is no tuna or herring, until his rod is yanked out of his hands and into the river, getting pulled underwater as it goes. Joe watches as an enormous swell of water, with two of Godzilla's dorsal plates on either side of it, rises up and begins heading right for him. Panicking, Joe turns around and heads back down the dock, with Godzilla following right behind him and tearing the dock to pieces as he goes. I don't know if Joe made it back to shore or what but, regardless, everyone working on the nearby docks hears Godzilla moan, in a nice, eerie moment that signals his arrival, before he rises up next to an overpass, with several ships on his back. He steps over the road but drops a couple of the boats in the middle of it, with one slamming right in front of one particular car. He drops more debris when he stomps in the middle of the waterfront, causing cars to crash into each other as well as onto the sidewalks when their windshields get covered in fish and debris. People then begin running while trying to avoid getting stepped on by Godzilla as he makes his way through the waterfront, stopping in front of a container truck that was being loaded with a bunch of fish earlier and grabs the container with his mouth while a couple of people are still inside. He lifts the truck up into the air, dumping those people out of the back while the man sitting in the cab up front just about falls out of the door and has to grab onto the steering wheel. People continue running and trying to avoid the debris that Godzilla is dropping, including the chewed-up remains of the truck. Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, Mayor Ebert is giving a speech even though it's raining, with everyone but him slowly realizing that there's a loud, thundering boom that's gradually getting louder and louder. In the nearby road that's blocked off for the speech, cars and people are beginning to bounce due to the increasing reverberations, which soon become strong enough to shake Ebert's podium and cause him to lose his balance. Everyone then hears Godzilla screech as he comes smashing through a building on the other side of the street, forcing everyone, including Ebert and Gene, to flee. Godzilla walks down the street, with people forced to run directly in front of him as he does so, resulting in many of them being crushed either by his feet or by yet another boat that falls off his back. Following that is the moment where Godzilla walks by the window of the WIDF News building, with Charles Caiman completely oblivious to it despite Nancy Cartwright's attempts to warn him (note that Barney the Dinosaur is playing on a blinking television in the background of this scene).

Back at the diner, Audrey is telling Lucy and Animal about her history with Nick when they gradually realize that something's going on as the lights start blinking and the place begins shaking. Lucy actually thinks this is caused by a parade(??), with Animal that he doesn't think that's the case. As the shaking gets more and more violent, with the television on the wall going out as a result, they see some debris crash down onto the street outside, followed by Godzilla's feet as he walks through. The windows explode from the force off it, with Animal shielding the two women from the flying glass while everyone else in the diner also takes cover. After realizing that they're alright, Animal runs outside just in time to see Godzilla's tail round the corner in front of him. Realizing that this is definitely worth filming, he runs to the turned over news van they drove to the spot and grabs his camera. He tries to get a shot of the tip of Godzilla's tail going around the corner but he has trouble getting the tape in correctly, forcing him to chase after the monster, ignoring Lucy's screams of, "Get back here, you retard!" Following him by running over the tops of the cars that have jammed the streets, Animal winds up in the middle of another street and literally comes face to face with Godzilla, who has stopped and is scanning his surroundings. Godzilla begins walking towards him, while Animal again fights with the tape in his camera, eventually getting it in correctly. He manages to shoot some footage of Godzilla (although, it's not the best quality due to the camera's damaged condition), as he bends down and looks directly at him, roaring as he does so. That's when Godzilla raises his foot to take another step and Animal looks up and screams, realizing that he's about to be crushed. Godzilla's foot comes down with a loud crash and that's when we see that Animal, being an incredibly lucky dude, ended up in-between his toes. Godzilla then continues on, leaving Animal standing there in the rain, trembling from sheer shock and terror, slowly looking behind him as Godzilla disappears around another corner, scraping the sides of a couple of buildings with his tail as he goes. Animal continues stands there, shuddering in fear, and then begins laughing hysterically when it finally dawns on him that he survived this encounter.

Shortly afterward, with the city being evacuated, Nick and the military arrive and attempt to figure out where Godzilla is within the city and how he could just disappear. They then see the footage that Animal shot of him on WIDF News and after a little bit of business involving Audrey once again being shafted by Charles Caiman, even when she says that she has a lead to some insider information, we see the full extent of the evacuation as Audrey and Lucy head to the subway, having to run through the completely jammed streets in order to do so, while Caiman's news chopper patrols the skies above the city, with Caiman reporting on the situation. Not only do we see how jammed the streets are with evacuating people but we also see a hole that Godzilla tore right through the center of a building (which, somehow, still managed to keep from falling apart) and that there is a long line of cars heading out of the city. During the scene where Colonel Hicks argues with Mayor Ebert about whether or not Godzilla has left the city, Sgt. O'Neal informs him that searching for the monster may be more difficult than they originally expected. He immediately shows Hicks what he means when he leads him and everyone else down into the city and into a part of the subway where a huge tunnel has been dug out. O'Neal says that this means that Godzilla could have dug his way out of the quarantine zone, prompting Hicks to order the fourteen tunnels that lead off of Manhattan to be sealed up in any way they can think of. After a shot where we see some soldiers exploring the tunnel, all the while hearing Godzilla eerily moan off in the distance, Nick suggests to Hicks that they come up with a plan to lure him out into the open. The discovery of some flopping fish down in the tunnel apparently leads to the formulation of said plan.

That night, they use twelve dump trucks to create a huge pile of fish in the middle of a square, while at the same time setting up a barrage of combat vehicles nearby to shoot Godzilla when he arrives and a number of surveillance setups along the rooftops in order to monitor everything. Once they've dumped all of the fish, they lie in wait for Godzilla arrive but, some time passes with no sign of the monster whatsoever. It's almost 9:00 by this point and Hicks, O'Neal, and especially Ebert are getting restless. That's when Nick realizes that, with the manholes covered, Godzilla can't smell the bait and tells the nearby soldiers what needs to be done. The soldiers then begin running around the square and removing the lids, with Nick taking a crowbar to remove one off to the side himself. Once he does so, he hears some growling and Godzilla's ominous moan, followed by an enormous crack slicing through the road and going in-between Nick's legs. Nick hears a gurgling sound beneath the manhole and then, big chunks of slime and gunk shoot out of it. He then runs once the ground begins shaking and Godzilla erupts from the beneath the street, but his escape is blocked off when the chunk of asphalt containing the manhole falls down right in front of him. Godzilla pulls himself up out of the hole and onto the street, marking the first time in the film where you get a good look at him. Nick then does something very stupid and snaps a picture, which catches Godzilla's attention and prompts him to bend down curiously to look at him. Nick then backs up against the piece of asphalt behind as Godzilla positions his head just inches away from him to get a good look at him. A couple of soldiers set up to take shots at Godzilla across from the two of them and Nick subtly uses his hand to tell them not do so, knowing it could have disastrous consequences for him. After they get the message, Nick turns back to looking at Godzilla, who then roars right in his face, with Nick having to brace himself from the force of it and then grimacing at how horrible his breath smells. His curiosity satisfied, Godzilla leans back up and walks past Nick, heading toward the spot where the fish is and passing by the rooftop where O'Neal and some other soldiers are set up. They all watch and are completely stunned when Godzilla walks by them, knocking over the equipment and scraping the section of the building behind them with his tail, forcing them to take cover. Other units down on the ground scramble to get out of his way as he reaches the pile of fish and begins chowing down on it, with Nick taking a position behind him and snapping a couple of more pictures. That's when O'Neal, upon looking up over the edge of the rooftop he's on, really sees how big Godzilla is and makes the comment that they need bigger guns.

Unable to see what's going on due to how Godzilla smashed the surveillance equipment, Colonel Hicks orders O'Neal to fire at will. His men then unload their artillery on Godzilla from behind, causing him to swing around to face them and then duck to avoid a couple of missiles, which hit the building behind them and injure some nearby soldiers with the ensuing debris. Godzilla turns and runs, smashing the side of a building with his head as he does so, and forcing Nick to run to avoid getting stepped on. He almost gets crushed when Godzilla knocks over a statue that falls directly towards him but, fortunately, the position of its arms prevent it from hurting him. Godzilla runs down the street and tramples over some military vehicles while forcing some firing soldiers to dodge off to the side. A couple of jeeps carrying soldiers with machine guns chase after him and, after continuing to run away from them for a little bit, Godzilla turns around and gives us our first atomic blast-like moment, where he bends his head down and roars at some cars on the street, with the force of it causing an explosion that spreads very quickly and engulfs the two pursuing jeeps. O'Neal then reports to Hicks that Godzilla got away but then says the Echo Unit of Apache helicopters are in pursuit. The three helicopters begin chasing him through the buildings, having to wait until they can clear a shot in order to begin firing since at first they continuously catch up to him as soon as he rounds some corners ahead of them. They finally reach a corridor amongst the buildings that's long enough for them to get a good shot off, which is good for them because they're doing 80 knots and he's still outrunning them. They manage to lock onto him and fire their Sidewinder missiles. However, their plan immediately goes belly-up when Godzilla ducks and the missiles fly right over him, blowing up the Chrysler Building instead. The top of it falls into the street below, with some soldiers pursuing Godzilla in jeeps having to jump out to avoid being crushed. The Echo One pilot very funnily goes, "Oh... damn," upon realizing what he just did and then reports it as a negative impact, explaining that they can't get a lock-on with the heat-seekers because Godzilla is colder than the buildings around him. Continuing to evade the Apaches, Godzilla steps on the getaway truck of a couple of looters, while the helicopters are forced to use their machine guns to fire on him. Godzilla continues outrunning the Apaches and mostly manages to dodge the gunfire, even though the shells that do hit him don't hurt him, eventually managing to momentarily lose them amongst the buildings. Spotting an enormous hole that he smashed through a building, and after hearing him roar from the other side, all three Echo Units get into position and unload everything they have, causing some enormous explosions as they hear Godzilla continuously roar. Once they spent all of their ammunition and the smoke and fire clears, they believe that they were successful in killing Godzilla. That's when he explodes through the building behind them and smacks Echo One down against the side of another building before crushing Echo Two in his jaws. Now all that's left is Echo Four, who has Godzilla right on his tail, snapping his jaws at him. The pilot pushes the helicopter up to full throttle and dodges Godzilla as best as he can, although he doesn't think he can shake him. After a little bit of chasing, Echo Four appears to outrun Godzilla but, before he knows what him, he gets chomped from below. While Mayor Ebert angrily criticizes the military for causing more damage than Godzilla himself, we see Godzilla grab onto a building and groan loudly, apparently in pain from the attack. As he then roars up into the sky, with flashes of lightning behind him, we cut back to the site where the fish, with O'Neal commenting that they didn't do anything to Godzilla, with Nick, who is collecting a blood sample, saying that they did feed him.

Now, this is the section of the movie where it really starts to drag for me. Not only does Godzilla himself disappear for a while (admittedly, as is the case with a lot of the other movies) but this is where the film's extended running time starts to wear on me a little bit, where I began to tire of the film's humor, as well as the been there, done that aspects of the action scenes and the constant rain and miserable look of the movie. Some of you may not agree with that but it's nonetheless just the way I feel. After bit where Nick meets back up with Audrey, discovers that Godzilla reproduces asexually and is pregnant, and Audrey steals his top secret videotape, it cuts to the next day, as a squadron of Apaches sweep Manhattan while soldiers search the subway tunnels. There's a moment here where a soldier goes down a tunnel to investigate a sound that he said he heard, in spite of his buddy telling him that he didn't hear anything. The guy comes to what appears to be a dead-end and then turns around, saying that there's nothing down there. But, when he turns, the "wall" raises up behind him to give us a look at Godzilla's yellow eye before moves on, with the soldier not hearing his growling at all. After that is a long stretch with the human characters, with developments like Audrey creating her report, Caiman stealing it from her behind her back, it airing and resulting in Nick being fired from his position after he tries to warn the officials of the possibility of Godzilla having created a nest somewhere in the city, and Nick meeting up with Philippe Roache, who talks him into joining up with him and his men on a mission to get back into Manhattan and find the nest. At the same time, Animal, who followed Nick into order to try to get him to give Audrey a break and, as a result, found out about what's going on, heads back home and tells Audrey about the plan and that the best way for her to make it up to Nick is to follow him and show the whole world that he was right all along. That night, Nick, Philippe, and the rest of the Frenchmen move out, with Audrey and Animal doing the same, getting into the city through a hole in a fence and heading down some stairs into the subway tunnels. After Nick and the boys manage to get past the security checkpoint, Colonel Hicks gets in contact with Sgt. O'Neal, who at a site in Central Park where they're setting up another fish trap. Back in the subway tunnels, Audrey and Animal come across the spot where Nick and the men are, although they're forced to climb down a sideways train car to get down to them, with Animal almost giving them away when he knocks a soda can down there that clanks really loudly. Up ahead, Nick motions for everyone to stop and when they do, they hear Godzilla moan off in the distance. The tunnel then slowly begins to shake, although Audrey and Animal are too busy climbing down the train car to notice. The shaking continues to get louder and louder, until Godzilla finally bursts through the tunnel wall and roars at them. Nick and the others have to run back down the tunnel and take cover in a large section of pipe as Godzilla digs upwards through the tunnel. As he heads towards Audrey and Animal, Audrey runs for cover while Animal decides to stand there and film him, with Audrey having to yell at him to get him out of the way. They then watch as Godzilla smashes up through the ceiling and onto into open air, with the two of them having to laugh at the whole thing. At the same time, Nick and the others decide to continue on through the tunnel that Godzilla created for them.

Up top, a surveillance team on a rooftop spots Godzilla and Sgt. O'Neal is informed of this in the park. Everyone there takes their combat positions, with O'Neal telling them not to fire on Godzilla until he enters the park and clears the buildings. Godzilla then comes around a building and is now able to see the park up ahead. He also notices the military blockade not too far away from him and growls at it. As everyone trains their guns on him, Godzilla cautiously walks up to them to get a better look. He approaches until he's almost directly on top of them, with some of the soldiers having to do everything they can to keep their nerve. Godzilla glances over at the park, with O'Neal again reminding everyone not to fire until he enters it. He continues looking in the park's direction and is able to see the fish pile but when he does so, he looks back down at the soldiers. From past experience, he's able to put two and two together and realize that he's being lured into a trap again. He then roars and turns to leave, prompting O'Neal to order everyone to open fire. Godzilla then turns and runs along the buildings, with the military again causing more damage that he does in their attempts to shoot him. Running down the corridors of the buildings, Godzilla is again chased by Apache helicopters, this time in an enormous swarm. Like before, they chase after him while firing upon him with the machine guns and he ducks when some soldiers up ahead of fire a couple of missiles, which end up barely missing some of the Apaches and blowing up a building behind them. Godzilla smashes through the military blockade and heads toward the Westside Highway, running straight at and then jumping over the blockade there into the river. While everyone at command central is discouraged, a captain reassures that the Navy has a surprise there waiting for him: namely three submarines. The one known as the Utah closes in on Godzilla with the sonar, locking onto him with their torpedoes. They fire one torpedo, which Godzilla just barely avoids by doing some swerving. It then begins homing in on him, with the other submarines the Indiana and the Anchorage closing in as he tries to shake the torpedo. The latter fires another torpedo, which Godzilla also manages to dodge. With two now following, Godzilla swings around and heads straight for the Anchorage, as the crew brace for impact. He swims directly beneath it, scraping into the underside of its hull and damaging it to where it's completely defenseless against the two oncoming torpedoes. The Anchorage gets blown to smithereens, in an explosion that's big enough to cause an enormous geyser of water on the surface. Godzilla begins swimming back towards Manhattan, with the Utah and Indiana in hot pursuit. Both submarines fire torpedoes, while Godzilla desperately tries to claw into the side of the island to escape. Unable to make any headway, Godzilla suffers from a direct hit from both of them and disappears from their scope. Everyone celebrates his apparent death as we see a shot of his limp body tumbling towards the camera underwater.

Back in the subway tunnels, Nick and the others come across another destroyed subway car and discover that Godzilla tunneled upwards into Madison Square Garden. The men climb up the fish-covered tunnel into the heart of the building, with Audrey and Animal not too far behind. Up top, they enter the large stadium and make the eerie discovery of Godzilla's nest, coming across three eggs. Looking at them, Nick comments that he thought there would be more, with one of Philippe's men telling him that he was right. Looking more closely at their surroundings, with the constantly flickering lights adding a touch of visibility here and there, Nick and Philippe are able to see that they're surrounded by eggs. Nick begins shuddering because he now realizes that there are, in fact, more eggs that he expected. One of Philippe's men makes it to the circuit breakers and switches on the lights in the stadium, allowing them to see that the entire place is filled to the brim with Godzilla's eggs. They then set to work planting explosive charges on the eggs, but they run into a snag when one of Philippe's men tells him that they don't have enough explosives to do the job. While Audrey and Animal watch from afar, Nick, who can't help but take more pictures, hears some rustling within one of the eggs closest to him. Putting his hand on the egg, he feels movement from inside and then puts hear up to the shell to listen. Philippe then comes up to tell Nick of their problem but he then hears the sounds right before the egg begins shaking and a Baby Godzilla breaks its way through the shell with a droning scream. Backing away from it, they then hear more rustling behind them and turn around to see that all of the eggs are hatching. Elsewhere, Animal is mystified by one hatching egg and begins filming it, while Audrey pleads with him to come on. More babies begin hatching around Nick and Philippe and begin eating the fish that covers the floor, while a baby that walks up behind Audrey convinces Animal that they have enough footage to vindicate Nick. Animal then very nervously tells Audrey to try not to startle the baby, while Nick notices that one in front of them is sniffing at them. Nick then sniffs himself, with Philippe doing the same, and he realizes that they smell like the fish. Philippe then suggests that they'd best leave, while in the other part of the stadium, Audrey and Animal are also getting sniffed. After smelling fish on them too, one Baby Godzilla screeches and the two of them run away after a hand smashes through the egg behind them. The babies also begin chasing Nick and Philippe, with one screaming at the others to help chase them down. They run to the hallways outside, with Philippe ordering his men over his walky-talky to do the same. After they make it through and secure a door by putting a board through its handles, Philippe orders his men to lock the doors to keep them contained. Two of them do so after setting their charges, but another one doesn't get the information and gets pounced on by one of the babies, while his partner heads down a hallway and tries to slam the doors on them but gets pounced on and devoured as well. At the same time, Audrey and Animal are trying to escape the stadium but get cornered by a number of babies. Seeing that their only way out is through a door that's directly past two in front of them, they make a break for it and make it through them, winding up in the bathing room for the athletes. They try to go out through a couple of doors on the other side of the room but find that they're locked and see that the babies are trying to break down the door they just came through.

While Colonel Hicks and Mayor Ebert deal with thousands of angry people demanding to be let back into Manhattan, and Dr. Chapman convinces Hicks to organize a search for the nest, Nick, Philippe, and the others are still doing their best to contain the Baby Godzillas. While Philippe ties up the handles of a door with a fire hose to keep some babies from breaking through it, he gives Nick a cellphone and a number to use to contact the military to get them to blow up the building. Nick then calls the number while Philippe uses a shovel to block another set of doors but he's unable to get through because the telephone circuits are jammed with people calling to be let back into the city. Philippe tells him to try again and he does, this time via a payphone, but he once again can't get through. They're then joined by the two remaining members of Philippe's team, who tell them that they've secured the doors on the upper levels but also that the other two team members got killed. With that, Philippe tells Nick that he and the men will hold the Baby Godzillas in the building and that he'll have to go and get help. As the men head off to do their respective jobs, Audrey and Animal manage to escape the washroom they're trapped in by climbing up through a vent in the ceiling. Meanwhile, one of the Frenchmen comes across a set of double-doors that's about to be broken down by the babies, while the other wanders back to the stadium upon hearing some honk and wail down there. He steps into the doorway leading into the stadium, only for several babies to come up behind him in the hallway. One charges at him and manages to wade through his volley of gunfire in order to kill him. His partner hears his screams and attempts to contact him on the walky-talky. When he doesn't get an answer, he decides to take a chance and shoots through the doors in front of him to try to hit the babies on the other side. This, however, does nothing as the babies smash through the doors and are on him in a second. During this chaos, Nick is trying to find a way out of the building but runs into trouble when a couple of babies pop up on the other side of a door he tries to go through. He runs down to the other side of the hall but comes across more babies on the other side of a pair of double-doors there. They come crashing through the doors, sending a bunch of popcorn skittering across the floor in the process, and prompt Nick to run back the way he came, only to find another group of babies coming at him from that direction. With no other options, Nick runs to the elevator and frantically presses the arrow button, while both groups of Baby Godzillas close in on him from either side. The elevator, naturally, opens just when they're almost on top of him and while he manages to get in, he's unable to make the doors close before one baby sticks its head inside to get at him. After it snaps at him, Nick manages to push it back out the door with his foot and breathes a sigh of relief after it shuts. The elevator then opens up on the third floor, only for him to be faced with another group of babies that are munching on some concessions there. Nick jokes, "Wrong floor," as they stare at him while the elevator closes back up.

In another hallway, Philippe is walking around with his gun poised at the ready, as Audrey and Animal watch him from inside the vent they're crawling through. Philippe swings around upon hearing the elevator behind him ding, which is when Nick staggers out, explaining that he couldn't get out of the building. Right then, the vent that Audrey and Animal are in gives way and they tumble into the hallway. While Nick helps Audrey to her feet, Philippe attempts to smash Animal's camera, pointing a gun at him when he protests about it. He then asks them if they have anything they can use to contact the outside and, after thinking a little bit, Audrey says that she knows a way. Before she can explain what it is, a group of babies enter the hall and they have to run for it, with Audrey telling them to follow her. Animal just barely manages to avoid getting bitten in half when he takes the tape out of the camera before joining the others, who run down the hall, through some doors, and up some stairs. Philippe manages to lock the doors behind them as they head up to a broadcast booth, with the French agent shooting the door open when Animal is unable to get the key-code to work. Once they enter into the booth, Audrey explains that she plans to have them go live by using her network since the military monitors the news broadcast and pray that they see it. Audrey and Animal begin setting up for the broadcast, while the Baby Godzillas downstairs manage to smash their way through the doors Philippe locked. At first, when they begin transmitting, they run into a snag when Ed, the WIDF technician who first picks it up, is reluctant to put them on live, but when they use the camera to show him the stadium and how it's full of Baby Godzillas, he immediately goes about putting them on. They then are able to make their broadcast, which, fortunately, catches the attention of those packing up at the military command center, with Dr. Chapman telling Dr. Craven to go get Colonel Hicks. He and the rest of the officials, including Mayor Ebert, get to the broadcast just when Nick comes onscreen and explains that the babies will attempt to escape out into the city when their food supply runs out, which will eventually lead to them multiplying into enormous numbers that could easily take over the Earth. Both he and Audrey then stress that, regardless of their own lives, that the military must blow up Madison Square Garden before it's too late. As they do so, Philippe discovers that some babies are now right outside of the booth. Once the broadcast is done, Hicks calls the Air Force to tell them to blow up the Garden, with Nick and the others being warned via computer that they've got less than six minutes to get out of the building. With that, Philippe, being the badass that he is, shoots out the window of the booth and throws a line that they can repel down over the edge, into the stadium below. After he does that, the Baby Godzilla's begin smashing into the booth, prompting Philippe to ask if anyone cares to join him.

With three F-18s heading straight for the Garden, our four heroes repel down into the stadium, with Nick slagging behind because he sees that the Baby Godzillas have, in fact, eaten all of the fish there. He then runs after them down the nearby hallway and is about to join them when they round the corner, only for them to come screaming back around with a big group of babies hot on their tail. Running down the other side of the hall towards the escalator, Nick tries to slow them down by dumping a bin full of basketballs and soccer balls in their path and when that doesn't work, he turns over a gumball machine, causing them to lose their traction and slip and slide all over the hallway. This enables Nick to make it through the side door but he and the others run into a huge problem when, upon reaching the escalators that head down into the main lobby, they see that it's completely full of Baby Godzillas. All of the babies quickly spot them and with less than thirty seconds left until the F-18s arrive, as well as the ones that were chasing them appearing in the hall behind them, it looks as if they're completely screwed. However, Philippe once again shows how he's able to think on his feet and shoots at one of the chandeliers on the ceiling, which prompts the Baby Godzillas to jump out of the way when it crashes onto the ground. They then take the opportunity to run through the open space and Philippe follows this up by shooting the other chandeliers that are in a row up there, continuously creating an open space for them to run through. They barely manage to avoid getting chomped and make it outside, with Philippe shoving his gun through the door handles to hold them inside. The Baby Godzillas begin smashing through the windows as the heroes run for it into the streets. The F-18s arrive and the lead fires two missiles directly at the top of the Garden, causing a huge explosion that completely decimates the building and all of the Baby Godzillas with it. Nick and the others are forced to hit the deck in the street and once the explosion has passed and everything has calmed down, it looks as if things are wrapping up, with Nick and Audrey reconnecting and Philippe commenting that he could use a coffee. But that's when they hear a familiar echoing moan, followed by some ominous shaking. Godzilla then bursts up through the wreckage of the Garden, much to everyone's horror (except for Audrey, who barely has a reaction to it). After glancing at our heroes, Godzilla then looks down and sees a couple of corpses of one of his babies. He nudges one of them with his snout but he quickly realizes that it and the rest of them are dead. He then looks at our leads and becomes visibly angry, snarling at them in a threatening manner. Realizing the trouble they're in, they take off down the street and down an alleyway, with Godzilla in hot pursuit. He may not be able to fit down the alley but he makes room, smashing through the sides of the buildings with his head and looming straight at Audrey, who fell from the force of it. Nick manages to grab her before Godzilla reaches her and the two of them climb over this chain-link fence to make it to the other street with Philippe and Animal. With no other options, the four of them pile into a taxi cab, almost getting hit by a couple of cars that Godzilla sends flying with the force of a roar. Once inside, Philippe uses a knife to get the thing started before taking off down the street.

They don't make it too far before Godzilla appears up ahead of them, having skirted behind the buildings to their right. When he plants his feet in front of them, Philippe, intentionally or not, goes up the side of his right foot and lands safely on the road behind him. Godzilla turns around and begins chasing them down the street, with Philippe making a right turn to try to shake him, to no avail. As Philippe guns it down the street, Audrey and Animal argue about which street they should take, while Nick tries to find a map in the cab. Animal, who's, once again, filming during all this, sees that Godzilla is gaining on them and, within seconds, he's almost on top of them, trying to either bite them or stomp on them. Philippe swerves to the left, avoiding Godzilla's jaws by mere inches, as Nick finds a map... only to realize that it's a useless subway map. Audrey and Animal continue to argue about which way to go when Godzilla manages to get ahead of them and, with Philippe shouting at them to make up their minds, guns the car right between his jaws when he attempts to bite them at an angle. They drive past his foot and are almost chomped again when he turns around. That finally gets Audrey and Animal to agree on Broadway, which just happens to be where Sgt. O'Neal is leading a line of military vehicles in an apparent search maneuver. They make a right on 34th Street just in time to see Godzilla and the cab round the corner ahead of them. The cab goes between the military vehicles, which crash onto the sidewalks on either side of the street, while Godzilla continues after the cab. Nick, realizing that they just passed O'Neal, comes up with a plan and tells Philippe to turn around. Naturally, he gets some resistance to this but, even though Godzilla is once again almost on top of them, Philippe does what he says and turns around, causing Godzilla to fall to the ground when he tries to turn as sharply as they did. He makes an enormous hole in the street but very quickly gets back up and resumes the chase. The cab makes it back to Broadway as O'Neal is trying to contact the command center about what's going on. Everyone runs to the sides as the cab and Godzilla come back down the street, with Nick yelling to the sergeant as he tosses the cab's license plate in his direction. After Godzilla has passed them, O'Neal picks up the license plate just as Hicks responds and asks what's going on. O'Neal then tells him that Godzilla is still alive, prompting Hicks to order the F-18s to be turned around. Meanwhile, the cab is still trying to outrun Godzilla's feet and mouth, ending up between the two of them before Philippe makes a sharp turn to the left down a narrow alley. They come out the other side to find Godzilla waiting for them at that street and he once again does something akin to an atomic blast, roaring and sending several cars up into the air from the force of it, causing them to explode into a huge fireball. With some quick thinking, Philippe manages to swerve away from the blast and head down the other way. While O'Neal tries to find the radio frequency of the cab, said cab is still trying to outrun Godzilla. They head down a tunnel off to the left, with Godzilla trying to follow them and smashing his head down through the opening in the process. They head down the tunnel but see that it's blocked off and swerve around to avoid hitting the blockade.

Facing Godzilla, who's trying to manipulate his head further down into the tunnel to get to them, Nick tells Philippe to turn off the headlights. That's when O'Neal manages to get in touch with them over the radio, with Nick saying that they're trapped in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Just then, Philippe has to go in reverse to avoid Godzilla's hand, which he stretches inside the tunnel to try to dig them out before smashing his head back down through the opening. Despite Nick telling him that Godzilla has them trapped, O'Neal tells them that they have to lure him out in the open so they can get a clear shot at him, with everyone wondering exactly how they expect them to do that. Thinking of something, Nick asks where the nearest suspension bridge and after finding out that it's Brooklyn, tells Philippe to go that way, as well as to use the cab's eye-beams to escape. Smiling at the idea, Philippe heads right for Godzilla's head and when they're right in front of him, turns the eye-beams on as brightly as they can be, blinding Godzilla and causing him to jerk his head up, smashing through the roof of the tunnel. The cab screams past him and the chase is on again. O'Neal then radios Hicks that Godzilla is heading for the Brooklyn Bridge, with the colonel ordering the F-18s to head that way as well. When the cab reaches the bridge, they're surprised to see that Godzilla's not following them anymore... or at least, that's what it looks like. They're proven wrong when his head blasts up through the bridge ahead of them and the cab, despite Philippe's swerving, ends up in his mouth. Godzilla then lifts the cab up, along with a small section of the bridge, and begins chewing on it. Philippe tries to get traction on Godzilla's tongue but the car proceeds to slip down towards the back of his throat, with Animal screaming at him hysterically. Godzilla swings his head around and continues chomping on the cab, when Nick notices a broken, sparking cable hanging around his teeth. He grabs the cable and jams the sparking end into the flesh around one of Godzilla's teeth, causing him to scream in pain and drop his head, as well as stop trying to chew the car. Seeing his chance, Philippe guns the car and it flies out of Godzilla's mouth and onto the bridge ahead of them. Still undeterred, Godzilla jumps up onto the bridge and begins chasing them again. He keeps up with them and climbs up onto one of the bridge's arches in order to try to jump down on top of them. The bridge begins giving way from the weight and all of this chaos, with its buckling causing Godzilla to get tangled up in the suspense cables when he tries to follow them under one of the arches. As Godzilla struggles to get free, destroying the arch in the process, Nick radios O'Neal that now's the time to attack. The F-18s immediately reach the site and after locking on to him, fire two missiles each, all of which hit their marks on Godzilla's right side, including around his neck. The jets pass in front of Godzilla, who snaps at them, while the cab finally makes it to the military blockade on the other side, almost not making it due to the quickly collapsing bridge.

With Godzilla still standing, Hicks orders the F-18s to circle back around and fire again, which they do. Everyone gets out of the cab to see Godzilla take six more hits on his left side, causing him to wail in pain. He and Nick actually look straight at each other before Godzilla screeches one last time before falling forward, with everyone having to get out of the way as his head chin lands on and smashes the cab. Once everything goes quiet, they rise up from their cover to see Godzilla laying there, still alive but just barely, and moaning. The four of them walk up to get a closer look, with Nick getting the closest, as Godzilla's slowing heartbeat echoes through the air (a takeoff from the ending of the 1976 King Kong). Nick is the last thing he sees before he finally dies, with his eye slowly closing to signify it, as well as his heartbeat halting. While Nick appears to have some sympathy for him, everyone else celebrates Godzilla's death as a true sign of it finally being over. Things then begin wrapping up, with Gene leaving Mayor Ebert after he insultingly refuses his advice about not exploiting the situation to his benefit, Hicks complimenting O'Neal on, "One hell of a job," Audrey telling Charles Caiman off, and Philippe saying goodbye to Nick from a nearby payphone before walking off in the rain in order to head home. The film then ends with one last shot of the destroyed insides of Madison Square Garden, with the camera pushing into one last egg that then cracks, with a Baby Godzilla breaking out and screaming at the camera.

Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin brought many of the people who had worked with them on Independence Day over to Godzilla, with the most notable one, aside from effects man Patrick Tatopoulos, being composer David Arnold, who had also scored Stargate for them and would also score every James Bond film from Tomorrow Never Dies to Quantum of Solace. The score is one aspect of Godzilla that isn't talked about that much and that's a shame because I think the music is pretty good for the most part. I don't think it's as great as some of the memorable work Akira Ifukube did but it has some distinguishable and memorable themes, with my favorite being the music that starts the movie off. It goes from being very ominous and loudly droning, to rather warm and poignant, and finishes with loud, majestic, sweeping music that's accompanied by a vocalizing choir. That poignant and sweeping part of the score is heard again throughout the movie, as is the really powerful finishing section, which becomes Godzilla's main theme here and, considering that it originally accompanied the visual of the mushroom cloud from the atomic explosion, I think that's rather fitting. I also like the soft, melodic, "Do, do, do, do-do," that you hear at the end of the opening credits when you see the egg, which is another piece of music that's often attached to Godzilla himself throughout the film and ranges from sounding eerie to downright magical, capturing the different elements of the character very well. The rest of the score consists of typical action movie music, which has no discernible themes but definitely works in making those sequences very exciting, a nice little melody for Audrey and Nick, and some nicely quiet, eerie music for the more suspenseful parts of the film. All in all, not at all a bad score and definitely one of the truly great things about the movie. I like the actual music a lot more than the songs that were in the movie, which were put into a really successful album that was released the day before the film opened. I know a lot of people really loved Come With Me by Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page, as well as Heroes by The Wallflowers (which are the only songs I can comment on since I heard them over the ending credits), but I've never cared for them. I don't think they're horrible, not at all, it's just not my type of music.

Today, this film is widely considered as having been a flop, even though it made close to $400 million worldwide and had a really big marketing scheme that included a very successful soundtrack album. It may not have done quite as well as those at TriStar expected but it was still profitable. However, in their planning and promoting of the film, they made some decisions that accumulated to the point where they kind of shot themselves in the foot. Aside from the biggest issue, which was that the film alienated the very people who would have cared the most about it (i.e. diehard Godzilla fans), their marketing strategy of keeping Godzilla's look hidden until the film opened meant that, in order for it to work, all merchandising that actually showed him also couldn't be put out there until the release, which is not how you typically do things, and, by extension, severely reduced profits from it. And as I described during my introduction, if that novelization I bought way back when is any indication, apparently some companies broke that deal and put out merchandising that showed him before the movie anyway (I have heard some people say that they saw toys of Godzilla at Wal-Mart the week before it came out). The secrecy angle also meant that they had to show trailers and TV spots that were shorter than usual, with the studio spending a whopping $50 million on them in the last few weeks before the release, supposedly because they realized what they had wasn't very good and felt that they needed to get much as they could out of the first week the movie would be out. In a really ill-advised bit of business, Sony, in order to support the marketing in the best way they saw fit, asked theater owners to give them a higher share of the box-office than typical... 80 to 90%, depending on the size of the venue, rather than the usual 60%. The enormous number of screens that the film opened on ensured that the audience would be spread very thin and also meant less money for the actual owners of each theater. In short, the movie may have been successful for Sony but many of the theaters that showed it lost money, which caused a lot of ill-will between the studio and the theater owners and led to the press describing their methods as being akin to bullying. And, again, all of this money and expensive strategies put into a final movie that ended up costing much more than the abandoned Jan de Bont project, which both fans and Toho apparently liked more. The content and success of the actual film aside, Sony really went down a bad road in trying to ensure that this film would be a blockbuster.

Godzilla '98, depending on your personal preference, is definitely a love it or hate it movie. For me personally, while it does have some characters I like, some humor that I chuckle at, a nice scope and use of a large budget, some well-designed creatures, and some pretty fun action sequences, especially the climactic chase, it's ultimately an over-blown extravaganza of pure spectacle, with not much heart to it. I understand fully that it was meant to be nothing more than just a big, fun, summer popcorn movie, like Independence Day, and I know there are some people who love it for that, which is perfectly fine, but, while I may have enjoyed it back in the day and had been thrilled at the prospect of a huge Hollywood movie involving Godzilla, whether or not it actually looked like him aside, I now wish that the Big G's first foray into Hollywood could have had more substance to it and that it could have been handled by people who like the character and understood its popularity. I get why they went the way they did but, looking back on it, it's disappointing. Now, that said, I'm not condemning the movie at all. This is a case where I feel it simply is what it is and, in that regard, even though I wish they had taken a different approach with it, it's not horrible. While I'm still not so sure about some of the intentions of the people who made it (I've heard from, admittedly, angry Godzilla fans that Roland Emmerich did the film simply to show the "idiot" fans how a Godzilla movie should be done), I've made my peace with it and I think that all of those G-fans who are still very pissed about it should let it go by now. And, if nothing else, this movie did boost Godzilla's popularity in America, creating more interest in the character and the past films that not only allowed them, along with the Heisei series, to become more available over here, but also led to the gradual rise in respect that he's gotten, with intelligent, diehard fans now able to explain how great these movies are and why they really do matter in a more outspoken, public fashion. I truly have to give this movie props for that, despite whether or not it's something it set out to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment