Godzilla has been a favorite icon of mine since I was first introduced to the King of Monsters when I picked up King Kong vs. Godzilla on vhs in the bargain bin at a Wal-Mart sometime during my Pre-teen years.
What kid wouldn't find a fire-breathing rubber suit of a monster completely awesome? My Grandparents quickly made Godzilla movies the go-to birthday gift for me until I was much older. Yup, Godzilla was awesome in my book, ranking up there with Predator, The X-Files, and Star Wars as my young age faves.
I bought a Cinescape Magazine that provided special sneak peak movies coming in the following years. It showed exciting pictures of Spawn, X-Files: The Movie, The Lost Word:Jurassic Park, and a new Alien movie that they teased would lead into an Aliens vs. Predator film. They also said that Godzilla was going to be re-made for the US audience, and King Kong was also coming back to the big screen to settle some scores with the less-than-faithful 1976 adaption. The teaser synopsis they gave for Godzilla was "A faster, sleeker, and more Dino-like version of Godzilla. Imagine the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, only 300 stories tall!"
Jurassic Park was a huge movie for me, and blasted off a dino-craze that I'm sure impacted nearly every elementary school nation wide. The new Godzilla would not be a slow Japanese person in a constricting rubber suit; Godzilla would be life-like and scary! I moved away, and didn't have a lot of opportunities to keep up with movie news,
but I somehow caught the teaser trailer.
A Museum gets rocked by a giant foot! The teaser obviously took a stab at Jurassic Park by having Godzilla's foot crush a T-Rex skeleton, which was described by a stuffy tour guide as being the largest and most feared predator the earth had ever seen. I was in shock! I wondered what the new Godzilla would look like, and how he'd thrash the US. Would he fight another Monster? How would we hypothetically deal with something that giant and powerful? I was counting down the days until the release date.
We were having a house-built, and apparently one of the contractors noticed one of my Godzilla posters. He told me his cousin was working on that movie, and had shown him the top secret new Godzilla look. I pestered him for days, making him divulge every detail he could recall. He said it was easily going to be the biggest monster ever put on film. I instantly imagined Godzilla able to step on the Empire State Building like a dirt clod. I also imagined the only way to combat this creature was to have an epic air strike. The next trailer came out, once again hiding the Monster. This one involved an old Fisherman "catching" Godzilla. I saw this at a movie theater and I stared at it for a good 30 minutes wondering what kind of terror that foot belonged too.
The advertisement slogan was "Size DOES matter." which was completely the opposite of what Yoda had taught us; but then again I doubt Yoda ever had to deal with something as huge as that foot. I waited patiently to see what the monster looked like until one day I found myself in the wrong Wal-Mart at the wrong time.
Although not the exact toy (I think it was actually Godzilla's hatchlings) it still spoiled the over-all reveal of Godzilla's new look. I didn't believe it was real. Surely this had to be the monster Godzilla was fighting in the movie. Godzilla needed to look like this!
What was with Godzilla 98's gigantic chin? He wasn't any longer the King Of Monsters, he had now become The Jay Leno of Monsters. Seriously, look at that chin!
The movie was out now, and had gotten terrible reviews. I still wanted to see it, but was growing increasingly disturbed by everyone's opinion of the flick. The most common response to the question "Did you see the new Godzilla movie?" was "Yeah. God, it sucked."
Despite the popular negative opinion, Taco Bell sure did promote the heck out of that movie, didn't they?
Yeah, he's going to need a bigger box. I finally went to see it with my Step-Brother, and my dreams of a Monster stepping on skyscrapers was ruined when Godzilla 98 wasn't even close to the size of an average New York apartment complex.
Compare that to this!
I scoffed at what I called "Tinyzilla" and watched Roland Emmerich completely bastardize my King of Monsters.
Godzilla 98 was really just a radiation bombarded Iguana, instead of a Monster re-awakened by a hydrogen bomb.
The story followed an oddly-casted Matthew Broderick as Dr. Nick Tatapolous; a character trying to appeal to the Military that the creature just wants to eat a lot of fish and make New York it's nesting ground.
Meanwhile, the plot went into the plights of having a News Reporter ex-girlfriend from college who was quick to use Nick to further her career, the awesome Jean Reno doing pretty much nothing except doing a John Wayne impression, and Hank Azaria shooting footage when any sane person would have put down the camera and amscrayed. I could write a bunch of articles as to why this movie was a complete failure, and how the Japanese have nicknames for the creature like Zilla (because Tristar took the "God" out of Godzilla), GINO (Godzilla In Name Only),
and many others, or how the plot was as ridiculous as the creature's look, but I'll spare you all and just do a quick list of things that make this movie a disaster...
1. Godzilla 98 isn't as big as his Japanese counterpart.
2. There are two characters that are meant to resemble film critics Siskel and Ebert...believe me, it's not funny.
3. If you've seen the last 15 minutes of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, you've seen a better rampage scene that any featured in the entire movie.
4. Godzilla 98 is a hemaphrodite capable of impregnating himself.
5. Matthew Broderick uses a bunch of home pregnancy test to find out the creature is preggers.
6. Mini-Godzilla 98's chase the main characters in a ho-hum knock off of the more popular Velicoraptor chases found in Jurassic Park.
7. Godzilla 98 and Matthew Broderick share a tender moment; seriously, I thought they were going to make-out.
8. The dialog in this movie makes babies punch themselves repeatedly. It's a scientific fact that this movie is harmful to children, and should be kept hidden from the new generation of our spawn. Seriously, take it off of imdb.com, wikipedia.org, and even this web-site. It never happened, and if they grow up suspecting something, tell them NOTHING!
The movie ended with this terrifying shot...
One of Godzilla 98's eggs had hatched! This wasn't terrifying because another creature would spell doom for the fictitious Manhattan, but they dared to threaten us with a sequel!
There was a cartoon. I hear it was decent, but I didn't trust it, so I know next-to-nothing about it.
In 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, the Japanese people behind TOHO's rubber suit Godzilla decided to give a clear message to Godzilla 98. The creature, dubbed Zilla, battled the TRUE Godzilla. The TOHO folks even made ZILLA a CG mess and everything. Godzilla easily defeated Zilla in mere minutes, showing that the abomination of 98 couldn't hold a proverbial candle to the Rubber Suit Classic.
In 2006 I was horrified to see Zilla back on the screen in a series of Dorito Chips adds. I had hoped this craptastic monster had drifted back into obscurity; a casualty of bad ideas and poor execution. I prayed that Doritos wasn't making Zilla a spokesperson. Thankfully Doritos didn't follow through with more Zilla advertising, and we can all forget the atrocious flick that was Roland Emmerich's Godzilla 98.
At the 2007 Comic-Con in San-Diego, a proud JJ Abrams spilled a few details about the then-untitled film project that was teased with Transformers. He mentioned a trip to Japan that made him realize the US needed it's own Monster movie akin to Godzilla. He joked that King-Kong was cute, and cuddly but he was thinking about something ferocious. Months of speculation went by. False screener reviews were aplenty. No images of the monster were released. I figured it'd either be Godzilla 98 all over again, or Godzilla 98 done RIGHT. Since the movie Cloverfield isn't retro, I'll merely explain my thoughts on the movie using a simple equation...
It's been described as an either you love it or hate it movie. Take a wild guess as to which side of the fence I'm on.
In conclusion, My opinion is that Godzilla 98 is terrible. It's barely worthy of being a guilty pleasure, or a dream-come-true Rifftrax opportunity. We must learn from our mistakes, and eventually use our knowledge to create a worthy monster movie where the creature and story are crap, or the camera doesn't make some theater patrons vomit.