Godzilla 1998 Movie Review

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Movie Information 

  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Producer: Dean Devlin
  • Creature Designer: Patrick Tatopoulos
  • Japanese Release Date: July 11, 1998
  • US Release Date: May 20, 1998, a Sony release of TriStar Pictures presentation of a Centropolis Entertainment Productions. Running Time 139 minutes
  • Taglines: “This Testing Done by My Country Left a Terrible Mess. We are here to clean it up.” “An enormous, radioactively mutated lizard runs rampant on the island of Manhattan.” “1998. The year of GODZILLA!”
  • Alternative Titles: Godzilla 1998, Godzilla/Gino (Godzilla-in-Name-Only)

Synopsis

Lizards exposed to fresh nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean are mutated into a new-gigantic species of reptile that can reproduce quickly and asexually, threatening to replace man as Earth’s Dominic creature. Dubbed “Gojira” by a suspicious Japanese sailor (the name is bastardized into Godzilla by a TV anchorman), the beast’s list in New York City, and burrows into the subway system of Manhattan and latest hundreds and hundreds of eggs in the Madison Square Garden.

As the military tries vainly to catch the evasive, fleet footed Godzilla, a US Biologist and a team of French secret agents look to fix their countries nuclear boo-boo and killed Godzilla’s hatchlings; Godzilla discovers its dead babies and gets a little angry or should I say he’s now intensely pissed off. The Chase that Godzilla goes after these murderous humans (fleeing in a taxicab) across Manhattan and onto the Brooklyn Bridge where the monster becomes ensnared in the suspension cables and is killed by-18 fighter planes.

What I like about This Movie

Let me start out by saying there are a lot of Godzilla fans that out there that do not appreciate this film as being a Godzilla film and this is because when Roland Emmerich decided to take on this role he took Godzilla and made it his own interpretation and totally ignore the fans because technically this movie should about the fans and it wasn’t. This Godzilla does not have any kind resemblance to the Japanese version and a lot of fans were upset about that. And the major hype that was built up in this movie was the fact that this movie was going to be as great as they said however that was not the case. What I like about this movie I did like the creature design it was really cool looking if you look at it from a Godzilla point of view it wasn’t, but if you look at it from a point of view as Godzilla 1998 as being a monster movie without the thought of it being associated with the Japanese version this movie is really good at this is how I’m looking at. This Godzilla is very nimble and fast and very resourceful. The one thing that turned me off about this movie is the fact that they killed Godzilla but I’ll explain that in my closing statements.

Trivia

  • Godzilla’s mouth is capable of emitting gale force winds that can send vehicles flying through the air like ping-pong balls.
  • His teeth are over 5 feet in length these pearly whites would demand some heavy-duty dental floss.
  • His arms are massive and powerful as they have bulging biceps that are particularly skilled at burrowing through the subway tunnels.
  • His talons are 6 feet in length and are capable of ripping through steel like paper.
  • His legs are very powerful he can leave clear over a New York sky scraper and that is a big one and can travel up to 300 miles per hour. This is one fast Godzilla as compared to our slow counterpart.
  • The tail can wipe out an entire city block in one swoop is said that his entire length of his tail is 256 feet long. That’s pretty big for a tale.
  • It is said within the movie that radiation has caused the creatures to grow beyond their normal size which is obvious as when you see Godzilla this is the case.
  • It is said that Godzilla was created by the nuclear explosion in the year of 1968.
  • Nick studied the earthworms in Chernobyl for exactly 3 years.
  • It is also said that the worms have increased from the radiation by 17%.
  • It was four times within the movie that they miss pronounce Nick’s name.
  • Nick is referred to as the worm guy at least five times in the movie.
  • The length of Godzilla’s foot is 45 feet in length.
  • In the Flatiron Square Godzilla consumes 20,000 pounds of fish and that is a lot for a monster to eat or to pack away.
  • It took 12 dump trucks to haul the fish to that exact spot.
  • It was exactly 3 nuclear submarines that when after Godzilla.
  • The amount of eggs that you spotted in the Madison Square Garden were three of them.
  • The actual amount of eggs that were in the Madison Square Garden is 228 eggs.
  • Number of people told to evacuate Manhattan when Godzilla arrived was 3 million.
  • There are a total of five tunnels that lead out of the island of Manhattan.
  • In a television interview, Matthew Broderick said that the entire cast were given wet suits to wear underneath their costumes while filming in Hawaii. He was upset because his wet suit zipped up in the back, which made it difficult to put on every day. One day during a break in filming, he was talking with co-star Hank Azaria, who had his shirt off, revealing a wet suit that zipped up in front. Broderick remarked, “Oh, your wet suit zips up in front.” Puzzled, Azaria replied, “They ALL zip up in front.” Broderick had been putting his wet suit on backward every day.
  • Before Hank Azaria’s character runs atop cars to get footage of Godzilla, he looks up and says Aw Jeez, using the voice of his character Moe Szyslak on The Simpsons (1989).
  • The original plans called for two sequels to be produced. These plans were scrapped due to the poor reception of this film.
  • Godzilla wasn’t supposed to have any breath weapon at all in this movie until an outraged fan poll demanded it.
  • The extra killed in his car when Godzilla first arrives in Manhattan was cast as a look-alike for J.D. Lees, editor of G-Fan magazine, because he cast disparaging remarks about the information that leaked out about the film prior to its release.
  • This movie features more Simpson voice actors than any other project besides The Simpsons (1989) itself: Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright. The Simpsons and its creators are huge Godzilla fans and Godzilla, and his roar is used quite frequently in the show.
  • The film’s first teaser trailer began appearing in theater a full year before the film was released. The trailer contained a shot of Godzilla’s foot coming through the roof of a museum and crushing a T-Rex skeleton. This scene was cut from the final version of the movie. It cost $600,000.
  • Despite the less-than-expected box office performance, this film still made more money worldwide than any other American movie based on a foreign film.
  • Over 1,000 soft architectural pieces were created for falling debris.
  • Roland Emmerich admitted that he did not like the original Godzilla movies – he only agreed to the project after being promised to be able to do whatever he wanted with the series.
  • At the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards, the film was nominated for five Razzies, including Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. It took home two overall for Maria Pitillo as Worst Supporting Actress and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel.
  • The lead role was written specifically for Matthew Broderick. Indeed, the actor committed to the film without reading a finished screenplay.
  • A small statue of an alien from Independence Day (1996) (also directed by Roland Emmerich) is visible in the broadcast booth at Madison Square Garden.
  • There was enough paint used on the film to paint the entire Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Halfway through a screening, Kenpachiro Satsuma, who played Godzilla from 1985-1995, walked out, saying “It’s not Godzilla. It doesn’t have the spirit.”
  • The film created quite a backlash among the fan base of the original series. The fans conceived a nickname to distinguish this film from the original: G.I.N.O., which is an acronym for “Godzilla in Name only,” indicating their despise for it.
  • The original script and Godzilla design were going to be very different to what had made it into the film. The script had Godzilla as a reptilian monster that had hibernated for thousands of years, which upon its awakening encountered and fought a shape-shifting alien monster, which was called “The Gryphon” during production. Both creatures were designed by Stan Winston and the film was to be directed by Jan de Bont. At the withdrawal of De Bont (that in the end went to direct Twister (1996)) because of budget constraints, Roland Emmerich and ‘Dean Devlin (I)’ were hired, changing the script to adapt it more to the budget the studio had offered for the film.
  • Elevator music in a scene with Matthew Broderick is “Danke Schoen”, which Broderick lip-syncs in a memorable scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).
  • Mayor Ebert and his assistant Gene are spoofs of the late film critics Roger Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel (who would pass away less than a year after the film’s release). This is in response to the duo giving negative reviews to Emmerich and Devlin’s earlier films Stargate (1994) and Independence Day (1996). The film also co-opted the duo’s trademarked “Thumbs Up” gesture from their various television shows by depicting Mayor Ebert’s campaign as “Thumbs Up for New York!” and Gene later disapproving of his decision to exploit the disaster by giving him a thumbs down. When the actual Siskel and Ebert reviewed the film on their show, it received two thumbs down and Gene Siskel commented on being spoofed in the film; he said it was “petty” and asked the filmmakers “if you’re going to go through the trouble of putting us in a monster movie, why don’t you at least take advantage of having the monster either eat or squash us”. The duo would later name the film as one of their worst films of 1998.
  • The meter of the cab after the final chase sequence reads $95.20. Based on the rates on the side of the cab, this equates to Godzilla chasing the cab for about 60 miles in total.
  • Enough lumber was used for the sets to build 50 homes.
  • Over 1,000 4′x8′x16′ Styrofoam blocks were used to build portions of the sets, including the subway tunnels.
  • 35 tons of steel were used to build the sets.
  • 2.4 million gallons (~321,000 cubic feet), of water were used to create rain for the film.
  • 2,000 foam fish were made to create the fish pile.
  • Enough non-toxic smoke was created on the film to completely fill the Los Angeles Coliseum 24 hours a day for one week.
  • The policeman seen during Godzilla’s arrival is the same policeman (both played by same actor) seen suddenly leaving his patrol car in the middle of an intersection in Independence Day (1996).
  • When this modern remake was first conceived in 1990, James Cameron was originally offered the chance to direct. When he passed, Tim Burton was connected for a few years, with Joe Johnston’s name bandied about for some time also. Paul Verhoeven was going to direct but he passed on the project. Then Jan de Bont was attached and set to direct, but his budget for the film, estimated at $150 million, was higher than the studio was willing to pay. After he was let go, Roland Emmerich and ‘Dean Devlin (I)’ came in.
  • Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were given partial writing credits for the film, despite the fact that their script was totally abandoned when Roland Emmerich was assigned to direct.
  • Roland Emmerich was hired in early 1996 because he promised to direct the film on a budget of less than $100 million, which was much less than the budget previous prospective directors had demanded. However, after the prominence Emmerich achieved after the box office success of Independence Day, the budget was eventually increased to $130 million.
  • This Godzilla is part of the official Gojira mythos, renamed Zilla in Japan. He is described as being mistaken for Godzilla by the Americans. ’Dean Devlin (I)’ maintains that the tag-line for this movie, “Size Does Matter,” was meant simply to differentiate the movie from Jurassic Park (1993) – hence the original “museum” trailer – but that the advertisers for the studio took it too far with their over-zealous campaign (e.g. “His foot is as long as this bus”). The ads became the biggest focus of the backlash against the movie. Most notable was a temporary page set up by the programmers for the website of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) that mocked the “Godzilla” green glow and read “Plot Does Matter.” However, when The Phantom Menace was released, Star Wars fans mocked George Lucas for making a Star Wars film where plot did not seem to matter as much as special effects. Another backlash came from Spielberg’s DreamWorks trailer for Small Soldiers (1998), featuring a giant lizard being hog-tied by a group of action figures. This trailer has the tag-line, “Size doesn’t matter.”
  • Matthew Broderick’s character’s name is Dr. Niko Tatopoulos. Godzilla’s designer and supervisor is ‘Patrick Tatopoulos (I)’.
  • A tornado disrupted filming in Jersey City on May 6, 1997. The film crew managed to get some footage of the disaster filmed.
  • The number of the cab used in the chase at the end of the movie is MN 44. Moon 44 (1990) is the title of an earlier film that was directed by Roland Emmerich and in which Dean Devlin appeared.
  • When the soldiers search the log for cab MN 44′s frequency we see that the driver of cab MN 43 is named Len Wiseman. Len Wiseman is the property assistant on several Roland Emmerich films and has since gone on to direct feature films of his own. Another driver’s name is Scott Collins. Scott Edward Collins was another property assistant on the movie.
  • The television station call letters, WIDF, are a reference to the film Independence Day (alias ID4), also made by the team of ‘Dean Devlin (I)’ and Roland Emmerich.
  • The first sequence of the AH64-Apache gunships hunting Godzilla through the streets references both Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) with the line “Echo 4 to Echo Base” and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) with “He’s right on my tail! I can’t shake him!” Both lines were spoken by Luke Skywalker (‘Mark Hamill’).
  • Tomoyuki Tanaka had produced all of the Japanese Godzilla movies. He died only a month before this film began actual production. This film is dedicated to him.
  • Him Tôhô Co. Ltd., the Japanese film studio that owns the rights to Godzilla agreed to allow an American version to be made, but only if the US studio followed a set of guidelines in order for the film to properly “capture the spirit of Godzilla”; both Script and Creature Design were immediately approved and, according to ‘Patrick Tatopoulos (I)’ in the making of Book of the film, the members of Tôhô Co. Ltd. were impressed with his sketches of the final design.
  • On the original home video release in Japan, circa 1994, there is a trailer for the upcoming “all new American Godzilla.” It offers some insight into what this version of the Godzilla movie might have been, before the massive changes TriStar made. Using full English text and voiceovers, “the all new American Godzilla” was listed as from “the makers of Disney’s Aladdin” and featuring “ground-breaking special effects.”
  • ‘Patrick Tatopoulos (I)’, the Godzilla designer and supervisor, created a mechanically operated suit for the monster as well as scale models, but in a 1998 interview, Volker Engel, the visual effects supervisor, estimated that less than ten percent of the effects shots featuring Godzilla used prosthetic and mechanical effects.
  • ‘Patrick Tatopoulos (I)’, who designed the new Godzilla, states that the creature design mixes elements of various reptiles; also, he wanted the creature to be imposing and to inspire respect. To achieve that, he was inspired from the character Shere-Kan featured in The Jungle Book (1967); the tiger had a noticeable chin and Tatopoulos applied this characteristic on his design, taking the appearance of it from what he refers to be a “Selfin Dragon.” He also gave the creature humanoid shoulders and hands, very similar to the features included in the original design.
  • According to ‘Patrick Tatopoulos (I)’, the only specific instructions Roland Emmerich gave him was that Godzilla should be able to run incredibly fast.
  • Godzilla’s color scheme was based on the urban environment of New York so that the monster would be able to blend in with its environment.
  • An animated series called Godzilla: The Series (1998) was made which continued the storyline of the film. In the series, Tatopoulos accidentally discovers the egg that survived the destruction of the nest. The creature hatches and imprints on Nick as its parent.
  • There were a total of 16 different cabs used to create the entire cab sequence.
  • 20 car thumpers were built to lift cars on the street as Godzilla walked.
  • All the footage of nuclear tests at the start of the film is American, not French. Most of the detonations shown are at Bikini and Eniwetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Pacific.
  • KB Toys dubbed itself “Godzilla Headquarters” around the time of the film’s release.
  • Harry Shearer’s character, Charles Caiman, is a reference to a crocodile type lizard, the Caiman, native to S. America.
  • The tanks used in the fish feeding scenes were actually big plastic/fiberglass mock-ups that were wheeled around on big dollies.
  • This film was one of two released in summer 1998 where the top of the Chrysler Building is destroyed and plummets to the street below. The other was Armageddon (1998).

Closing Statements

I will let you know that this movie is a good monster movie however we cannot associate this movie as a Godzilla movie, but like most fans this movie was a big disappointment because of the expectations that people had for this movie and we blame Roland Emmerich for that. When I say that this is a good monster movie this is what I mean it does have the name Godzilla and there are some things about this movie that I did like and don’t like the special effects are pretty much updated in today’s standards however at that time was something I was completely computer-generated it didn’t really good job and there are some things about the movie I didn’t like the fact that Godzilla is a sexual looking at it from a real lizard point of view Godzilla is not a lizard it is a monster made of atomic destruction.

He is not an animal an estimated took this so it was a different approach but not the right approach. Long-standing like about the movie was the fact that when Godzilla got stuck on Brooklyn Bridge he got shot at by F-18s and died. Now if there’s any Godzilla fans out there seemed all the movies you know that missiles were being shot at biplanes will not do nothing to a real Godzilla, but because they took it from a real lizard point of view he had to die and that irritated me because it took this approach. If you like monster movies it if they want to get this one, but if you’re like me you’ll get it anyway simply because the associated with Godzilla and it is an interesting movie to watch.

Written by Barney Buckley

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