|Unlike a child who tires of playing with a new toy after a short time, Hollywood
is destined to inundate us with their newfangled computer special effects in films.
This would be fine for the general public so long as the effects continually improve and
serve a meaningful purpose to a storyline. Unfortunately, for the regular movie
buff, effects are still mediocre and storylines fall short. Fortunately, DA fans
can overlook such minor details when they are presented with a computer generated 90 foot
Enter Godzilla, a monster tale
based on campy Japanese films from the 70's which showcased a powerful beast (clearly a
drunk stunt man in a rubber suit) devastating cities (foam buildings.) To add to the
excitement, the monster affectionately named "Godzilla" would fight other
monsters with great aplomb, using what looked suspiciously like a combination of
Kick-Boxing and Kung-Fu. I can only guess that people enjoyed watching the films for
these reasons, and found great enjoyment in watching this abusive stunt man earn his take
It's the late 90's now, and much has changed. Godzilla is no longer
played by a recovering alcoholic in a suit, but is now generated by a computer, one which
seemingly was last used to produce The Lost World. I wouldn't be surprised
to discover that the Godzilla effects crew raided the set of The Lost World
and stole their hard drives when they weren't looking. Anyway, the Godzilla crew
surely saved some time (and spared themselves any creative thought) by simply modifying
the T-Rex images with the "increase scale and maintain aspect ratio"
feature. They also went wild with a common computer feature for generating
Godzilla's offspring (Velocoraptor images) by "copying and pasting".
Ain't technology grand?
You might wonder if the time saved from developing original creatures
went into the storyline. Let's see... The film appropriately opens with a Japanese
freighter finding itself under attack by some mysterious monster. Dr. Nick
Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), a biologist studying the effects of nuclear radiation is
called away from a site near Chernobyl to investigate when the wreckage arrives in
Tahiti. He discovers that a sole Japanese survivor witnessed a huge monster which
Nick now believes is heading for Manhattan. After chasing Godzilla to Manhattan,
Nick discovers that Godzilla can reproduce asexually and intends to nest there to take
over the world (and even Wall Street as later evidenced by Godzilla and his offspring's
superior intelligence.) An original storyline? I think not.
Godzilla could literally be considered the third installment in
the Jurassic Park / Lost World franchise. How so? We have a dinosaur
like reptile, created by man, that crosses the ocean escaping its original habitat.
It attacks ships on the way. It chooses a major city (this time New York) to
terrorize and step on people. The animal is capable of reproducing asexually.
There are baby 'zillas aplenty (raptors). There are documentary and military
crews... believe me, the list goes on.
For those of you who scrutinize movie credits, it should come as no
surprise that this film was written and directed by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich,
creators of Independence Day. ID4 was widely criticized for its rehashed
plot elements from famous movies. Even so, the film grossed hundreds of millions of
dollars. Thus Devlin and Emmerich decided to pull the same trick this summer by
remaking a hit from last summer. However, they seemingly went too far this time, as
the theater receipts for Godzilla fell short of their previous success with ID4.
But I especially enjoyed how Devlin and Emmerich took The Lost World's
sickening theme of Veloceraptor super intelligence to a deeper, more sarcastic
level. I made it clear in my review of The Lost
World that I was sick to my stomach with Speilberg's weak attempt to generate
suspense from these omniscient reptiles. Similarly, I was quite nautious to see
these creatures in Godzilla. But upon further reflection, I now believe
that it was Devlin and Emmerich's deliberate intent to poke fun at Spielbergs work by
filling the screen with hundreds instead of tens of digital Veloceraptors. Their
underlying message almost says, "If you were gullible enough to enjoy them in The
Lost World, let's see if you'll realize how lame they are if we rub them in your face
a third time."
There was, however, one aspect of Godzilla that took me
pleasantly by surprise. Unlike The Lost World, Godzilla's
characters had no reservations about terminating Godzilla and his baby Veloceraptors with
extreme prejudice. There was no bleeding heart sympathy for the creatures, as no
characters ever mentioned protecting them or even felt sorry for killing them (just like
in ID4...) Most important, while a small "admission of guilt"
theme was presented by the French special forces team (when admitting their country played
a direct role in creating Godzilla through nuclear experiments), there was
no advocate for the "creature deserves to be happy and left alone"
arguement. I was astonished by this bold departure from The Lost World and Jurassic
Park, and quite frankly, was extremely pleased.
It's too bad Devlin and Emmerich didn't set aside some computer time to
crunch out a better storyline to help improve their box office receipts. Poking fun
at other movie's unjustified success is certainly a good thing in my book, and I'm happy
to see the trend continue. But regular viewers should expect little from Devlin and
Emmerich other than rehashed plots with an over-the-top spin here or there.
It should be noted that there weren't too many "outstanding"
bookmarked scenes, with the exception of Grandpa's bionic. What then, made Godzilla
deserve the highest Double Action rating - 4 coughdrops? I was impressed by the
sheer length of the action scenes. Not since the John Woo film Hard Boiled
has any movie displayed such prolonged DA sequences and total disregard for plot and
dialog. By the end of Godzilla, I had actually laughed myself hoarse*.
As for what Devlin and Emmerich will try next, my money's on a King Kong
remake within the next few years. Their computers are just warming up, and they're
fresh out of ideas (no surprise there.) What could make King Kong a better
film than Godzilla? Let's pull that stuntman out of his weekly AA
meetings then strap him into a gorilla suit. Double Action fans would be set for
|The end of the innocence
|The film opens with scenes of iguanas and other reptiles
viewing nuclear tests conducted by humans. One could almost see "tears of
sorrow" in their eyes. There were tears in my eyes...of laughter.
|Gophers in the ocean?
|Several fishing boats are abruptly pulled under water
before they can cut their fishing lines attached to Godzilla. The rapid movement
with which they disappear reminds me of carrots being pulled underground by Bugs
|As Godzilla first approaches Manhattan, an old man sits
fishing at the edge of a pier. Suddenly a huge mound of water hiding Godzilla races toward
him. We suddenly witness an 80+ year old man turn and outrun a raging tidal wave
which destroys the pier behind him. This slow motion action sequence is so
ridiculously funny, that only Steve Austin running along side him could have made it
|Speechless "Why Me"
|The photo journalist "Animal" deliberately tries
to get first hand footage of the Godzilla, and is almost stepped on. During this
moment, "Animal"is so frightened and cannot even utter a sound but raises his
hands with palms pointing skyward, thus demonstrating a silent "Why Me?".
The answer? Because you asked for it, moron!
|Godzilla flees military helicopters in a stunningly long
action sequence. The 'chopper pilots fire missiles and hellfire rounds, but can't
seem to lay a bead on him, even with state of the art equipment. The manner in which
Godzilla dodges the onslaught is so hilarious you almost expect him to begin executing
barrel roles, flips, and cartwheels. I only wish the filmmakers overlaid the
soundtrack from Top Gun, with Kenny Logins "Danger Zone" music playing
in the background. Where are Maverick and Goose when you need them?
|As Godzilla evades the military, he breathes a stream of
fire that roasts several pedestrians extra crispy. Bet they wished Godzilla had a
piece of Dentyne Ice before hitting the town...
|Godzilla executes some of his ninja stealth maneuvers
learned in the Orient and manages to sneak up behind some helicopters. He bitch
slaps one chopper and then chews up the other. I'm reminded of a cat that teaches an
unsuspecting mouse a lesson of terror. Whaappppisssssshhhhh!
|Got to catch a cab
|Dr. Tatopoulos and his group of clowns, fleeing Godzilla in a
taxi, (too bad it wasn't rush hour) find themselves turned around heading straight for
Godzilla's toe. Unable to swerve out of the way, the cab lifts off the ground
(instead of crushing itself) and takes to the sky (ET, phone home...) This
scene is made even more ridiculous as the sequence is suddenly shot in slow motion (just
picture a taxi-cab flying off a lizard toe in slow motion and try not to laugh), which
allows DA viewers to execute additional breaths of extreme laughter. The only
element missing is XBC.
|Godzilla chases Dr. Tatopoulos and his band of misfits riding in a
taxi cab into an underground subway entrance under construction. Godzilla, too large
to crawl inside, looms outside pouting like a baby and makes a few unsuccessful attempts
to snatch them out of the hole. Incidentally, the scene is reminiscent of Tom and Jerry cartoons, with the special effects shots of
Godzilla outside the tunnel looking suspiciously like cartoon animation.
|The Hunt for Red October
|Military submarines chase Godzilla through the New York harbor.
Godzilla, having rented the famous Tom Clancy flick, proceeds to dodge and maneuver
sophisticated torpedoes with aplomb. In fact, he even plays the same game of chicken
from the Clancy novel, and successfully destroys a military sub with its own missle.
Maybe Godzilla should be recruited by the military to teach its captains combat
|After finally realizing that a torpedo is meant for sinking
enemies and not fellow submarines, the military manages to "kill" Godzilla with
a torpedo as he tries to escape through the harbor wall. The shot of Godzilla's
stiff body as it rotates about a longitudinal axis reminds one of a dead stiff
Chipmunk that has been placed on the outdoor rotisserie barbecue. Hey, I bet it
tastes like chicken!
|Take that, Frenchy!
|During a prolonged scene, the Veloceraptors (uh, Zilla babies),
dispose of the French special forces team one by one in hilarious "Why Me??"
shot after another. I guess the Veloceraptors don't like French manners or their
|Godzilla finds himself trapped on the George Washington bridge,
surrounded by military strike forces. Having been critically wounded by missiles,
bullets, and general audience disinterest, Godzilla lays down and dies. As the
onlookers almost shed tears of sorrow, I found myself drowned in tears...of joy.