GODZILLA got fans revved up for a big show of The Big Guy in 1998 with a huge pre-release ad blitz for a $130,000,000 re-do of one of awestruck humankind’s most beloved city-smashers. Apart from making money at the ticket booths—internationally it took the year’s 3rd biggest haul—the let-down was as big as the build-up, as Hollywood really mucked the Toho out of this lizard.
Nuke tests in French Polynesia irradiate an iguana nest, and down the line the mutant result leaves a trail of ripped-up ships in its wake before emerging full-blown and pissed off in New York City. A scientist (Matthew Broderick) works with the military to try and stop the beast from re-zoning Manhattan, but they’re further burdened when they find the man-created saurian has laid eggs.
Hydrogen-bombing and laying an egg indeed, as—apart from a few cool scenes of cars bouncing off the ground at the approaching tread of the critter—the movie flushes itself down the drain with the dramatic dignity you’d show a roach. Directed by Roland Emmerich, who shared screenplay duty with co-producer Dean Devlin (the pair having exploded Independence Day onto us), this dispiriting slug never moves beyond 2nd-gear. A badly miscast Broderick gives the weakest performance of his career, and Maria Patillo, as his reporter girlfriend, is terrible. Emmerich and Devlin made the choice of having nearly all of the action take place at night, in the rain, supposedly to enhance the suspense, but all it does is soak the color palette into CGI numbness, and when Godzilla—looking nothing like the familiar figure we’ve enjoyed since the mid 50s—finally gets to strut his scales, we’re cheated again: out of the 139-minute running time the creature gets a measly 11 minutes on-screen.
Though the movie made $379,014,000 globally, it fared much less better than expected, and the reviews, from critics and fans, were withering. In addition, 250 business partners laid on $150,000,000 worth of 3,000 marketing tie-in gimcracks, which flopped disastrously. Bombing out—big-time—as well the same year was the lame remake of Mighty Joe Young, but audiences could console themselves watching more civic destruction with Armageddon and Deep Impact.
Working hard to provide some spark are supporting players Jean Reno, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer and Arabella Field. Otherwise, this poached egg tailblazer doesn’t roar, it yawns. Catch the 2019 spectacle Godzilla: King Of The Monsters to see how to do it up righteous.