I shoulda seen it coming, knowing that "Godzilla" came from the same people who gave us "Independence Day" -- a movie I actually enjoyed and continue to enjoy during every sitting. "Godzilla" parallels ID4 in many ways, though the former is just a bit more over-the-top and less believable (um yeah, I am comparing space aliens to mutant lizards, so what :p).
The beginning is promising - a grainy documentary-type sequence complete with ominous foreshadowing, innocent lizards glaring at nuclear test explosions. Cute. Next we go swing around the standard circle, getting introduced to the main characters. There's the unlikely hero, Matthew Broderick, whose character Nick Tatopoulos seems like a carbon copy of the innocent and vulnerable protagonist in "Addicted To Love" (charming, but I'd like to see some difference here); his love interest Maria Pitillo (Audrey Timmonds), a no less naive and doe-eyed wannabe TV reporter in New York City (I don't know whether I should attribute her convincing portrayal of the inexperienced and flimsy reporter to good acting or simply similarity in character). We have your prototypical military people rushing around displaying impressive weapons and getting kicked and tossed around, a rival French team lead by Jean Reno (Philippe Roche), and a mayor-advisor duo who were there mainly to poke fun at Siskel & Ebert. The only two performances I really enjoyed were that of Hank Azaria's (Animal) and the nimble Godzilla himself, who dodges sniper bullets, torpedoes, fish traps, and missiles like he does that everyday. Characters that are interesting enough.
Of course we are all there to see Godzilla, and the producers tease us around a bit in the beginning by showing bits and pieces of ole Zilla, then having him disappear for half of the movie, directing our attention towards plot development - only the plot doesn't really go anywhere, and at the end we're seeing too much of the same ridiculous Hollywood formula again. A "filler plot" remedied by great special effects. By the last 30 minutes of the movie I got a bit tired seeing Zilla running through the same old New York City streets (yes, the same streets) and Matthew and team running around under Madison Square Garden. The movie does have its thrilling moments - sweeping shots of New York City in its full post-destruction glamour (yup, we've seen it all before in "Independence Day," "Deep Impact," etc etc), not to mention the Godzilla clan, works of arts by themselves. Of course this being Hollywood film-making at its best, we must toss in a few unbelievable jaw-dropping moments, just for fun's sake, because we know it can't happen in real life. The scenes were Zilla grapples with Brooklyn Bridge and gets up close and personal with Broderick are precious, and I mean it. Godzilla, as I mentioned, is the true star of the film (in case you couldn't tell from the title), and I'll admit it is fun watching giant lizards frolic in New York City. Wrap it all up with a let's-all--kiss, all humanity rejoice, ID4 type ending and it's nothing I didn't expect from the beginning. I was actually surprised by the better plot after that other lizard flick, "The Lost World." More "Men In Black" than "Independence Day," "Godzilla" is like an oreo cookie - fun, tasty, not nutritious.
Well, at least we'll always have CGI.
Rating: B- (First viewing: 5/21/98)