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The F*ckin Black Sheep: Godzilla (1998)

Apr. 17, 2014by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Godzilla (1998)
Directed by Roland Emmerich

"While 1998’s Godzilla isn’t exactly a classic, it’s sure as hell isn’t as bad as most claim it to be. Not even close."

It’s always strange to see the way that pop culture can’t stop recycling. What’s old is new again and then the other way around. What’s even weirder is to witness things brought back like a third time, or even more

Take Godzilla for example. It’s one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) franchise in existence, though it has rarely made stupid money. However, at one time it sounded like it might. When digital-city-destroyer/end-of-the-world disaster expert Roland Emmerich (Independence Day among many others) got the reigns of the great scaly one, it sounded like a good plan, and it sounded like a lot of potential cash, And why not. With $130 million budget, it should have kickstarted the franchise into the billions, and altered the character from that goofy foreign character into A-lister. But…it didn’t.

Why? Well, fans kinda hated the thing, but the problem was that they played the compare contrast game with the “classic” Godzilla. What the hell did they expect? Big budget Hollywood meant they were going to reinvent the thing, and do it however they thought would sell the most tickets. The movie more or less broke, even which is a shame. While 1998’s Godzilla isn’t exactly a classic, it’s sure as hell isn’t as bad as most claim it to be. Not even close.

Let’s get the obvious topic out of the way. The big lizard himself: Godzilla. Many folks bitched that the movie failed to live up to the spirit of the original films, but you know, with 28 movies under the franchise umbrella (mostly Japanese Toho productions), I’m not sure it’s fair to say it doesn’t fit within the franchise. We still have the military. We still have the press. We still have the attack. Where people mainly seemed to bitch is the CGI nature of the beast and a certain lack of WWE wrestling moves that a dude in a suit can only do. Godzilla could have went old school, but if producers want to make movie, it needs to be a disaster/monster flick first, Godzilla movie second.

Why again? The movie strayed away from the character as the beast itself could and should have looked more like the Toho monster. It’s just stupid to alter it as much as they did without any real reason. I also didn’t care for some of the scenes: like the Godzilla trapped by a small mountain of fish sequence. That one in particular doesn’t seem Godzilla-ish. Even worse comes the whole pregnancy angle, which I'll choose to ignore all together here..

Frankly, I enjoy Matthew Broderick here as the terribly named Dr. Tatopoulos. Yes, he’s still playing Ferris Bueller, but as if he grew up in New York instead of Chicago, and became a scientist instead of the Sausage King. He never tries to be an action hero or even add any real emotion to the character, but that's ok. He's Bueller being Bueller which adds a nice calming effect. Bueller can handle anything. 

And why not. Godzilla has never been a heavy movie. In fact, it really...if ever rose about B-camp. So why would we expect depth? Even the great Jeno Reno has little to do here as a French professional of sorts (where all your favorite French clichés play out). Along with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer (and Maria Pitillo as the unnecessary love interest), they bring in the much needed comic relief and keep the whole media angle alive. 

Lastly, beyond the monster and Bueller, what I dig most about Godzilla is the atmosphere. It feels big and plays big. The constant rain and darkness keeps things from getting too silly too quickly. I also like the fact that New York is a character on to its own. These aren't safe, universal characters, but harden New Yorkers doing what they do best. It makes sure that this isn't just another monster movie, but an American monster movie. 

While Godzilla wouldn't ever be a masterpiece and will mostly likely be completely forgotten if the new 2014 version kills the box office, but the 1998 Bueller edition is still worth enjoying for some stupid destruction fun.

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+0
3:07PM on 04/23/2014
Forgetting the Godzilla character, ALL of the (usually solid) actors went to a school to forget how to act. And Ferris was NOT acting like Ferris! HE WAS ACTING SOME SHLUB THAT WANDERED IN FROM A STUPID ROM-COM!!!
Forgetting the Godzilla character, ALL of the (usually solid) actors went to a school to forget how to act. And Ferris was NOT acting like Ferris! HE WAS ACTING SOME SHLUB THAT WANDERED IN FROM A STUPID ROM-COM!!!
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9:45PM on 04/17/2014

Ummm No.

Call this film anything you want.... Not calling it Godzilla would not make it suck any less. this is a bad film just like all of Roland Emmerich's films... Its BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD!!! Just like all of RE films it has awful humor, goofy characters, and a poor script. Sure calling it Godzilla just made things worse... But even years later with a better Godzilla film coming.... It is still unforgivably bad.
Call this film anything you want.... Not calling it Godzilla would not make it suck any less. this is a bad film just like all of Roland Emmerich's films... Its BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD!!! Just like all of RE films it has awful humor, goofy characters, and a poor script. Sure calling it Godzilla just made things worse... But even years later with a better Godzilla film coming.... It is still unforgivably bad.
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8:41PM on 04/17/2014

WORST!!!!!!!!

Terrible, horrible utterly inexcusable....
it's NOT (and never will be) in my DVD collection.
Terrible, horrible utterly inexcusable....
it's NOT (and never will be) in my DVD collection.
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8:26PM on 04/17/2014
if this wasn't called Godzilla it would have been ok but for life-long fans like myself it was awful and i still haven't forgiven Roland Emmerich for this mess
if this wasn't called Godzilla it would have been ok but for life-long fans like myself it was awful and i still haven't forgiven Roland Emmerich for this mess
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8:14PM on 04/17/2014
This movie was terrible as a "Godzilla" film.. Actually it was just plain bad...
This movie was terrible as a "Godzilla" film.. Actually it was just plain bad...
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5:12PM on 04/17/2014
although I hated this film as a "Godzilla movie", it interesting enough to be a guilty pleasure at worst. hell, I've seen it multiple times at this point. (i usually cut it off once the babies are born. A pregnant Godzilla loses me every time.) While it definitely is a 100% crappy film in all categories (acting, Creature design, plot, writing, etc.,) its not a boring one. So i give it credit for that at least.
although I hated this film as a "Godzilla movie", it interesting enough to be a guilty pleasure at worst. hell, I've seen it multiple times at this point. (i usually cut it off once the babies are born. A pregnant Godzilla loses me every time.) While it definitely is a 100% crappy film in all categories (acting, Creature design, plot, writing, etc.,) its not a boring one. So i give it credit for that at least.
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2:07PM on 04/17/2014
I personally thought it was a miscast and overlong borefest. I'll never watch it again...EVER! But hey, to each his own!
I personally thought it was a miscast and overlong borefest. I'll never watch it again...EVER! But hey, to each his own!
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12:17PM on 04/17/2014
It gives Godzilla a bad name. This movie would have been a much more successful Blockbuster movie if it changed the title to something else. This could have been another great B monster movie but not Godzilla.
It gives Godzilla a bad name. This movie would have been a much more successful Blockbuster movie if it changed the title to something else. This could have been another great B monster movie but not Godzilla.
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12:14PM on 04/17/2014
YEAH NO!
YEAH NO!
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