23 January, 2010

Godzilla (1998)

'Sighs' do matter

Winner of the Best European Director (Roland Emmerich, Germany), People’s Choice Awards, European Film Awards 1998

Yes, it's an unusual subject film for our normally restrained, lofty site, but that's what can happen when you give people the vote, you know?

Roland Emmerich, who lifted the EFA People's Choice gong for Best European Director in 1998 for this 'shlock'buster travesty had shown such promise in a similar ilk previously, for it was he who had given the world the riotously good-fun Independence Day (1996), and hopes were high for this, his follow-up film.

Oh dear. Where to begin?

Well, let's start with the appalling casting of Matthew Broderick as Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, shall we? The good doctor is collecting earthworms in Chernobyl for study when a helicopter appears and a spook from the US State Department tells him he's being reassigned - prior to this, the movie began with French nuclear tests back in the day on a remote island. Following the explosion, we see a single unhatched egg. Ulp...

Seriously, Broderick's performance is so bad but, to be fair, the script from Emmerich and Dean Devlin would have made an Olivier or a Brando blanche, so singularly poor it is.

And the monster? Well, as the original tagline had it, 'Size Does Matter' (this was released a few years after Spielberg's genuinely amazing Jurassic Park (1993) had enthralled the world, remember, so the only way to out-spectacle its dinosaur predecessor, it would seem, was to have gone 'big'), so why is Godzilla, virtually every time that he is in shot, seen running away from puny military efforts at attack?

The original Japanese films were outrageously camp, but they never took themselves seriously, and it is this po-faced approach to proceedings (apart from the name and the roar, this contains no references to the original Godzilla movies) that renders Emmerich's film nothing more than a huge drag.

Seriously, do yourself a favour, check out Cloverfield (2008), and leave this where it belongs.

Awards: Click here for details. If you really must.

139 mins. In English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish.

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