Let's get one thing clear: Godzilla 1998 is a terrible Godzilla movie, which isn't a great start for a defence post, but I cannot defend this film under the umbrella of the Godzilla multiverse; however, it is not as guilty as the jury try to make it out to be. If we change the perspective, the movie can be an enjoyable experience, and that is all it takes: a change of perspective.
Godzilla 1998 gets mauled in the discussion of monster movies. It has a staggering 28% audience score on rotten tomatoes at the time of this writing, and I understand how ratings don't always reflect a film or hold much weight, but it is an important note. Jurassic Park set a high bar in 1993, and even though its follow-up didn't quite match up to the original, the bar was still in the clouds. No matter how much we evolve, one constant remains. Humans love dinosaur movies. Some say they don't, but we call them liars or put them in the boring corner, where people also willingly watch golf.
Refocussing on Godzilla, it is evident that it is very much a dinosaur movie with a sizeable six-packed dinosaur loose in the Big Apple. One thing is for sure, Godzilla does not skip leg day. He hits the gym hard. He actually gets out a few squats in the film and moves very dinosaur-esque. Strangely, this is not a flaw of the film but rather a flaw in the character of Godzilla. It is wise to lean into the dynamics of a dinosaur film because the fandom was rife, and the movies were making bucks. Lost World grossed over six hundred million at the box office, which was low compared to the billion the first movie made, but that is still nothing to scoff at. The profits were plenty, considering it cost under a hundred million to make Lost World. It was also the 90s; even by the standards of today, the dinosaurs were hella impressive in Jurassic Park. It is a modern-day mystery how they managed to do what they did at such an exceptional level.
Godzilla did not follow suit. The CGI of Godzilla is okay until it moves; then, it is terrible. Yet, I can excuse it; it was 1998, CGI wasn't what it is now, and it was way better than the dinosaur in 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth', which came out ten years later. Godzilla should never have been a Godzilla film. That is the long and short of it. If we view Godzilla as a random monster movie titled 'Zilla' or 'The Mega Rex', the movie suddenly feels better. The latter half of the film damn nearly copied the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park, and the baby Godzillas were just raptors. Let's be honest. It is full of errors, but it is a very enjoyable to watch.
The script also features some moments of off-coloured nonsense randomly dropping an 'r' word and a few other unnecessary callouts, but again, it was 1998, and things were much looser then which doesn’t make it acceptable or a good script but unfortunately this is a common issue with older movies. Despite this, Godzilla is a true testament to movies being fun. We cannot detail it as a masterpiece or slate it as a cinematic epic, but it is entertaining if we strip away any mention of Godzilla from it. Strangely, a modern-day issue is people struggling with movies being silly and people taking cinema too seriously in places it never intended to be serious. Godzilla isn't golf, and it never wanted to be golf. It tried to be mini golf with a New York theme, and honestly, it succeeded.
The 90s had this short-lived trend of films feeling as though they were being made to be recreated in theme parks. Twister is one of them, alongside Jurassic Park. They all share a hazy colour scheme and are shot in similar styles. Twister made it to a theme park, and a handful of films from that time period would work in the same setting. The use of practical effects only enhanced this feeling. When Godzilla first rises from the water in New York, you see the poor old fisherman running down a dock as the wooden palettes fling off in all directions, eyes widen in the distance, and who doesn't love a good old exploding dock scene?
Godzilla has so many good cliches (they exist), and it spends a bit of time feeling like a Godzilla movie, but it derails itself and loses its plot, all of which could have been avoided had they not decided to make a movie about a monster with so much history and existing lore. As a child, I was mesmerised by this film because I didn't know who Godzilla was, and all I saw was this giant dinosaur doing dinosaur stuff. I was enthralled.
As adults, we must become children again and unknowingly approach certain content. Become overfilled with innocence and stop picking holes in things that only try to be amusing. There are numerous classifications for cinema, and Godzilla doesn't stand up against the greats, but there is a lot to enjoy here if you stop bringing your golf mindset to the putt-putt park and, most importantly, stop viewing this as a Godzilla movie.
This is the Mega Rex. It does squats and lifts bare weights without a spotter and somehow lays about two hundred giant eggs. Don't mess with the Mega Rex, for it defies science. Now go watch the movie an let yourself enjoy it. I promise you'll love it if you let yourself.
Until next time,
Ash Raymond James.