Everyone I have spoken to apart from my mum seems to hate the 1998 Godzilla movie. Not one of the Japanese ones, but a Hollywood re-imagining of the King of the Monsters. Not so much a revamp but Hollywood doing their own thing. They all say that the 2014 movie was more faithful.
But faithful does not mean better.
I’ve watched the 2014 Godzilla movie a few times. But frankly I don’t enjoy it. It’s slow, plodding, tiresome and does not have NEARLY ENOUGH Godzilla in it. What pissed me off the most was the human characters I didn’t care about surviving and the ones I did care about getting killed off super early on, and the constant cutting away whenever a big monster fight was about to start. This was done endlessly in the movie and it pissed me off no end.
On the flip side, Godzilla 1998 has plenty of monster action in it. More importantly, it doesn’t spend more time building up two non-Godzilla monsters for the majority of the movie. Two totally-not-Mothras which control the story basically. Godzilla 2014 makes the fake Mothra wannabes the main threat of the movie for Gozilla to deal with, and to be honest it takes Godzilla too long to deal with them.
Both movies are introductions to Godzilla. But the 1998 one focuses on Godzilla while the 2014 focuses on building a world to put Godzilla in.
Now, that’s not to say that the 1998 Godzilla movie was better. If you said that Godzilla movie was a cheesy action thriller flick with a sprinkling of pseudo-science to make it all vaguely stick together, I would completely agree. Godzilla 98 really is a cheesy movie. It’s more in par with things like Independence Day, Evolution and other similar 90’s action thrillers. The science is always going to be flimsy.
And really, the plot and creation of Godzilla is flimsy as fuck. A radioactive accident. But I kinda can look past that because original Godzilla’s origin, a king of the monsters who has always been there, might not make much sense to an audience who only kinda gets what Godzilla is, and might not work well for a re-imagining. And the fact that Gozilla in the 98 movie kills off (a) Godzilla at the end is a major blow. Then again, Godzilla 2014 ends with a fucking nuke and two dead Mothra wannabes. Mothra herself isn’t one to get killed much either, so she should be pleased they didn’t use her officially.
I should point out that these are a 20 year old film and a four year old film respectively. Spoilers are implied.
But I really like the ’98 movie. Flimsy science aside, I think it works as a good monster movie. You have a big monster and a justification as to why it’s in a city, how it gets around and what happens when it’s not around. Oh and the characters are slightly more likeable, with those who are dicks getting what they deserve.
The problems are three-fold.
Firstly, Godzilla ’98 is clearly supposed to be the start of a franchise. It is an introduction, but since no other movies were made and the fact that the main monster died at the end leaves you with no story to continue with. There WAS a kids’ cartoon show that did follow the movie monster’s single surviving offspring, and it was alright, the show’s Godzilla acted a lot more like the Japanese Godzilla, with more powers and similar enemies.
The second problem is that the French are kinda the good guys. The whole nuclear thing at the beginning is blamed on the French (even though Bikini Atoll and all of that was a more American thing) but it’s a French team that seems to be one step ahead and helps fix things. The US military on the other hand seems to fumble and fall over, even if the main characters who win the day are all Americans. This might not have gone down well with the initial US audiences.
The last problem is that the movie is called Godzilla. Because this movie pisses off Godzilla fans. The creature simply isn’t Godzilla-y enough. And even now, the movie and the monster get mocked mercilessly. Seriously, if this movie had been called anything BUT Godzilla, it probably had been a more successful. Heck, Jurassic Park: New York would have worked better.
Apart from that, Godzilla ’98 is a perfectly serviceable movie. It’s not Oscar worthy or anything but like other movies of its time, it’s a bit of cheesy fun.
My only real complaint? Tatopoulos is not that damn hard to pronounce, and Audrey is a bitch who doesn’t really deserve Nick. But oh well.