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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/7/98



Godzilla (1998)
1998 (1998) - Columbia/TriStar

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Film Rating: C
People just hated this film in theaters. Was it because of the overall disappointment of seeing a new, "sleeker" Godzilla, or was it the fact that, for lack of a better word, the story sucked?

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A+/B+
The transfer is flawless -- colors are big and bright. The audio will shake your foundation -- even on the menu screens. The extras, well, I wish there were more, but what we get isn't all that bad.

Overall Rating: A
The movie is a little more watchable on DVD, not only because it looks and sounds great, but also because with time, and on a smaller screen, the film goes down a little better.

Specs and Features

139 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 56:44, between chapters 13 and 14), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by the special FX supervisors, Making Of featurette, Wallflowers music video for Heroes, Godzilla Takes New York: before and after effects shots, cast/producer/director biographies, photo gallery, theatrical and teaser trailers, animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Review

When I first heard that Hollywood was making an American version of Godzilla, I thought to myself: "God, I would really like to ask that girl out." You see, I was sitting in a bar, listening to a young filmmaker drone on and on about all the projects that are currently in the works, that if he had a chance, he'd blow people's minds with. At that point Speed director Jan De Bont was attached, and this guy said the script had something to do with a mutant alien being sent to destroy the world, and our only hope was a frozen Godzilla. I remember thinking to myself at that point: "Yeah, she's pretty hot. I think I'll ask her out." This young guy pointed out that it was a weak story, but the effects, if done right, would kick ass. Oh, how he wished he could make that movie. I thought the whole thing sucked, but I didn't say anything to Mr. Hollywood, because I was too busy saying hello to the cute redhead at the end of the bar.

Well, as we all know, I did get a date with the redhead. It was nice, and we liked each other a lot. We went out for a few months, until she had to move away. She was nice, but ultimately -- it wouldn't have worked out. You see, she liked ID4. And when the team of Emmerich and Devlin were attached to Godzilla, she said that she couldn't wait to see the movie, and how much she hoped Will Smith would play a scientist. At the time I was thinking: "When did she say she was moving?"

Godzilla, as presented to us by Emmerich and Devlin, was a exceptional bomb. It made money, even though the frickin' thing cost more to make than most disease foundations get for a 10 year budget. Then again, so do most movies these days. I could go on and on about why the movie was a big fan disappointment: the overall lack of Godzilla himself (where did he go for half the film? I didn't come to see BRODERICK! the movie, damnit!), the overall lack of storyline or the overall presence of Maria Pitillo. I don't want to get hate mail from people who love the movie, and surprisingly, yeah -- there are a few. I'm just gonna let it stand that a whopping amount more people hate Godzilla '98 than like it. That's a fact.

The story concerns atomic bomb testing off the French-owned Polynesian Islands. Due to the tests, a certain lizard gets radically mutated and decides to find a good nesting place. Where better than a huge concrete island surrounded by deep, dark waters? That's right kiddies, New York City.

Brought in by the government to figure out the beast, is a young Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, played with boyish charm by Matthew Broderick. Nick is teamed with a few misfit Army and science guys, and they trek through the aftermath of Godzilla's run through the countryside, in hopes of catching him before he can do damage to the world. Meanwhile, a fresh faced journalist wannabe (Maria Pitillo) and her crew, find themselves with the story of the century. Both teams eventually bump into each other, and fight to save the City That Never Sleeps from certain destruction. Right at this point, the movie lost most of us.

I don't hate Godzilla. I actually like all the wicked effects. That's why I love this DVD. This movie absolutely rocks on DVD. The video is flawless. I couldn't believe how great this DVD looks. There is nothing bad to be said. The colors are sharp and vibrant, there isn't a single artifact to be found, and the sound? Let me tell you, that I had four complaints from my surrounding neighbors to turn the sound down -- and it wasn't up louder than any other disc I've played. It's the bass, man. What a great disc.

The supplements are a bit lacking, even though there is still a lot to be found. There's a commentary track featuring a whole slew of FX guys. It's a tech-heavy track, meant just for tech fans - I got nothing from it. You'll get more out of the before and after photos, showing some of the locations the crew digitally trashed to make it look like Godzilla had overstayed his welcome. A big plus are the trailers and teasers. I love the first one, where the foot crashes down onto the T-Rex skeleton.

Speaking of feet, the menu screens are a head trip as well. Whenever you select an option from the main menu, Godzilla's foot crashes down on what looks like your TV monitor, then wipes away to reveal the new screen. I thought that was a nice touch. A bad thing about the extras, is that you can't get out of them once they start. I went into the Wallflowers video for Heroes, and had to FF to finish the clip. I didn't like that.

Other things of note, are a thorough cast and crew bio list, options for 2.0 or 5.1 sound (in case you have bitchy neighbors as well), and a photo gallery. There's also a too-short featurette about the making of the film, hosted by Harry Shearer in his TV anchor character. It's cheesy, but informative.

Bottom line

It's always a damn shame when such a lame movie makes such a great DVD. I wish there were more extras, considering I'd rather see the how the effects were made, than hear about how they did it on a commentary track. Overall, this is a killer DVD, and I'm proud to own it -- even if I can't say I like the movie that's so dazzlingly preserved on it.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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