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GODZILLA (1998)

GODZILLA (1998)


THE PLOT THUS FAR

As “gigantic monster reptile attacks New York” movies go, you’ve got to admit that Godzilla delivers the goods, although its critical drubbing and box-office disappointment were arguably deserved. It’s a shameless, uninspired crowd pleaser that’s content to serve up familiar action with the advantage of really fantastic special effects, and if you expect nothing more you’ll be one among millions of satisfied customers. There’s really no other way to approach it–you just have to accept the fact that Independence Day creators Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are unapologetic plagiarists, incapable of anything more than mindless spectacle that can play in any cinema in the world without dubbing or subtitles. The whole movie plays out like a series of highlights stolen from previous blockbusters of the 1990s; it’s little more than a rehash of the Jurassic Park movies. The derivative script is so trivial that it’s unworthy of comment, apart from a few choice laughs and the casting of Michael Lerner as New York’s mayor, whose name is Ebert and who closely resembles a certain well-known movie critic. Perhaps that’s a clever hint that this movie’s essentially critic-proof. It’s stupid but it’s fun, and for most audiences that’s a fitting definition of mainstream Hollywood entertainment.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

The plot of this American Godzilla is driven on both the primary work level and the secondary romance level by media concerns. A young aspiring reporter seizes the opportunity to prove herself a worthy player in the mercilessly power-hungry world of news journalism. In doing so, she betrays the trust of an ex-boyfriend by stealing and airing a confidential videotape, and causes him to lose his job. And because the boyfriend happens to be a genetic anthropologist who is the only man who knows that Godzilla is pregnant and believes in the importance of finding his breeding creche, she also, incidentally, endangers the world.

The reporter’s boss is portrayed as a sleazy, power-hungry scumbag who not only reneges on his promise to promote her for two years of unpaid overtime, but offers her an indecent proposition, and steals the credit for the stolen videotape! The mayor, in a half-hearted political stab, is a greedy power-hungry scumbag who is more concerned about re-election than the ultimate future of the city.

Is it ironic that in the seedy attempts of the two men to use Godzilla for their own ends: the former to increase ratings, the later to improve his chances of re-election, the audience is made to feel more sympathy for Godzilla the genetic mutant, than for those who represent the monstrous in humanity?

Nevertheless, the storyline demands that Godzilla serves another function, as a catharsis for the American public conscience. The anxieties of the post-atomic media age are projected onto Godzilla, and attempts are made to destroy the bad object. Godzilla’s return after the first torpedo, his eventual destruction and the survival of an egg may then be read as the return of the repressed. While the film seems to be aware of this, (or is the final return just a staple of the horror genre?), it ostensibly offers another solution in the time-honoured American tradition of individual heroism.

See Also

While the hierarchical military is taking, and missing, pot-shots at Godzilla and creating more destruction than his rampages, individuals are taking action and responsibility into their own hands. With the help of an intrepid band of Frenchmen, Titopoulos, the genetic anthropologist, descends into the underground caverns of the New York subway system in search of the monster’s lair. And finds it. And destroys it, with the help of a few missiles from the airforce.

However, what’s really interesting is that these people are not Americans. Rather, Titopoulos is of Greek descent, the photographer is of Italian descent, and the Frenchmen are French. An issue is made of the pronunciation of Titopoulos’ name, and the Frenchman’s culinary preferences. Their foreigness is highlighted. Reading this in conjunction with the Alien allusions in the presentation of the eggs and the breeding cache, as well as the remarkably humanoid dimensions of Godzilla, reveals a general tendency within the film to domesticate the Other. Is the film trying to say that the alien, the foreigner, must be absorbed within the system? Titopoulos was a former student nuclear activist who is now working “within” the system. The heroic individuals still need the co-operation of the army. All foreign bodies are ultimately either absorbed or destroyed.

The Blu-Ray comes with a commentary about the visual effect and a look at the best Godzilla fight scenes. There’s also a look behind the scenes of the production. Plus, you get the music video for The Wallflowers’ cover of “Heroes”. The Blu-Ray comes with an exclusive trivia track that makes good use out of the BD-Java function. There’s also a digital copy and a Movie-IQ track that requires BD-Live to update. If you’re a fan of the film, then you’ll be stunned by the reference quality audio and visuals. Everyone else will just go for the rental.

RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!

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