Godzilla (1998): Emmerich’s Awful Movie

In 1998, “Godzilla,” Dean Devlin/Roland Emmerich eagerly anticipated version of the famous monster tale, was dismissed by most critics as a terrible picture. It was not even bad enough to be campy.

The movie was dedicated to Tomoyuki Tanaka (1910-1997), who produced the 1954 original and its many sequels.

Made to accommodate the MPAA Rating of PG-13, Godzilla was neither scary nor thrilling, not to mention its brief running time for a summer blockbuster, a result of a highly contrived plot and only few, simplistic ideas.

In that movie, Godzilla was conceived as a large lizard mutated after fallout from French (why French?) nuclear tests. It all begins with spotting of giant footsteps in the Panamanian forests, Tahitian villages, and Jamaican beaches.

In the Ukraine, biologist Dr. Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is examining the impact of radiation on Chernobyl earthworms. Colonel Hicks (Kevin Dunn) and a military team join Niko to check out giant claw marks on a freighter in the Pacific Ocean. They are also joined by paleontologists Elsie Chapman (Vicki Lewis) and Mendel Craven (Malcolm Danare). The blood and giant footprints indicate “some sort of enormous reptile.”

The French secret agent Philippe Roache talks to the freighter’s only survivor, who keeps repeating, “Gojira…Gojira.” Then, when Tatopoulos arrives in Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market, Godzilla surfaces, moving on to the financial district where Mayor Ebert (Michael Lerner) happens to give a lecture.

The ambitious Audrey Timmonds (Maria Pitillo), who works for TV news anchor Charles Caiman (Harry Shearer), is Niko’s former girlfriend, and she uses her past for professional advantages. As the wave of destruction continues, Niko and Roache track the creature through the evacuated city and discover Godzilla’s eggs about to hatch in Madison Square Garden. They are followed by Audrey and TV cameraman Victor “Animal” Palotti (Hank Azaria). A series of contrived events leads to a final showdown.


Released by Sony Pictures
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Written By: Dean Devlin
Date: May 20, 1998