Much like today, during the mid 90’s I was a huge Godzilla fan! It’s a very lonely subject topic, as in the years since, it felt like I was the only person in the UK to be a fan of Godzilla! Anyway, in the mid 90’s, I didn’t care as much as to how lonely it was, because I was young and couldn’t get enough of these movies. Then, one afternoon on TV in 1996, there was a program which mentioned that an American Godzilla film was in the works, with a planned release of 1998. As 1998 rolled in, and the news about it began to circulate, I was probably the only Godzilla fan in Lancashire to be more than excited about an upcoming Monster Movie! I can still remember some of the adverts about it, plus the release of the film gave the BBC a reason to do a pretty good documentary about the series.
When the film came out, I saw it, and loved it; probably because I was a Godzilla fan. In the years that followed though, I started to peel away at the dead skin that was lying across the carcass of this movie. It’s not a great movie! In the years that followed, it became a sour note in the taste of a Godzilla Fan, as the only film in the series that was ever shown on UK TV was this one, and none of the earlier greats. Even to this day, many of those earlier greats are not shown in the UK; with TV channels favoring either this one, KOTM or 2014 (and occasionally Shin).
Yep, it’s a bad film, but it does have it’s moments! As time has progressed it has allowed me to see this film in a different light. So what are the good points in this film’s favor? Well, I have a few to choose from! Enjoy!
5. Opening Credits – One of the film’s first major standout points is its opening credits. That may not sound like something to celebrate, but it definitely is! The opening credits paint an interesting picture and really grab your attention, maybe not from the start, but by the end you’re hooked! It features a slide show featuring a strange landscape, reptiles, and people preparing for something. In the background you get your first taste of the soundtrack, and someone counting down to something. Then, just after it reaches the final number, you see it! A Nuclear Explosion! A powerful sight, especially as it’s footage of a real one! As reptiles watch on, the soundtrack takes over to hype the scene and inflict a taste of horror into your eyes. It then quiets down, as it shows a solitary reptile egg! It’s an incredible start to a film, and one that you will not want to forget, while still creating a link between Zilla, and his past!
4. Arrival – Godzilla 1998 was directed by one of my favourite Directors; Roland Emmerich, whose previous film is easily his best to date: Independence Day! One of my standout favourite moments from that film is the initial arrival of the spaceships over the cities of the Earth. It’s an epic scene, so while producing a Godzilla film may have not been to his forte, he does know how to make an entrance for something Big! Godzilla 98 is no different! This scene is an epic entrance, one Professional Wrestlers can only dream of making. The scene has it’s light comedy intro, but then immediately jumps to the critical bit, as a big wave makes its way towards a lowly fisherman, this is followed by two intimidating spines thrusting out of the water like a shark‘s fin. Again, the soundtrack makes this scene build in size and weight, and then we get shots of a giant mass flying out of the water, as drivers see feet fly across the sky! This then comes to a close, as a giant foot smacks into the ground, followed by another one! It’s a truly epic way to arrive!
3. First Attack – Jumping off from his immediate arrival is Zilla’s first attack on New York, and what a splendid display it is. It’s on of the few times in this film where the creature is almost like the actual Godzilla. You get a real sense of his size, and you get great images as people are looking up from ground level at this magnificent beast. Even shots where he is almost crouching in an upright stance are cool, as for a brief moment you think Zilla here might actually be the King himself! Yes this bit features a continuity error, but these scenes where Zilla is simply attacking the city are a funky inclusion!
2. Military Scenes – Whilst Zilla may not be attacking other monsters; like other Monster Movies, he has the army to deal with! The scenes involving the military almost create an entirely separate movie on their own. You could remove the main plot of this film, and replace it with Zilla fighting the Military, and it might improve it by at least another star! There are quite a few decent scenes, from the scene in Central Park, to the army searching for Zilla, the first helicopter chase, the finale with the jet fighters, and of course the thrilling submarine battle at the film’s midway point. These scenes are all pretty cool, and really do help to better capture the intended imagination of what this film could have been for the viewer!
1. Soundtrack – The one thing that is consistently enjoyable from start to finish, is the amazing soundtrack! Produced by David Arnold, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous, or stupid, or mediocre this film gets; the soundtrack never disappoints! Its used in a variety of interesting ways to create a sense of what the scene needs to keep the viewer going. You get some pieces which are quiet, or peaceful and maybe even pleasant and magical, to fast energetic chase sequences, grand spectacle, incredible sights of destruction like it’s the end of the world, to moments when all you need is a light touch of intensity. There is even a cool mini organ piece too, as well as moments that almost make you want to cry. Godzilla 1998 has many things in it to be disappointed about, but the Soundtrack is definitely not one of them!