Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/Japan, 1998. Centropolis Film Productions, Fried Films, Independent Pictures, Toho Company, TriStar Pictures. Story by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Screenplay by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich. Cinematography by Ueli Steiger. Produced by Dean Devlin. Music by David Arnold, Michael Lloyd. Production Design by Oliver Scholl. Costume Design by Joseph A. Porro. Film Editing by Peter Amundson, David Siegel.
Fans of the original Japanese Godzilla movies are advised to steer well clear of this action adventure. It’s a great thrill ride of a movie, but it’s more of a copy of Jurassic Park than anything near the films it takes its inspiration from (director Roland Emmerich admitted to not liking the original movies and was anxious to get away from them when making this). Matthew Broderick plays a genetic scientist who studies the effects that nuclear testing has had on a species of worms in Hawaii. When a giant creature of unknown derivation travels across the Pacific Ocean, destroys the Panama Canal and makes it way towards New York City, Broderick is recruited by the American government to investigate the matter. He discovers that nuclear bombs being dropped in the French islands of the Pacific many years earlier have created a mutant lizard that is larger than a skyscraper and anxious to nest in the middle of an island as cozy as Manhattan. Taking the creature out is difficult enough until it is discovered that its mutation includes asexual reproduction that threatens to leave the entire city, and eventually the world, covered in titan-sized lizards. The visual effects are astonishingly good, making up completely for the unlikable character development that the adventure plays against: Broderick reunites with an ex-girlfriend who is also an ambitious news journalist, and their relationship hardly ignites our interest. The pace is zippy and the filmmakers wisely choose to build up slowly to the revelation of the creature (a la Jurassic), instead of giving it all away in the first reel as many movies seem to do these days.