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Godzilla
directed by Roland Emmerich
Written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin
Rated PG-13
Godzilla
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Toho Pictures
Godzilla Cast
Nick Tautopoulos
Matthew Broderick
Philippe Roche
Jean Reno
Audrey Timmonds
Maria Pitillo
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Hank Azaria
Mayor Ebert
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Arabella Field
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Myer

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With any luck, this review will save you some money and a little stomach-churning nausea.

Like many others, I went skipping down to my local 17-screen cineplex to see Godzilla, visions of Toho Pictures creatures dancing in my head. Instead of visions, I got the refried blue-plate special courtesy of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, those SFX bad boys who brought us such fare as Universal Soldier, Stargate, and Independence Day. They obviously found a vehicle for the special effects left over from those movies, and found ample opportunity to rip off the velociraptor effects from Lost World, too.

So, lemme give you the breakdown. Lots of military hardware strapped onto a paraplegic plot stumbling through the canyons of Manhattan for 135 stinkin' minutes. Matthew Broderick (the enterprising biologist Nick Tautopoulos) gets hired by the U.S. Government to figure out why there's a 200-ton buff iguana headed for Manhattan. Along the way, we meet a bunch of stubbly-chinned French secret agents (led by Jean Reno -- giving the only good performance throughout the film) who want to contain Godzilla because it was France's nuclear testing in the South Pacific that spawned it in the first place. Oh yeah, and quite a few people staring upward in disbelief. (The screams you heard from these extras were cries for mercy, not screams of terror -- trust me.)

The beautiful Maria Pitillo (playing the aspiring reporter Audrey Timmonds) and Hank Azaria (Helen Hunt's beau) bring some color to this otherwise uninspired serving. However, Maria Pitillo's character is so doe-eyed I actually wanted to toss her under one of those big lizard feet. And Hank Azaria's hardened cameraman character loses so much film in this flick that it's a wonder he's still employable (he does get the two best lines of the movie: "He trashed Madison Square Gardens? Now I'm pissed." and "Hello! We're in his mouth!").

This movie has not one, but at least two climactic scenes, Godzilla in one corner, the four main human characters in the other. In the final minutes, with Godzilla unable to catch our heroes in a New York City taxicab, I stood up and yelled, "Hey, dammit, wasn't there a scene just five minutes ago in which this Gold's Gym Lizard outran a bunch of Apache attack helicopters? Why can't he catch a freakin' taxi?" And then somebody hit me with a lot of popcorn.

I couldn't help but root for the lizard. In Texas, anything that demolishes New York City in an effort to lay 200 eggs in the middle of it gets a resounding ovation. Every time.

Copyright © 1998 by Thomas Myer

Thomas Myer is a technical writer for Cisco Systems, Inc. In his off hours, he frequently examines 16th-century maps of North America.


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