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SF-LIT  May 1998

SF-LIT May 1998

Subject:

Godzilla

From:

Mac Hume <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science Fiction and Fantasy Listserv <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 22 May 1998 04:49:15 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (76 lines)

        In the movie _Godzilla_, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich have perfected their
art.
They have made plot not simply unimportant to the film, but actually made it
detract from
the movie.
        The special effects are, needless to say, fantastic.  The title lizard bears
little
resemblance to his forebearers.  Rather than a chubby, clumsy thing, this
monster is lean
and agile, leaping atop buildings and, in the movies one truly memorable
scene, playing cat and mouse with a trio of helicopters through the urban
canyons of New York.
        Unfortunately, when Godzilla is not around, the movie becomes instantly
tedious,
despite the fine cast.  They all seem well aware that they are utterly
unimportant to the
success or failure of the movie, and are just going through the motions of
acting.  The only
real standout is Jean Reno (_The Professional_), playing the commander of a
French special forces unit.  Reno gets the most he can out of the limp script,
and seems to be having some fun with it.
        In _Independence Day_, Roland and Emmerich were able to fill the gaps between
special effects scenes with some snappy dialogue to keep the audience
interested.  Sadly,
they no longer seem to possess this faculty.  There are exactly three (3)
genuine laughs in
_Godzilla's_ 150 minutes.  There are plenty of flat lines and lame sight gags,
plus an excruciating running joke featuring a portly Mayor Ebert and his
balding aide, Gene.  Surprisingly, they do not get eaten.  The poor comedy in
the film is especially surprising in light of the fact that they had at their
disposal both Hank Azaria (_The Birdcage_) and Harry Shearer, both veteran
writers/actors for The Simpsons.  Clearly, they had no input on the script.
        Having forgone humor to fill time, apparently Devlin and Emmerich fell back
on
plot holes.  Godzilla, for example, displays not only the unusual dexterity to
dodge heat
seeking missiles, but the foresight to know that the missiles are dangers to
be avoided.  He also is fast enough in the water to outrun torpedoes and knows
enough about the way
sonar works to lead the torpedoes back the submarine that launched them.
Speaking of
holes, he puts a Godzilla-sized one through the middle of the MetLife
building, somehow
without either knocking it down or making it collapse due to lack of internal
support.  Too
bad the movie itself doesn�t have such amazing structural capabilities.
        After the first appearance of Godzilla in New York City, the army evacuates
the
city.  From a dramatic point of view, this is a really dumb idea.  The rest of
the action
scenes involve Godzilla stomping on soldiers in an otherwise empty city.
Without the
civilians in the way, a great deal of the tension is taken out of the movie.
The most
essential element of a disaster film (and _Godzilla_ is, at heart, a disaster
film) is the loss of thousands of lives.  What gave _Independence Day_ a lot
of its emotional kick was watching the aliens slaughter millions of innocent
lives.  _Godzilla_ just plays hell with the real estate.  What�s even more
galling is that this evacuation apparently takes all of fifteen minutes.
Although they missed the woman at the corner grocer who sells Matthew
Broderick a pregnancy kit that he uses to find out that Godzilla is pregnant.
What is really odd about this (aside from the fact that an over-the-counter
pregnancy test works on a four-hundred foot radioactive lizard) is that when
the test comes back positive, Broderick is stunned.  If he wasn�t expecting
it, why the hell did he go out of his way to test for it?
        There is only one good thing I have to say for this movie.  Despite the huge
budget, the state of the art effects, and the top-notch cast, Dean Devlin and
Roland
Emmerich have managed to keep the feel of the original films.  Although it
looks a lot
slicker, this movie is every bit as bad as the old Toho studios� B-movie
Godzilla.  There is,
after all is said and done, something to be said for tradition.
                                                                            -M
ac Hume

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