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Category:    Home > Reviews > Giant Monster > Science Fiction > Comedy > Godzilla (1998 Revival/Sony Blu-ray)

Godzilla (1998 Revival/Sony Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: D     Film: D

 

 

Some ideas are just so poor to attempt that they are almost guaranteed failure, but remaking Godzilla was one of the lamest of all.  The original 1955 film is a darker film in its original Japanese version than many realize, as the monster is a return of the repressed from issues the country has to deal with from WWII.  The fact that the creature comes to life from the same means in which Japanese Imperialism is crushed is as complicated as you can imagine.  The 1998 remake ignores that and much more just to make Godzilla just another franchise and 2+ hour toy ad for toys no one wanted.

 

After Independence Day (1996, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) it seemed the team of Roland Emmerich & Dean Devlin were going to be a powerhouse commercial filmmaking duo for decades to come.  Instead, this bomb started to fracture their relationship and would only make one more hit with the Mel Gibson hit The Patriot (2000, also reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) before splitting for good.  If you ever sat through this, you’d see why.

 

Matthew Broderick (at the end of his pre-Election ten-year slump) plays the science expert the governments turn to when stupidity awakens the title creature from its long sleep, part of which is caused by nuclear-powered mistakes.  He is called in and heads to a pre-9/11 New York City to help as much as possible and gets there in time for all havoc to break loose.  This was embarrassing pre-9/11 and has only become worse.

 

Devlin and Emmerich co-wrote the paper-thin, overly jokey, absolutely useless screenplay with blatantly commercial screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (who at least penned the Tony Scott/Denzel Washington film Déjà vu) and have two of the poorest track records for writing anything.  Jean Reno, Michael Lerner, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria are among the few recognizable faces in the cast as the film (despite a huge budget) is more talk than action throughout (we hear about buildings and stores destroyed, yet are not always shown them) up until the new version of the monster is introduced and wow, what a disappointment.  The design is dumb, forgettable and laughably unimaginative, not to mention phonier than the original despite the then state-of-the-art digital effects.

 

With the hype and approach Sony/TriStar took to promoting the film, they acted like they had another Batman on their hands, but what we got was more like Howard The Duck or Exorcist II – The Heretic.  Most scenes are generic and we have seen all of this before and done far better in more original films.  Even the energy here is off and the film generates zero excitement.  The result is a dud that could have been any B-movie knock-off of the original and all the great, fun giant monster films Godzilla and King Kong ever inspired.  Of course, the greatest fallacy in greenlighting this mess is that a “realistic” monster would be better than a guy in a suit, but he turned out to be much more fun and that is the ultimate reason this should have never been made.

 

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is much softer than expected, though we do get good color throughout just the same.  Director of Photography Ueli Steiger would rejoin Emmerich after Devlin departed for a few films (Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC) bringing Emmerich’s work into a new world of digital phoniness for the worst.  Ironically, the film was blown-up into 70mm prints and some 35mm prints were three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor prints, so it was given the deluxe treatment, but to little avail.  Sadly, neither type of print is made much today.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is too compressed and limited for its own good, though we do get some instances of surrounds that are not bad.  Unfortunately, this was an 8-channel SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) release, but this mix is not based off of that expansive soundmaster for whatever reason.  A few attempts at hit records on the soundtrack did not work, while David Arnold and Michael Lloyd deliver an instrumental score that is underwhelming.

 

Extras include BD Live interactive functions, Digital Copy for PC & PC portable devices, movieIQ interactive features and Ultimate Godzilla Multi-Player Trivia Game as Blu-ray exclusives, plus a feature length visual effects audio commentary, the great band The Wallflowers wasted here in a Music Video for the film’s soundtrack entitled “Heroes” that remains the nadir of their otherwise fine career, a behind-the-scenes featurette and All-Time Best of Godzilla Fight Scenes.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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